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

Advertisements

Do not Tempt the Lord

October 2, 2014

Do not Tempt the Lord

Matthew 4:7
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

What does it mean to tempt the Lord? In the Old Testament usage the implication is that men tempt God when they exhibit distrust in a manner as if they wanted to try whether God is not justly distrusted. Also by unrighteous or wicked conduct to test God’s justice and patience. They are in affect challenging Him to prove His perfection.
In the passage of Matthew 4:7 we see Jesus in the wilderness is being tempted of the devil. In the preceding verses, 4 and 5 we see the temptation, “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” The devil is trying to get Jesus to prove He is God’s Son by testing Him supernaturally to see if the Father will save Him. He even uses scripture to back it up.
There is a flag of caution to us as believers that we don’t find ourselves tempting God and trying to make Him prove Himself through presumptuous acts of faith. Jesus never did miracles because He was challenged to do so. Though there was not a question that the power was resident in Him, He acted and lived in complete submission to the will and mind of the Father. Because we have the promises of God’s Word and the authority of the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean we can go call fire down out of heaven or do whatever our heart fancies. We, like Jesus, must operate under the mind and will of the Spirit of God. When we are operating out of our flesh, especially concerning the things of God, are we not putting God to the test and tempting Him?
Acts 5 gives us the story of Ananias and Sapphira, early church Christians who sold there possessions for a certain price and then conspired to lie about it in order to hold back some of the possession for themselves. Now the possession was there’s to give or keep, but where they tempted God was when, instead of being forthright with what they were doing they conspired to lie to the disciples. What they failed to consider is that these disciples were the ambassadors of the Most High God, so their lie was not to men but to God. As a result we see a very stern and sobering demonstration of God’s judgement upon them, in that they both dropped dead when confronted with their sin. Peter makes the statement to Sapphira just before God’s judgement comes upon her, “Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband [are] at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Do we ever plot to do our own thing contrary or with disregard to the mind and will of God? Are we tempting God not to deal with us for disobedience?
In the Old Testament we read a number of accounts especially with the Israelites going through the wilderness with Moses where they tempted God through there discontentment, murmuring, lust and failure to trust the Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 gives a very good summation of this for our exhortation, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Let us guard our hearts and our walk today that we don’t find ourselves in that place of tempting God. Let us, like Christ, submit our wills, our desires, our faith and actions, to the will and direction of the Holy Spirit so that we walk in a way that is honorable, respectful, and obedient to His holiness. We desire His blessings and not His discipline, so let us soberly consider that we tempt not the Lord.

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

Hypocrisy

April 16, 2014

Hypocrisy

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The definition of a hypocrite is, one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, pretender, one who is feigned, disguised or is insincere. It is one who wears a mask or false identity. It is a fact of human nature that what you see is not always what you get. From the time we are children we grow up learning to play the game of human interaction. We learn to put forward what others or society expects of us which often is not who we really are. We want to be people pleasers and accepted of others. Sometimes we have so many identities we don’t even know who we are.
Then, when we become Christians we are introduced to the religious system and we learn how to wear that mask. We learn the right phrases, how to act and put forward what is “acceptable Christian behavior.” Never mind the arguing, fighting and ugliness we showed toward our spouse and children as we were getting ready for church and on the way. As we step out of the car and walk into the church suddenly this transformation takes place. Suddenly we put on this godly smile and countenance and to those we encounter all is right with the world. If we are honest all of us have experienced this kind of behavior in our lives and probably still do. There is this duality in our lives that keeps us from being who we really are for fear that that is unacceptable. Many of us spend our lives living a lie and fashion ourselves around the dictates of others. We are so afraid of being seen in the nakedness of who we really are. It is true that many of us have some pretty hideous deformities and abnormalities in our lives, but are they ever dealt with and healed by masking them over. Our lives become one big game of pretending to be something or someone we really aren’t. What is worse, we then judge others out of our pretentious hypocrisy, because they don’t live up to the standard. The truth is they just don’t play the game as good as we do.
Is this what God wants us to be? If ever Jesus railed on anyone, it wasn’t the outright sinner it was the hypocrite. The one who liked to condemn and point the finger when inside he was no different than the ones he condemned. ” For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:2-5).”
We have been talking a lot about light and darkness. It is time we all come out into the light and be real with who we are. The truth is that most all of our lives are a mess in one area or another. We know that God sees us for who we really are. We know that it is only His power and grace that can transform us. How can this take place if we can’t even face up to who and what we are? It starts with us being honest with ourselves and with God. His love and mercy has already been extended to us in that, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He loves us no matter how ugly the sin our lives has been, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. His desire is bring us out of darkness into the light so that there it is exposed and we can repent, receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ and begin a path in the opposite direction of our sin, dependent upon the Lord to help us walk that way. We are all in this walk together and we are going from glory to glory, but we are at different stages in our maturity and walk with God. Our purpose as a body is to help each other along the way. We have to deal with these sin issues with honesty if we are going to be set free of them. If we want to continue to hold on to them then the dealings must become more severe, because these are stumbling blocks and hindrances to who we really are in Christ and what He has called us to be. Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It is time that we quit playing games with God and with others and be real. Let’s deal with who we really are, because only then can we come into what God wants us to be. It is time we stop living the lie of hypocrisy and become the forgiven vessels of His mercy and grace no matter how humble that may be. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22).”

blessings,
#kent

The Hidden Things

April 17, 2013

The Hidden Things

1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Blessed is the person who is open and honest with every aspect of their lives. They don’t scheme to conceal in dark hidden places of their hearts, their sin. They simply are what they are, for better or for worse, their life is an open book. It’s not that they are better than anyone else or have any less struggles with sin and self, but they don’t try to hide it behind a facade of religion or spirituality that builds an appearance of one thing, but the motives and deeds of the heart are something else. I believe God honors the person who is open and honest with their lives. The fact that they are willing to put everything out in the open, without hypocrisy, even when it is less than flattering or pretty, keeps them in a place of accountability before God and man. It keeps them from falling into the hidden sins of the heart. They may be more vulnerable to criticisms and the judgements of others, but I believe God honors the honesty and willingness to expose themselves even in their weakness. This is where God wants to bring more of us.
Unfortunately, many of us have our secret lives, our sins, our little dark closets of impurity where we harbor and feed our hidden passions, desires, lusts, addictions and fleshpots. It is not that we all don’t struggle with these things in different areas of our lives, but it is when we shroud them in darkness and hide them from the light that they become dangerous to us and others. In this mindset we compartmentalize our lives into the spiritual and non-spiritual. We begin to rationalize and justify our sin. A very evident example of this is seen a our former president who appeared one way in his public life, but was something else in his private life. The example and warning for us that practice like things is that one day the light is going to come in and expose our sin. We could all see the shame, embarrassment, and tremendous hurt and pain the former president’s sin brought. It not only hurt and soiled this man’s reputation, but also the office and the country it represented. What would the hidden sins of our hearts do to our lives if they were fully exposed today? The light will expose them one day and we will be found out in our shame. The Lord once spoke to me that if we would keep everything out in the light, darkness would have no place to work in us. Is there anything in our lives today that we would be ashamed for others to see? How many Christian ministries and testimonies have been destroyed by hidden sins that the Lord exposed? The Lord showed me that our weakness and propensities toward areas of sin are like beasts. They start off small and cute, but the more we feed them, the bigger and the uglier they grow, until they are beyond our control.
Hidden sin is especially a concern for those who carry the responsibility of others either as parents, ministry or a place of leadership. When we have these areas in our lives we can be removing the umbrella and hedge of spiritual protection that we should be providing through our lives that are in right relationship and purity before God. We could be facing many trials with children, finances, sickness, or other afflictions, because we have opened the door to the enemy through our sin.
This word this morning, is a warning and exhortation from the Lord to deal with these areas of our heart. We can turn a deaf ear as we have in the past or we can heed the loving exhortation and warning of the Lord before it is too late for us to repent and turn from our sin. For the day will come that it will be exposed and we will face the full consequences of what ever it is that we are hiding. The Word says ‘our sin will find us out.’ Let us remember how many times Israel refused to hear and hardened their hearts against the prophets that were sent to warn them to turn away from their sin and the judgements that ensued, because they refused to listen and obey. Believe me, God has been dealing with my own heart in these areas. What you will find is that as you are willing to acknowledge your sin and repent, putting that sin away from you, you will experience a liberation and freedom. You will experience a renewed confidence in your relationship with the Lord. You will be removing the roadblocks to your spiritual blessings and most importantly you will be set free to live the life and ministry that God has called you too. Make yourself accountable to others so that you keep your life in the light. Sometimes these things are bigger than we are and we need the help of others. Go to someone that you can trust and that has the spiritual maturity to help you get free. A true brother or sister in the Lord won’t judge you or condemn you; they will want to help you to be restored, because they know that you could be them. Many times there are groups formed for just such a purpose. We want to restore and help one another in love, so that we can all operate in the unity and oneness of the faith, ministering to one another in the love of Christ. Let us truthfully examine and judge ourselves today, that we be not judged. Let us deal with the hidden sins of our heart.

Blessings,
kent

%d bloggers like this: