Not the Outward, but the Inward

Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The church is not so unlike the Jewish nation before us. We have taken the principles of the kingdom of heaven and have fashioned them into laws and burdens that are placed on the backs of men. So many of our denominations have taken a revelation and a truth, dug their foundations and built their denominations and that is where they have staid. God is not stagnant. He is an ever-moving river of truth. He is continually unfolding and unveiling His plan before us. His truth is all there in His Word, but the revelation of that truth has not been fully manifested. It is a progressive thing. One of the chief kingdom principles is never think that you have it all and never be content to build your faith and religion on present day truth. That is not to say it isn’t truth, but it may be only a facet and part of the whole.
From the early days of Christianity men have done what the religious leaders of old did with Judaism. They try and make our faith a mandate of rules and regulations. Men still try and dictate and control by taste not, touch not and eat not. If Christ taught us anything He taught us to change the outward there must be a change inwardly. Jesus once told the Pharisees, “ It is not what goes into a man’s belly that defiles him, it is what comes out.” Jesus knew that unless the condition of the heart is changed no amount of rules and regulations will really change men. They may try to act correctly outwardly, but inwardly they are still the same. The kingdom of heaven in us begins with a heart change. It must change from the desire for earthly enrichment and expression to the desire for the Spirit of God to have expression through us. No longer my will, but Your will be done. What we find is that when we really get in step and in sync with God’s heart and the Holy Spirit, we have set out on a God adventure and there is no telling where it may take us. It is exciting and it is ever fresh and new. The neat thing is we are not struggling to control it, but we have relinquished control to the Holy Spirit. Now our chief desire and ambition is to flow in harmony and obedience to Him. It is no longer about religion telling us we have to do this and we can’t do that. The law that governs us lives within our hearts and we know that our obedience to Him leads to heightened relationship and fellowship. We have found that our faith is not of the ceremonial outward protocol, it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Instead of ceremony we celebrate who and what we are in Christ and all that He is becoming in us. Perhaps that would explain why there is such a large movement away from traditional religion and more of a move toward non-denominationalism. The kingdom of heaven is not about the organization it is about the organism in which the Holy Spirit is released and free to move in and through His body according to His will and purpose and not the dictates of men and their programs. Where the Holy Spirit is free to move is where you will find that it will be as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God [is] not in word, but in power.” Isn’t that what we desire and seek today? We have heard countless words, but God we want to behold your power. We want to see the kingdom manifested in the lives and affairs of men. This is what we press into as we seek the deeper experience of the kingdom of heaven. We want to find the lover of our soul, our King. We want to find the place of intimacy and relationship with Him where we have true communion and dialog with His presence.
May our hearts become inflamed with an everlasting passion for our Christ and His coming as well as His manifest kingdom. When we are consumed in our love for Him, the things of this world become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Righteousness then becomes a state of who we are by association and relationship with Him who is righteous rather than something we seek to achieve through outward efforts and works. The kingdom of heaven in you is allowing and giving place to Christ being all that He desires to be in you. Allow the kingdom to flood into every part and fiber of your being and your life. As He is in you, so will you be in this world.

Blessings,
#kent

To Walk Worthy of Your Calling

September 16, 2013

To Walk Worthy of Your Calling

Ephesians 4:1-3
1I THEREFORE, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, 2Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. 3Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

Does this scripture describe and define our personal walk with Christ today? The Word of God is often a series of little measuring sticks by which we can evaluate our life, along with its strengths and weaknesses. Here Paul is exhorting us to walk worthy of our calling. Along with this calling there seems to be a frame and attitude of mind that should be characteristic of the walk. It is the attitude of humility and servanthood. It is not looking at self and thinking, “What a great Christian am I.” It doesn’t boast itself or look with contempt and disdain upon others. In this frame of mind we fully acknowledge the grace of God working toward us and as we yield to the Spirit, we see it working through us. We see that to walk worthy of our calling it is about service and serving one another. The only one that we see lifted up and glorified is Jesus Christ and our lives are committed to this purpose, that Christ alone is the One that we boast and exalt in, not ourselves.
When we speak of ministry, we speak of service and the commitment each of has to serve the other. We can see through this that all of us have a calling to the ministry, to walk worthy of our calling in serving the body of Christ with all humility and lowliness. If we are of one mind in this then no one is trying to usurp another’s authority or put someone else down. Our whole function is to lift and build one another up.
Ants are amazing creatures to watch. They labor with amazing tirelessness and I’ve never seen an ant strive or fight with one of its own colony. Each ant functions with total commitment for the good of the whole. Each one has their function and role that they play. Each one is a necessary part of what the whole is made up of. It seems like a good example of what we should be about. Everything is centered around the queen who is producing the life to perpetuate the colony. All that we are about is what furthers the kingdom of God and perpetuates His life.
All of us can be irritating and annoying at times. We can rub each other the wrong way, but it is the grace that works in us and God’s rich love that lifts us beyond focus of faultfinding. Rather we look at how we might minister to one another’s needs so that we might make each other more complete in Christ. The process of unity doesn’t come without trials and challenges, but it can come as each of us keeps our focus on walking worthy of our calling, humbling ourselves as we lift up others and forgiving one another of our wrongs.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).”

blessings,
kent

Irregular Relationships

Romans 12:10, 16-21
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Relationships with people can be one of the greatest trials we endure on earth. Some people we can get along great with, but then there are always those “other people.” The irregular people in our life, that are like burrs under our saddle, always pushing our buttons and causing us to feel the way we shouldn’t ought to feel. If it wasn’t for those certain people life would be so much easier and we would certainly be better Christians in our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever felt like that?
People can hurt us deeply. They can disappoint, betray, slander, ignore, lie, cheat us, steal, criticize, despise us, defraud, or just be someone we don’t want to be around for whatever reason. I think much of the time if I could just exist in my own little world and have brief surface relationships with people; I would probably do okay. I can endure. After all, wasn’t it relationships with certain people that put Jesus on a cross? And to be sure, there will be certain people in our lives that will be our cross to bear.
Why does God have people like that in our lives? Because no one can put their finger on the issues in your life that God wants to deal with like an enemy or irregular person. They can bring out in you thoughts and feelings you never thought you could have. Why is that good if they just serve to cause me to sin? They aren’t really causing you to sin, they simply are exposing attitudes of sin, selfishness, hate, unforgiveness, and a lack of God’s love in you. We are often not a very pretty sight when we really see how shallow we really are and how much we lack in the area of unselfish, agape’ type love. For you to really love your enemy doesn’t come naturally to you. There has to be a greater principle of love at work in you to do that.
I am reminded of a passage I read out of the book, “The Light and the Glory” which addresses the hand of God in bringing about the formation of our country. This particular passage was concerning the faith of George Washington. “A turncoat collaborator named Michael Wittman was captured, and at his trial, it was proven that he had given the British invaluable assistance on numerous occasions. He was found guilty and of spying and sentenced to death by hanging. On the evening before the execution, an old man with white hair asked to see Washington, giving his name as Peter Miller. He was ushered in without delay, for Miller had done a great many favors for the army. Now he had a favor to ask of Washington, who nodded agreeably. “I’ve come to ask you to pardon Michael Wittman.” Washington was taken aback. “Impossible! Whittman has done all in his power to betray us, even offering to join the British and help destroy us.” He shook his head. “In these times we cannot be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”
“Friend! He’s no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!”
Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?”
“I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.”
“Why?”
“I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”
Washington turned away and walked into the next room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. “My dear friend,” he said, placing the paper in the old man’s hand, “I thank you for this.””
What story, but the story of Calvary could better illustrate the principle in action of loving your enemy? It is the principle of His love and life within us that causes us to endure with patience and forgiveness the offences of others in our lives. God wants to love even the irregular people through us. After all you might be the irregular person in someone else’s life.

Blessings,
kent

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