1 Samuel 15: 22-23

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.” 

Obedience is better than Sacrifice

Most of us have grown up in religion that operates as king Saul did.  It is more about doing than obedience.  We have developed numerous programs to do things for God and about God, but how much of it comes out of direct obedience to the Spirit to do all of these things.  It seems good.  It sounds good, but does it produce the life and Spirit of God in others.  What God does and what He builds will have this characteristic.  It will produce life and it will accomplish the purposes of God.  If we build something in the flesh, no matter how good or noble it may seem, then we have to maintain and support it in the power of the flesh.  What God has commissioned, He will provide for.  

Saul, like so many of us, is justifying to Samuel how he did good.  Listen to how we often respond to God in how Saul answers the Word of God through Samuel in verses 17-20, “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.” 

How many of us have had directives of the Lord either personally or through His Word and we have compromised what He has instructed us to do.  We have made it subject to our interpretation and justified our manipulating of what God has instructed to best meet our needs or purposes rather than His.  Religion always acts in the name of God, but is not always subject in obedience to the express will of God.  Many of us in our religious spirits, put on our outward vestures of obedience and righteousness, while inwardly we work things after the will of our own devices.  

God has a strong word for Saul and for us who are being religious, but not obedient.  God calls it rebellion and He says it is like witchcraft.  It is where we purpose to manipulate and control what God has spoken to us to do.  We are not honoring and worshipping Him in this process, we are honoring and worshipping our agendas and ourselves.   God doesn’t delight in our pretenses at what is good; He delights in our obedience.  Through this kind of stubbornness and rebellion God rejected Saul as king.  Now Saul didn’t cease to sit in the place of kingship from that day even as Adam didn’t literally die in the day that he partook of the forbidden fruit, but in both cases something happened in the spirit realm that brought death.  When God withdrawals His Spirit from a thing it will eventually whither and die.  

God has withdrawn His Spirit from religion because it is only a pretense of godliness, built upon the letter of the law and not the Spirit.  He is not looking for those who have a form of godliness, He is seeking after those who will worship and walk in Spirit and in truth.  He is looking for those whose obedience is pure from a heart of love.  They are not interested in what makes them look good or what benefits them.  They are only interested in what glorifies the Father, so they will do things in His time and in His way.  If God doesn’t move, then they won’t produce their own agenda to make up for it.  They have put on the harness of the Lord and they will only move as the King directs them.  

Are we operating out of this spirit of obedience or are we still a lot like Saul, manipulating godliness to what best suits our ends?  Our stubbornness and self-will has no place in the kingdom. 

Blessings,

#kent

 

2 Chronicles 34:1-7

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

 3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. 4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

There is Nothing You Can’t Do

It is no wonder that the apostle Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:2,”Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  God is not a respecter of persons, or age, gender, race or even challenged individuals.  Here in 2 Chronicles 34 God shows how he can even take the weaknesses and immaturity of a young boy and show Himself strong and righteous.  We always want to make excuses as to why we can’t do the exploits and the works of God.  It is not who we are that hinders us, but our lack of faith to move out and believe God for whatever it is that He has placed upon our hearts to do.  

This young boy, Josiah was different because he chose to fix his eyes upon the Lord and through the Lord’s strength and guidance, do what was right.  He turned his nation back to God.  He tore down and destroyed idolatry out of the land.  He was a purifier and a restorer of God’s holiness.  At a very young age He took the resources God had placed in his hands and he made a significant difference in his world.  

What is it that may be holding us back from making a significant difference in our world?  No, we may not be a king, but there are resources that God has given us and placed into our lives.  The greatest resource is the Christ in us.  In Philippians 4:13 Paul declares, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  It is not a question of what you can’t do, it is a question of what has God put in your heart to do?  If God has commissioned you and placed His dream and vision in your heart, then all that hinders you is the faith to act upon it.  It is not your might or resources,  it the Christ in you that will empower you to accomplish what He has called you to do.  

Take it from this little boy Josiah, nothing is impossible with God if you only believe, act and do.

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

Return of a Wayward Heart

October 31, 2013

Return of a Wayward Heart

Hosea 2:7
And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now.

The Lord has taken each one of us and has blessed, clothed, nurtured and provided our substance and our needs. He loved us when we were unlovely. He has taken us in when we were wandering without purpose and homeless. He clothed us when we were naked. He has healed us, bound up our wounds and broken hearts. He has given us favor where we would have had none. He gave us dignity, respect and purpose when we were full of sin, despised and forsaken.
How have we repaid Him for the richness of His love and blessing? Are we loving and serving Him with faith, obedience and love or have we been like Hosea’s wife in our hearts? Do we have that spirit of adultery and idolatry as she did to run after and pursue other lovers? Do we somehow think that they can in any way fulfill us more than our faithful husband, Jesus? Yet many of us forsake the Lord in our hearts and minds as we pursue and run after our affections and lusts. In the pursuit of them, are we fulfilled or satisfied? Are our hearts more content than when we were living and walking in faithfulness to Christ? Can those lovers ever fulfill the deeper needs and longings of our soul or will they take our life, our substance and our youth; casting us off, leaving us feeling used, dirty and rejected.
Where are we at in the fidelity and faithfulness of our heart and love toward our Lord today? Have we become as Israel of old who turned her back to the Lord to pursue her other lovers? Are we simply going through the motions of Christianity, but our hearts have become hardened and distracted by our sin?
Hosea 2:10 says, “So now I will expose her lewdness no one will take her out of my hands.” What we have done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops and our nakedness will be exposed and our sin revealed. God is calling His beloved back to His heart. He is wooing her to return and repent from her lovers and her vile behavior. The Lord will deal with us in ways necessary to deal with the harlotry of our hearts so that we may return again to Him and appreciate once more all that we have had and enjoyed at that goodness of His hand. Even though we deserve to be cast out and divorced, the Lord’s heart and love is still tender towards us. His love has been unconditional even in the midst of our unfaithfulness.
This is the place that He says that He is bringing us in Hosea 2:14-23, “”Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. 16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. ‘ 17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. 19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. 21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD—
“I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ‘ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”
The Lord’s heart is to reconcile and bring us back into right relationship with Him. Let us turn our heart from our foreign lovers and bring our whole heart back to the Lord. Let us repent of our unfaithfulness and turn from all of our lewdness. Let us honor, love and obey Him who is the faithful lover of our souls and true husband. Let us return to our first love.

Blessings,
kent

In the Midst of the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3:21-25
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their [other] garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnaceTherefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O kingHe answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Our account today is out of the book of Daniel. Again, this is a familiar story to many of us, but for those not familiar I will give a brief summation of the story to bring us up to the point we want to address today. I would encourage you to read this account out of Daniel 3 in Bible if you are not familiar with it.
The setting takes place in Babylon. The children of Israel have been taken captive and some of the choice young men of Israel have been brought into King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and trained up to serve the King. The chief and most prominent of these men is Daniel who doesn’t happen to be a part of this particular account. However, three other men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, godly men that Daniel has appointed with the King’s authority to rule over the affairs of Babylon, are the key players of this true drama. The King erects a huge golden image, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide (roughly ninety feet tall by nine feet wide). One might note the usage of six as the number of man used in the dimensions of this image. The King then has a dedication in which he invites all of the officials of his kingdom to come to. At the sound of the instruments all of these officials are ordered to bow down and worship this image with the consequences being that if anyone doesn’t comply they will be cast into the fiery furnace. Now, after this dedication, certain Chaldeans, officials of that country, came the King and brought to his attention that these Hebrews didn’t bow down as he instructed. I’m sure there was no, jealousy, covetousness or malice on their part toward the Hebrews. They were no doubt just doing their civic duty. At any rate this enraged the King who had the three Hebrews brought before him. He asked them if this account was true and then he offered them a second chance to fall down and worship the image with the consequences being the fiery furnace if they refused. It is a great testimony and example to us in how the three Hebrews replied,” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Hebrews 3:16-18). They knew God could deliver them, although they did not have a sure word that He would, they never the less had already resolved their stand in this matter, they would not bow down to false gods even at the cost of death. Well, this sent the king into a full-blown temper tantrum. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal and his strongest men to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, into the furnace. Note that seven is a divine number of God throughout scripture and well may indicate a divine judgement and purification in this case. The furnace is so hot that the heat consumes the mightiest of the men as they throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound in all of their garments and hats, into the furnace. As the king is able to look into the furnace, his account is as follows: ” Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Christ?).” The account of the story finishes by saying he called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace. ” Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. ”
We have laid this foundation to say this, Hebrews 12:28-29, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God [is] a consuming fire.” As we look and see what God did for these Hebrew men, we can see what He wants to do for all of His faithful servants and children. The only thing that the fire can really touch is the bonds of the flesh that have bound us. If we are walking with Christ in us, the judgements and trials that befall us are doing but one thing, they are burning up the areas in our life that bring us into the bondage of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:11-16 tells us this, ” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ” One day our lives will stand in the fiery furnace of God judgement and our works will be tested by His fire. The exhortation is that God is not trying to destroy us, but He does want to burn up all the areas in our lives that hold us in bondage. He wants to set us free to truly walk with Christ even through the trials of life. So if you are going through the fire today let that be your encouragement, that all that is really being touched are the areas of our flesh while our spirit is being purified and refined. All of us are building on the foundation of Christ, but how we build and what we produce through our lives will have to stand the test of God’s fire. Revelations 3:18 gives us this exhortation, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” That gold, spoken of here, is the pure things of the Spirit that have been worked in us through our trials and testings. ‘ We learn obedience through the things we suffer.’ So hold fast in the place of the fire for in it is where we purchase the gold of His divine nature and Spirit within us. Let us build our lives with the things of the Spirit so they may stand in the day when they are revealed by the fire.

Blessings,
kent

Do not Tempt the Lord

August 23, 2013

Do not Tempt the Lord

Matthew 4:7
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
What does it mean to tempt the Lord? In the Old Testament usage the implication is that men tempt God when they exhibit distrust in a manner as if they wanted to try and see whether God is not justly distrusted. Also by unrighteous or wicked conduct to test God’s justice and patience. They are in affect challenging Him to prove His perfection.
In the passage of Matthew 4:7 we see Jesus in the wilderness is being tempted of the devil. In the preceding verses, 4 and 5 we see the temptation, “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” The devil is trying to get Jesus to prove He is God’s Son by testing Him supernaturally to see if the Father will save Him. He even uses scripture to back it up.
There is a flag of caution to us as believers that we don’t find ourselves tempting God and trying to make Him prove Himself through presumptuous acts of faith. Jesus never did miracles because He was challenged to do so. Though there was not a question that the power was resident in Him, He acted and lived in complete submission to the will and mind of the Father. Because we have the promises of God’s Word and the authority of the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean we can go call fire down out of heaven or do whatever our heart fancies. We, like Jesus, must operate under the mind and will of the Spirit of God. When we are operating out of our flesh, especially concerning the things of God, are we not putting God to the test and tempting Him?
Acts 5 gives us the story of Ananias and Sapphira, early church Christians who sold there possessions for a certain price and then conspired to lie about it in order to hold back some of the possession for themselves. Now the possession was there’s to give or keep, but where they tempted God was when, instead of being forthright with what they were doing they conspired to lie to the disciples. What they failed to consider is that these disciples were the ambassadors of the Most High God, so their lie was not to men but to God. As a result we see a very stern and sobering demonstration of God’s judgement upon them, in that they both dropped dead when confronted with their sin. Peter makes the statement to Sapphira just before God’s judgement comes upon her, “Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband [are] at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Do we ever plot do our own thing contrary or with disregard to the mind and will of God? Are we tempting God not to deal with us for disobedience?
In the Old Testament we read a number of accounts especially with the Israelites going through the wilderness with Moses where they tempted God through there discontentment, murmuring, lust and failure to trust the Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 gives a very good summation of this for our exhortation, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Let us guard our hearts and our walk today that we don’t find ourselves in that place of tempting God. Let us, like Christ, submit our wills, our desires, our faith and actions, to the will and direction of the Holy Spirit so that we walk in a way that is honorable, respectful, and obedient to His holiness. We desire His blessings and not His discipline, so let us soberly consider that we tempt not the Lord.

Blessings,
kent

Spoiled Leftovers

July 1, 2013

Spoiled Leftovers

Colossians 3:5-11
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.[b] 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.

When we were saved and came into Christ we may have experienced a wonderful salvation and deliverance experience. While we by faith stepped into Christ and heavenly places not all of our old baggage fell by the wayside at that moment. While we were forgiven and all of our sins were washed away, it didn’t mean we never sinned or fell short again. The reality is that God didn’t just take all of the responsibility away from us and say now you are all pure, holy and you are just like me. In our spirits He did. In that inner man there is one in the likeness of Christ. But for that “Christ in us” to possess all of us it is a life-long process and one only fully consummated at His presence or coming.
Meanwhile we are caught up in the battleground of the mind and soul. Our inner man is intent on holiness, righteous and conformity to Christ, but sin still wants to work in our outward members. Did you ever have a beautiful refrigerator with great food in it, but you keep smelling this stench and wonder where is that odor coming from? You keep digging and digging and finally you find a baggy with an old rotten onion, so you throw that out, but it still stinks. You look some more and you open up this yogurt container that has more hairy mold than you’ve got whiskers. You grimace and wrinkle your nose as you throw it out. Still there is this smell, but what you find is that some of the foods you really like are the culprits. Oh man, you don’t want to throw those out, because you really like them, even if they aren’t good for you, so you tuck them away so they will be less noticeable, but you can still munch on them when you get the urge. Likely it is not the spirit man that wants to hold on to them, it is the flesh. We have ways of justifying our flesh and our little stashes where we make provision for those things we outwardly love, crave or don’t want to let go of.
What we deal with is that if we are maintaining a relationship with Christ and seeking to please Him in all of our ways we run into conflict. The Holy Spirit only allows us to indulge in our little hidden treasures for time until He begins to put His finger on them. Now it comes down to our will or His. The truth is that to His nose these things are spoiled leftovers of our past nature and they are a stench to Him, but will we let go of them? The Cross takes no prisoners in its process of holiness. It exercises extreme prejudice on those things our flesh holds dear, because they represent idolatry to the Lord. They are the place where our affections, commitments and loyalties often diverge from the Spirit as we make provisions for the flesh.
Most all of us deal with strongholds, these giants in our land in one area or another that keep defying the living God. Only as the Spirit of God rises up in us with dominion and authority will we conquer and overcome the strong will of rebellion that still abides in us. It has to be our will in union with His. Only as we relinquish every thing, every emotion, and every desire can Christ be fully Lord of the land. Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “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.”
What are we going to do with our spoiled leftovers?

Blessings,
kent

Shallow is the Grave, Deep is the Well

John 4:6-10
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with [his] journey, sat thus on the well: [and] it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The word today is from the account of the woman at the well which many of you are familiar with, but if not take a few minutes to read it. There are many wonderful truths in this short encounter. The truth I feel impressed of the Lord to bring out today concerns areas that He is dealing with in my life and no doubt areas He wants to deal with in yours. In the natural scheme of the life of that day, this encounter with Jesus should have never happened. In the eyes of society and especially the typical Jewish outlook, this woman was way beneath good Jewish men, being considered little more than a dog. You know, in our state of sin we are much on that same level in regards to God and His holiness and greatness. Yet, God’s incomprehensible love humbles itself to come down to where we are in the messiness of our lives, in the squalor of our filth and sin and minister’s life to us. All of our lives we have come to the well and drank the waters of self efforts, our goodness and the accomplishments our own lives. The very best of what it could do or offer always left us thirsting again. Now, here is a man that is offering us living water that we would never thirst again. Wouldn’t that be great to never have to rely on my self-efforts and goodness to satisfy that thirsting of my soul? Here is a man that is offering to allow me to drink from the deep wells of salvation. It is so much more than the well of my religion that my forefathers dug. It is a well of deep relationship that forever satisfies.
As that woman, I would think, “this is wonderful, but who is this guy? Are you greater than what we have had before? Are you greater than our doctrine or religion or the belief system I have grown up with all my life? And where do you get this water seeing you have nothing to draw it with (no degree, pedigrees or theological background)? ”
“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).”
“Okay Lord, I’m convinced. Yes, give me this living water. This has got to be so much easier and better than the old routine of drawing from the well that I am used too.”
Then Jesus says something that catches her off guard and goes to a place she doesn’t really want to go. He tells her to go and get her husband and come here. She says, “Well, I’m not married.” Jesus sees right into her heart and says, ” You are right, you’re not married. You have had five husbands and the one you are with now is not your husband.” Immediately, though, no doubt taken back by His insight, she says, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet,” and begins to engage in a religious discussion about where the true place of worship is. When the Holy Spirit addresses the other husbands in our lives, our personal sins and idols. We get pretty squeamish, defensive and want to get out of the light of His conviction by changing the subject.
There is an underlying truth here. Jesus wants to give us the living water, but He also wants to deal with these other husbands who haven’t even been true husbands at all. When we drink of this living water we enter into a relationship where Christ becomes our true husband that is our eternal supply, which is able to meet every need. In order for us to drink the fullness of the deep wells of salvation we have to deal with these other husbands in our life. If we have other husbands in our life we are in adultery and idolatry, because they will be taking the place of our true husband, Christ. The only way for us to be in right relationship with our true husband is for these others to die and be buried.
Easily said, not always easily done. These other husbands can represent strongholds, drives, habits, addictions and affections in our lives we don’t really want to let go of. We still have a love or at least a lust for them. We would rather the Lord not go there, but in order for us to experience the depths of the well of salvation and living water we must experience the death and the shallow grave of our idols and the husbands of affections that have ruled over us. So it comes down to a choice, to exchange, a shallow grave for a deep well or keep a shallow well, wherein we continue to thirst and a deep grave if we continue to hold on to the things that only bring death and destruction. Either way, there has to be a death, death to the spiritual to maintain the natural or death to the natural to experience the depths of the spiritual. In what areas do you have other husbands or lovers? Which well and which grave will you choose?

Blessings,
kent

In the Midst of the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3:21-25
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their [other] garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnaceTherefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O kingHe answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Our account today is out of the book of Daniel. Again, this is a familiar story to many of us, but for those not familiar I will give a brief summation of the story to bring us up to the point we want to address today. I would encourage you to read this account out of Daniel 3 in Bible if you are not familiar with it.
The setting takes place in Babylon. The children of Israel have been taken captive and some of the choice young men of Israel have been brought into King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and trained up to serve the King. The chief and most prominent of these men is Daniel who doesn’t happen to be a part of this particular account. However, three other men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, godly men that Daniel has appointed with the King’s authority to rule over the affairs of Babylon, are the key players of this true drama. The King erects a huge golden image, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide (roughly ninety feet tall by nine feet wide). One might note the usage of six as the number of man used in the dimensions of this image. The King then has a dedication in which he invites all of the officials of his kingdom to come to. At the sound of the instruments all of these officials are ordered to bow down and worship this image with the consequences being that if anyone doesn’t comply they will be cast into the fiery furnace. Now, after this dedication, certain Chaldeans, officials of that country, came the King and brought to his attention that these Hebrews didn’t bow down as he instructed. I’m sure there was no, jealousy, covetousness or malice on their part toward the Hebrews. They were no doubt just doing their civic duty. At any rate this enraged the King who had the three Hebrews brought before him. He asked them if this account was true and then he offered them a second chance to fall down and worship the image with the consequences being the fiery furnace if they refused. It is a great testimony and example to us in how the three Hebrews replied,” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Hebrew 3:16-18). They knew God could deliver them, although they did not have a sure word that He would, they never the less had already resolved their stand in this matter, they would not bow down to false gods even at the cost of death. Well, this sent the king into a full-blown temper tantrum. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal and his strongest men to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, into the furnace. Note that seven is a divine number of God throughout scripture and well may indicate a divine judgement and purification in this case. The furnace is so hot that the heat consumes the mightiest of the men as they throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound in all of their garments and hats, into the furnace. As the king is able to look into the furnace, his account is as follows: ” Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Christ?).” The account of the story finishes by saying he called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace. ” Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. ”
We have laid this foundation to say this, Hebrew 12:28-29, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God [is] a consuming fire.” As we look and see what God did for these Hebrew men, we can see what He wants to do for all of His faithful servants. The only thing that the fire can really touch is the bonds of the flesh that have bound us. If we are walking with Christ in us, the judgements and trials that befall us are doing but one thing, they are burning up the areas in our life that bring us into the bondage of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:11-16 tells us this, ” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ” One day our lives will stand in the fiery furnace of God judgement and our works will be tested by His fire. The exhortation is that God is not trying to destroy us, but He does want to burn up all the areas in our lives that hold us in bondage. He wants to set us free to truly walk with Christ even through the trials of life. So if you are going through the fire today let that be your encouragement, that all that is really being touched are the areas of our flesh while our spirit is being purified and refined. All of us are building on the foundation of Christ, but how we build and what we produce through our lives will have to stand the test of God’s fire. Revelations 3:18 gives us this exhortation, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” That gold is the pure things of the Spirit that have been worked in us through our trials and testings. ‘ We learn obedience through the things we suffer.’ So hold fast in the place of the fire for in it is where we purchase the gold of His divine nature and Spirit within us. Let us build our lives with the things of the Spirit so they may stand in the day when they are revealed by the fire.

Blessings,
kent

Religious Icons

October 25, 2012

1 Samuel 4:4-10
So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”
When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. 8Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert. 9Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
10So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Religious Icons

This scripture in 1 Samuel captures a truth that is prevalent for us today and needs to be considered by us as God’s people.
There was no greater representative symbol of God and His presence in that day than the Ark of the Covenant. To the Israelites it represented the presence of God in their midst. In past times the Ark of the Covenant had not been taken into battle.
Here is a principle that religion has failed to grasp. God gives us natural symbols to show us spiritual truths. It helps us to conceptualize spiritual realities that we have a hard time grasping with natural understanding. Religion tends to take the symbols of truth and make them icons of idolatry because it teaches us to put our faith in the symbol rather than the reality of the truth that it represents. Our symbols, outside of the context of the truth they represent, become no more than good luck charms we believe will wart off evil and give us God’s favor.
God gave the tabernacle and all of its furnishing as type and shadow of that truth that would be fulfilled in Christ Jesus. They were all symbols of the truth, but not the reality and substance of it.
In this passage in 1 Samuel 4 we see the two priests, Hophni and Phinnehas who were suppose to be the representatives of God, but were living godless and sinful lives. Maybe the underlying thought was that if we the Ark of the Covenant and bring into the battle we’ll be holding God hostage, because surely He won’t allow the ark to be captured and He will give us the victory. One thing we learn about God is that not even the temple that carries His name is sacred if the hearts of His people are wicked. He is jealous over our spirits, not our religious icons. He will destroy even the most sacred natural thing in order to restore the spiritual reality and truth of it.
Look even at the example in 1 Corinthians 5 where a man was in relations with his father’s wife. Paul passes a judgement that the lesser be destroyed that the greater might be preserved. “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” God will destroy the natural to preserve the spirit no matter how spiritual the natural may seem. He has done it with many great men of God that allowed sin to enter in.
How many times do we come naming and claiming in the “Name of Jesus”, but our lives are not aligning with His nature, character and purpose. Like the Israelites here, we may often suffer defeat because the spiritual reality of the truth is not in place and practice. If we want God to show up in our battles then we need to be carrying and practicing His presence. If we are relying on a symbol or icon to bring us victory then we have missed the greater truth. Truth is not in the icon, it is in what it represents and symbolizes. If the truth isn’t alive in us then the icon is not going to save us no matter how religious it is. You and I are the temples that carry and house His truth. If we want to see the victory in our battles then we must live out of the truth of the Christ that we carry, not in just the symbol of the cross, but in the reality of all that it represents.

Blessings,
kent

%d bloggers like this: