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

We, the Lame

July 22, 2015

We, the Lame

Hebrew 12:13
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Have you ever had a broken leg, a dislocated joint or wrenched knee or ankle? When you find yourself in this condition, you find that walking normally is out of the question. There is too much pain and tenderness to walk in a normal way. This is the way we are when we get out of joint in our walk with the Lord. Our spiritual health and harmony are interrupted and our walk with Him becomes crippled and distorted.
I think many of us have areas in our lives where we experience some lameness; an area that is out of joint with God’s will and purpose for our lives. The Lord doesn’t want us to walk in a crooked and twisted path, but in a straight and narrow one. It is like Jesus says in Matthew 7:14, “Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” I would venture to say that most of us have found ourselves off of that straight and narrow more times than we would like to admit. How wonderful that through repentance and the power of the blood of Jesus we have a means to be restored to the path of righteousness.
It is sin that cripples us and makes us lame. It is sin that distorts our spiritual health and wholeness. There are many that are still struggling with strongholds of sin in their lives. While they feel condemned and defeated, they can’t seem to get delivered and free from it. We often make the mistake of judging others in an area of weakness while we may have another area in us that is just as bad. We are all creatures of God’s grace and mercy. We didn’t find our way to Him because our works were righteous and we were so much better than everyone else. Like everyone else, we are sinners saved by the grace of God. That same faith with which we embraced Christ when we first gave our hearts to Him is what we must now exercise as we make straight paths for our feet.
There is something wrong with us as a body of Christ when we are more concerned about judging one another for our faults than we are with ministering to one another in our weaknesses. What does James 5:16 say? “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” We all have weaknesses and faults that we have not fully gained the victory over or that we are still struggling with. Where are our ministry, compassion and prayers for one another in our weaknesses? We desperately try and conceal our faults and weaknesses, either because we are in denial or just think it is our problem, but more likely because we don’t have a safe place where we can expose and share the sins with which we struggle. Jesus says it is not the well that need a physician, but the sick. The Christ in each one of us is the physician that wants to minister help and healing to those around us. We need each other to help each other. Our sin would always cripple us and dislocate us from the Lord, but the Lord wants to heal our lameness and restore us in a path of righteousness for His namesake. The Lord doesn’t want us to justify and cover over our sin, that would be hypocrisy, but He does want to see us healed in the areas of our sin sickness.
We want to see Isaiah 35 come to pass in each one of our lives, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
The Lord is on the side of our restoration and wholeness, but it takes our willingness to forsake our sin. Perhaps we need to seek out those who will stand with us and help us to lay hold of our victory and healing in the areas where sin has held us captive and crippled our walk. We are a body and we must minister to one another’s needs. We need one another to minister and help each other in all of the areas that pertain to life and godliness. Corporately, we are growing up in Christ, ministering to one another out of the gifts that the Holy Spirit has apportioned to each one of us. Ephesians 4:16-18 says,” Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work..”
If you are lame in an area of your walk with the Lord, then find your healing and deliverance so that your path may be made straight. If it is greater than your ability to find the victory then seek out those in the body of Christ who can come along beside you, give you help, prayer and accountability. It is the Lord’s will to restore the lame.

Blessings,
#kent

Where isYour Focus?

May 26, 2015

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Where isYour Focus?

There is an old song that goes, “Set your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” I believe this is what this scripture is, in effect, telling us to do. The attitude of a Christ-minded person is going to be focused on the things above and not on the things of this earth.
Our heart is to be honest and forthright in our dealings with others, because the Holy Spirit is honest with us in love as He deals with us. Our heart is to see justice, to uphold a righteous standard and integrity, judging and discerning all things out of the mind of Christ and not our flesh or earthly perspective. Our focus is on purity, putting away all defilement of flesh and spirit. In every area of our life we want to line up with God’s standard of holiness. This isn’t self-righteousness or an attitude of being more spiritual than everyone else is it is simply a mindset that runs everything we do through the purifying filter of the Holy Spirit. “What would Jesus do?” What is the attitude and position of the Word in what and how I do things? Often times our purity can be helped by accountability that helps us to see ourselves through the eyes of others and find areas that we have become blind, deceived or indifferent too. We can help wash one another’s feet by voluntarily guarding one another’s souls. We deal with each other like we would want to be dealt with, not in judgement, but in love. The enemy does his best work in the darkness of our hearts and where things are hidden. Are we doing anything that we wouldn’t want to be shouted from the rooftops? If we are able to keep all things out in the light, the enemy has nothing to work with in temptation or condemnation.
It is often so easy to see and major on the faults that we see in others and in those things around us. Here we are exhorted to look for the best, the lovely things in people and in our circumstances. Focus on the good and how God can use it to make something lovely out of that which may not be so lovely. Look for the positive attributes in people and focus on those things, being patient, longsuffering, forgiving and self-controlled concerning the areas in others that present themselves as offensive, selfish and hurtful.
Seek out the good news that edifies others and glorifies God, not on gossip, slanderous speech and backbiting. Turn away from those that only want to create dissention and find fault. We are builders and creators, not destroyers and wasters. Look for the things that are of good report, those things that speak graciously and out of a kindly spirit. How often we gather to find common ground for our negative feelings and viewpoints rather than to extol the virtues of another. If we can find any virtue and good in a person or a situation then set your mind there. Isn’t it amazing how our minds always want to gravitate to what is wrong with a person or a situation rather than what is right about it? When we see the wrongs they should compel our prayers and not our criticism.
We are in the midst of changing our paradigm and mindset. This passage definitely goes against the grain of what we have grown up with and the direction our own speech and point of view has gone. We are worshippers with praise and rejoicers in the truth. How can we rejoice in iniquity and evil? The worshippers that are filled with praise and rejoicing are focused on the goodness of God, His sovereignty and ultimate justice and righteousness ruling. We are now a kingdom people living in the kingdom of God and ruled in our hearts by kingdom principles and ways. We are exhorted in Christ Jesus to put away our negative, our pessimism, our criticism, our judgements and our impure ways. We are exhorted to set our eyes upon Jesus; ‘to look full into His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace’.

Blessings,
#kent

Psalms 48:1-3,14
Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Our God Forever and Forever

You know there are times that I look at myself probably like many of you. I see all of my weaknesses, my frailties, failures, sins and faults. If I only had eyes to see myself, I could become very discouraged and depressed. Sometimes it is not only hard for others to live with us, it is hard for us to live with ourselves and still keep our hope. We can become very discouraged with life and want to give up. We can easily reason how the world would be so much better off without us. Maybe we feel all we ever do is screw up, make mistakes and fall so short of what we hoped we would be. There are times in our lives we can feel pretty beat up, battered and condemned. So why do we continue on? Why should we still have hope?
When I read passages like this one in Psalms it helps me realize that I am not an island, but I am part of a much greater plan. That faith I have in God and Jesus Christ rises up to show me that there is a mighty God that is so great and wonderful beyond my comprehension and that this God really loves me, even the way I am. He created me. He knows my heart, my thoughts and my intentions. He has not left me alone, but He has brought me into Himself to be a part of something so magnificent and glorious. He made me a part of His City and His Presence and Being indwells me. ‘This God is my God who is with me for ever and for ever and He will guide me even to the end.’
I realize that maybe He allowed me to have so many weaknesses and flaws for a reason. Maybe it was so that I could never boast in myself, but I could only boast in Him, in His grace and sufficiency for my life. What gives me courage and hope is that I know that my God is for me, that nothing can ever separate me from His love and that the reason that I am a conqueror and an overcomer is because of the Christ that indwells me.
I know that the purpose of the enemy and of satan is to destroy that life which you and I possess. Jesus tells us that in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” While the enemies’ purpose is to destroy us, Christ’s purpose it to build us up and to give us life abundantly. No, we may not feel worthy or deserving of that life, but He has given it to us just the same. Through Christ we can have eyes to see into Him and what we are in Him. We no longer have to focus on the mess that we have been and the inadequacies that we feel. I know that we are still struggling through so many of these issues. Our faith takes us where our present experiences have not yet been. It takes us to what God has to say about us, what His Word declares over us and promises to us. In these things we find hope, we find life and reason for being.
I love the scripture that Paul gives to us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Maybe that is why He chose me and that is why He chose you. In our weakness He is made strong and when people observe the marvelous things that can come forth from your life they will recognize that it is not you, but Christ in you. God knows how to take cracked pots and use them for His glory and praise. So before you and I give up and succumb to our discouragement, let us draw courage from the God of strength and life. I thank God for who I am because it makes me keep my eyes upon Him and my praise toward Him. I have to trust Him for every aspect of my life.
Yes, I see my faults, my failures and my weakness, but more importantly I see His life, His promises and His strength. These are what we are going to lay hold of. These are what will pull us out of the pit and set us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR STRENGTH, OUR LIFE AND OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. HE IS OUR FAITH, OUR FORTRESS AND OUR SALVATION. HE IS THE ONE THAT GIVES ME HOPE IN THE NIGHT AND JOY IN THE MORNING. HE IS OUR GOD FOREVER AND FOREVER, HALLELUJAH AND AMEN.

Blessings,
#kent

2 Timothy 1:7-10
God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. 8Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news. 9God saved us and chose us to be his holy people. We did nothing to deserve this, but God planned it because he is so kind.
Even before time began God planned for Christ Jesus to show kindness to us. 10Now Christ Jesus has come
to show us the kindness of God. Christ our Savior defeated death and brought us the good news. It shines like a light and offers life that never ends.

Who is this Looking Back at Me?

Looking in the mirror,
Who is this looking back at me?
Is it the person of just here and now,
Or is it the person of eternal destiny?

Am I really just this person of faults and blems?
Am I just a person that exists, grows old and dies,
Or am I a being fashioned in the image of Him,
Fulfilling the divine destiny that before me lies?

Condemnation, fear and doubt would cloud that view.
When I survey my land the giants seem quite a few.
But look at that fruit in the land of milk and honey,
My life is so much more than houses, lands and money.

God has deposited a part of heaven in me.
Christ shed His blood, gave me His Spirit to set me free.
I can live out of what I see and touch and feel,
Or I can live out of the Word that I know to be real.

What report will I believe, as I stare, looking back at me?
Will I identify with my Lord and who He says I will be,
Or will weakness, doubt, circumstances and this world,
Shape, order and direct my eternal destiny?

Kent Stuck

Blessings,
#kent

Love Your self

October 27, 2014

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love Your self

It is interesting sometimes as a photographer to see how people view themselves. Often, when viewing family or individual photographs people can be very critical of themselves. Most often it is the women. They can see and magnify weaknesses or faults that most everyone else considers normal and a part of them. It is not uncommon that great family portraits will fail because mom doesn’t like the way she looks.
In today’s age of technology we have the skills and abilities to actually go in and alter the way someone looks. We can lift and tuck some of the sagging parts, hide the blemishes and soften the wrinkles, but the real issue may not be how we look to ourselves outwardly, but how we perceive ourselves inwardly.
On the other hand I have photographed attractive ladies who may have had a scar that could have easily been removed. I find it is often best to ask people what they do and do not want taken away, because assumptions can get you into trouble. These women that I refer too wanted their scars to remain, because to them they were a reminder of what they had been through and the gift of life that they still had. In today’s world many of us feel the pressure to live this façade of a perfect life, have a perfect body, beautiful looks, a perfect home, children and husband or wife. The truth is that that is not the real world. We all have scars, wrinkles, handicaps and weaknesses whether they are outwardly evident or not. Brushing or photoshoping over them isn’t going to take the reality of them away, nor should it. These blemishes upon our lives are the evidence that we have lived and experienced what life had to offer and that it wasn’t always nice or kind.
The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but some of us don’t really love ourselves, so how can we love our neighbor properly? Understand that all real people have weaknesses, faults and frailties. That is a trait of our humanity. Don’t be ashamed of yourself and don’t boast in yourself, but rather see the completeness of yourself in Christ. Christ is not a crutch; He is the fulfillment and the completion of our humanity. The scars, the wrinkles and experiences that we share all testify that by the grace of God we survived them and we are still taking hold of life. The wonderful thing about our relationship with Christ is that where we end, He begins and where we are weak, He is strong.
Don’t be so harsh and judgmental of yourself. I know that sometimes I think, “God, why am I stuck with being me?” It is because in my weakness He is made strong and His grace is sufficient for all of my needs, my infirmities and my weaknesses. If you are down on yourself today it is because you don’t have your eyes on Jesus. Take courage, take heart and know that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you. Love yourself as Christ loves you.

Blessings,
#kent

We the Many are One Body

October 17, 2014

We the Many are One Body
Romans 12:4-8
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

It is important that we all realize our importance to the body of Christ. Many of us Christians, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, really don’t see ourselves in ministry and service to the body of Christ. We quickly look to all of our faults and failures and think how could God ever use someone like me. If we all thought that, the body of Christ would quickly disintegrate and you definitely wouldn’t be reading this writing right now. We don’t serve the Lord because we are so good or better than anybody else. We serve because He is so good and it is His sufficiency. It is the gifts and abilities He has placed in each one of us that enables us to minister and bless the body of Christ in whatever area the Lord has graced us. The Lord wants us all to realize how important and vital we all are to one another. He didn’t give anyone of us all the goods. He gifted each one of us with different gifts and abilities so that we could not be high-minded and think of ourselves more highly than we ought. He made us interdependent on one another for a reason, so that we could function as a body. Each one providing what the other one needs. Only our head, Jesus Christ has all the goods and even He has incorporated in His plan the need for a body and a bride made up of born again, blood washed believers. It is all of us under the headship of Christ and the direction and enabling of the Holy Spirit that flow together in love together for the health and vitality of the body as a whole and not just individually. We are in a symbiotic relationship wherein there is a giving out and a taking in, a mutual benefiting of one from another. All the members of our body function in their own office and the abilities for which they are designed to bring full health and functionality to the body. If I have a lazy eye that doesn’t want to focus and work with my other eye. It becomes a detriment and a hindrance to my body. It is a burden to overcome its deficiency. If I have cells that are out of control and not submitted to the order of the rest my body I may have cancer and we know how detrimental that can be to the body. There is such an order with God and everything functions through love, because love seeks not its own but the good of others.
The Lord is not asking of us for what we have not, but to be faithful with what we have. If we are always taking and never giving back then we are only draining strength and resources from the body that could be used in more positive and constructive ways. When we are babes in Christ it is to be expected that we will be taking and not giving, but as we grow and mature it is time to grow from selfishness to selflessness. The Lord has invested talents in each on of us and we have a spiritual responsibility to use those talents for the increase of the kingdom of God. We are accountable for there use, misuse, or lack of use. Let’s take the time to pray and seek the Lord to comprehend and act on what we can give back to the body of Christ. You are important to the Lord and to His body. We all need what you have to give. Start out even in the little things and let the Lord give you the increase. He will help you and direct if you submit yourself and your talents to Him.
Let us put aside our differences that serve only as a human and religious detriment and hindrance to the body as a whole. Let us see the larger picture of all the saints in the body of Christ and not just our particular religion or denomination. Christ is not divided; He is one Spirit even as we should be of one Spirit. Roman 12:16 says, “[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” It is a time for us to humble ourselves and become servants of one another that the body may built up in love. Let’s seek the practical ways this can happen through what each one of us has to give. You were created to be a blessing. Let the Life of Christ flow through you, beginning today, to be that blessing.

Blessings,
#kent

Putting Off the Old

September 3, 2014

Colossians 3:5-11
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Putting Off the Old

Let’s say I go out and buy a house that is a fixer-upper. The last tenant that lived there lived fast and hard and let the place become totally run down. Now the house is still livable, but not what is desirable. We have purchased the house with the intent that as we live here we are going to restore it to its original glory and beauty. When we purchased this house we looked past all of its defects, faults and failures. We had the vision to see it for what it was going to be and not what it was. As we live in this house daily we spend time working on its repair and restoration. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week or even a month. In fact it may be a project of a lifetime, but our goal will only be reached as we are faithful each day to continue working on some area of its repair and restoration.
Outside the paint is peeling, but we can’t just paint over the old with new paint, otherwise in a short period of time the new paint will be peeling as well. First we must strip off the old and scrape off all of the peeling loose paint. The same principle holds true throughout the house. We must remove the old and broken, before we can apply the new. If we just cover up the old, all we have done is temporarily prettied it up, but we haven’t restored it and that is the same as hypocrisy.
I think you can see the analogy and where this going, because the same principles hold true when the old man is inhabited by the Spirit of the Lord and we become a new tenant and a new creation man. Our purpose and intent for this house is not the same as it used to be. Before we lived in it only for me and what served my purposes. Now we live in it for the glory of Christ and what honors and pleases Him. What He is telling us here is the old has to go. All of those old attributes of our fleshly living for self have to be put off and renewed by the ways of His Spirit life. All of those old habits of the ways we used to look at and view others, the language that we used, the ways that we acted and the ways that we used to think must all be stripped away. In their place we are renewing ourselves with the building supplies of God’s Spirit and His Word. There, our mind, thoughts and purpose are renewed daily as we set our mind on things above and live in the purpose of the new creation man that we now are in Christ. We are not fully transformed in a day, week, month or even a year, but as we abide in Christ and live out of His nature, we find that we have a helper in this transforming work. What would be overwhelming and impossible with us has become possible by the Holy Spirit that now abides with us. Everyday He is there, as we will commit ourselves to Him and His plan for us. Every day we continue to relinquish and give up our former ways and habits to Him, so that He can help us to rid ourselves of the old and replace it with the new. He continues to teach us, instruct us and lead us, as we will set our minds and hearts upon Him. Through Christ this old house can be transformed and made new as we grow in His knowledge and grace from glory to glory even into the same image of Him that has called us.

Blessings,
#kent

Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus. There are still many parallels of that in the Church today. On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”. These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure. Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation. In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel. “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way. It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.” It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that.
On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”. These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion. They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him. They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have. They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God. But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men. Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into. There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another. This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today. The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one. As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another. What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both. The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring. It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ.
If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted. If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.
What are we saying? God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture. We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ. The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet. Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love. If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need.
I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself. I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong. Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.” It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free. He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading. He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

The Will and Do of His Good Pleasure

Philippians 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

You and I are a work in progress. How many times would we just like to give up and say, “it is no use, I’ll never change?” The Lord is encouraging us to do one thing, look to Him. It doesn’t matter what we see; it doesn’t matter what others say about us or to us. It doesn’t matter that satan is the accuser of the brethren and is forever parading our faults and shortcomings before us. God hasn’t called us to be the works of our own hands, “for it is God, which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure!” God not only wants too, but it is at work in your life in ways you don’t even see or know. What is that saying, “a watched pot never boils?” When we are looking at our lives we don’t often see the many obvious changes, but the Lord is working in us over the course of a lifetime. The more we are willing to submit these vessels to the will and do of His good pleasure the faster that work can be accomplished. The Lord is always steadfast and faithful; the problem is, we aren’t. We so often want to take these little rabbit trails that depart from His perfect will for us and get off doing our own thing rather than His. Yet He is faithful even in that to work in us and use the errors of our ways to correct us, teach us and instruct us in righteousness. So many times we are like our children, we can’t just take God’s Word about what is best for us, we have to do it our way and then endure the consequences of our stubbornness and disobedience.

God never loves us less or desires less for us. He has His perfect plan for our lives. Our greatest joy is to find the center of His will for us. When we are abiding in that place and find the center of His good pleasure we are fulfilled and content as well. It is like when we realize that it is in blessing others that we are blessed and that there is no greater joy than bringing joy and blessing to others. We can never be as content doing our own pleasure as we can be in fulfilling God’s good pleasure for us. This is true success in life. It doesn’t even matter what the outward surroundings are, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content (Philippians 4:11).” 1 Timothy 6:8 says, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” It isn’t in the abundance of the things we possess that we ever find our contentment, that is only found in the center of God’s will. We have a concept in our Christian culture today that if we aren’t wealthy and prosperous we aren’t living the “blessed life.” How many of the apostles and prophets do you see in God’s Word living the “good life” by the world’s standards? If you are and that’s where God has you, that is great. There is nothing wrong with being blessed materially in this life, but that isn’t the essence and meaning of our lives. That essence and meaning for our lives is only found in the center of God’s will. That is where we find true riches. It may be in some stench filled hovel in India or in the kitchen of your home raising these crazy little kids. If you are in the will and do of God’s good pleasure then you are experiencing the riches of heaven.

Even if you are in that place of discouragement where you are looking at your life as just a failure and waste then you are discounting and denying God’s great love and purpose for you. Sometimes we have to get off of our pity pots of self-doubt and failure and get our eyes on the Lord and not on ourselves. We all are cracked pots with weaknesses and failures, but we serve a mighty and perfect God that loves us never the less, in spite of those weaknesses and failures. Let it always be in our prayers that God will work “the will and do of His good pleasure in us” to the end that we might, in return, bring Him pleasure and blessing.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)”

Blessings,

kent

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