Taking Up an Offense

October 15, 2015

Proverbs 18:19
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.

Taking Up an Offense

How many of us today are carrying offenses in our heart towards another. They said something to us, they did something to us, they wronged us in some way and now they are on the black list of our heart to stay. We have all been offended, hurt, disappointed, emotionally wounded and wronged in some way. I guess that is pretty normal behavior in the world, but what about in the identity that God has given us in Christ. In our identity with Him, are we still justified in holding on to these offenses, no matter how justified we reason within ourselves to do so?
Colossians 3: 13 says, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” That is not a request, but a command. Have we never offended or hurt anyone? Are we so unwilling to forgive what we ourselves have been guilty of?
One revelation we all need to get is that we are not of this world and yet we keep thinking like it and acting like it. That is not a renewed mind in Christ, it is being conformed to the world which is an offense to God. When we are unwilling to forgive then we spit in the face of Him who forgave us. That is strong and it should be, because that is how the Lord takes it. He forgave us so much, shouldn’t we be willing to forgive little. Jesus spoke parables about forgiveness and He taught a word concerning it that very few of us are walking in.
Now someone might be thinking, “Will you don’t know what they did to me, I can’t ever forgive them for that.”
Jesus said, ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46)
Somehow we can all become self-righteous about things. We can see all of the faults in others. We may be carrying an offense against someone that isn’t even our own. We have taken it up for someone else because they were wronged. We tend to somehow feel that we have been given the right to judge others for their wrongs and are justified in condemning them and holding it against them.
Jesus said, ” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Romans 2:1-4 also addressed this issue, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” It goes on to say that because of this stubbornness we store up wrath for ourselves, because we are going to be judged by the same standards that we judged others and if we showed no mercy, then we can’t expect to receive mercy.
How can we fully walk in who we are in Christ when we hold offense against a brother or another. God is love. His love and forgiveness has been shed abroad in our hearts as believers. Are we now going to annul what He died for? Listen to what 1 John 2:9-11 has to say about this. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
Are people, and even brothers and sisters, going to hurt, disappoint and offend us? You can count on it, but what you do with that offense speaks volumes to how real your identity is in Christ. If you really know Him, you will keep His commands. If you really love Him, you will allow His love to dominate and guide your heart. Your mercy will triumph over judgement and you will be the hot coals of love poured over the offenders head.
I would just like to end this with the exhortation given from Roman12:9-21 about how we are to walk in love toward one another. May the Holy Spirit help us acknowledge, to release and forgive any and all offenses that we have been carrying.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Blessings,
#kent

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Attitude

September 28, 2015

Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Attitude

Our attitude, the condition and state of your mind, can be our greatest attribute and strength or our greatest detriment and weakness. Our attitude is one of the most important things that we possess and can have control over. Far too often we allow circumstances and feelings to dictate our attitude. We allow our attitude to be a thermometer, indicating the temperature of our life at any given moment, instead of a thermostat where we set the temperature we want to maintain regardless of the circumstances and feelings in our life. Our attitude, our state of mind, more than perhaps any other thing, determines our success and our failure in life and in relationships. We tend to attract what our attitude is conveying. If we are in a foul mood and our attitude is ugly and cantankerous, then we aren’t going to tend to attract a lot of smiling faces and sweet dispositions toward us. We tend produce strife and negative responses from others. On the other hand if we are bright, cheery, full of a positive and bright outlook on life, that tends to draw that response out of those we are around and it may serve to inspire them to a more positive outlook and attitude.
Our attitude is largely governed by the state of our mind. We all have days and times in our lives when everything coming at us is negative and bad news. If our attitude is a thermometer we will respond to that with a mental attitude that is defeated and depressed. If we are the thermostats we will set the temperature of our heart and attitude by the Word of God.
David was a good example of a man that had learned how to choose his attitude rather than letting his attitude choose him. In Psalms 42:5 David cries out, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance.” Psalm 35:9-10 says, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation. All my bones shall say, LORD, who [is] like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him? Psalms 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him.” All through the Psalms David speaks often of those that pursued his life unto death. He struggled with fear, despair, disappointment, failure and rejection. So many times he had to give himself attitude adjustments and remind himself of whom His God was rather than what the circumstances indicated. Right and positive attitudes don’t just always happen. The sun usually isn’t shining upon our life everyday and some of us are going through some pretty dark valleys and deep pits. Isn’t it wonderful that God gave us men like David that could show us how to sit ourselves down and talk to the attitude of our soul from the Spirit man within us. If everything was turning up roses why would we need faith? We need faith to trust God for the things that we cannot see and feel. It is faith that can rectify our negative and wrong attitudes. It is faith that can cause us to hope in our salvation and deliverance that only comes from the Lord.
If there is one thing that determines the direction, the success or failure of a man’s life, attitude is the key factor. While two men may meet with the same defeat or failure, one will give up and say, “It can’t be done, I am just a failure,” and the other will say, “I will not be denied, I will find a way to overcome.” Attitude, more than aptitude or ability determines our success or failure in life. This is why it is so imperative that we seek to put on the mind of Christ. It is that attitude that was in Him that changed the world and the lives of so many. It changed us and we want it to continue changing us as we meet the challenges we face every day of our lives.
It is time for you to rule and set your attitude by the Spirit of Christ within you. Don’t allow your circumstances and feelings to dictate what your attitude will be. It is time for our soul to subject it’s self to our spirit. God’s has called us to overcome and to be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We shall be what He has called us to be by the strength and power of His life in us. Have this mind and attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.
Blessings,
#kent

Love is not Always Easy

August 27, 2015

Ephesians 4:1-3
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Love is not Always Easy

A part of the calling that we have as Christians in Christ Jesus is to walk in love. If we are going only by emotions, there will be a lot of times that we won’t feel love. We may feel everything but love. The first thing we have to realize is that while love may carry with it emotions and strong feelings, the emotions and feelings aren’t the love. Love is a decision of your heart. True love is a commitment in the good times and the bad, in the sweet and the bitter, for the better or for the worse. Therefore love is not always about how we feel. God first loved us when we were sinners, estranged and in rebellion to Him. His love wasn’t in response to our love; it was in spite of the fact that we didn’t love Him. God has chosen to love us and His actions toward us were deliberate and not just responsive to us based on what we could give back. This is the love that Christ has placed in our hearts because He is in us. We are to choose to act out of love, not to just love others when they love us or love the people that are nice and pleasant, or that we have feelings for. Love is often a hard choice. It is often not easy to love certain people. It is our calling, in as much as is possible, to be a peace with all men and to live and act out of the attitude of love. Love needs to be what powers us, motivates and drives us in the will of God. When we begin to think upon the vastness and the magnitude of God and how insignificant and minute we are in comparison, it just blows us away that He even would acknowledge us, let alone give His only Son to die for us. How can we truly comprehend that kind of love? Yet everything God is and does is motivated out of love, because God is love. That same force, that is God’s source and power, now indwells us. It must be what drives and motivates us to love God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and strength. It is also what empowers us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We know how hard it is even within our own marriages to always love our spouse. They can be so irritating, inconsiderate, unappreciative, stubborn, insensitive, lazy and any number of other adjectives and nouns. In the beginning we were moved by great emotions and feelings, but after the honeymoon was over that perfect person can turn into one our greatest trials in life. What we forget is that love is still a choice. We start responding to our spouse like we did in the beginning, out of feelings and emotions; only this time they are negative instead of positive. Our love and hate are a response of our flesh and soul and not a choice of our spirit. Love doesn’t react because someone is pushing our buttons; it is a choice based on our commitment, vow and promise. It doesn’t return insult for insult, hurt for hurt, cursing for cursing. It chooses to act and respond out of the nature of Christ. It also must be willing to accept valid criticism, correction and look at what can best meet the other person’s needs. We are all unique and different individuals and none of us were made or designed to fit perfectly within someone else’s box. There are a lot of times we don’t even like who we are, so how is someone else always going to please us? This is where the lowliness, gentleness, forbearance, longsuffering and the fruit of the Spirit enter in. This is the place where we get to practice living the nature of Christ.
The root of most ended marriages is selfishness of one or more of the individuals. Love is not selfish, it is self-sacrificing and it takes both parties giving and compromising to create the best environment to be able to live in enjoyment and in peace with one another. It is always work and most of the time it is not easy. It is only successful through the commitment of both parties and their choice and commitment to love the other. The same principle holds true in our relationships with others. It is God’s love that must possess you; our love always falls short. Love is not always easy, but it is always God.

Blessings,
#kent

The Darkness of Hate

March 10, 2015

The Darkness of Hate

1 John 2: 9-11
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Matthew 5: 43-44 says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
There are some of us that have been offended, hurt, defrauded, cheated and taken advantage of. There are some of us who have hate in our hearts and who feel so strongly about it that Christianity or no Christianity, it is our right to hate this person or persons and no one is going to take that away from us. “If they had done to you what they did to me you would hate them too.” We are convinced we are justified and in the right, but somewhere deep down has to be the realization that hate is now your master and you are its slave. Maybe you are determined to get revenge and right the wrong, pay back evil for evil and hurt for hurt. When that is all done will your spirit be healed, will a relationship be reconciled and will you feel good about yourself again?
Hate is darkness when it possesses us. It often overrides rational and clear thinking because it is only fixed on one thing, revenge. Forgiveness isn’t even in our vocabulary at that point in time. It is ironic that nothing can destroy hate like forgiveness and nothing can bring a greater retribution than love. While hate will shut us down to the Spirit of God and allow us to be driven by the passion of our emotions, if love and forgiveness are given place, it changes the dynamic from destruction to construction. Hate perpetuates itself and only serves to destroy all who take it into their soul and hold on to it. It is like a cancer and infection that only breeds more sickness and disease.
What if Jesus just happened to know what He was talking about when He said, ‘love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. ‘
The Father is telling us that when others offend and hurt us, then they are answerable and accountable to Him for hurting His kids. He is telling us, “ you don’t have to hate and get justice; you let Me take care of that”. Romans 12:17-21 says, “17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If you want to get to your enemy then do the opposite of what they expect, love them and forgive them. Even go so far as to do them good and bless them.
Hate destroys and damages the hater far more than it hurts the object of the hate. Our hate and unforgiveness puts a wall up that holds back God’s forgiveness for us. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” When you fall into hate you further allow that person you hate to damage you more by hurting your relationship with the Father.
You may be saying, “I can’t help the way I feel and this person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.” You and I didn’t deserve the Father’s forgiveness, but it says that, ‘while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.’ We were the enemies of God. Our sin had a part in putting to death Jesus upon that cross. We as much as nailed His hands and feet to the cross. As Jesus hung their dying and having all of the reason and excuse in the world to hate His enemies and what they had done to Him, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If Jesus could forgive you and I, do we have a right to not forgive one another?
When you are able to go beyond your emotions and feelings, and despite your feelings pray in faith for forgiveness for those that have hurt you, it will begin to set you free. It may well take time for your emotions and feelings to catch up with your act of faith and obedience to God’s word, but you have opened the door for Him to begin to heal the hurts and offenses you have held in your heart. It is not saying that the person you have hated was at all justified in their actions toward you, it is saying that in spite of that you choose love and forgiveness. Release whatever hate and unforgiveness you have been harboring in your heart and give it to the Lord. Allow Him to be your judge and vindicator. Allow the light and love of God’s forgiveness to once again release your soul from the darkness that hate has held you in. Come into the light and love of His forgiveness as you release yours.

blessings,
#Kent

In Our Darkest Hour

January 16, 2015

Acts 16:16-29
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

In Our Darkest Hour

As we endeavor to walk the walk of faith we come to experience and realize that God doesn’t just rescue us out of every bad circumstance and trial. The experience Paul and Silas have here is a case and point. God had something more far reaching than an immediate rescue or even the avoidance of a very unpleasant experience for His servants. Like them, there are times when our reasoning might be “God, I am doing your will and I am in your service, why are you allowing these things to happen to me? Why didn’t you come through when I called upon You?”
Remember the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” If Jesus, the Son of God, had to endure the cross, despising the shame, then know that there can and will be dark and difficult times when we follow in His footsteps. The question then isn’t really are we going to experience trials and tribulations, those are almost a given. The question is how do we respond when we are in the midst of these dark times? Will we blame God for failing us? Will we give up and forsake the faith or will we do what Paul and Silas did in there greatest and darkest hour of despair. They were praying, praising and singing hymns unto the Lord. If you want to talk about a time when they might have had zero incentive to praise God this could have been it. They have been wrongfully accused, convicted, beaten within an inch of their lives, thrown into the inner, darkest dungeon and put into chains. Everything in the natural declared that they were defeated and God hadn’t saved them. Just stick a fork in them cause they are done.
These are men that no longer walk by their feelings and emotions. These are men that have entrusted themselves into the hands of God whether for life or for death. Their faith and commitment have superseded their circumstances. This is where we have to be in our walk and in our faith in this hour. In our darkest hour we cannot be murmuring and complaining about how God failed us. God is God and does all things according to His time and purpose which may be in direct contradiction to ours. So what do we do in these times? We worship Him. It doesn’t matter what happens upon the earth or how bad it gets, God is still on the throne. He is still sovereign over the affairs of men. Evil men may prevail for a time, but in the end they must answer to the Almighty.
Job 13: 15 says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” This must become the motto and battle cry of God’s people. We are His in life and in death. We are His in health and in sickness. We are His in prosperity and poverty. We are His in freedom and in prison. We are His in justice and injustice. In all our ways and with all of our hearts we must be His.
We see God showing up in the darkest hour in the midst of praise and worship. He shows Himself strong and sovereign even in a naturally impossible situation. Through this travail and sorrow, salvation and life are brought forth to the glory of God. We are pregnant with His life and often the bringing forth of that life comes with much travail and sorrow, but joy comes in the morning. Light triumphs over the darkness and life over death. There is no greater honor we can have than to lay down our lives for Christ’s sake. Many saints have not been rescued as Paul and Silas were this night and eventually they, also, came to a time when they gave their lives for the gospel. The martyrs are the color guard of heaven. They carry the standard of His righteousness and the banner of His love. They are His elite elect and faithful ones, because they loved not their lives even unto death.
Many of us are in dark times or will be in the near future. They may or may not be life threatening, but they won’t be easy. In these times we must enter into His rest. We must resign to the truth that our greatest victory is found not in self-effort, but through prayer, praise and worship. In Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol they faced sure death for not complying, but this was their response, “16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” This is the abandonment of faith into the hands of God. This is something that everything in the natural cries out against, but for the ones who know their God this is the place of our peace.

Blessinsg,
#kent

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

Troubles that Confront Us

November 12, 2014

Philippians 1:19-24
…for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.d 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Troubles that Confront Us

Throughout life, those near us or ourselves personally, are touched by tragedy, disappointments, hardship, setbacks, hurts, sickness and trials of various kinds. If we don’t have a revelation of what our life purpose is we can become discouraged, bitter, unforgiving and even blame God for what touches our life or the lives of those around us. Paul gives us a perspective here of a life that is lived and dedicated to Christ. No matter what adversity befalls him, Paul has one goal and purpose. His life, he does not consider his own, but Christ’s and the life he now lives, he lives by faith, not for himself, but for Christ who died and gave Himself for Paul. Whether in life or death, Paul’s life is about living for Christ and fulfilling his purpose in Him. We all need to get a greater revelation of how Paul lived his life. Most of us still see our lives as being mostly about us. In that place of giving life to self there will always be things that we are struggling with that will touch us through our emotions, feelings, mind and will. Things that we struggle with because we are rationalizing them with the natural mind and understanding. For the person that is truly dead in Christ all that really matters is that Christ is fully living through them. Rather good or bad, it His will and destiny that directs their lives and gives them the purpose for living and being. The body and earthly life are but a tool in the hand of God to work His greater work and will through. We are the callused hands of His working in the earth to make a difference in the lives of those He touches through us. We are also the gentle touch of compassion and grace that leads others to repentance. We are His precious hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God into the earth and we do that as He lives and has expression through us. The more of self that is in the way, the more of that purpose is hindered and His true nature is polluted.
Bad things do happen to good people, Bad things happened to Jesus, the Son of God and bad things can happen to us. It is not the bad things that happen that define our life, but rather the goodness of the God that lives within us. We don’t always see the ultimate and long-term purposes of God. The disciples couldn’t see the purpose and goodness of God when Jesus was crucified. When, we, like Jesus are willing to pour out our lives for others then we can have assurance that God will take the seed of sacrifice that we planted and bring forth a harvest. Let us not be so concerned about this current life, but rather living out of the eternal life that inhabits us. Fear God and not the things you may suffer, for as Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” All of this is the preparation for the revelation of the sons of God who will set creation free. Our rest is in our death and His life, so when this life is spent it only gives place to a greater place of glory. It is not the physical death that we must fear, it is the spiritual life or death with which we must be concerned. The purpose of our life is to perpetuate that spiritual life. No matter what confronts us we live out of His life and not our physical strength and being or natural understanding.

Blessings,
#kent

Guard Your Heart

September 25, 2014

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

What is the heart of a person and why is it important to keep it? Most of us know that when the Word speaks of the heart it is in the figurative sense, but just as the heart is the primary organ of natural life, so it is in the spirit. Our heart speaks of our soul, our mind, the inner man, the seat of our understanding, will and emotion. It is really the key component that identifies who we are as an individual person and personality. When we understand that, then we understand why the Word is exhorting us to keep, guard and watch over our heart with all diligence. This diligence conveys a meaning as one would watch or guard in a prison. Perhaps it is so necessary to watch over our hearts in this manner because Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us, “The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.” When the Lord searches our heart what does He find? When he tries the reins of our heart; are we like the sensitive and well trained horse that responds to his every gentle nudge and direction. Or, are we the wild rebellious stead, set upon our own freedom and our own way, unbridled in our affections and passions, bent on our own direction?

We need to be watching, even with a heart that is given to the Lord and in love with Him. Things of the world and our imaginations and desires can begin to creep in subtly, almost without detection. We know that we have an adversary, the devil, who stalks like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. What makes us vulnerable to him? It is our heart. It says, “for out of it are the issues of life.” What happens to your circulatory system when it develops a blockage or even worse your heart? Your physical life can be in serious trouble and the same can happen spiritually.
How do we guard our hearts? We continually hold ourselves up to the mirror of God’s Word. We know that if we are aligning ourselves with it in every respect then our heart is abiding in truth. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
We also covet and pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in keeping our hearts, because He can show us the things we can’t see in ourselves. He is our hope and companion in the process of spiritual renewal and transformation that we desire to take place in us. 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” It is Spirit of Christ in you, in union with your spirit, which must be the heart and mind, which you now live out of. As you do, those are the issues of life. What goes forth out of you is his Spirit-life. Our tongue and our actions are the best indicators of what is really in our heart. Jesus tells us in Luke 4:65, “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.”
Remember to not let your guard down, become complacent or be filled with apathy. You are a life-giver and in order for the issues of life to flow forth from you, you must be abiding in and carefully guarding the life of the spirit within you. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.”

Blessings,
#kent

Single Eye, Single Mind

June 26, 2014

Single Eye, Single Mind

Luke 11:34-35
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness.
Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

We hear it said, “the eye is the window of the soul.” Jesus is saying something similar to this in this passage. The soul is made up of the mind, will and emotions. The eye really represents the input to what we are feeding into our soul. Someone could be physically blind and actually have more light in their body than someone who has all of their faculties. In John 9:39-41 Jesus has a conversation with the Pharisees after healing a blind man and remarks to them,”…For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And [some] of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” Our spiritual sight comes by way of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is what quickens the Word of the Lord to us and makes it light and life. We become accountable for the knowledge and light that we have. With what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees it is plain to see that just because they had the knowledge of the Word of God they didn’t necessarily have enlightenment and understanding. How many are deceived today because they think if they know something about God that saves them or puts them in right position spiritually? Jesus is saying to the Pharisees, if you were ignorant of the Word of God that would be one thing, but because you think you know the truth and because of your knowledge your sin remains. Knowing the truth is not necessarily living in the truth.
If there is one thing that I’ve seen through the years, “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1Corinthians 8:1).” We can have a great command of the Bible and great revelation knowledge, but it is not in what we know, it is in what we are walking in and putting into practice in our lives. Faith in action according to knowledge and working through love is what produces life and light.
Jesus is speaking to His disciples concerning spiritual sight in Matthew 13:10-17, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous [men] have desired to see [those things] which ye see, and have not seen [them]; and to hear [those things] which ye hear, and have not heard [them].” In order for us to have light it must come to us through the eyes of spiritual insight. That brings with it not just knowledge and legalism, which is the state we see the people of Jesus’ day in, but it comes through the Word that is quickened by the Holy Spirit who gives life and understanding to our knowledge. Rather than a head thing, it becomes a heart thing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The law simply written on pages and administered by men simply becomes legalism, condemnation and death. The law written upon our hearts by a life changing Spirit becomes to us life, liberty and light.
Jesus likens our light as unto a candle set upon a lampstand. If we have a candle alone, like the Word without the Spirit, we have no light. If we have a flame with no candle we may well have a fire out of control. But if we have a candle lit with a flame we have a union that creates balance and produces light. We are the lampstands that are to carry that light with singleness of purpose. Our purpose is to be the outshining of His light and the truth of His Word through lives that are lived in the luminance of the light which He brings to us who of a single eye and a single mind.

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

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