Deuteronomy 8:1-5
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

First the Test, then the Blessing

As a people of God we can often relate with the children of Israel out in the wilderness. Most all of us have experienced our share of trials and tribulation and some of us more than others. While we pray and trust God, sometimes we may be tempted to murmur, if not out loud, then in our minds. When we pray we expect God to just listen up and get that prayer answered. So why doesn’t it always work that way? Why do we sometimes have to wait and endure so long to see our answer?
One of the first things we have to remember here is who is the parent and who is the child. Who is training whom? There are many instances in our present day society that it is evident that the child is in charge and not the parents. When the child demands the parents obey promptly to keep that spoiled child happy and content. God wants to bless us, but He doesn’t want to spoil us. He is not the great celestial Santa Clause that some like to imagine and even believe that He is. God is the Father and He is not just any Father. He is the awesome creator God and Father. The first thing we must learn, to operate in alignment with His kingdom, is that we are not in charge, He is! That seems an obvious statement, but it is one that we often seem to forget in practical living.
James 4: 3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Our Father is not raising his children to walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit, so when we ask we are often tested to see what is truly in our hearts. It is not so much for God’s benefit as for ours, so that we can really see our true motives.
What leaps out to me as I read this passage in Deuteronomy 8 is “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna. What came first the test or the provision? It has to be obvious even to the unbeliever that well over a million people could not have survived out in a wilderness without a supernatural provision. It is apparent in this scripture that when they received the manna and the provision it wasn’t always in accordance with their timetable and expectations. As a result, many of them would begin to grumble, murmur and complain. While I am sure none of us reading this have ever been guilty of doing that, it is enlightening to know that in God’s economy, provision and blessing works on His time table and not ours. Why do we need faith if we never have to believe in hope for the expectation of its manifestation?
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” We love to rejoice in the goodness and blessing of God. We love to rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins. We should, these are glorious, but then look what it says we should also rejoice in. Suffering! Why should we have to endure suffering? Didn’t Jesus do all of that? No, He was our example of suffering and what it works in us. Suffering is a training tool to teach us obedience along with the attributes of obedience which are patience, perseverance, character and hope in what does not disappoint us.
Hebrews 5:7-10 says of Jesus, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” God is calling those that can here this to this same high priesthood in Christ Jesus, but to walk in the priestly calling we must be willing to walk where Jesus walked and suffer like He suffered. This identification with His life will bring the ultimate blessing, but first we must walk through the ultimate test. Do not despair if you are in this hard place of testing and suffering, use it to learn the perseverance, patience, character and hope that you need to press into His highest and inherit the blessing. “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (Luke 6:40)”

Blessings,
#kent

 

The Righteous are not Forsaken


Psalms 37:5

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

 

Psalms 37:4 says, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”  As a people in general and as Christians I doubt that there are very many of us who don’t face times of real trial and struggle in our lives and many of us more than we would care to talk about.  For many of us, life is often a continual struggle, especially as we attempt to walk out our faith with faithfulness and obedience.  When we do really try and walk closely with the Lord we may find all of hell seems to be unleashed against us or we make some mistakes and then we are overwhelmed with guilt and condemnation because we blew it.  There may be those times we fall, stumble and falter in our walk with the Lord, but remember there is someone stronger than you walking with you.  Praise God we don’t have to rely upon our own strength and righteousness to get us to heaven.  Jesus is our High Priest and Intercessor who is always standing in the gap for us and pleading our cause.  

2 Timothy 2:11-13 tells us, “The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him. 12If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us. 13If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”   The desire of the Father’s heart is that we grow up in the fullness and likeness of Christ.  He has given us the Holy Sprit to help us in that process.  It has been said that the Holy Spirit is a perfect gentleman and doesn’t violate or force our will if we make choices other than Him.  In fact, we often don’t realize how we can offend and hurt the Holy Spirit by our attitudes and actions.  Many of us need to reconcile that relationship with Him.  The thing about God is that if most of us received what we deserved we would have been cast off a long time ago, but God’s heart is always to draw you back to His righteousness and to Christ.  The enemy would like you to think that you have burned your bridges and there is no way back, but the grace and love of God is so high and so wide and so deep that it can span the greatest chasms of sin.  He just wants us to repent and give our lives, without reservation, back to Him.  Even when we fall and fail, the Lord is there for us to pick us up again if we will let Him.  

Life holds many tests and trials for us, some we pass and others we don’t.  We are all in the process of maturing and growing, all too often we poop in our pants and make messes along the way.  We must remember that our past failures can be our future stepping-stones to victory and overcoming.  God will let us fall down.  He will let us make our mistakes and we often have to suffer the consequences, whatever those may be, but He hasn’t turned His back on us.  If we will cry out to Him, if we will repent and begin seeking Him with our whole heart we can find that place of forgiveness, fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit again. 

If some of us, or others that you know, are struggling today; God hasn’t abandoned you. He has finished the reconciliation upon the cross and now He lovingly waits for us to respond back to Him.  Many people perceive God in unfair and unrealistic ways because of how they have been treated or how they have been impressed and perceived God by the example of those claiming Christianity.  They are turned off to God because of us.  We, like Paul, must remember that our whole mission in life is to suffer whatever is necessary so that others may come into the kingdom. In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul says, “Therefore I [am ready to] persevere and stand my ground with patience and endure everything for the sake of the elect [God’s chosen], so that they too may obtain [the] salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with [the reward of] eternal glory.”  May God’s love likewise be extended through us so that we are willing to love even the unlovely for whom Christ died.  Let us continue to encourage and exhort one another to faithfulness.  God loves us and will not forsake us, even in our weaknesses and times of greatest trials.  He may not miraculously save us out of our circumstances in the way we might like to see, but He is there with us, walking it out and giving us grace. 

Don’t give up, don’t give in, but always fix your eyes upon Him.  He will carry you through and He will provide the way and the means.

 
Blessings,
kent

The Filter of the Blood

January 21, 2014

2 Corinthian 5:21

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


The Filter of the Blood


 I am in awe and amazement at this declaration of scripture.  Can we truly comprehend that Christ made an exchange with us.  He became our sin so that We might become His righteousness which is the righteousness of God.  I definitely got the best end of that bargain.  All of this so that the Father might reconcile us back to Himself and bring us back into relationship and fellowship with Him.  Indeed that is amazing grace.  We have a high priest in Christ Jesus that has become identified with us in our weaknesses and infirmities, being tempted in like manor as we were tempted to fully represent us before the Father in our human state.  Hebrews 4:14 -16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  

Jesus has gone through the heavens as our great high priest.  He has gone through the natural heaven of our earthly man.  He has gone through the second heaven of spiritual warfare and demonic activity and He has come into the third heaven where He sets at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us and bring us, in Himself, into the Father’s presence.   Colossians 3:1-3 tells us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  

You see Father God looks upon us and now instead of seeing our sin, weakness and failure, He sees us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus.  Through that blood He beholds in us the righteousness of His Son that has been imparted to us by our faith in Him.  When He sees you, He sees you complete in His Son and because you are in the Son you have access to throne and you can now approach the throne of His grace with confidence and boldness so that you may receive mercy and grace in your time of need.  

If the righteous Holy God of all can see us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus and behold the righteousness of Christ in us why is it we can’t look through that same filter to see ourselves and others in the body of Christ the same way?  Many of us struggle with self condemnation and always feel estranged from God because we don’t see ourselves through the filter of His blood. Many of us see the faults and shortcomings in one another.  We judge and condemn one another rather than forgiving one another.  When a brother or sister falls so many times instead of restoring them in love we cast them out and count them no longer worthy.  

When were any of us ever worthy?  Ephesians 4:29-31 gives us as Christians this exhortation, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Don’t you suppose it is the Father’s heart that we view each other through this same filter of the Blood of Jesus that He views us.  Since when did we become God and Judge, especially when the same things reside in us that we condemn in others?  If God can love me, then there are no limitations on who He can love and who He can forgive.  

In Colossians 3:12-14 we receive this like exhortation, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  Isn’t it time that we get our eyes off of people and on to Jesus?  People, no matter how great they are, will always disappoint you.  They will always fall short of your expectations.  So many of us are looking to people, rather they be spiritual leaders, civic or political leaders, marketplace leaders or even our husband or wife, mother or father.  None of these people can take the place of Jesus in your life.  Don’t put on others what only Jesus can do for you.  Understand they have the same weaknesses and frailties as you.  Forgive them and forbear with them.  See others through that same filter of the Blood of Jesus that the Father sees you.  

 
Blessings,
kent

Are We Easily Offended?

December 18, 2013

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.


Are We Easily Offended?


What is our first reaction when somebody, ruffles our feathers, steps on our turf, wounds our pride, pushes our buttons or does something hurtful to us?  Don’t we see ourselves as the victim?  The one who has been wronged and hurt?  So our first inclination is to share it with someone who will sympathize with us and reinforce that this person has wronged us.  When an offense is shared and spreads to others it, in turn, brings division and separates us into camps.  As a result there is discord and separation of fellowship and relationship.  Our offense then becomes a stumbling block to others.  

Now as Christians we should know this and not so readily fall into this trap and yet it seems like we are some of the worse when it comes to being offended.  If we truly have our identity in Christ then, are our feelings really the issue or is it about hosting Christ’s presence, love and forgiveness, even in the face of legitimate offenses.  What Proverbs is telling us here is that if we are the promoters of God’s love, then love covers a multitude of sins, even as the love of Jesus has covered and forgiven a multitude of ours.  Every time we choose to sin, is that not an offense to God?  If God brought us into condemnation every time we offended Him with our sins, we would continually live in condemnation and separation of fellowship.  That same love that is in the heart of God to tolerate us and forgive us has to be the same love that we carry in our hearts to forgive others.  

We should make every effort not to offend others whether they are Christians or not.  1 Corinthians 10:31-33 instructs us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”  

There are so many saints that pass from church to church, fellowship to fellowship because of offenses.  We have to know who we are in Christ, where we have been planted and what our purpose is in where we are at.  People are always going to hurt our feelings and disappoint us and it may be the pastor, elder or someone we look up too.  If your eyes are on them then we are following the wrong one.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus, stop majoring on what others do or don’t do and focus on who you are in Christ and what that is suppose to look before others.  Let’s let our feelings not be so sensitive to others, but sensitive to the Holy Spirit and getting God’s heart and mind in a matter.  Sometimes we may be a hundred percent in the right, but still need to go and apologize to someone for the perceived wrong that we have done in their eyes; not because we are wrong, but because it is the love of Christ to reconcile a matter to restore peace and right relationship.  There are some who use being offended as a means of control to get their way, because people don’t want them to be upset.  That is witchcraft, from such turn away if they are unwilling to repent. 

The enemy does his greatest works in the dark and the misunderstandings of our minds.  The more we can bring things to the light and approach them with God’s nature, the more quickly they are resolved and dissolved.   When we speculate about what others are thinking, or what their non-verbal communication is saying, we open our minds and emotions to the deceptiveness of the enemy.  1 John 4:16-20 reminds us of this nature of God’s love.  “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19We love each other because he loved us first.

20If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” 

Colossians 3:13 instructs us, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Let’s practice drowning those offenses in love and forgiveness. 

 

Blessings,

kent

God’s Love

March 27, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

God’s Love

God’s love will take you further than you want to go,
Cost you more than you thought you could give.
It keeps you sometimes longer than you want to stay,
Causes you to live and act contrary to logic of man,
Contrary to what you may actually think or feel.
It causes you to love those who hate you,
Pray for those who selfishly use you,
Bless those who curse you and speak ill of you.
Forgive those who disappoint and hurt you,
Go the extra mile and give more than is required.
It will cause you to see the best in people, not the worst.
It will cause you to see past people’s faults to see their need.
It will cause you to endure with longsuffering and self-control.
It will cause you to live with abandon to random acts of kindness.
It will give you patience to endure the pain and stay the course.
It will cause you to die that you may truly live,
Because the love of “Christ in you” is the life you give.
Kent Stuck

Blessings,
kent

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