Love is not Always Easy

August 27, 2015

Ephesians 4:1-3
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Love is not Always Easy

A part of the calling that we have as Christians in Christ Jesus is to walk in love. If we are going only by emotions, there will be a lot of times that we won’t feel love. We may feel everything but love. The first thing we have to realize is that while love may carry with it emotions and strong feelings, the emotions and feelings aren’t the love. Love is a decision of your heart. True love is a commitment in the good times and the bad, in the sweet and the bitter, for the better or for the worse. Therefore love is not always about how we feel. God first loved us when we were sinners, estranged and in rebellion to Him. His love wasn’t in response to our love; it was in spite of the fact that we didn’t love Him. God has chosen to love us and His actions toward us were deliberate and not just responsive to us based on what we could give back. This is the love that Christ has placed in our hearts because He is in us. We are to choose to act out of love, not to just love others when they love us or love the people that are nice and pleasant, or that we have feelings for. Love is often a hard choice. It is often not easy to love certain people. It is our calling, in as much as is possible, to be a peace with all men and to live and act out of the attitude of love. Love needs to be what powers us, motivates and drives us in the will of God. When we begin to think upon the vastness and the magnitude of God and how insignificant and minute we are in comparison, it just blows us away that He even would acknowledge us, let alone give His only Son to die for us. How can we truly comprehend that kind of love? Yet everything God is and does is motivated out of love, because God is love. That same force, that is God’s source and power, now indwells us. It must be what drives and motivates us to love God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and strength. It is also what empowers us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We know how hard it is even within our own marriages to always love our spouse. They can be so irritating, inconsiderate, unappreciative, stubborn, insensitive, lazy and any number of other adjectives and nouns. In the beginning we were moved by great emotions and feelings, but after the honeymoon was over that perfect person can turn into one our greatest trials in life. What we forget is that love is still a choice. We start responding to our spouse like we did in the beginning, out of feelings and emotions; only this time they are negative instead of positive. Our love and hate are a response of our flesh and soul and not a choice of our spirit. Love doesn’t react because someone is pushing our buttons; it is a choice based on our commitment, vow and promise. It doesn’t return insult for insult, hurt for hurt, cursing for cursing. It chooses to act and respond out of the nature of Christ. It also must be willing to accept valid criticism, correction and look at what can best meet the other person’s needs. We are all unique and different individuals and none of us were made or designed to fit perfectly within someone else’s box. There are a lot of times we don’t even like who we are, so how is someone else always going to please us? This is where the lowliness, gentleness, forbearance, longsuffering and the fruit of the Spirit enter in. This is the place where we get to practice living the nature of Christ.
The root of most ended marriages is selfishness of one or more of the individuals. Love is not selfish, it is self-sacrificing and it takes both parties giving and compromising to create the best environment to be able to live in enjoyment and in peace with one another. It is always work and most of the time it is not easy. It is only successful through the commitment of both parties and their choice and commitment to love the other. The same principle holds true in our relationships with others. It is God’s love that must possess you; our love always falls short. Love is not always easy, but it is always God.

Blessings,
#kent

The Law of Sin and Death

August 18, 2015

Judges 21:25
In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

The Law of Sin and Death

The state that we see Israel in, in the book of Judges is the same state that we could see a lot of us as Christians in. We have the promise and the inheritance and we have the Word of God, but we haven’t embraced our King. Just as the Israelites could be God’s chosen people by name, it didn’t mean they were His people in their heart. They became apostate, doing whatever seemed good to them, while ignoring who God had called them to be. Isn’t that the way many in the Christian world have become. They have become apostate because they live and do what is right in their own eyes and justification rather than according to the will and calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I am not writing this to bring condemnation, but to make us aware of which law we are living under in this state of mind. Before Christ, we were living under the law of sin and death. It was a law of the commandments whereby sin abounded because of the weakness of the flesh to live and keep it. Under that law we stood condemned because we were lawless and law breakers. Even in our best efforts we were not able to find reconciliation and intimate relationship with Papa because our sin stood to condemn us. Because sin would ultimately rule us, God had to send judgement to correct us and bring us back to repentance. There we would cry out under our judgement and God in His mercy would send a judge to bring us back to Himself where we would remain briefly before repeating the cycle again.
Now, we have a King and His name is Jesus. He is not only the King, but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. In His realm of authority and dominion He has called us out of the old law of sin and death, because the crucifixion of His divine life nailed that old law of condemnation to the cross. When we come to Him in faith we must recognize that is where our old selfish sinful nature and man has been identified; with Him on that cross. We also died to that former way of doing, “whatever seemed right in our own eyes.” As He raised us up by faith into His life we come under a new law, because we have entered and become citizens and partakers of a new kingdom. The laws of this kingdom don’t operate like the former one. Here there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. “In Christ” speaks to a state of being in our spirit man that is manifested through our physical being.
We find this in Romans 8. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The key to living in this realm and kingdom is living by faith out of the law of the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. A line of demarcation has been drawn that you live under one law or the other, but you can’t live under both.
Jesus says you can’t serve two masters in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the old world order that falls under the law of sin and death.
The question then really becomes, “What law are we living under?”
Romans 8 goes on to define what it is to live in the law of the Spirit of life and what the differences are. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
The Word doesn’t say we don’t still struggle with the inclinations toward our former sinful nature, but it has become a matter of new identity, allegiance and citizenship. If you move to the United States from a foreign country and decide to become a US citizen then you have changed your identity, allegiance and citizenship. You must renounce the old to embrace the new. If the United States is at war with your former country, who are you going to fight for and stand with? Where is your identity and allegiance? You may feel the soul ties that want to draw you back to the former feelings you had for your country and countrymen, but now you have to cut them off, because it is no longer who you are. You can no longer go between countries and have your allegiance divided or you will be considered a traitor. You can no longer live under the former laws and traditions of the old country and still be a US citizen. They don’t work in this new country. You no longer have to live under tyranny, but you can live in freedom, but freedom isn’t freedom if it brings you again under the bondage of sin. “13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You see it is the Spirit that now indwells you that is the power in you to overcome who you used to be. As we learn to live in obedience and faithfulness to Him we are led by Him. It is living under His banner and direction that we become the sons of God.
If we are still doing whatever is right in our eyes we are missing what it is to live under the higher law. It is only under this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that we live and abide in the life of God and we come to experience the intimacy of relationship with Him. God has given us the choice to be sons or slaves. Where is our true identity, allegiance and citizenship, in the law of sin and death or the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Your identity is who you are, not what you call yourself.

Blessings,
#kent

Appeasing or Pleasing

July 30, 2015

Appeasing or Pleasing

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I think that I may not be so different than many others who earnestly love God, want to have an intimate relationship with Him, but are often tempted to make compromises to please the flesh rather than to please God. I was meditating this morning on how much appease and please sound alike only they are different. If we examine our hearts we will probably find that there are many times we actually try to appease the Lord, rather than please Him.
“So what’s the difference?” you might ask.
I’m glad you asked that question. The dictionary defines appease as, “To pacify or attempt to pacify (an enemy) by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle.”
Now we don’t think of God as our enemy, but He is the enemy of our flesh and when we are trying to appease God that is usually where we are operating from. Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” When we get out of faith and into the flesh then we begin operating out of a mindset that wants to appease God rather than please Him. We want God to wink at our sin and to let us slide. We want the favor and blessing of God, but on our terms. Maybe we start to bargain with God. “God, if you will just let me do that, or have this or grant me that, then I’ll do this.” Maybe we give more and try to do good things. Usually we are not only trying to appease God, but our conscience as well. It is not that we want to forsake God or not serve Him and believe in Him anymore. It is not that we want to displease Him, it is just that we want our way more than we want His way. What we don’t want to acknowledge and submit too is, that it is always our ways that lead us away from His. It is our ways that separate and break fellowship with Him and it is our ways, the natural mind, that hinders us from God’s highest and His best for us.
Like King Saul of the Old Testament we become headstrong about doing things our way rather than God’s way. Listen as Saul attempts to appease God rather than please Him. 1 Samuel 15:13-26 says, “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”
Whenever we compromise what God has instructed by doing it our way rather than His, we only are deceiving ourselves and leading ourselves to heartache and misery. Hebrews 10:5-10 says in contrast, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” 8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Father is now asking the same of us. He doesn’t any longer want our burnt offering and sacrifices, our concessions and appeasement. He wants our lives, our obedience and our faith to trust and walk with Him wherever it is that He chooses to lead us. We can no longer seek to appease our Lord; we must walk in the faith and obedience that pleases Him.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

Blessings,
#kent

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