More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

A Purpose Driven Life

December 3, 2014

A Purpose Driven Life

Romans 8:28
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.

Haven’t all of us that have embraced Christ by faith and entered into a relationship with Him, been called according to His purpose. Often we confuse our purpose with His purpose and they are not always the same. Many of us have our own agendas, our own aspirations and goals, but they may not necessarily be in line with God’s purpose for your life. The Lord has given us a will and if we are bent on our ways rather than pursuing what He has for our lives, we can make that choice.
Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 Corinthians 16:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If we truly love the Lord then we need to acknowledge that we are His and no longer our own. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of what God’s purpose is, “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Most of us, quite honestly, tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual, what is God’s and what is ours. The Lord’s intent is that all that we are is spiritual and belongs to Him, body, soul and spirit. What are we missing in the purpose and will of God for our lives because we are caught up in our own ways. How much of our lives do we filter through the Holy Spirit, seeking His direction and council and asking that His will and purpose are accomplished in all that we do and the decisions that we make? Do we instead, forge headlong into the desires and purposes of our own heart and expect God to be a part of and bless what we have purposed to do? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
We can be really thankful that our God is so loving, patient and kind; and that He endeavors to deal with our hearts and speak to us in our times of self-discovery. We can listen to the gentle dealings of the Lord or we can ignore Him and continue on until one day we must come to terms and the consequences of our own actions.
Father has a purpose and calling for each one of our lives. Are we embracing and living fully in it? If we truly love Him and have been called out of the world by Him, then we have the assurance that all that the Lord is working in our lives is for the good. At times it may not seem good, but that is where we have to trust the heart of God and His promises concerning our lives.
Are we living in God’s purpose today? Are we living the destiny He has called us too? Those things can only be discovered and found out in Him through a yielded spirit and a contrite heart. The Lord will lead and direct our lives if we allow Him to do so.
Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us in this purpose, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Are we living God’s purpose driven life for us today?

Blessings,
#kent

A Heart Perfect with the Lord

November 17, 2014

1 King 8:61
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

A Heart Perfect with the Lord

If a heart is perfect it is at unity and oneness with the Father. Its ways, desires and ambitions are in alignment with the Father’s will, purpose and plan. It is at the center of where He wants us to be in Him today. All that the Father is working in you is to bring you to this place where it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me.
I had a young lady tell me the other day that she was finally at a place in her life where she was finding herself. As I thought about that, I thought I am in a place in my life where I am losing myself, for it is no longer self that I want, but Christ. Who I want to be is no longer me, but Him.
It isn’t even about me keeping the written laws and ordinances, not that these aren’t valid and right, but there is the law that He has written in our hearts on tables of flesh. The Holy Spirit indelibly writes them so that as I observe them I can walk after the spirit and no longer after the flesh. Even the efforts of righteousness and right doing are not my doing but the Spirit of Him that is living through me. Maybe that just sounds like semantics, but I believe it is more than that. The former righteousness spoke of my self efforts to please and walk before God, but in Christ it is the rest in His divine life and presence that we enter into by faith, ceasing from our efforts as we simply yield to His life living through us. This is a progressive work. Certainly not one done in a day, but it is accomplished in a lifestyle of living through Christ. It starts with the first order of the day being to submit our life unto Him afresh. We ask Him to order our steps in His purpose, to establish our ways and lives in His will and purpose and to be the power that energizes our mind, will and emotions in conformity with His righteous directives.
Have we arrived there yet in practice and in deed? No, but we are daily conforming our heart to an attitude that is perfect toward the Lord. John 7:18 says, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” Let us be of this latter one who works for the honor of the One who sent us. For we are a people of truth. May there be no false way about us because our hearts are perfect toward Him who has called us into His marvelous light and truth.

Blessings,
#kent

Diligence

October 9, 2014

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

Diligence

It is often astounding when we have observed a garden or a lawn that at one time was so beautiful and groomed and then to observe it’s state after a time when it has been abandoned or neglected. What we see are two totally different scenes, first one of beauty and then one of weeds, deterioration and ruin. Our soul can be much the same way. It can be that beautiful garden where we meet and fellowship with God consistently and frequently. It can be a sanctuary of light and truth, filled with joy and blessing. In this state people can look upon it and see the beauty that fills it. What happens when we become less than diligent to maintain that fellowship and groom that garden of our soul? Little by little it will deteriorate. It will dry out, weeds will sprout up and the good fruit and plants will whither and die. A good garden requires continual diligence and so it is with our souls. Many of us can look back over our lives and see times when we have had that wonderful relationship and fellowship with God and our soul has flourished in the sunshine of His love and presence, but then other things came in and captivated our time and attention. We began to neglect more and more our time of prayer and fellowship with the Lord until our garden was one in name only, but not in appearance and fruitfulness. Darkness began to fill the areas where there had once been so much light and life and truth. Weeds began to spring up and choke out the purity, the love and the joy that once abounded there. One day it dawns upon us as we see our life a mess, what happened to my garden? What happened to that relationship and fellowship I once had? The Lord doesn’t abandon us, we abandon Him. He is always there to help us to reestablish that garden and that fellowship again. The thing that I have observed in my life is that when we give ground to the enemy, it is harder taking it back the second time. Yet, the Lord is there for us if we will return to Him in love and repentance.
Diligence is often what we loose sight of. Our Christianity and faith weren’t a one time thing when we walked an isle and gave our heart to Jesus, it is a day by day relationship that rejoices in the good times, but hangs tough and continues to trust even in the difficult and trying times. It is like a marriage, it needs our constant attention or we will grow apart. We want a relationship where every day with Jesus it sweeter than the day before.
Hebrew 6:10-12 exhorts us by saying, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Our faith is not a sprint it is a marathon. It is not about how fast we run in the beginning, but about our steady and steadfast run through life. It is not about starting the race, but about finishing it and that takes perseverance and all diligence. The Lord called each of us to be a partaker of His divine nature and He has given us great and precious promise through which we might enter in. 2 Peter 1:2-10 speaks to this diligence in obtaining all that God has called us too. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The Lord has given us all that we need, but we need the diligence to keep pressing into Him and maintaining that garden relationship with Him. Perhaps for some of us our relationship and fellowship with the Lord has been slipping away and we are loosing that closeness and intimacy with Him. Be diligent to turn back your heart to Him and draw near again. He loves you and delights in your visitation and your fellowship. Be diligent and don’t give up or turn away.

Blessings,
#kent

Spiritual Fitness

March 27, 2014

Spiritual Fitness

1 Timothy 4:8
For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.

We live in a time and a society that is very health and fitness conscious. It almost seems ironic, considering over half our population would fall in the obese or overweight category. Yet we are hearing about it all of the time. The truth is we want to eat and enjoy all that we want, but we still want to have buff and gorgeous bodies and looks. Somehow God didn’t seem to create them to go together very well. If we want physical fitness, then we know that it requires discipline and effort on our part. People and companies have made billions of dollars by selling pills and products that told us we could have the one without the other. If I set in front of my TV and watch a workout program that should somehow help me to get fit. If I eat a snickers candy bar and a diet coke, then I think I’m on a diet and am going to lose weight. If I watch a lot of sports, then somehow that makes me an athlete.
This scripture makes an analogy. There is nothing wrong with physical training and staying in shape. Like anything it can get out of balance. While physical training in a natural sense can be good, in the light of what is really meaningful in life it isn’t that high on the list. We are in the process of maturing and training up our spiritual man. As in the physical, to be spiritually fit requires an investment of time, of dedication, discipline and exercise. What kind of spiritual shape is our life in today? Are we armchair and couch-potato Christians? Do we warm a pew, say a few weak amens, listen to a sermon or a word and then continue on through life without it affecting any change in our behavior, or actions, or involvement? Are we lethargic, complacent, dull, and self-willed? What is the state of our spiritual fitness today? How would you honestly rate yourself on a scale of 1 to10? When I look at my physical man and see how indulgent I have become in so many areas of my life, I realize that the same mentality can very well carry over into my spiritual life. Are we a nation of out of shape and overindulgent Christians? Outwardly we are very blessed, but inwardly do we fit the profile of Revelations 3:17? “17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” This is not written to condemn us, but it is a call to action for all of us. Many of you who are reading this are spiritually strong and fit, but others of us may be strong with our words, but weak in our actions.
The apostle Paul gives us another analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.
26Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.
27But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].”
We all need to come to grips with the fact that God has a calling and a purpose in our lives. I am being convicted today that there needs to be both a physical and spiritual discipline in my life. I am not talking about legalism, but like Paul, I need to conduct my life with temperance, self-control and have myself in check, spirit, soul and body. God is calling us in this hour to prepare ourselves for a time of great spiritual battle and a time of His revealing. Most of us aren’t prepared for that with the mentality and habits that we harbor. God is calling us to spiritual fitness through such things as prayer, fasting, personal time with the Lord and walking out our faith in love and actions that reveal the character of who we are in Christ. We are a called out people, a separated people and a holy people. We are a people called after God’s own name and for His glory. We are being called to the gyms of spiritual fitness to be exercised in godliness and righteousness. We have an adversary who has been lulling us to sleep and into spiritual laziness. This is the day to discern our spiritual state and develop a mentality and lifestyle that is in harmony with God’s desire for our spiritual fitness. The overcomer is a person of spiritual strength and fortitude. Spiritual strength is developed in discipline, consistency, a right state of mind and a vision of what we are being strong for. We don’t want to find ourselves, after believing, coming up short and missing the mark of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. Let us press on with all of our being into Him and be strong in the power of His might.

Blessings,
#Kent

Life and Godliness

June 3, 2013

1 Timothy 6:6-12
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Life and Godliness

This scripture kind of flies in the face of all that we are taught in our present day society. It teaches us that it is all about education, working your way up, success and getting ahead. All of these can be good in the right balance, but in all of our pursuit of life’s “success” we often miss the most important and needful things, life and godliness. It takes a paradigm shift in our natural thinking to not be so earthly minded and material oriented that we rob our soul to satisfy our flesh. How many upon finally reaching their goals of success, wealth, fame and riches find that happiness, satisfaction, contentment and peace are not in the pot of gold they thought to find at the end of their rainbow?
We all need to work and support ourselves and families. That is a godly principle. In the process of that we often find ourselves getting out of balance, because the world and work place begins to demand more and more from us at the expense of robbing God, our family and even our own souls.
Many times this may be because we are trying to find our identity in our career rather than our relationship with Christ. What we are and how we are seen in world’s eyes supercedes who we are and our life’s purpose in Christ. Many of us have fallen in this snare and may be there right now.
This is not to condemn, but cause us to take an honest look at our true motives, affections and life’s pursuits. If we are not first and foremost focused on our identity in Christ and how He wants to live through us day by day, then we are missing our calling. We all have to be so careful that we don’t get caught up in the materialism of the world and society we live in, that we miss our higher and foremost calling. “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
If our basic needs are met, then let us pursue what God apprehended foremost for, Himself. Our primary function is the expression of His nature in and through our lives which grows out of an ever increasing relationship and intimacy with Him. The enemy will bring every distraction and temptation to rob us of that identity and purpose we all have in Christ Jesus.
Let us check our priorities today. Are we aligning our lives with this scripture? If not, what steps do we need to take to bring our lives back on course with our true identity and purpose?

Blessings,
kent

The Simple Life

November 28, 2012

The Simple Life

Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Does life with all of its demands overwhelm you? Are you caught up in a flurry of activity just trying to survive till the next day? Often life can become this way. Life has a way of running over us and possessing us instead of us possessing it.
I was reading the scripture in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The dream of most of us as human beings is to try and get ahead, to have just a little more and before we know it we are consumed in our pursuit for material gain. What compounds the problem is that the more we have the more we become enslaved to keeping it up, maintaining and repairing all that we possess. All of those things that we wanted for our enjoyment now run our lives. It can be a hard merry-go-round to get off of. In some ways we do want to get off of it and in some ways we don’t. The sad part is that often when we come to the place in life where we have what we want materially we find that other essential parts of our lives are suffering and we may be losing what are the most important things. Often it is at this time in our lives that we find our marriage falling apart or our children are out of control or we lack a true spiritual relationship with the Lord like we used to have.
Sometimes we have to take the time in life to reevaluate our priorities, goals and purpose. I believe this scripture in 1 Timothy 6 is directed at us as Christians. There is nothing evil with money itself; it is what does inside of us through greed and covetousness that can end up devastating our lives. Maybe it is time for some of us to change our focus from our paycheck to what life is really all about, our relationships. Many of us look back at earlier times when we struggled financially, but we were so much happier because at least we had love, the Lord and each other. Somewhere along the way we can loose those precious things that money can’t buy.
Maybe today is the day to begin to simplify our lives, returning more to the basics and just working for the essentials. Our greatest assets are not in our bank account, portfolio or investments; they are in our families, our faith and our relationship with the Lord. Love is the most important thing and money can’t buy you love. Check your compass and correct your course as needed.

Blessings,
kent

%d bloggers like this: