His Church

October 3, 2013

His Church

Ephesians 5:25-30
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body.

We, the Church, the loving bride of Christ, are taking in our hands the faces of the world’s wounded, downtrodden and outcast. We are the voice of God’s love and good news to those that are looking for direction and purpose in their lives. At some point, I think most people come to the realization of how shallow and empty that life is without God in it. Some would scorn and say we just use God as a crutch, because we aren’t able to think for ourselves and have no mind of our own. I am just so thankful that I have the wisdom to recognize how lame I am without Him. They are right I have no more use for my mind, because I understand how much greater it is to have the mind of Christ. Yes, the world and its spirit will often mock and ridicule us, but in the end what do they have but themselves, a meaningless life and an eternity of darkness. Mock the church if you will, but a least she is full of light and hope. She has purpose for living and being. She is more than just the expression of humanity; she is the expression of God’s redemption working in humanity. Yes, we will find in her many cracks and flaws if we are only looking on the outward vessel, but contained within her is a treasure beyond measure. It is the awesome presence of God’s Holy Spirit and Life. So many and varied are her members, all of them unique and different, but each one reflecting some aspect and dimension of God’s nature.
The Church is the redeemed of the Lord. It is the blood of Christ that now courses through our veins with the life-flow of God’s life, love and forgiveness. His mind is renewing our mind. His thoughts are becoming our thoughts. His eyes are becoming our eyes as we see our world from a kingdom of heaven perspective. As we hear with spiritual ears the world’s voice, we are moved to compassion for the hurting and the weak. We are moved to indignation over the world’s sin and antichrist behavior, but in it all, we are the salt of the earth. We are the ones that season it with the flavor of life and godliness. We are the ones who bring hope and the message of God’s love and reconciliation. Our world is perishing before us as we speak, but are we speaking God’s life and His love? Are we communicating with our world only on its terms, or are we communicating in a manner that our world is seeing something different in us? It doesn’t take us standing on a soapbox, preaching hell, fire and damnation to communicate God to people. It takes living a life that is like His, full of self-sacrifice, compassion, righteousness tempered with humility. It is not about us being lifted up or us being better than others, it is about us rolling up our sleeves and being willing to get down in the mud and dirt so that we lift someone else up. God didn’t place us in the position of looking down on others. He has placed us in the position of servanthood, of being the least that we might serve the greater. People won’t care about what we have to say until they know we really care.
It is sad when see so much of the church caught up in the outward show of things, in crowd appeal, pomp and splendor. You are more likely to find the greater presence of the Lord in some small nobody minister of the Lord who is simply in the fields of humanity laboring for the kingdom. His notoriety is not in the way he dresses, or performs, or orates, it in the likeness he has to Christ and His nature. He stands out the way Mother Teresa stood out. These people are a unique breed who have lost their life in expressing His.
Is that who we are today? How much of our life is still about us? Most of us would have to admit an awful lot of who and what we are is still about us. This is not to condemn us, but it is not in living for us that we will find God’s highest and His richest blessings. We have to become about serving others and that doesn’t mean letting everyone manipulate you into what they think you should do. It is in being humble and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to direct you in His purpose and His plan.
The Church is a beautiful woman, but she is not yet without spot or wrinkle. It will no doubt take the fuller’s soap to cleanse her and the fire of God to iron out her wrinkles, along with the washing of the water of the word. Each one of us is a part of what makes up God’s church and His bride. How are we living out our part?

Blessings,
kent

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Giving

June 18, 2013

Giving

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Around Christmas time we all think a lot more about sharing and gift giving. We have learned that it is not just the joy of getting, but that it is the joy of seeing someone else’s face light up when they receive something that blesses and pleases them, that is the greater blessing. I guess we tend to give more around Christmas time because it is the season, but we know that it should be an attitude that we carry with us throughout the year.
You know, God is an extravagant giver. He doesn’t just give to us what we deserve it and His gifts aren’t even based on how good we are, because His love is unconditional and it can not be bought or earned. It has been the prayer of my heart for some time now, “Lord, make me an extravagant giver like You are.” We don’t want the giving that is based on how much we have monetarily or in possessions, it is an attitude of God’s nature within us that says, “make me a blessing.”
When Jesus came into the earth as God’s most extravagant gift to mankind, He didn’t grow up to take what He could have rightly claimed as His own, He came to give His life day by day. He cared about people and He showed that love and caring in personal and real ways. His richest gifts weren’t money or wealth; it was himself. Oh, that I might give myself to bless others as He has blessed us.
Christmas often gets caught up in commercialism and gift giving and getting, but our most important asset is a giving heart. In all we give and do, I know that God looks at our hearts. Proverbs 21:2 says, “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” In Matthew 12:35 Jesus says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Our giving then is not about how much, but the attitude of our heart in what we give. One day Jesus was observing the people giving their offerings. Many of the rich were presenting their offerings with great pomp and show. It didn’t impress Jesus, but He saw a little widow that humbly put in her two mites or about the equivalent of a penny and he said, “truly she has given more than them all, because she gave all that she had.” The Lord is looking upon our motives that same way.
“God so loved the world.” It is His love that makes us extravagant givers. In as much as He enables and helps me, I want to learn to give like our Father gives and with the same motive of heart, how about you?

Blessings,
kent

The Backside of Love

November 23, 2012

Hebrews 12:14-11
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The Backside of Love

When we speak of love it often the warm fuzzy feelings that come rushing to the forefront of our minds and emotions. Certainly God’s love can be there to warm us with provision, blessing, intimacy with Him and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence. What we don’t so often recognize or care to acknowledge is the backside of God’s love. Love’s desire is to bless, but often in order to bless it has to correct, instruct, discipline and train. Such is God’s love for us as sons. We love all of the glory and power that is associated with being sons, but to get us to the nature and character of sons their has to be the Father’s discipline and correction. God tells us if we don’t go through this then aren’t really sons; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines and corrects. This is no less a part of His love than the warm and fuzzy part.
Sometimes it is hard to comprehend with the natural mind how pain, discipline and suffering could be associated with love and yet it is. These are the tools of our perfecting and instruction. It is in this humbling place of discipline that we loose ourselves and begin to take on Him. We learn to identify with the pain and suffering of others and out of that place develop hearts of compassion to minister the love and life of God to a hurting and dying world. It is not in the high places of recognition, worldly honor, power and position that we carry the image of Christ. It is in the low places of people’s needs, their hurts, their wounding and brokenness. There, in these low places, do we learn how to administrate justice, healing, deliverance and restoration to the identity that God has for His humanity. It says, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” His holiness is to be wholly like Him in our being.
Let’s face it, our flesh is self-serving, self-preserving and self edifying. It is all about me, what I like, what I want, what feels good and what looks good. The Cross is our instrument of discipline that brings us to the end ourselves and begins shaping us in the image and the nature of Christ. In order to come into His likeness, my likeness has to be done away with. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Job 5:17-22 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
19From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you.
20In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
21You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
22You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth.”
God disciplines us to take our confidence out of ourselves and put it into Him. Hebrews 2:10- 11 is says, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” If the author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, are we better than He?
Let us bear up under our discipline manfully, acknowledging and praising God in whatever we are called upon to endure. The closer we are drawn to the bosom of the Father the hotter the flames of His holiness burn, but they will only burn away in us what is corruptible, temporal and what must perish anyway. For what is burned is only the ropes that have bound us as it was for the three Hebrew children in the Bablylonish furnace in the book of Daniel.
1 Peter 4:12-14 exhorts us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
The backside of Father’s love is not always pleasant, but it is needful for us to come into the sons He has called us to be. Endure patiently and faithfully, for in due season it will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

Blessings,
kent

Enveloped in His Nature

October 1, 2012

1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice forc our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Enveloped in His Nature

One of the things that we know about God is that His nature is Love. He may have many attributes, but all that God is, all that he does is birthed out of His nature of Love. All true and pure love comes from God, because God is a giver and He proved how large and wonderful a giver He is when Jesus, His only begotten Son, came down from the place of rulership and dominion to suffer and die a sinner’s death for us, that He might redeem us back to the Father. Never has there been a greater expression and example of love than that.
When we received Christ into our hearts and spirits we became identified with Him in every way; in His cross, in His death, in His burial, resurrection, in His life and ascension and now we have the revelation by His Spirit that indwells us and the Word of God that bears witness that we are “in” Christ. Because we are “in Him” we are to no longer live our lives through our souls (mind, will and emotion), but “through” Christ. Now Christ is in God and Has expression out of and through the Father and 1 John 4:9 says God sent His Son that we might live through Him. We have the privilege, but we also make the choice. We live “in Christ”, “out of Him” and “through Him” we are one with Him. His name and His nature become ours, because we are His. When we live out of Christ, who is God manifest, then we, in like manner possess and live out of His nature of love.
How do we recognize that love?
By the way we honor and treat one another.
1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” The way we walk in love toward one another exemplifies and testifies or bears witness that God is in us, because His love is manifesting through our actions and our life. It doesn’t say that it is because we tell each other that we love them. That’s good, but the proof of our love is in our actions and life with one another. Do we earnestly care for one another as expressed through our actions and honor we bestow upon one another?
John tells us here something that should convict each of us that are not truly walking in the love of God. 1 John 4:19-21 tells us, “We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” If we truly know God and God is in us through Christ and His Spirit then how can we still be living in offense and rejection of our brothers or sisters. It is not God’s nature to harbor these things in our hearts. That is an anti-Christ spirit and if we carry this spirit how can we say that we are His? The two natures don’t line up.
If we are going to truly call ourselves believers and disciples of Jesus then His nature had better be showing up in and through our lives. That nature of love.
A quick reminder of what God’s love is from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.”
If love never fails then how can we, as His expression of love in the earth, fail to love and forgive one another?
I see so much of this throughout families and the body of Christ where people have taken up offense, feuds and walk in rejection and unforgiveness of one another. What scripture did we get that out of and how can we justify, by the Word of God, that manner of behavior? Where is the love of God in that? We can justify to ourselves if we want, but according to God’s Word that we just shared I would say that we are deceived, because Christ died for that brother or sister you rejected, just like He died for you and He loves them, just like He loves you. It doesn’t meant they may have done everything right or they may not have acted out of love, but what does that have to do with you and me, if we say that we are “in love”?
God is telling us to get over our pettiness. You and I lost our rights at the cross and the only right we have is to be who He wants to be in us, “love”. Maybe it is time for a lot of us to either step up into who we are called to be or step off, because the love of God is not in you if you continue to walk in rejection, hate and unforgiveness. Sorry, that’s not God and those walking and living there are not of God, not because I said it, but because His Word says it.
What is our nature? Are we enveloped in His love?

Blessings,
kent

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