Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Three Things that God Requires

We, like the children of Israel before us, often carry a mindset that says we can live and operate on one set of values in the market place or our social lives and then another set of values when we want to approach God in church or worship. How many people that consider themselves Christians think that they can appease God by having a religion, offering their tithes or offerings, performing a few rituals and then it is back to business as usual. How many seek to put on a holy face before God on Sunday only to defraud their neighbor on Monday. How many times have those who wear the name Christian been less than ethical in their dealings with others and especially with other Christians. We try to live out of two different value systems as we compartmentalize our life into business, pleasure and religion.
God is saying that if you are truly a Christian then Christianity is your business. He is not appeased by what we try to do for Him and with our token efforts to please Him. He is interested in where our heart is. He tells us that there are three things that He requires of us. The first is to act justly. A just person is one who is upright in all of their ways. They act out of justice, fairness, without prejudice and favoritism. It is basically the act making right judgements. Every day we have to make decisions of right and wrong, of what benefits just us or what can do to benefit others and what is selfish and what is unselfish. When we act and live out of the mind of Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to direct our ways then we will act justly, because of Him who is the righteous judge within us.
The second thing the Lord requires is that we love mercy. When we live in this mercy we are living out of goodness, kindness and faithfulness not only toward God, but also toward our fellow man. In our society many of us are very big on our rights and our privileges. Many will not hesitate to take you to court or sue you if they think that you have violated their rights in some manner or you are in some way responsible for some misfortune. There may be times when that is necessary, but if we had more mercy, so many times it wouldn’t be. Mercy is the act of love that is longsuffering, slow to be offended, hasty to forgive and patient in tribulation. Often we as Christians are quick to judge the world and those of the world, especially when they don’t fit within the paradigm of what we think is proper and good. The mercy of Jesus was not shown favoring the arrogance and self-righteousness of the religious near as much as it was shown toward the outcast and the sinner. ‘Jesus came not to judge the world, but that world through Him might have life.’ He was a life-giver and life-imparter. The apostle Paul reminds us of God’s mercy toward us in Ephesians 2:3-5, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” God’s mercy working through us is to bring others into His mercy for them.
Finally, God says I require that you ‘walk humbly with your God’. Nothing can make us more humble than just reflecting upon the love and mercy of God toward us. When we walk in the fear of the Lord there will be that humility that expresses our submission and dependency upon Him. Many of us have forgotten that and with our wealth and prosperity we boast in what our hands have done. We tend to think we don’t really need God so much in our lives, at least not till things fall apart or we get into a major crisis. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and walking humbly with your God.
Paul sums these principles up so beautifully in Romans 12:3-21so let us conclude meditating upon this passage. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Blessings,
#kent

Don’t Worry

December 30, 2014

Matthew 6:25-23
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?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t Worry

I remember many years ago in the first year my wife and I were married. I had only been working for a company a short time when I was called into the office and informed that the company was in bankruptcy and they had to lay me off. That was hard news to carry home to my new bride. She was quite concerned about what we would do and how we would make it. I remember taking out my Bible and reading this passage of scripture to her. It was like the assurance that we needed that God saw our need and He would take care of us.
Many in this hour are facing similar circumstances. Times are often hard, jobs are hard to come by and money is tight. Jesus is telling us not to fear the world’s fears. We must learn to live out of an economy that is not of this world. Jesus plainly tells us that it is the unbelievers that run after earthly things and worry about the things of this world. That is the world’s economy. God’s economy is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” God is our resource when all others fail and even though we might not see Him coming through in the ways we think, if you are trusting Him, He will meet your need. I can tell you that since loosing that job all those years ago, we’ve never gone hungry or slept out on the street. He has been faithful.
Many of us are feeling financial concerns of this hour, but I believe God is wanting His people to learn kingdom economy. We simply put God first and rest in the knowing that He is working all things to the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I can’t promise you that you won’t be tried and tested or that you won’t experience some losses in the world, but what Father is raising us up into is far greater than the security we long for in this cosmos. We have His eternal security and He hides us under the shadow of His wing. Psalms 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” I encourage you to read the rest of that chapter if you are struggling and need to be built up in your faith.
Psalms 103:13-19 reminds us, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—18with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. 19The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Remember that by faith and rest in the Father we are partakers of a greater kingdom and higher order than we see physically surrounding us. Let us not put our confidence in the things of this world for they are soon passing away and it is time for us to get our dependence off of them. Philippians 4:4-7 exhorts us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” As the tests come to us in this natural realm it is all the more reason to rejoice and praise Him. That is the expression of faith, whereas anxiousness, worry, murmuring and complaining only tender fear, doubt and unbelief. It is our faith that is accounted unto us as righteousness.
No matter what your circumstance or situation is, keep your eyes on Jesus. Put Him first and trust Him to see you through as you rejoice in Him and praise His name. We are walking in kingdom economy and there is no recession in heaven.

Blessings
#kent

The Blessing of Giving

November 26, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The Blessing of Giving

The greatest blessing we can give and gift that we can receive is in giving something of substance and ourselves that is life changing and life giving to someone else. There are few things more rewarding than the joy we feel when we have made a difference for someone else. Some of us struggle with that. We have become so focused on how to sell ourselves, our goods and services trying to provide for our own that we have missed the joy of caring and blessing another. There is always a constant barrage of mail, phone calls, pleas over the television and radio all asking for our contributions. We often begin to build walls that automatically shut out any plea for help. Realistically we can’t give to everything. Few of us have the financial resources to do that, but at the same time we don’t want to harden our hearts to become insensitive to every need that passes before us. This is where we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and where He would have us to extend ourselves in our time and our finances. We each have different gifts and abilities, but all of us have something we can give. It is wonderful that we give our tithes, but what can we offer of ourselves as a tithe. It isn’t really our money that God wants from us, He wants our hearts. Our tithe is an expression of obedience, worship, thanks and giving back in a small portion what He has provided abundantly toward us.
Our lives will be so much richer when they are filled with random acts of kindness and giving. We are the hands, the feet, the mouthpiece and the body of Christ to carry out His works. Acts 10:38 speaks of the works of Jesus, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” God has anointed us with the same Spirit that indwells Jesus. He has given us power and authority to act in His Name. Let us be sensitive in our every day lives to not pass by the opportunities to express the love of God in the lives of others. May we let our words and our deeds carry with them this anointing that was in Jesus, so that we are life givers and a blessing in the earth.

Blessings,
#kent

Prosperity

November 6, 2014

Philippians 4:10-20
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Prosperity

We, in this country, we have become a prosperity oriented people. In some cases we almost equate our outward wealth with our spirituality. Is that what we glean from this passage that Paul is sharing here?
We love to quote the word that he gives to the Philippians, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” but what prompted that statement. It was because the Philippians were all about giving. They appear to be one of Paul’s primary supporters and as such he speaks this blessing over them. It was the giving that brought the blessing.
Now Paul is not a prosperity preacher in the since of worldly goods. The prosperity that he preaches is the riches of God’s grace and glory in Christ Jesus. He speaks to the rich things God has for us and that isn’t always gained through the riches of this world. The truth is when the soul is pampered in comfort, it often doesn’t grow much in substance. We read about Paul’s training in this principle in the first of this passage. The training we see God taking Paul through and what He wants to bring us through is that of “being content whatever the circumstances”. God’s life and purpose are not really found in the pampering of our flesh, but more in the crucifixion of it. We are actually dying to the outward man and what we perceive its needs and desires to be. Our Christianity isn’t about living out of the benefits and provisions of the outward man, it is about living out of Christ who gives us strength to endure all trials and find contentment whatever our circumstances.
I know this kind of flies in the face of the prosperity teaching many of us have sat under. Indeed God is a God of blessings and most of us can attest to the enormous blessing over our physical lives as well as our spiritual ones. The thing that we need to understand in this hour is that there are going to be tougher days ahead and it is important for us to know and realize that our life and spirituality does not rest on these outward things. There is now a depth and treasure of riches we need to search out in knowing Christ. He alone is the riches that never fail. He is still that God that will meet our need, but it may not conform to the Christian-American mindset that many of us have developed. What’s more, is that we are to learn a key principle, the key to having our needs met, is in our willingness to see and meet the needs in others. This blessing that Paul spoke over the Philippians was birthed out this key principle. Our natural inclination when things get tough is to fear and react by hoarding to ourselves. The spiritual principle is that we see and meet the needs in the body of Christ, as well as blessing those who are in the world.
If we want to really prosper in this hour, it is to be found in the depth and intimacy of your relationship with Christ. It is out of Him that you can do all things. As Paul says here in verse 13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It is only as we lose our supply that we begin to truly experience His supply. Let’s get a revelation of what true prosperity is. It is not in the things that you possess, but in the person that you possess.

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

How Serious are We?

September 23, 2013

Matthew 11:12 (Amplified)
And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].

How Serious are We?

God is looking for violent men and women, not in the sense of destruction and hurt, but violent in the sense of zeal and determination. We live in the midst of a complacent church, fat, full of itself and, in its own eyes, having need of nothing. Because it has need of nothing, it has the power to do nothing. It is like a cow fattened in the pasture thinking it has it all and not realizing that it is ripe for the sacrifice.
In this hour God is sounding a trumpet and a call to arms. He is looking for violent men and women who are no longer content with mediocrity and religion. He is raising up a hungry people that are coming forth to seize the kingdom of God by force. They are serious about a relationship with their God and they will allow nothing to dissuade them from the blessing and the promise they have in Christ Jesus. They are God-chasers, kingdom warriors and believers of the highest order. They often don’t sit well with the religious system, because they have become radical in their pursuit of truth and power and love. They no longer are content to sit with the masses on Sunday morning, because they are intent upon breaking through to get their answer and see their miracle.
The Lord gave me this scripture as an example in Luke 5:17-26: “One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”” These friends of the paralytic are examples of the kind of violence that we are talking about. Even though everything in the natural told them that they couldn’t get through to Jesus; they just needed to be one of the crowd, they refused to be denied. They started thinking and acting out of the box. They had such faith and confidence in Jesus that they knew that if they could just reach Him they could have what they were petitioning Him for. It was no different with the woman with the issue of blood. She believed if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would be healed. God is looking for a people with that kind of tenacity and faith. They refuse to be denied. They are violent kingdom people that will storm the gates of heaven with prayer, intercession and acts of faith until they have laid hold of the promises of God.
If God has given you a word or a promise you hold on to it and you fight for it. Don’t allow the enemy to rob it from you. Just because it has been a long time, it hasn’t come to pass and everything in the natural says that it can’t happen. God is a God that keeps His covenant and He is a promise keeper. That is not to say that you will not be tested and tried. Hebrew 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)” Stand in the battle and fight the good fight of faith and keep your confession. Take your promises before God often and speak to Him out loud that you are standing upon His promises and that you refuse to be denied. Fight the good fight of faith and don’t relinquish the promise. It is yours. He gave it to you and He gave it to us. Now let us become a violent body of Christ who are content with no less than all that God has promised to us. Let us take it with violence, zeal and uncompromising faith. He has created you to prevail and to have dominion. How serious are you?

Blessings,
kent

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