God Outside Your Box

June 8, 2015

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God Outside Your Box

Don’t we all tend to like to make nice tidy boxes that we can nicely put God within the realms of our understanding, summations and definitions. Wouldn’t we all feel so much more in control if we knew that in this situation God was going to do this and in that one He would do that, but we are in God’s box, He is not in ours. Despite all of our theologies we cannot harness God. He defies our test tubes and analysis. Yes, there are things that we do know about Him. We do know that He is love, justice and holiness. We see so many of His attributes revealed in His Word and know that these wonderful attributes are what He acts out of. We know His Word is that which we can depend upon and which He will fulfill. Even though He is the same yesterday, today and forever, we can never limit Him to our understanding or fully grasp what there is to know about Him. If our God has limitations it is only because He has placed them upon Himself for our benefit and out of love for us.
Isn’t it ironic that God has given us a free will? Through that free will we have rebelled and sinned against Him. We have often denied Him, forsaken Him and tried Him. Yet when we see the hurt, destruction and death that our sin brings upon the earth we want to turn and blame God for allowing this to happen. We say He is not doing anything about it and yet He has already done it through His Son Jesus Christ. He has made a way, but it is still our choice and choosing that leads us out of the path of sin and destruction. Even though we are Christians and have made the choice for Him it doesn’t negate the effects that this sin-laden world can have on our lives. We can still experience its calamities and trudges just like everyone else, because in this body we are still part of this fallen race.
While in this body we still experience the limitations of our humanity, but what is different about us is that within our spirits we also experience an unlimited God. We often struggle with the fact that God doesn’t seem to act in our behalf the way we often think that He should have or that we prayed that He would. Does that make God in effectual or does it just mean that God is working in ways that we don’t understand and fully comprehend? Is God truly indifferent to our needs and cries or is there something of a higher order at work beyond what we see, feel and experience? How many times have we looked back in our experience or that of others to see that the tragedy, failure or the calamity that we felt God failed us in was the very thing that shaped our lives? It may have been the very thing that led us into the destiny and calling of what He had called us to be? This is why we mustn’t judge God prematurely when we don’t think things are happening according to our understanding and our ways. Often God is at work outside of the box of our understanding moving in ways that are infinitely higher than our immediate cognizance. What God asks of us is that we trust Him. Even when we don’t understand His hand we must trust His heart. God is working all things after the counsel of His divine will and purpose. Life will have its tragic and painful moments. Know that God is not insensitive to those places of our deepest hurts, but those are sometimes the birthplaces of our greatest miracles and triumphs. It is not necessary that we always understand what God is doing or why He does or does not move in the way that we pray. We must not make the mistake of trying to limit God to our understanding. He sees far beyond all that we could ask or think.
We often wrestle with why bad things happen to good or innocent people. Often it has do to the principles that operate in a world where sin has been sown. Just as God rains upon the just and the unjust, so sin and tragedy happen to both as well. What we are learning is that we don’t live according to the principles of this world, but in our spirit and out of our spirit we are living according to principles of the kingdom of God and His dominion. In that place we trust in His Lordship and His sovereignty, not always according to our understanding, but according to our faith. Can you still trust God even when you don’t understand and He doesn’t fit within your box?

Blessings,
#kent

Romans 5:6-8
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God Loves Us Even when We are Ugly

Isn’t it wonderful that God didn’t just limit His love and grace to the few us humans that are cute and cuddly? He didn’t just love us when we loved Him and didn’t withhold His greatest expression of love toward us even when we least deserved or merited it.
Have you ever been around someone that was hard to love and get along with? On in any given day that could probably apply to any one of us. We can all have our ugly times and our ugly ways. Then there are some with which it has become a way of life. You know the ironic thing is that it is usually with the people that we love the most that we are often the most ugly. We can be ripping our spouse or children up all-day and then come to a stranger and be perfectly nice and polite.
Why is that? Perhaps it is because we feel safe venting our anger, frustration and anxieties upon the ones that we love because we feel we are safe doing it with them. Maybe it is because the ones we “love” aren’t meeting our expectations or living up to our standards. Perhaps we feel those loved ones will still love me even when my raw side is showing. Unfortunately, what was maybe a once-in-a-while bad hair day, can become a habitual bad hair life. We can become abusive on a continual basis to the ones we should love and respect the most. It may be our husband, our wife, our children, parents, family or friends.
There is a great lesson here as we look at God’s love. We see His love is unconditional and that He did love us in spite of our inward ugliness. He teaches us to be the same in our love for others. We see it coming through in the attributes of His Holy Spirit, love, joy, longsuffering, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, meekness, faith and gentleness. As His people these attributes should be an ever-increasing part of our lives. When others are ugly toward us we have to look with the eyes of the Spirit into their hearts and ask why is this person hurting so bad that they treat others this way? Is there anything I can do in Christ to minister and help to heal those inner hurts, wounds and scars?
In our closer personal relationships perhaps we may be reaping in our loved one seeds of discontent and strife that we have sown by our own actions or insensitivity. Perhaps we have played a big part in why this loved one has become that not so lovely person. What do we need to do out of the love of Christ and the love we have for them to change our dynamics toward them to relieve these angry and resentful feelings that they may be expressing? So often anger and emotion keep us from coming to a resolution of our issues. Sometimes the expression of our anger and emotion only serve to drive those we love further away from us and cause them to withdrawal. You will never bring the head of a turtle out of his shell when he knows he is going to get clubbed as soon as He shows it. We need a truce, a cease-fire and to lay our emotions aside. We need to reconcile ourselves through the love of God to really hear and respond to the issues of the heart. Most all of us are creatures of habits and it may be those habits that are a constant source of irritation and dysfunction. Let us love one another enough to change those habits and behaviors for their sake and to help them become that lovely person again that we once knew.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Let us love one another as God in Christ has so loved us.

Blessings,
#kent

In God’s Time

April 13, 2015

Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

In God’s Time

Many a young person has been caught up in the zeal of the Lord and desired to go into ministry. One thing that many don’t realize at first is that to be a true minister of God is it is not man or education that truly prepares you. Certainly God can and does us these in the process, but what any of us who desire to be in the service of the Lord must realize is God’s order and not man’s. It is really God who raises up a man or woman for His work. It is He who trains them through most often humble beginnings. It is He that anoints them for their calling and it is He that test their hearts before He sets them in a place of authority and ministry. For many of you who are excited to serve God, we are not always ready when we think we are. Such is the case with John Mark.
John Mark was the son of Mary and we first hear about him when Peter is locked in jail in Jerusalem. Herod had pretty much chalked Peter in to be the next martyr after having put to death James. We read the account of the angel coming into the prison and setting Peter free. Peter then goes to the house of Mary. Acts 12:12 says, “And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” We gather from this introduction that Mark had some strong Christian influences and roots. He gets his first shot at getting on the big name ministry team of Paul and Barnabas, and so we see him embarking on his first missionary trip in Acts 12: 25. Then over in Acts 13:5 it affirms that John is there with them as an apprentice and helper, but by verse 13 we see John leaving them and returning to Jerusalem. What happened? The word doesn’t give us much in the way of details, but it becomes obvious in Acts 15:37-40 that Paul was not impressed by Mark and wanted no more part in his going with them again. Apparently Mark wasn’t as ready and able as He thought. Maybe he couldn’t take it and went home, but Barnabas was one that did see the potential and continued to believe in Mark even after he apparently failed the first journey. Later we see that Paul has softened his position concerning Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he remarks, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
The message we can learn from Mark’s life is that ministry and service to God comes through a preparation of God. Sometimes we may fail to meet our own expectations or the expectation of those we are working with. Fortunately Mark didn’t just quit and fortunately he had men who still believed in Him and helped him to come into his place of ministry and service. Mark was also known to be Mark the Evangelist and later wrote one of the first gospels, the gospel of Mark, thought to have been largely narrated and influenced by Peter.
When we look over the lives of many of God’s great people we see them coming up against times of apparent failure, shortcoming, trials and tribulation. What we come to realize is that this is really God’s school of preparation. We may know that God has anointed us and given us a passion in some area of ministry, but what we have to be careful of is that we allow Him to establish and place us in that ministry in His time and His way. That often means that we may feel passed over, put aside or not really valued. All of the time it is searching our true heart and motives, to see if there would be any unclean, impure or selfish motive on our part. When we can truly be okay with whatever and whenever the Lord wants to use us, then we are getting much closer to being where He wants us. Love always wants God’s best first and our best last.
Moses was 80 when he started his ministry. David was anointed as young teen, but didn’t become king until he was 30. The word tells us not to despise the day of small things. It is in those days that our hearts and lives are being prepared for greater ministry. We must first prove ourselves faithful in the little before we can be faithful over much. Don’t be discouraged if your life and ministry isn’t where you want it to be. Remember God is in control, not you and not man.

Blessings,
#kent

Ephesians 3:10-13
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

The Confidence of the Believer

“Faith builds confidence and where confidence falters failure ensues.” These are the words that came up in my spirit this morning. Hebrews 10:35 says, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” Your confidence is synonymous with your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 3:14 tells us, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” Our faith in Christ builds our confidence to believe Him and His Word in all of the areas of our life. 1 John 5:14 informs us, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” Our confidence is in Creator Father God and His Son, Jesus Christ. He is a covenant God and a promise keeper. ‘God is not a man that He should lie.’
The one thing I have observed as I have grown in years is that we live in the age of microwave mentality. We expect everything instantly, with no fuss and no muss. I see a lot of young people getting married and their expectations are that they should have everything their parents have worked years for, right now. This mindset is often reflected in the realm of our faith. When we pray, we expect that within three minutes the timer will ding and our prayers will be answered. When we find that God isn’t instant oatmeal we start to wane in our faith and our confidence begins to fall. What I have experienced personally is that God may act immediately, but more times than not, it is the prayer of faith and the confident hope in that prayer that sets events in motion to accomplish that for which we have prayed and believed God for. There are prayers that I have prayed that I didn’t see answers to, till years down the road. God works all things after the council of His will, not mine. Many prayers fall short of their answer because of the very principle that the Lord gave me this morning. We hold fast the faith for so long and after awhile we get discouraged and give up instead of rejoicing and continuing to praise Him. Remember Hebrew 3:14, ““For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” The promises of God are not obtained by the weak and the fainthearted, they are obtained by the violent and passionate people of faith who refuse to be denied, that take the kingdom by force. They get a revelation of the promise of God in their heart and they no longer look at the things which are seen, but they behold that which is unseen and yet more real than fact. They have laid hold of truth and they refuse to let it go, no matter what the facts may dictate.
2 Corinthians 1:18-22 says, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. God’s promises are yes, but we are the ones that give the amen. Our amen is the agreement and the confidence in the yes of God.
If you count yourself in Christ today then be confident in what He has spoken to you through His Word. Quit listening to the enemy. Quit looking at your circumstances. You are a child of God. You are a joint-heir with the King of Kings. Take hold of who you are and what you have in Christ Jesus and with tenacity and perseverance let nothing take it from you. Let nothing in this world shake the confidence of who you are in Christ. You are always more than a conqueror. Again I bring to your remembrance Romans 8:28-39, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 John 2:28, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Blessings,
#kent

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

November 25, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

Set your eyes on none other than Jesus Christ, the high priest of your confession, for He alone is the author and the finisher of your faith. Many eyes are upon men, but no man can save you or transform you. There is one new man of which all the saints are a part. It operates out of the Spirit and anointing of Christ. It moves in accordance as the head directs it and energizes it with His power and life.
“It is not man that you are to be mindful of says the Lord, it is Me. Set your eyes upon Me for I will not disappoint you.”
Man will always disappoint. Follow after the example of Christ you see in others, but know that they are subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as you.
Jesus says there is only One good, God the Father. Our goodness is only in the measure that the Father expresses His righteousness through us by faith. Christ in you, that is your righteousness. The spirit of a man may be willing, but his flesh is sometimes weak. In all your ways, set your eyes upon Jesus. He is your Savior and Messiah.
Many are hurt and wounded in the body of Christ, because they have lifted up the man of God, rather than the Christ in him. When the man falls down, often the faith of the those looking to him falls with him. We do want to respect and hold in honor those who are spiritual leaders. While they may guide us and teach us, they can not save us. Never transfer upon them what only Christ can do for you. Our faith should never be moved by what happens to man. They walk by the same grace that holds you and I. Pray for them that they would not fall, for they are often under great attack and pressure. It is not our criticisms that will stay them, it is our prayers and intercessions for them. They bear the same infirmities and weaknesses as we do, but the burden of responsibility is so much greater upon them.
We are a body that under-girds one another, upholds one another, ministers and serves one another. What we give to leadership in prayer and support is every bit as important as what they can impart back spiritually. A true leader is not a lord, they are a servant. Their burden and responsibility are the ones they serve. Likewise the ones they serve have the responsibility to encourage, support and pray for them that serve in this office. None of us are above another, but some do carry greater responsibility. We all have the responsibility to help them to stand, not alone, but with the strength of our gifts (spiritually and monetarily) and our prayers.
Call no man Father, for you have but one Father, but know that there are those that father you in the faith and help you to grow in the likeness of Him. Respect and honor them, but do not set your faith and trust in them, but in the Christ they have led you to know and believe in.
This is no longer a day of big names and men of renown. It is a day when the kingdom is at work in the body of Christ teaching each of us to function in our gifts and callings. Each of us needs one another, for together, with Christ who is our head, we make up the whole new man in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, love one another, care for one another and pray for one another. Honor and pray for those that labor over you. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us, ” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is time for the body to grow up into the fullness of what God has called us to be in Christ. Ephesians 4:4 reminds us, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Let us all flow in the unity of that one Lord who has loved us and gave Himself for us. Ephesians 4:25-32 goes on to exhort us in our behavior toward one another. ” Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We are one another’s keepers. Lift each one up in the faith, in love and prayer He has called us too. In Him we are one man and one body.

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

Antichrist among Us

September 18, 2014

1 John 2:18-22
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Antichrist among Us

An antichrist spirit is that which denies and abides not in the Truth. Those who are in Christ know the truth and embrace who they in Christ through obedience and faith. Many of us have been concerned about the Antichrist that is coming, but the scripture is warning us that his spirit is already here among us. The scripture says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” This suggests that the spirit of antichrist in our very midst and assembly. Now don’t construe that just because someone doesn’t embrace your particular doctrinal beliefs or stay with your group that they are antichrist. This goes beyond that. This touches those that may have an outward confession or appearance of a Christian, but in their hearts they deny that Jesus is the Christ. In their hearts they have not been joined and made one with Him. Those who are in Christ will find their identity in Christ for they are of the same Spirit as He. They no longer are seeing Christ as separate, up, out and away from them. They are coming into the identity of who they are in Christ and who He is in them. It is a mindset and revelation that we are in Christ now. While we may be absent from Him in body, we are present with Him in spirit.
One thing that trials and testing do is they prove the substance and spirit of a person. If we do not truly possess Christ and find our reliance and life in Him, we will not be able to stand the test. We may go to church, serve on the board and sing in the choir, but if Christ is not in us, then we are only living a religion and not a reality. The proof of a child of God is seen in the fire. It is when they hold fast their faith even when all of natural reality speaks and testifies against it. They are born of the Truth and the Truth abides in them. They live out of that reality. It is not based on their understanding, their goodness, or their knowledge; it based on the substance of Christ in them. In that faith they stand, even to the yielding up of their natural life. This is why the scripture says in 1 Peter 1: 6-9 “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
It is he who denies that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and God’s only Son that is the antichrist. When we deny the Son, we deny the Father as well for by One we know the Other. If we fail to embrace that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life then we are of an antichrist spirit. We are conditional believers who will forsake the faith when we perceive that God has not met our conditions or expectations. Those in Christ are unconditional believers that are sold out. They will follow Christ to the end no matter what the cost. Our faith is not conditional upon our circumstances, our understanding or what we feel. It is based on an inward knowing of Him who abides within us. The knowing is so great that even death does not move us from it, because in Him we have the assurance of Life everlasting. Outside of Him what do we have but the assurance of death and judgement? You who are in Christ know this Truth because you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all things. You may not think that you do, but the One who knows all abides in you.
If this word moves you at all to question your faith then come to the Lord in true repentance and embrace Him in faith. Ask Him to come into your heart and remove every spirit in you that has opposed Him. Don’t carry with you the outward appearance of a Christian; possess the inward reality and assurance that can be yours through your commitment to Christ in faith. You can possess that inward peace and assurance that you are His.

Blessings,
#kent

What God does to us or for us?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD : 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How many of us have gone through times in our lives when we have experienced such pain, sorrow or disappointment at circumstances that have come upon us or happened to us? We question, “God where are you, where were you and why did you let this happen to me”? There are those of us who have gotten angry, offended and hurt because we felt that the Lord let us down and He didn’t meet our expectations in the ways that we thought He should have. Perhaps God would ask us, as He did Job, ‘Who is this that obscures council without knowledge?’ God is the Magnificent One that created the Universe, the earth and all of the mysteries and wonders contained therein. Would we be so bold as to compare our wisdom and understanding with His? If what God says in Romans 8:28 is true, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” then we must believe that God is working for our good. Jesus never makes the promise to deliver us from tribulation. In fact, He says just the opposite, “…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To the natural mind, life often isn’t fair and it doesn’t always make sense. It is in these times that we must rely upon our faith to bridge the gap between our understanding and God’s plan. Often what we thought was the enemy coming against us, in retrospect, we see the hand of God was working through what seemed to be a negative circumstance to bring us into God’s plan and higher will for our lives. It serves to stretch us and takes us to places we would never go on our own.
Let us not be so foolish as to attempt to pass judgement upon God for allowing things to happen to us. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Job thought He had a pretty good handle on understanding God till His world and theology got turned upside down. The one thing that Job never lost was faith and trust in the Lord. I think that with many of us it will be as it was with Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” When we really come into the revelation and presence of God and all that He is we will repent that we ever questioned, doubted or spoke negative of Him.
God is not doing things to us; He is doing things for us. Our understanding may not comprehend it, but our trust has to receive it and know that God’s nature is to work in our behalf. Even when that means we are crushed in the process, it is because He does love us and sees the end from the beginning. We see in terms of time and earthly values. God sees in eternity and kingdom values. God values you. Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart. God is for you, trust Him and rest in His wisdom, love and council.

Blessings,
kent

Tired?

March 18, 2014

Tired?


Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. 


There are times on our journey through life that we just get tired.  We get emotionally, physically and spiritually weary; in those times our excitement and exuberance wanes.  Our desire ceases in its passion and we just want to turn away, escape and turn off all the demands and challenges that are present in our life.  

Perhaps you’re tired of fighting the battles in your life.  You know you need to get up and go, but your body is saying, “no, just let me sleep,” or your mind and emotions are saying, “I just can’t deal with it any longer.”  

Our lives have many demands, pressures and expectations placed upon them.  Some of them are of our own choosing and many just goes with the territory.  Without the proper rest, these issues and trials of life will tend to burn us out.  Maybe some of you are feeling that way even as you read this.  In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.”  Sometimes we think, “how can this be, when it is all of this trying to live right and do right that has gotten me to this place of exhaustion.”  Maybe we are trying to be everything to everybody and we just feel spent.  I think women in particular experience this because of all the emotional and physical demands they carry with family, career, household and a social life.  

Most of us know that a lot is often riding on our being able to keep up the pace and perform our duties.  Even though we feel the strain and exhaustion we keep on pushing.  Where is our rest?

Do you ever find that even if you could rest, you can’t?  Your mind is always racing with all of the things that need to be done.  It is like juggling, you are afraid that if you rest from your concentration you will start dropping the balls and your world will fall apart.  In our drive for success we often create our own mousetraps that keep us running.  But the issue is you need rest!  

Jesus is telling us that He has not come to heap more on to our already overflowing plate, but He has come to give our life perspective, meaning and purpose.  Maybe we think we already have all of that, but when we look at all that we do in the light of eternity and what it really means to the sum of our life, how much of it is still as meaningful?  

When we come into the rest that Jesus has for us we find that place where we are not carrying the entire burden of life.  The issues and trials of life we now share with our Savior.  Our reliance is now shifted from our ability to His ability and strength in us.  The Lord doesn’t require of us what He has not provided the resources to do.  Our scripture from Isaiah says, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”  That waiting is the hope and expectation we have in God, in His Word and promises.  Our strength, our rest, our renewal is in laying hold of the life of Christ in us.  The Word says, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”  The Lord is my place of rest and strength.  When I’m tired and weary, when my natural man doesn’t feel it can keep going on, it is like that story of “Footprints in the Sand”, the Lord has not deserted us, but as we come into His rest we find that He is carrying us.  When we are tired we need to crawl up on our Daddy God’s lap and just rest.  Let Him have all your burdens, all your cares, worries and pressures.  The Lord is your rest and in Him you will find the encouragement, the hope and strength you need to carry on.  

 

Blessings,

#KentStuck

The Pothole of Self Pity

February 28, 2014

 

The Pothole of Self Pity


Jonah 4:1-4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.  Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 


In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity.  He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see.  He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter.  So he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.

While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either.  

I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated.  That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way.  What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes.  

The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently.  Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs.  Now the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems.  So finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”.  The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did.  Afterwards I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into.  Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me.  Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is.  I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others.  I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me.  The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine.  How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others.  This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization.  That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others.  The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself.  

We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do.  Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives?  In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at.  Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition.  We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.”  Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart.  It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values.  Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature that God wants to work in us.  It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it.  There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy.  If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of.  Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ.  If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves.  

Watch out for that pothole of self-pity.  It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk.  Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”

 
Blessings,
kent
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