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

Changing Garments

May 20, 2014

Changing Garments

Colossians 3:9-13
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

Every day we make a choice when we get up and get dressed what garment or clothes we are going to wear. Am I going to put back on what is lying at the foot of my bed or am I going to look in the closet and choose to wear a fresh clean set of clothes? The Word teaches us that when we come into a relationship with Christ and He is abiding in our spirits we must make an active choice with regard to our wills. There is an active daily decision on our part to put off the flesh along with our affection for it and put on the nature that conforms to His. When we were kids we were content and happy to wear the old dirty jeans with the holes in the knees and the old ratty tee shirt. Then mom would lay out a change of clothes and tells us this is what she wanted us to wear. Normally we rebelled, whined, argued, complained but we eventually complied. Left to ourselves we might still be wearing those old rags. Thankfully, most of us had a mom that began to teach us to dress for success. She taught us that the world evaluates and judges you by what they see you wearing. Fair or not, that is reality. As we began to wear those clean and neat clothes we began to perceive ourselves differently and it began to reflect in our attitudes. This was one of the reasons why, in times gone by, the schools used to have dress codes. God still has a dress code. Just like we needed to obey mom, we need to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in regards to our behavior and the choices we make. Colossians 3:9 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is time to throw out those old hole-filled, filthy jeans and raggedy tee shirts out and put on the new garments. It tells us, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Do your ever find that what is astonishing and disheartening is that so many who claim to be and represent themselves as Christians have terrible ethics? They don’t keep their word; they’re often not totally honest and forthright. Quite frankly, we are often an insult and a slap in God’s face when it comes to our integrity. Don’t lie and say you are something you are not. Be what you say you are, in action, word and deed, having “put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” When you change your clothes, change your underwear too! Be transformed and conformed to the nature of Christ from within to without. The word tells us this putting on the new man involves several things. What do the garments of Christ consist of? “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” It goes on to say, “15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name (nature and character) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Everyday we make an active decision about what we are going wear both naturally and spiritually. Are we choosing to dress for success, by putting on Christ and putting off the flesh with all of its misdeeds? Our transformation is based upon our union and compliant relationship with the Spirit of God within us and the Word of God that instructs our minds and hearts. How are you dressing today? Are you changing garments?

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

When Lose Equals Gain

November 1, 2012

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

When Lose Equals Gain

When we came to Christ we made a decision to invest our lives in what God had invested into us. What we come to realize in this investment is that I am willing to invest and lose me, that I might gain Him. My loss becomes my gain. It is a paradox. In saving my “self” and living only to my temporal life, I neglect the greater gain of not only an eternal life in God, but also the resources, promises and the power of a life lived out of Christ, rather than out my efforts and abilities.
When we come to Christ we are saying, “Your ways, I may not fully understand, but I am willing to believe in You and be a part of Your plan.” In doing so, I think most of us are optimistic in seeing that we have a great and awesome God who has given us a Bible full of great and wonderful promises and that we now belong to a God that is all powerful and can do anything we ask or anything that He wants. What about when what we ask and what He wants aren’t the same thing? What about when we summon all of our faith to believe and declare something and it doesn’t come to pass? What about when God says, “no”, when we thought He should say “yes”?
Then we are left to reconcile our faith, with His will. Even Jesus asked the Father,
“If it possible let this cup pass from Me.” But Father said, “No, it is not possible, it must be if you are going to do My will.” What was the condition Jesus put on that request? “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
As humans we operate out of finite minds and flawed natures. We have numerous limitations, faults and shortcomings and yet, somehow, we presume to know better than the infinite, all-powerful, all-wise, and omnipotent God what is right and wrong, what is just and fair, what should and shouldn’t happen. Does anybody see something wrong with that picture?
Life does not often operate on principles of fairness as we might define them. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. Innocent people shouldn’t be abused, hurt and killed. In our black and white world we only see and perceive through the light of our limited understanding.
God, I believe, often operates out the principle of loss for gain. It is as simple as a seed must die to produce the life of what is in its genetic code. Job endured the loss of all that he had and his health, to later gain back a double portion. Jesus, God’s own Son, died. God allowed the unlawful, unjust atrocity of His own Son being tortured, mutilated and crucified, because through that loss, through that death, through that seed, many sons would be brought into glory and through those sons, all of creation would be set free. A loss often equals a greater gain.
When we lost ourselves, we found the greater gain of Christ, but even in that we are told, ‘if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified with Him’. Still there is a loss to a greater gain.
In life we are going to experience some of these losses and they are not going to always seem just, fair or right in the light of our understanding. We have to see that in God’s economy, the willingness to lose is often the price to gain. So, like Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”

Blessings,
kent

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