Joy is a Spiritual fruit, Happiness is a Choice

 

1 Timothy 6:6

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

              

               Isaiah 12:3 says, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”  The thing I have experienced through my life is that when I am walking the closest in fellowship and relationship with the Lord is when I experience the greatest joy in life.  Since joy is a spiritual attribute and fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, it only makes sense that as we walk in the Spirit and feed off of the fullness and goodness of God we are going to experience the joy and contentment of the Lord.  The thing about the joy of the Lord is that it isn’t dependent up the circumstances around us.  There can be great storms raging in our lives, but yet joy and peace can remain in our hearts when our eyes are fixed on Christ and upon the promises of His Word.  When we walk in the Spirit we see things and life from a God perspective.  If it pleases the Lord, it pleases us.  It is no longer about all of my needs and my wants being fulfilled.  This is where a lot of people confuse joy and happiness.  If happiness is reliant upon our feelings then it is going to be an elusive experience.  It will be here one minute and gone the next.  Why, because our feelings are up and down.  It rides the roller coaster of our emotions.  The feelings of happiness are circumstantial.  They are based again a lot on self: self-contentment, self-fulfillment, self-gratification, but not on self-control. 

               Here is an example many of us can relate with: Why do I have an unhappy marriage?  He or she doesn’t meet my needs.  They only think about themselves.  They don’t care if I am happy or fulfilled.  They don’t provide enough.  They don’t give enough.  They don’t do enough.  What is the central theme you hear in all of these phrases?  You don’t make me happy and what makes you happy for a short time is going to change to feelings of unhappiness and discontentment the moment your expectations aren’t met.  Happiness has to be a choice that you make that isn’t dependent upon what someone else does or doesn’t do.  I read this morning where marriages are more successful with people who go into marriage as already happy people rather than those who go into marriage looking for happiness.  Don’t put the responsibility for your happiness upon someone else.  That is your responsibility.  Otherwise you are always going to be disappointed and hurt.  People can never give you what only God can give you and that is joy and contentment. 

               Our verse today is so powerful because it is short but it says so much, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  It simply says we have made a decision that God is enough.  What ever He supplies and provides in my life is enough.  That may be much or that may be little, but as long as I have God that is enough.  The apostle Paul made the statement in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Paul didn’t have his eyes on people to meet his needs.  Many of the churches didn’t help him financially or support him.  He could have gotten bitter or angry or upset with them, but he didn’t.  They weren’t his source and his supply, God was.  He had learned to be content with whatever God brought into his life because he had this revelation; “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Who is your strength today?  Who is your supply?  Who is your joy and contentment?  Maybe anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness have come in to make you so miserable because you have been looking to others to meet your needs and they have disappointed you. Let us learn what Paul did, that the Lord is enough.  We can make the decision that we are going to be happy because God is enough rather in much or little, rather we are abased or abound, rather we are full or we are hungry.   In order to experience the fullness of joy in our salvation we must take our eyes off of us and let Christ become the focus of why we live.  We live to serve not to be served.  We live to give and not to take.  We live that in all things we may please Him who has given us life.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).”  Experience the joy of your salvation by walking in the Spirit and make the choice to be happy because of the One that resides within you.

Blessings,

#kent

I am what it says I am, I can do what it says I can do!
Joshua 1:6-9
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The word and promise that the Lord gave Joshua so many years ago is as applicable today for us as it was for Him. The greatest limitations we have are our failure to see and believe God. “All things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23).” If we can see it, it is possible.
James 4:1-3 says, “1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” What we need is a heart, mind and soul that are in alignment and purpose with Him to whom we belong. In order for us to have good success we have to come out from under the darkness and lies that rob us of the truth and into all of the richness heaven holds for us. We are still conformed to the world in many ways of our thinking and reasoning. Our perspective is not often one of praying from the mind of the Spirit and the Word of God. Aren’t most of us caught up in our agendas rather than the Father’s? We are living this life, so we still need things to work our way; that is often the perspective from which we pray.
God is going to take us through battles, trials and testings to possess our land. We can not do it if our reliance is upon the natural man. That is why we meditate upon the Word day and night, so that we may have the mind of Christ. That is why the Word of God must not depart from our mouth, because it is our authority of truth that dispels the lies and darkness of the enemy. The spoken Word of God in our mouths drives the stakes and establishes the boundaries of our faith. Satan can not dwell in light, so light must flood our souls to dispel the deceitfulness of sin. We have the spiritual armory of God’s Word and its application to defeat our foes. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, “3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
God has told us, as He told Joshua, that there are great and mighty things that we are to do. There are enemies to conquer and victories to be won. There is a land to possess and promises that need fulfillment. 2 Peter 1: 2-4 makes this bold proclamation, “3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Our God is calling us to be a people of divine nature. We are after the image of our Father; we are called to be the sons of God, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Yet, we ignorantly and constantly cling to the attributes and thinking of this lower nature. It isn’t because God hasn’t provided the means for us or that Christ didn’t die to make it a reality. It is we ourselves, that fail to grasp the vision, the faith and make the commitment to possess the impossible through the power of God that makes all things possible to him that believes. Everything in my life has to come into alignment with God’s Word so that the higher principles and laws of the Kingdom of God may take affect in this natural realm. Your are what the Word of God says you are and you can do what the Word of God says you can do. Do we really believe that and will we fully act upon it?

Blessings,
#kent

Cistern or Septic

June 10, 2015

Cistern or Septic

James 3:7-12
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Jesus makes this statement Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The tongue and the speech of a person are the reflection of the aquifer of a man’s soul. Many things touch us as we go through life and how we process and the attitude with which we handle them can make all the difference in the world in how they affect our life and who and what we are. Most of us, at one time or another, will experience hurts, disappointments and offenses at the hands of another individual. It can be someone who might have been a friend or it may be from our closest and most trusted loved one or relative. Offenses, hurts, wounding can come from many directions, but no matter where they come from, it is how we deal with them that becomes important.
When water falls upon the earth it percolates down through the ground into voids, pockets and underground reservoirs. Many of us have had or at least drank from wells supplied by underground water. What is it that makes that water either pure to drink or in some cases septic and contaminated? Usually it is the process of filtration as it goes through the ground and works its way down into the reservoir. We have a filtration process that we have to take the events of our lives through. What we find in the Word is that if we process our lives with an attitude of the world or if we allow offenses or hurts that may be very real, to be processed the wrong way it can allow our inward cistern of life to become polluted and defiled. It will not only defile us, but it will make our speech and attitudes septic, which can, in turn, defile others.
The bait of satan is to get us to take offense, after all we are justified in doing so, we are the ones that were wronged. In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus makes the statement, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” You see our soul and our heart can be a cistern of life giving water or it can become a septic tank of bitterness and unforgiveness. What would have happened if the Lord had taken the offense of our sins, disobedience and rejection into His heart and held unforgiveness? If we still had life at all there would be no hope and there would be no avenue of relationship. If the Lord had only dwelled on our offenses and had not offered forgiveness could we have known anything but misery and death? As the Son of God was hanging on the cross, grossly beaten, abused, tortured and now crucified of men, His words were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He didn’t hold the offense. He released it and the destructive power it could have contained with unforgiveness.
Maybe some of us today are sensing that our cistern has been polluted and made septic by offenses we have been unwilling to forgive and release. That unforgiveness hinders the forgiveness of our offenses to the Lord. It must be as the Lord’s prayer says,’ forgive us our sins, our debts, our offenses, as we forgive those who have sinned against us, have unpaid debts toward us and who have offended us.’ This process can be a painful one and in a sense it is like turning the other cheek to forgive when everything within us wants to return pain for pain, an eye for eye and a tooth for tooth. We want the offender to hurt and suffer every bit as much, if not more, than we have. We have a mighty God who is our avenger and just judge before which all of us will stand and give account. Allow your heart to be freed of the offenses that you have held so that you may have a clean heart and know God’s wonderful love and forgiveness for you that we could never deserve, yet He freely gives.
Filter out the offenses and the hurts that want to go into your heart and mortally wound your soul. You must filter them with the love and the forgiveness that the Lord has given you. You must extend the grace that He has given at the expense of his mortal life. It is the only way to purify the living waters of your heart so that you might issue forth life and not death.

Blessings,
#kent

Shine a Diamond

January 28, 2015

Shine a Diamond

Romans 14:19
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

We live in a very negative world in a lot of respects. Life is often taking twist and turns that can bring us discouragement and despair. Many around us only know how to speak death. They, like many of us, can become cynical, skeptical and suspicious in a world that is always seeking to exploit us in one manner or another. It is hard for us to be real, even with one another, for fear that someone will take opportunity in our vulnerability and openness to hurt us or will despise and not respect us because of some weakness that we allow them to see in us. As a result we become individual sealed houses, our own little islands in some respects, keeping a certain amount of distance and aloofness so that we won’t be hurt. Certainly we have to be careful about who we share the more intimate parts of our lives with. Jesus gives the warning in Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” As it is with the holy and precious things of God, so it is with the matters of our heart. We need to really know the character of those we share our hearts with. If the love of God is truly operating within them, then they understand the grace that not only they have been given, but that which they must extend to others. God wants us to cover one another’s nakedness, not expose it, gossip about it or despise them for it. He wants us to be a people that can truly edify and build up one another. We need to have that place and safety to truly confess our sins and faults to one another without fear of rejection and judgment. James 5:16 tells us, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Does that mean we condone whatever sin someone shares or confesses to us? No, we can’t because then we would share complicity with their sin. The reason for sharing our sins or faults with one another is for repentance, support, help in our weaknesses and restoration of our fellowship with God and one another. If we share our faults with one another it shouldn’t be for approval, neither should it be for judgment but our response to another’s faults should be that of humility and love, knowing that we are also weak and vulnerable to sin. Galatians 6:1 teaches us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” You see we are not one another’s judges, but we are one another’s watchmen. We watch out for one another, because we are of the same body and share the same common faith and purpose, to glorify the Lord. It can be easy for any of us to become distracted and turn aside or grow complacent concerning our faith. This is why it is so important for us as the body of Christ to have personal friendships and relationships with others in the body, not just for fellowship, but also for accountability. We need to be speaking life into one another to build each other up in who we are in Christ. We need to pray for one another and exhort one another, always stirring up faith. A healthy body is one in which individual members and cells are ministering health and blessing into those around them. The words that we speak into one another’s lives should be for building up and not tearing down, even if they must be honest, direct and hard words, the motive behind them should always be love. Sometimes, like Paul, we must tear down to build up, but what are our motives and the end of what we do?
Are you and I the brush that polishes the diamonds of the Lord? Are we causing others to shine in His glory and come forth in the image of who they are in Christ? Remember that the power of death and life are in the tongue. Our actions and our tongue can make or destroy another’s life. Let our lives and our ministry be for building up and not for tearing down, for edifying and not for condemning. You are your brother’s keeper and he is yours. Let us honor and seek to bring forth the Christ in each other. Speak life, hope and blessing into someone today and let it become your lifestyle. Shine a diamond!

Blessings,
#kent

Garbage: Destructive or Constructive?

Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Which of us doesn’t deal with garbage in our lives? When I say garbage I am talking about all of the offenses, insults, persecutions, inequities and evils that come at us in life. We all deal with it on some level and some more than others do. Life inherently holds hurts, disappointments, pain, frustrations and offenders of our person. Most of these come directly or indirectly through people that touch our lives in a negative way. Mostly we brush it off and go on, but there is garbage that can emotionally cripple and traumatize us. There are some offenses that are gut-wrenchingly hard to deal with, let alone let go. All of this is the garbage that gets dumped into our life. Even in the good things there are by-products that must be passed and flushed down the toilet of forgiveness and forgetfulness.
Here’s the thing, if we don’t pass the poop in our life, it will back up on us. It will eventually make us sick and can even become septic, especially if gets into the rest of our system. It not only makes us sick, but it can begin to poison our other relationships that were healthy as well. It changes our state of emotional and spiritual health.
In the scripture that Jesus gives here in Matthew 5 we find some principles that in the natural are kind of hard to swallow, because they seem unfair. There is an old saying, “No one can get your goat unless you have one to be got.” Jesus is simply saying get rid of your goat. These principles that Jesus speaks of are hard, because we are still holding on to us, our rights, our goods, our dignity and pride. You see, a dead man can’t be hurt. If we are truly dead to this old man and alive unto Christ, then our life is hid with Christ in God and living a life pleasing unto Him is all that matters. Most of us aren’t there yet. We are still struggling with the garbage.
Garbage or dung can have a positive and a negative side. We have just spoken to the negative effects it can and does have on us such as bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, envy, gossip and the like. It feeds upon the flesh like bacteria. On the other hand if we can process our garbage and our dung in a healthy way, then it can become the fertilizer for a productive and godly life. If we ask ourselves, “Where do we grow spiritually”? Is it when everything is roses, prosperity, health and great relationships? No. We grow out of adversity, trials and tribulations. These are what stretch and exercise our faith. These are what cause us to lose ourselves and press into Christ. The law of our mind wars against the mind of the Spirit, because it still wants the law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ The kingdom we are entering into is not one in which we seek to preserve this life, but we willing lose it for Christ’s sake. We are to be using our garbage to grow from and not to be allowing it to pollute and defile our lives. Your garbage must become your fertilizer. It must become the fabric for growth and not destruction. It is out of this garbage that we can see the fruit of the Spirit produced in us, but if we hold it in and allow it to become septic and toxic, it will poison us. It will feed the fruit of our flesh and it will produce death and not life.
Be careful how you process your garbage. Don’t hold on to it. Process it and pass it. Use it as the fertilizer for your spiritual growth and health in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

The Deserts of Marriage

October 24, 2014

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

Deceitfulness of Sin

April 29, 2014

Hebrews 3:12-14a
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Deceitfulness of Sin

We are a people that are much moved and guided by our souls: our mind, will and emotions. Often we use these natural senses to define our truth and often they are the inroads that satan uses to turn us from faith to an unbelieving heart. Often the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes and the vainglory of this life dictate our values in life. Even when we have embraced a faith in Christ the ways of the world we live in are most often in direct conflict and opposition to it. Our faith in Christ takes us down a very rewarding road, but the rewards are not always evident or seen. Those rewards, like the very nature of our Christian walk, are often ones of faith. The apostle Paul makes a statement in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” It is not always in this life that we see the wonderful riches of Christ manifested. True Christians have to be a people of faith, love and vision. When we loose sight of those attributes, then our hearts can become unbelieving and we start looking at the world. We see the temporal rewards of this life that may be passing us by. In those times of weakness our eyes and heart begin to turn from the Word of Truth, the promises of God, which we possess by faith and the deceitfulness of sin can enter in. Justification and compromise become more and more a part of our lifestyle as we begin to believe the lie and embrace the sin.
Brethren, in Christ, we have not chosen the easy way. The way of the cross is never easy and it can often be demanding and painful. But we endure the cross, despising the shame, even as Jesus did, for the greater hope that is set before us. We have the assurance and vision of our faith that Paul gives us 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Again, he says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight.” The deceitfulness of sin gets our eyes off of these spiritual realities and on the temporal rewards and gratification of this present world. What we often fail to see is what the fish fails to see when he takes the bait, which covers the hook. What looks good and even innocent to the outward man gets a hook in us that takes us where we don’t want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay and cost us more than we want to pay. It doesn’t matter how rich we are, how famous or powerful we are or how much we have if we become the servants of sin and the enemy controls us. The man that possess nothing of this world, yet possess the freedom of his soul in Christ, is a far richer man than the one controlled and ruled by sin. How quickly we can lose sight of this truth.
We can’t allow our confidence to be shaken, by the disappointments of this life. Don’t look back as Lot’s wife did who was turned to a pillar of salt. “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Our inheritance is not of this world and we must maintain our vision to see beyond the things of this world. We must be of one mind and vision even as Paul has shared in Philippians 3:12-21, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Here he speaks to us of the results of the deceitfulness of sin, as well as to the glorious hope we have in Christ. Be encouraged in your faith and don’t waiver from it. This world has nothing for us.
We are a people that are entering into the rest of God where we know Him as our all in all. We are not moved by what we see, but by what the Word of God and the Spirit of God are telling us. We are a people with a faith, a love and a vision. We will not be moved. We will not harden our hearts in sin, but with a humble and contrite heart we will find our forgiveness in the blood of Jesus that we might continue to press on into the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Self Struggle

April 7, 2014

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Self Struggle

From my night I look out into the light.
I am drawn by its warmth and love.
There is a love that draws me out of my night.
But then the voices rush in that changes my gears.
They remind me of past hurts, disappointments and fears.
They remind me of all that I enjoy and would need to give up.
So I am drawn back from the light and from drinking His cup.
Back into the security of my unchanging heart.
Back into my dysfunctional darkness of which I’ve so been a part.

I hear the voice speaking into my spirit,
“Would you be made whole?”
“Would you be healed?”
“Would you be delivered and set free?”
Suddenly there is such a strong sense of duality.
Two men warring within me for dominion and victory.
One struggles to keep me in the darkness and need;
Bringing before me fears of change, and shame of my past,
Condemnation of sin and a half empty glass.
And what it will cost me to make the change?
The other man stands in His peace and light of His gain,
Arms extended and the truth of His love inviting me in.
I love the warmth and the peace of His presence,
But then the darkness crowds in, causing me to withdrawal again.

Inwardly I am grieved at my fallen state.
Only fleeting joy, broken promises and empty estate.
I look back over the wastelands of my life.
All I see is heartache, brokenness and strife.
What is my purpose if this life is all there is;
If I continue to choose this self-life instead of His?
His love is faithfully pursuing my wretched soul.
What can He possibly see in this lump of coal?
This time when He invites me, I run with a new reply.
I cast my wretched self upon His grace and cry,
“Change me and fill me with yourself and your love.”
“I would be made whole.”
“I would be healed.”
“I would be delivered and set free.”
Please Lord, take and fill all of me.

The magnitude of His love and peace floods my heart.
I sense His blood cleansing every filthy part.
Hope and joy are now abounding through my soul.
I finally relinquished my will and gave Him full control.
A new day has dawned in this heart and soul of mine.
Transforming power and new direction do I find.
“What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Blessings,
#kent

The Deserts of Marriage

November 4, 2013

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. There hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savoir. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Irregular Relationships

Romans 12:10, 16-21
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Relationships with people can be one of the greatest trials we endure on earth. Some people we can get along great with, but then there are always those “other people.” The irregular people in our life, that are like burrs under our saddle, always pushing our buttons and causing us to feel the way we shouldn’t ought to feel. If it wasn’t for those certain people life would be so much easier and we would certainly be better Christians in our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever felt like that?
People can hurt us deeply. They can disappoint, betray, slander, ignore, lie, cheat us, steal, criticize, despise us, defraud, or just be someone we don’t want to be around for whatever reason. I think much of the time if I could just exist in my own little world and have brief surface relationships with people; I would probably do okay. I can endure. After all, wasn’t it relationships with certain people that put Jesus on a cross? And to be sure, there will be certain people in our lives that will be our cross to bear.
Why does God have people like that in our lives? Because no one can put their finger on the issues in your life that God wants to deal with like an enemy or irregular person. They can bring out in you thoughts and feelings you never thought you could have. Why is that good if they just serve to cause me to sin? They aren’t really causing you to sin, they simply are exposing attitudes of sin, selfishness, hate, unforgiveness, and a lack of God’s love in you. We are often not a very pretty sight when we really see how shallow we really are and how much we lack in the area of unselfish, agape’ type love. For you to really love your enemy doesn’t come naturally to you. There has to be a greater principle of love at work in you to do that.
I am reminded of a passage I read out of the book, “The Light and the Glory” which addresses the hand of God in bringing about the formation of our country. This particular passage was concerning the faith of George Washington. “A turncoat collaborator named Michael Wittman was captured, and at his trial, it was proven that he had given the British invaluable assistance on numerous occasions. He was found guilty and of spying and sentenced to death by hanging. On the evening before the execution, an old man with white hair asked to see Washington, giving his name as Peter Miller. He was ushered in without delay, for Miller had done a great many favors for the army. Now he had a favor to ask of Washington, who nodded agreeably. “I’ve come to ask you to pardon Michael Wittman.” Washington was taken aback. “Impossible! Whittman has done all in his power to betray us, even offering to join the British and help destroy us.” He shook his head. “In these times we cannot be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”
“Friend! He’s no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!”
Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?”
“I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.”
“Why?”
“I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”
Washington turned away and walked into the next room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. “My dear friend,” he said, placing the paper in the old man’s hand, “I thank you for this.””
What story, but the story of Calvary could better illustrate the principle in action of loving your enemy? It is the principle of His love and life within us that causes us to endure with patience and forgiveness the offences of others in our lives. God wants to love even the irregular people through us. After all you might be the irregular person in someone else’s life.

Blessings,
kent

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