Draw Near to Me!

April 17, 2015

James 4:7-9
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Draw Near to Me!

If there is one theme I hear in what God is speaking in this hour it is, “Draw near to Me!” The greatest asset that any of us can have in their lives is a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we know Him intimately and are in communication with Him consistently then we know that we are in touch with the resources to meet every need and challenge that life might bring. Many of us for so long have become intoxicated and drunk in the well being that we have had all around us. We, especially Americans, enjoy and have so much. We, as a whole, don’t wake up every morning wondering what we are going to eat, where we are going to find shelter, how we are going to provide for our families, how we are going to get to our job and how we are going to survive. We may not be rich in the sense of having great amounts of money, but by and large our needs are met and we enjoy many luxuries in addition to our basic needs. As whole, we probably have and enjoy more than about 80 or 90 per cent of the world’s population. We have been very blessed. There is nothing wrong with being blessed, but one of the snares that follows blessings is that we can become complacent in our faith and trust in God. We begin to look at all that we have and possess as the results of our own talents and resources. Because we have need of little, we often have little need for God.
The Lord is sounding a trumpet in Zion and He is sounding an alarm to awaken us out of our complacency and calling us to return to Him. The first order of returning to God is in the area of submission. “Submit yourselves then to God”.
Jesus tells it to us this way in John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” The presence of the Godhead abides upon the one who is willing to submit in obedience to God and His Word. Develop an ear that hears the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and then be quick to obey it.
Secondly, He says resist the devil and he will flee from you. Many of us exercise very little resistance. We willing take in whatever is put in front of us. We exercise very little discipline of our flesh rather it is what we take in mentally, visually, audibly or physically. There is very little difference between most of us and the world at large. God is awakening us to our state of being, not to condemn us but to prepare us. If we men were suddenly taken out of our present lifestyle and placed on the front lines of battle, how do you think we would fair? The enemy would cut through us like butter and in effect that is what he is doing now, because we have become fat and lazy through our life styles. What we are not seeing is the spiritual battle that is raging before us like an ominous thundercloud.
God is saying to us, ‘take stock of your condition and where you are physically, mentally and spiritually.’ He is saying, if you will begin right now coming near to me, I will meet you and come near to you. Start by washing your hands of the sin and filth of this world that you have allowed to come into you. Cease from being double-minded, spiritually minded one time and fleshly minded the next. We are like a Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. Depending upon the place and the company we are in we are either spiritual or fleshly. We must be of a single mind at all times and that mind has to coincide with the mind of Christ. We all need to come to a true state of repentance where we honestly recognize and acknowledge the spiritual state we are in and then truly repent of it with true weeping and mourning. If we humble ourselves before the Lord and fear Him, He will lift us up. He will ready us for the days to come and preserve us in the darkest hour. Only hear His exhortation, “Draw near to me!”
There is only One that can preserve us when the world is overtaken in calamity. Your wealth, your reputation and position, your influence and all of your possessions can be gone tomorrow. They are temporal. You only have one sure foundation and cornerstone that cannot be moved and His name is Jesus Christ. Draw near to Him with all of your heart, your soul, your mind and strength. “

Blessings,
#kent

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Roots

January 30, 2015

Matthew 3:7-10
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Roots

Roots in our lives come from seeds that were planted either in our lives or perhaps the generations before us. Roots go down into the recesses of our soul, but they produce fruit upward. That fruit can be good or bad, selfless or selfish, spiritual or fleshly. Like any good garden it is the gardener’s desire to enhance the fruitfulness of the good plants and to pull out the weeds that want to choke out what if fruitful and good. What happens to a weed if we only pull off what we can see? We know that if we didn’t get the root, the weed will grow back. Such are the areas of our lives that the good Gardner, the Holy Spirit wants search out in us and root out.
William Law wrote, “Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state. We are without God, because we are in the life of self. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking, are the very essence, and life of pride; and the devil the first father of pride, is never absent from them, nor without power in them. To die to these essential properties of self, is to make the devil depart from us. But as soon as we would have self-abilities have a share in our good works, the satanic spirit of pride is in union with us, and we are working for the maintenance of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking.” He perceived that the major root of sin and separation from God is self. When Christ came into our lives it should be as John the Baptist said, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” All that was built upon the foundation and has the root of self in it must be cut away. That root must be cut out, along with all of the other off-shoot roots that it produces.
Many of us struggle in different areas of our lives. We may pull them off for a time, but then they seem to continue to come back, sometimes even stronger than before. The question is, “Have we found the root?” Unless we trace these strongholds back to their root they may be hard to get free of. Somewhere we or an ancestor as opened a door for a spiritual attachment to come in and find root. It doesn’t mean that we are possessed or anything, but it does mean that there can be a strong soul tie to something that needs God’s axe to sever and separate us from it. It is something that we recognize the fruit of in our outward life, but we haven’t fully identified the root of it and then renounced and cut off that soul tie to it. Sometimes these roots like those of our wisdom teeth can become candy-caned and intertwined in the areas of our life where it is a process of identifying, renouncing and cutting off these roots by the power and authority we have in Christ Jesus. Nothing ever leaves our lives until we have fully repented of them, renounced them and no longer give them permission in our lives. We can go through the motions, but until our will is one with the Father, these roots will not be fully extracted.
Hebrews 12:15 refers to one such root. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Bitterness, offense, unforgiveness are roots that are prone to try to get a hold of members of the body of Christ. If we don’t recognize and deal with them they can cause division, dissention, backbiting, gossip, slander and all manner of poisonous manifestations that would defile the many. Prejudice is often a root that is passed to us from previous generations.
The Holy Spirit has indwelled us to bring us into the nature, mind and character of Christ. We need to have intimacy with the Father and the time in the Word so that we can say like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)”
It is only as we partner with the Holy Spirit that these roots can be identified and cut out. If we want a weed free garden, then it starts with our renouncement of self in every area of our lives and the full surrender to Christ as our Lord and King. As we give the Holy Spirit permission He will search our hearts and reveal things to us that we then must renounce, repent and surrender to Christ. This is an ongoing process in all of our lives, but the more we work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to give Him place the more freedom and liberty in the Spirit we can come into.
A lot of us want to continue to sweep our issues under the rug and just ignore them, but we are only robbing ourselves of that place of greater fullness through a wholly surrendered life to Christ. Find your roots.

Blessings,
#kent

Strongholds

April 24, 2014

Mark 3:23-27a
So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

Strongholds

There are strongholds that each one of us deals with in our lives. Some may be stronger than others, but all of us have dealt with areas of our flesh where we are weak and more prone to failure and sin. Most all of us tend to want to keep these in the secret places of our closets so others won’t see, but often very ugly things reside behind the closed doors of our home and our hearts. These strongholds have fettered us and kept us in a state of bondage even as Christians for far too long. It is most often a love-hate relationship. We hate our sin and yet we love it too much to let go of it. As a result we struggle with our hypocrisy, often justifying it or rationalizing it so we can live with this bondage that is crippling our wholeness in Christ. Many of us live with much guilt and condemnation because we truly love the Lord and yet in these areas that may differ with each one of us, we are weak and seem unable to break free.
The enemy knows our areas of weakness and vulnerability. These are his inroads to our soul to hinder us and cripple us in walking in obedience in these areas. No amount of rules or laws are going to deliver us from these sensual or fleshly indulgences.
Paul says this in Colossians 2:19-13, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The truth is that Jesus Christ has bound the strong man, disarming his powers and authority. We now possess in Christ a greater power and authority than that which has bound us. Verse 10 says ‘you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.’
So why are we still enslaved by these strongholds of sin and flesh? God has placed the Spirit of Christ in us to overcome the flesh. It is easy when someone does everything for you, but it doesn’t help you to grow or to find the strength you need to live in victory. God has called us to overcome in Christ Jesus.
We plead, “But I have tried and I still fail. I can’t do it.”
That is exactly right, we can’t do it, but we have a power resident within us by which we can. Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The key words here for us are “By the Spirit”. We have an identity in Christ that we must put on in every area of our lives. We are no longer identified with the weakness, fearfulness and the lust of our flesh. We are identified with what we possess which Colossians 2:10 says is the ‘fullness in Christ’.
Colossians 3:1-11 exhorts us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put 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.” We must know who we are and where we now reside in the Spirit. We are not an earthly people any longer, we are a kingdom people with the King of Kings setting upon the throne our hearts and souls.
Some of us cry out in our souls and say, “I want to be free, but I can’t.” Can’t is not a statement of faith, but of fear and unbelief. “We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.” Our greatest enemy is the deceptiveness of sin. We hide our sin in the closet because of our shame. We don’t want people to think of us less than spiritual; when in truth we are all struggling with the same garbage. It doesn’t matter how wicked or perverse the thing is that you struggle with, God sees it and He knows. It is not His will that this stronghold possesses you and rules over you. The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you alone with your sin, like you are the only one going through this. You are not alone. We all struggle in areas of our life. Our greatest strength and victory is going to come when we bring our sin and struggles into the light and we allow the body of Christ to stand with us, pray with us and offer accountability to us. James 3:16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The reason we confess our sins to one another is to bring them into the light, which renders the devil powerless. He can only work in darkness. In the light we unite with the strength and support of fellow believers who can pray with us, stand with us and help us to be accountable in those areas where we are so prone to temptation.
It is time for all of us to come out of our dysfunctional state of sin and failure. Let us help one another in coming into the full freedom and deliverance from these strongholds that have so long crippled and hindered us in our walk and full devotion to Christ. You are not alone in your struggle. Surround yourself with other solid believers that you can trust and confide in. You may find that you are able to help them as much as they can help you. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light. No more strongholds!

Blessings,
#kent

The Source of Our Life

November 9, 2012

James 1;21-25
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The Source of Our Life

Life flows from the inward parts. The source of our life and the well-spring of its origin are manifested in the taste of that which flows out of us. That is why James asks the question in James 3:11, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” Can there be, should there be, two sources of life flowing out of us? The tongue is what betrays the source of our life. It can not be tamed, but speaks what is in the abundance of our heart.
James is saying that this duality and duplicity of nature is not of God. We produce the fruit of what we are planting within our minds and hearts. If is showing up as ungodliness then it is telling us that Christ isn’t our central and primary source of life.
Within the church and many of our own lives there is such a mixture of flesh and spirit. That is understandable to a degree, we are in the state of change and transformation., While we have been crucified with Christ we should be moving in the direction of that place where we no longer live, but Christ is living in and through us. For that to happen we have to be eating out of the garden and from the seed of His life. We must be in constant communion, fellowship and relationship with Him. When we compartmentalize Christ into just certain areas or times in our lives, then we haven’t fully sold out to His life alone. We are living in spiritual adultery as we drink from other cisterns or wells that are not the waters of His Spirit and life. “Adultery” is an ugly word that we don’t like to hear or relate with, but we have to all ask ourselves, where am I drawing my life continually from? Many of us want a spiritual life, but in a worldly context. Thus we are choosing to partake once again of that which Christ died to deliver us out of.
Jesus says we can’t choose two masters. We can’t be both spiritual and worldly, for in doing so we pollute the waters of His righteousness and life. Listen to what James 4:4-10 says, ” You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
It is not the Lord’s heart to condemn us through this word, but open our eyes to where we are, where we are going and what is being produced through our lives. Yes, we all make mistakes along the way, but where is our heart? What are we living fully for and where are we drawing our strength and life to live in that way? God want us to be the purified flow of His life, producing godly fruit in this world. He wants us to remember where our identity is; in Him and not in this world. The world knows Jesus, by what they see in you and me. If we aren’t the real deal, then how will they ever know or even want the real deal. Live out of the life of God that you may produce the works of God. We are often so quick to judge others when it is ourselves we need to judge and correct.
Come, let us repent before the Lord and return unto Him with our whole hearts. Let us continually and solely drink from the wells of God’s salvation and life.

Blessings,
kent

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