Garbage: Destructive or Constructive?

Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Which of us doesn’t deal with garbage in our lives? When I say garbage I am talking about all of the offenses, insults, persecutions, inequities and evils that come at us in life. We all deal with it on some level and some more than others do. Life inherently holds hurts, disappointments, pain, frustrations and offenders of our person. Most of these come directly or indirectly through people that touch our lives in a negative way. Mostly we brush it off and go on, but there is garbage that can emotionally cripple and traumatize us. There are some offenses that are gut-wrenchingly hard to deal with, let alone let go. All of this is the garbage that gets dumped into our life. Even in the good things there are by-products that must be passed and flushed down the toilet of forgiveness and forgetfulness.
Here’s the thing, if we don’t pass the poop in our life, it will back up on us. It will eventually make us sick and can even become septic, especially if gets into the rest of our system. It not only makes us sick, but it can begin to poison our other relationships that were healthy as well. It changes our state of emotional and spiritual health.
In the scripture that Jesus gives here in Matthew 5 we find some principles that in the natural are kind of hard to swallow, because they seem unfair. There is an old saying, “No one can get your goat unless you have one to be got.” Jesus is simply saying get rid of your goat. These principles that Jesus speaks of are hard, because we are still holding on to us, our rights, our goods, our dignity and pride. You see, a dead man can’t be hurt. If we are truly dead to this old man and alive unto Christ, then our life is hid with Christ in God and living a life pleasing unto Him is all that matters. Most of us aren’t there yet. We are still struggling with the garbage.
Garbage or dung can have a positive and a negative side. We have just spoken to the negative effects it can and does have on us such as bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, envy, gossip and the like. It feeds upon the flesh like bacteria. On the other hand if we can process our garbage and our dung in a healthy way, then it can become the fertilizer for a productive and godly life. If we ask ourselves, “Where do we grow spiritually”? Is it when everything is roses, prosperity, health and great relationships? No. We grow out of adversity, trials and tribulations. These are what stretch and exercise our faith. These are what cause us to lose ourselves and press into Christ. The law of our mind wars against the mind of the Spirit, because it still wants the law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ The kingdom we are entering into is not one in which we seek to preserve this life, but we willing lose it for Christ’s sake. We are to be using our garbage to grow from and not to be allowing it to pollute and defile our lives. Your garbage must become your fertilizer. It must become the fabric for growth and not destruction. It is out of this garbage that we can see the fruit of the Spirit produced in us, but if we hold it in and allow it to become septic and toxic, it will poison us. It will feed the fruit of our flesh and it will produce death and not life.
Be careful how you process your garbage. Don’t hold on to it. Process it and pass it. Use it as the fertilizer for your spiritual growth and health in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

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Higher Level Living

March 5, 2014

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Higher Level Living


What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations?  Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers.  Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are.  We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.  

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say.  Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  

Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.  

Why?

Because it denies all of “my” rights.  It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”.  It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person.  It  seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.  

When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ.  For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of  Christ.  These are the principles that He walked and lived by.  The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.  

We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for.  We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold.  It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.  

What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or  really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm.  Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being.   We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?  

What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways.  They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable.  If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us?  The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.  

Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above.  If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.  

Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus is calling us to a higher place.  It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love.  It  is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love.   It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ.  It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being.  Are we ready for a higher level of living?

 

Blessings,

kent

The Fast of the Lord

January 20, 2014

 

The Fast of the Lord


Isaiah 58:3-11

Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 

 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 


Isaiah 58 is a good chapter to take and read in its entirety.  We have quoted enough here to give us some of the meat of what it is saying.  Many of us consider ourselves religious or spiritual. We profess to love God, we may have our set times to pray, read the bible, fast, go to church or other such spiritual activities we do in the name of the Lord for Him.  If we are doing all of these things to seek God and please Him, then we may ask, like the people of God in that day, “Lord, why don’t you hear our prayers and answer them?  We serve you, but we aren’t blessed.  How come you don’t acknowledge all of our efforts Lord?”  

He may in turn ask us, ” If you do all of these activities and things to seek and please me then why are your lives no different than those of the world around you?  Why is it you yell and argue with your family all the way to church and then come in to praise Me?  Why is it you fast and pray and then get up off of your knees to go and do your own pleasure?  Why is it you go to church, but are angry with the minister if he doesn’t get you out in time to beat the rush to the restaurant or see the sports game on TV?”   Could it be that a lot of our spirituality is phoniness and hypocrisy done more to make us feel like we have done our duty to God than doing what really pleases God.  If we want God to meet us in a greater way than He has before then it isn’t God that has to change, it is us, and more religious activity isn’t the answer.  

God takes the time in this passage to tell us where His heart is and what is meaningful to Him.  He tells us to do such things as “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break the yoke?”  What does all of that mean?  Could it mean that we are outwardly spiritual, but inwardly wicked?  We talk down to people, we talk about people in a demeaning way, and we’re critical, hateful, judgmental, gossips, backbiters and controllers.  We may want to put all of our baggage, laws, rules and standards upon others when we can’t even live up to them ourselves.  How often do we do things for others in the guise of being so nice and generous to help them out and then turn around and hold those things we gave or did for them as a yoke to control and manipulate them?  There are times we give or loan things to people and they can’t pay them back.  Sometimes we need to just release those debts and forgive them even as God forgave ours.  We can be cruel taskmasters to one another and to others.  When the world looks at that, are they seeing Christ?  Could it be that God wants us to quit being above others and treating others, that don’t have what we have in areas, as inferior and as servants?  Maybe it is time we become like Christ, to use what we have, to get under them to lift and build them up, to be their servants rather than them being ours.  

God goes on to tell us if you really want my blessing then you need to care about the things I care about.  Are you clothing the naked and feeding the hungry?  Are you visiting those in prisons, nursing homes, jails and shut-ins?  Are you even really taking care of your own family and making sure they have not only their physical needs met, but their emotional and spiritual needs met?  Are you spending the time you need to with them and nurturing them?  Are we pointing our finger in judgement and condemnation of others while we ignore the other three that are pointing back at us?  

When we start getting the heart of God then will we begin to hear from God and see His blessing.  This is the true fast of the Lord.  It is not about going to church, it is about being “the Church.”  We have to become in lifestyle and practice what many of us now only pretend to be.  We have a form of godliness, but we deny the power of it.   God despises pompous, pretentious spiritual pretenders.  I have been there more than I like to admit, how about you?  If we are going to have the real thing then everything we do has be about the Lord and what honors and pleases Him.  Ouch!  That’s pretty tough on my flesh, but then I said I reckoned it dead with Christ, so what’s my problem?  My problem is always “I.”  The more it is there the less effective I can be for God, because the less of Him that is in me.  It is only the death of self that can give place to the life of God.  This is the true Fast.  

 
Blessings,
kent

Strife

November 22, 2013

Strife

1 Corinthians 3:3
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

Isn’t it unfortunate that this statement so often defines us as we try to walk and live spiritual lives? Strife comes into to pollute so many of our relationships, both spiritual and natural. Really it is the outward manifestation of an inward condition. James 3: 14 and 16 in the King James version speaks of strife with this: “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth… “For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.“ The Amplified version identifies more of the root causes of this strife, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth… For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Verses 17-18 of the Amplified version goes on to say, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” We all know what it is like to be around a contentious person that is trying to provoke strife. It is often difficult to ignore and continually walk away from because it is continually antagonizing and provoking you. Strife is described in Galatians 5:20 as an attribute of the flesh, but it is one that has a hard time existing by itself. It needs someone to partner with. It needs an adversary and someone to contend with. It loves company and to get others caught up in the fray.
What are strife’s root causes? James has already identified bitterness, envy, selfishness and self-seeking. Proverbs 15:8 says, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but [he that is] slow to anger appeaseth strife.” Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:14 tells us, “The beginning of trouble is like letting out water. So stop arguing before fighting breaks out.” Have you ever noticed how strife can result in a diarrhea of the mouth? We get started and before we know it, all kinds of putrid things are spewing out, which usually only serves to bring the same vile venom out of the other’s mouth.
We know that the perpetrator of this strife is demonic in nature and spirit, and yet we so easily fall into the snare that serves to only hurt, divide separate us. Disunity and strife strikes at the heart of family, fellowship and community. It has destroyed families, marriages, churches, and nations. It is at the root of our wars. In spite of its immensely destructive power we continually allow ourselves to be manipulated by it. Perhaps it is destroying the relationship you have with the person or persons you started out loving. It can only be stopped as we realize and acknowledge within ourselves the weakness and the flesh that is giving place to this deceptive destroyer. It needs our flesh to feed off of to even exist. The more we can enter into Christ and walk by the Spirit, the less power and influence it can have. It needs our ego, our pride, our selfishness, our jealousy and envy. It needs our anger, meddling, gossiping, and tattling to fan its flames.
Philippians 2:2-4 says this, “2Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions. 3Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. 4Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing.” Strife has very little to build on when our motives are based in unselfish love toward one another. If we all have this mind to live for and bless one another, then the flesh has little place because our selfishness and pride aren’t in the way. Love the person that is so intent on striving against you. Return good for evil, compliment for insult and be of a gentle and quiet spirit. It is a spiritual battle waged through human agents. See it for what it is and let the weapons of your warfare not be natural, but mighty through the Spirit to the tearing down of strongholds.
Moses lost his entrance into the promise land because he responded out of the flesh to the strife of the people at the waters of Meribah in the wilderness. Responding to strife in the flesh will always cause us to lose by robbing us of the higher way. Let love rule in your hearts, mercy and peace in your actions and willingness to count others above yourself in your thinking.
“Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9).

Blessings,
kent

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