1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 

Put Your Love where Your Mouth is!

John 3:16 says, “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.”  Isn’t it ironic how John 3:16, the love of God through Christ and 1 John 3:16, the love of Christ through us, coincide so closely together?  Both of these scriptures involve the giving of a sacrifice in love.  Both of these scriptures involve the laying down of a life as the ultimate expression of love. 

My conviction today is how shallow and conditional my love is.  It is not nearly so focused on others as it is on its own agenda.  That self-love wants to preserve and cater to this life rather than sacrifice and give it.  Rather we think it out loud or not, how much of our life is motivated by, “what’s in it for me?”  What is even more convicting is how we so often treat the ones that are the closest to us and that we say that we love the greatest with the most contempt, disrespect and selfishness.  Where does all of that line up with the love of God in us?  We talk about the love of Christ, we preach it to others and we go through the motions, but is that love, that agape love, alive in action in our personal day to day relationships.  

Husbands, why are we not bringing the love into the home?  Why do we not love our wives, like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it?  Why do we not love our brethren, rather than using and taking advantage of them?  Should it surprise us that the world has so much contempt for us as Christians?  A good deal of the contempt and mockery of Christianity has little to do with how much we are like Christ.  Our hypocrisy betrays us.  When Christians and churches don’t pay their bills, borrow and don’t return, and only take, but never give, what does that speak about the love of Christ in our lives?   Many of us need a reality check about what the love of Christ is, because it isn’t being seen in us.   Where has the depth of God’s agape love gone?  When that love is operating people will be drawn to Christ and they will know us by our love.  How do others perceive and know us now?  Is that self-giving, sacrificial love what we are known for?  

Our prayer should be, “God make me a giver like You are a giver.  Make me a lover like you have loved me.  Make my life a living sacrifice daily poured out to You as I serve and love others as You have served and loved me.  Help me to experience in daily deed and reality what it is to love my neighbor as myself.  Help me to put Your love where my empty hollow words have been.  Amen.”

 
 
Blessings,
#kent
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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

We, the Lame

July 22, 2015

We, the Lame

Hebrew 12:13
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Have you ever had a broken leg, a dislocated joint or wrenched knee or ankle? When you find yourself in this condition, you find that walking normally is out of the question. There is too much pain and tenderness to walk in a normal way. This is the way we are when we get out of joint in our walk with the Lord. Our spiritual health and harmony are interrupted and our walk with Him becomes crippled and distorted.
I think many of us have areas in our lives where we experience some lameness; an area that is out of joint with God’s will and purpose for our lives. The Lord doesn’t want us to walk in a crooked and twisted path, but in a straight and narrow one. It is like Jesus says in Matthew 7:14, “Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” I would venture to say that most of us have found ourselves off of that straight and narrow more times than we would like to admit. How wonderful that through repentance and the power of the blood of Jesus we have a means to be restored to the path of righteousness.
It is sin that cripples us and makes us lame. It is sin that distorts our spiritual health and wholeness. There are many that are still struggling with strongholds of sin in their lives. While they feel condemned and defeated, they can’t seem to get delivered and free from it. We often make the mistake of judging others in an area of weakness while we may have another area in us that is just as bad. We are all creatures of God’s grace and mercy. We didn’t find our way to Him because our works were righteous and we were so much better than everyone else. Like everyone else, we are sinners saved by the grace of God. That same faith with which we embraced Christ when we first gave our hearts to Him is what we must now exercise as we make straight paths for our feet.
There is something wrong with us as a body of Christ when we are more concerned about judging one another for our faults than we are with ministering to one another in our weaknesses. What does James 5:16 say? “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” We all have weaknesses and faults that we have not fully gained the victory over or that we are still struggling with. Where are our ministry, compassion and prayers for one another in our weaknesses? We desperately try and conceal our faults and weaknesses, either because we are in denial or just think it is our problem, but more likely because we don’t have a safe place where we can expose and share the sins with which we struggle. Jesus says it is not the well that need a physician, but the sick. The Christ in each one of us is the physician that wants to minister help and healing to those around us. We need each other to help each other. Our sin would always cripple us and dislocate us from the Lord, but the Lord wants to heal our lameness and restore us in a path of righteousness for His namesake. The Lord doesn’t want us to justify and cover over our sin, that would be hypocrisy, but He does want to see us healed in the areas of our sin sickness.
We want to see Isaiah 35 come to pass in each one of our lives, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
The Lord is on the side of our restoration and wholeness, but it takes our willingness to forsake our sin. Perhaps we need to seek out those who will stand with us and help us to lay hold of our victory and healing in the areas where sin has held us captive and crippled our walk. We are a body and we must minister to one another’s needs. We need one another to minister and help each other in all of the areas that pertain to life and godliness. Corporately, we are growing up in Christ, ministering to one another out of the gifts that the Holy Spirit has apportioned to each one of us. Ephesians 4:16-18 says,” Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work..”
If you are lame in an area of your walk with the Lord, then find your healing and deliverance so that your path may be made straight. If it is greater than your ability to find the victory then seek out those in the body of Christ who can come along beside you, give you help, prayer and accountability. It is the Lord’s will to restore the lame.

Blessings,
#kent

Activate

May 4, 2015

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Activate

As we commit and devote our hearts to the Lord we are going to see activation. The Holy Spirit is wanting to activate his body even as the early church was activated after Pentecost and even greater. This is the day to take our Sunday Christianity and make it an active part of our every day life and encounters with the world around us. We need so much of Jesus spilling out of us that there is no way we can contain or hide the life that is living inside of us. This is the day to let Christ shine through our lives in word and deed.
For years we have set under the Word of God. Today is the day to become the Word of God in the flesh as we live by the Spirit in the love of God toward all men. We are carriers of His divine life and we want to infect every part of our world with His love and great salvation. It is not just about getting someone to pray a prayer and make a confession of faith, it is about being so much the reality of what we profess that others want what we have and they will seek us out to receive it.
The world’s general perception of Christianity looks very little like Christ. As the world has looked upon the Church as a whole, they have seen hypocrisy, materialism, ungodliness, judgementalism and self-righteousness. No wonder so many disdain Christianity. This is the time when they need to begin to see the reality of the true Church, the bride of Christ and His power and love manifested through her. For this love and power to flow through us, He must possess us body, soul and spirit. Our lives must be so focused and set upon the Father’s business. It can no longer be about life as usual; eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. This is the year to see and step into a radical transformation in the body of Christ, at least the first fruits of it. I believe God has prepared a people to champion His cause and bring a transformation in the paradigm of what the church of God is and what it should look like.
It is a day for us to graduate out of the school of learning and knowing and step into the world of being and doing. What is our faith if it is not activated to bring us forth in who we have been called to be as sons and daughter’s of the MOST HIGH GOD!
“Holy Spirit, arise in the hearts of your people and activate us to extreme godliness, holy living and love impacting lives. Emancipate us from all sin and every love and affection we have had for it. Help your people to rock the former image of your church and be the example of what the people of God are to truly look like. Help us to loose ourselves as we take up our cross and follow you whithersoever you would lead and direct us. Give us ears to hear your precious voice and hearts tender to quickly obey whatever you instruct us to do. Help us to walk the walk of faith and step boldly into who you have created us and called us to be. You are our God and in You we will be strong and do exploits. The world will come to know us by our love and unity and no longer by our division and condemnation. We will exemplify the love and nature of Christ in the earth, because we dare to allow that Christ to come forth in us. We dare to step into our Sonship and the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus. Our eyes, our hearts, our minds and desires are set upon You Holy Father. Activate Your people in righteousness, power and divine authority to have dominion over every darkness and every perverted thing that we may bring the hearts of a lost world into alignment with the restoration of the identity you want to give back to them. Help us to come into the image of what the true Church and body of Christ is suppose to look like in this hour that you might be glorified and magnified among men. Amen!”
Today is our day to be transformed from the introverts of self-centered lives to become the extroverts of Christ expressed lives. Let us be that standard of Christ activated for all to see and aspire too. Let our lives be the light that transcends the darkness and the love that brings healing, hope and salvation to every lost and wounded soul.

blessings,
#kent

What the Lord has Cleansed, Don’t Call Common

Acts 10:9-16
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice [spake] unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Many of us today in our Christian walk don’t consider ourselves to have prejudice or be judgmental. We really feel like we have the love of God toward all men until God begins to bring us into the presence of something or someone that flies in the face of all that we consider holy, right, just and good. How do we respond when God places us in the midst of drunks or drug addicts, gothic peoples with colored or spiked hair, tattoos and piercings? How about ministering to people that are slow, poor of speech and dress, lacking in cleanliness, etiquette and manors? What about old people, incapacitated and lacking in faculties and social skills? Can we really love those extremists, god-haters, abortionist, gays, idol worshippers and those of false religions? You might be thinking, “well, wait a minute, God hates sin and a lot of these that you are mentioning are sinners and anti-god.” Yes God hates sin, and what were we before He saved us and washed away our sin? The truth is that, like Peter, we all have prejudices; rather we acknowledge them or not. All of us can be put in situations with certain people groups that we would feel uncomfortable to say the least. The fact is that consciously or subconsciously we avoid or condemn what we don’t feel comfortable or accepting of. There are times in life when God will put us right where we don’t want to be. What we would often protest to God, that is unclean, common and should be rejected, is exactly what He suffered and died to redeem and sanctify. Not unlike Peter, we don’t want to be the ones to defile our hands and dirty our righteous garments. We are faced with a crossroads at certain times in our lives. Will I live out of a pious religious attitude that says to me, “I am better than these people, I will just cross the street and walk on the other side and ignore their existence?” Is the Holy Spirit convicting us in these times that, “you are not your own, you were bought with a price, it was the same price that Christ paid for these you deem undesirable and rejects.” “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Don’t think it strange when God begins to move in what we might consider some unholy arenas and areas of humanity. Jesus loved that demoniac that no one else would dare to go near. We have to be willing as the priests and ministers of God to operate out of a love that requires that we die to personal prejudices and feelings. These are still a part of our natural man and not a part of the Spirit and love of Christ within us. Jesus was never afraid to roll up His holy sleeves and get his hands dirty with tax collectors, sinners, adulteresses, people demon possessed, sick, diseased, criminals, enemies of Judah, crippled and lepers. Those that no one else wanted anything to with Jesus loved and ministered life, health and deliverance. Quite honestly, most all of us have lived in our comfort zone where nothing we consider common or unholy enters in. In that place we can live piously, comfortably and enjoy our little religious, well groomed lifestyles. The truth is that Jesus went to Hell to redeem the most defiled and ungodly of sinners. Dare we turn our backs on those He so loved and died for? Will these not stand up to testify against us on judgement day? The Love and nature of Christ in us will take us outside of our comfort zone if we will really listen to the Spirit within us. His love reaches out to the depths of humanity. When He cast out His net of salvation He draws in the clean and unclean alike.
We, like Peter, have to have a revelation of our prejudices and God’s incomprehensible love. We have to be willing to lay down our lives, our pride, our dignity, so that Christ might reach through us to love and save the lowliest of men. Are we willing to get our hands dirty? Even the priest of the Levitical order had to get bloody, stinky and dirty as they prepared the sacrifices for the altar. It went with the job. Whatever it takes we must be willing to do, wherever He leads us we must be willing to go. We have been called to be Christ to the Nations. Are you truly willing?

Blessings,
#kent

Putting Off the Old

September 3, 2014

Colossians 3:5-11
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Putting Off the Old

Let’s say I go out and buy a house that is a fixer-upper. The last tenant that lived there lived fast and hard and let the place become totally run down. Now the house is still livable, but not what is desirable. We have purchased the house with the intent that as we live here we are going to restore it to its original glory and beauty. When we purchased this house we looked past all of its defects, faults and failures. We had the vision to see it for what it was going to be and not what it was. As we live in this house daily we spend time working on its repair and restoration. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week or even a month. In fact it may be a project of a lifetime, but our goal will only be reached as we are faithful each day to continue working on some area of its repair and restoration.
Outside the paint is peeling, but we can’t just paint over the old with new paint, otherwise in a short period of time the new paint will be peeling as well. First we must strip off the old and scrape off all of the peeling loose paint. The same principle holds true throughout the house. We must remove the old and broken, before we can apply the new. If we just cover up the old, all we have done is temporarily prettied it up, but we haven’t restored it and that is the same as hypocrisy.
I think you can see the analogy and where this going, because the same principles hold true when the old man is inhabited by the Spirit of the Lord and we become a new tenant and a new creation man. Our purpose and intent for this house is not the same as it used to be. Before we lived in it only for me and what served my purposes. Now we live in it for the glory of Christ and what honors and pleases Him. What He is telling us here is the old has to go. All of those old attributes of our fleshly living for self have to be put off and renewed by the ways of His Spirit life. All of those old habits of the ways we used to look at and view others, the language that we used, the ways that we acted and the ways that we used to think must all be stripped away. In their place we are renewing ourselves with the building supplies of God’s Spirit and His Word. There, our mind, thoughts and purpose are renewed daily as we set our mind on things above and live in the purpose of the new creation man that we now are in Christ. We are not fully transformed in a day, week, month or even a year, but as we abide in Christ and live out of His nature, we find that we have a helper in this transforming work. What would be overwhelming and impossible with us has become possible by the Holy Spirit that now abides with us. Everyday He is there, as we will commit ourselves to Him and His plan for us. Every day we continue to relinquish and give up our former ways and habits to Him, so that He can help us to rid ourselves of the old and replace it with the new. He continues to teach us, instruct us and lead us, as we will set our minds and hearts upon Him. Through Christ this old house can be transformed and made new as we grow in His knowledge and grace from glory to glory even into the same image of Him that has called us.

Blessings,
#kent

Strongholds

April 24, 2014

Mark 3:23-27a
So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

Strongholds

There are strongholds that each one of us deals with in our lives. Some may be stronger than others, but all of us have dealt with areas of our flesh where we are weak and more prone to failure and sin. Most all of us tend to want to keep these in the secret places of our closets so others won’t see, but often very ugly things reside behind the closed doors of our home and our hearts. These strongholds have fettered us and kept us in a state of bondage even as Christians for far too long. It is most often a love-hate relationship. We hate our sin and yet we love it too much to let go of it. As a result we struggle with our hypocrisy, often justifying it or rationalizing it so we can live with this bondage that is crippling our wholeness in Christ. Many of us live with much guilt and condemnation because we truly love the Lord and yet in these areas that may differ with each one of us, we are weak and seem unable to break free.
The enemy knows our areas of weakness and vulnerability. These are his inroads to our soul to hinder us and cripple us in walking in obedience in these areas. No amount of rules or laws are going to deliver us from these sensual or fleshly indulgences.
Paul says this in Colossians 2:19-13, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The truth is that Jesus Christ has bound the strong man, disarming his powers and authority. We now possess in Christ a greater power and authority than that which has bound us. Verse 10 says ‘you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.’
So why are we still enslaved by these strongholds of sin and flesh? God has placed the Spirit of Christ in us to overcome the flesh. It is easy when someone does everything for you, but it doesn’t help you to grow or to find the strength you need to live in victory. God has called us to overcome in Christ Jesus.
We plead, “But I have tried and I still fail. I can’t do it.”
That is exactly right, we can’t do it, but we have a power resident within us by which we can. Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “Therefore, 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.” The key words here for us are “By the Spirit”. We have an identity in Christ that we must put on in every area of our lives. We are no longer identified with the weakness, fearfulness and the lust of our flesh. We are identified with what we possess which Colossians 2:10 says is the ‘fullness in Christ’.
Colossians 3:1-11 exhorts us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” We must know who we are and where we now reside in the Spirit. We are not an earthly people any longer, we are a kingdom people with the King of Kings setting upon the throne our hearts and souls.
Some of us cry out in our souls and say, “I want to be free, but I can’t.” Can’t is not a statement of faith, but of fear and unbelief. “We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.” Our greatest enemy is the deceptiveness of sin. We hide our sin in the closet because of our shame. We don’t want people to think of us less than spiritual; when in truth we are all struggling with the same garbage. It doesn’t matter how wicked or perverse the thing is that you struggle with, God sees it and He knows. It is not His will that this stronghold possesses you and rules over you. The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you alone with your sin, like you are the only one going through this. You are not alone. We all struggle in areas of our life. Our greatest strength and victory is going to come when we bring our sin and struggles into the light and we allow the body of Christ to stand with us, pray with us and offer accountability to us. James 3:16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The reason we confess our sins to one another is to bring them into the light, which renders the devil powerless. He can only work in darkness. In the light we unite with the strength and support of fellow believers who can pray with us, stand with us and help us to be accountable in those areas where we are so prone to temptation.
It is time for all of us to come out of our dysfunctional state of sin and failure. Let us help one another in coming into the full freedom and deliverance from these strongholds that have so long crippled and hindered us in our walk and full devotion to Christ. You are not alone in your struggle. Surround yourself with other solid believers that you can trust and confide in. You may find that you are able to help them as much as they can help you. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light. No more strongholds!

Blessings,
#kent

Hypocrisy

April 16, 2014

Hypocrisy

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The definition of a hypocrite is, one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, pretender, one who is feigned, disguised or is insincere. It is one who wears a mask or false identity. It is a fact of human nature that what you see is not always what you get. From the time we are children we grow up learning to play the game of human interaction. We learn to put forward what others or society expects of us which often is not who we really are. We want to be people pleasers and accepted of others. Sometimes we have so many identities we don’t even know who we are.
Then, when we become Christians we are introduced to the religious system and we learn how to wear that mask. We learn the right phrases, how to act and put forward what is “acceptable Christian behavior.” Never mind the arguing, fighting and ugliness we showed toward our spouse and children as we were getting ready for church and on the way. As we step out of the car and walk into the church suddenly this transformation takes place. Suddenly we put on this godly smile and countenance and to those we encounter all is right with the world. If we are honest all of us have experienced this kind of behavior in our lives and probably still do. There is this duality in our lives that keeps us from being who we really are for fear that that is unacceptable. Many of us spend our lives living a lie and fashion ourselves around the dictates of others. We are so afraid of being seen in the nakedness of who we really are. It is true that many of us have some pretty hideous deformities and abnormalities in our lives, but are they ever dealt with and healed by masking them over. Our lives become one big game of pretending to be something or someone we really aren’t. What is worse, we then judge others out of our pretentious hypocrisy, because they don’t live up to the standard. The truth is they just don’t play the game as good as we do.
Is this what God wants us to be? If ever Jesus railed on anyone, it wasn’t the outright sinner it was the hypocrite. The one who liked to condemn and point the finger when inside he was no different than the ones he condemned. ” For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:2-5).”
We have been talking a lot about light and darkness. It is time we all come out into the light and be real with who we are. The truth is that most all of our lives are a mess in one area or another. We know that God sees us for who we really are. We know that it is only His power and grace that can transform us. How can this take place if we can’t even face up to who and what we are? It starts with us being honest with ourselves and with God. His love and mercy has already been extended to us in that, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He loves us no matter how ugly the sin our lives has been, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. His desire is bring us out of darkness into the light so that there it is exposed and we can repent, receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ and begin a path in the opposite direction of our sin, dependent upon the Lord to help us walk that way. We are all in this walk together and we are going from glory to glory, but we are at different stages in our maturity and walk with God. Our purpose as a body is to help each other along the way. We have to deal with these sin issues with honesty if we are going to be set free of them. If we want to continue to hold on to them then the dealings must become more severe, because these are stumbling blocks and hindrances to who we really are in Christ and what He has called us to be. Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It is time that we quit playing games with God and with others and be real. Let’s deal with who we really are, because only then can we come into what God wants us to be. It is time we stop living the lie of hypocrisy and become the forgiven vessels of His mercy and grace no matter how humble that may be. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22).”

blessings,
#kent

Kingdom Inheritors

April 1, 2014

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Kingdom Inheritors

Romans 14:17-18 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” We are not inheriting a kingdom of flesh, but of Spirit. God is making real to us who we are in Christ, that we are a spiritual and kingdom people being fashioned and transformed into His image and likeness. It is just as important to know who we are not in Christ. We are not what we used to be. We are not what we came out of. Those things have passed away and we are a new creature and creation in Christ Jesus. God makes it clear that His kingdom is not made up of the thinking, ideology and behavior of this world. Anyone that is still living and abiding in that paradigm in their thinking and living is not going to fit into the kingdom of God. If we want God’s kingdom there is only one way and that by being ‘washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that has the power to transform our lives from the world that is lost outside of Christ to those are in Christ and become partakers of kingdom thinking, living and being.
The Corinthians in this text were having a hard time transitioning their thinking and being to kingdom principles and kingdom ways. The apostle Paul is telling them here that the former ways have no place in the kingdom. They are enmity to it. We live by a different standard and if we are not seeing the effectiveness and power of that kingdom, it may well be that things are not lining up in our thinking and living with kingdom principles and ways.
We have a righteous King of glory, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is establishing His kingdom within the hearts and the lives of His people. If we consider ourselves His people then we need to find that place of complete submission to His Lordship. Most all of us would agree that we want to go to heaven when we die, but how many of us are willing to go there while we live? Ponder that question for a moment.
You see living heaven on earth is a place we find first in our spirits. Outwardly we still live in this world and as such we are faced with all of it trials and difficulties, as well as its pleasures, temptations and sins. Heaven comes to earth when we are living and walking out the life of Christ and the principles of the kingdom in our earthly life and vessel. We are the manifestation and expression of His kingdom in the earth. When we mix the two realms of flesh and Spirit we get a muddy mess. It is this muddy mess that defiles and taints the name of Jesus in the earth. The world sees in us a people that proclaims and preaches one thing, but then tries to live it out with natural thinking and human ways. No wonder they are put off by our hypocrisy. God gives us some grace here. We are growing and we are not fully matured yet, but it is important that our heart is after the kingdom of God and not the kingdoms of this world. Already we see them passing away and more than ever we are impressed with the truth that we must lay hold of His kingdom in mind, word and deed. Judgement is swiftly coming for the wicked, but our lives must stand as a testimony against all wickedness and perversity of men through the demonstration of righteous living and through the power of our love in Christ. We stand as a testimony to God’s alternative to judgement. We stand and walk with the light of hope and salvation for all that would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and turn from their wicked ways. Heaven is here, but it needs you as a vessel to reveal it and unveil it. The kingdom of God has come, is come and is coming, but we are the revelation of its presence and reality in this world. How will they know the King unless they see the reality of His kingdom in you and I? We are where the rubber meets the road and where spiritual principles become practical reality in our daily living and actions. If the wicked would see Jesus, they must see Him through us, not through our condemnation, but through our love and righteousness.
A kingdom principle is, that our gain is often in our loss, and our life is found in our death. Paul reveals it this way in Philippians 3: 7-11, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” This is a kingdom mentality and thinking. It is how we transition into the kingdom of God. We become the less that He might become the more, till He becomes our all in all.

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
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