In God’s Time

April 13, 2015

Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

In God’s Time

Many a young person has been caught up in the zeal of the Lord and desired to go into ministry. One thing that many don’t realize at first is that to be a true minister of God is it is not man or education that truly prepares you. Certainly God can and does us these in the process, but what any of us who desire to be in the service of the Lord must realize is God’s order and not man’s. It is really God who raises up a man or woman for His work. It is He who trains them through most often humble beginnings. It is He that anoints them for their calling and it is He that test their hearts before He sets them in a place of authority and ministry. For many of you who are excited to serve God, we are not always ready when we think we are. Such is the case with John Mark.
John Mark was the son of Mary and we first hear about him when Peter is locked in jail in Jerusalem. Herod had pretty much chalked Peter in to be the next martyr after having put to death James. We read the account of the angel coming into the prison and setting Peter free. Peter then goes to the house of Mary. Acts 12:12 says, “And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” We gather from this introduction that Mark had some strong Christian influences and roots. He gets his first shot at getting on the big name ministry team of Paul and Barnabas, and so we see him embarking on his first missionary trip in Acts 12: 25. Then over in Acts 13:5 it affirms that John is there with them as an apprentice and helper, but by verse 13 we see John leaving them and returning to Jerusalem. What happened? The word doesn’t give us much in the way of details, but it becomes obvious in Acts 15:37-40 that Paul was not impressed by Mark and wanted no more part in his going with them again. Apparently Mark wasn’t as ready and able as He thought. Maybe he couldn’t take it and went home, but Barnabas was one that did see the potential and continued to believe in Mark even after he apparently failed the first journey. Later we see that Paul has softened his position concerning Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he remarks, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
The message we can learn from Mark’s life is that ministry and service to God comes through a preparation of God. Sometimes we may fail to meet our own expectations or the expectation of those we are working with. Fortunately Mark didn’t just quit and fortunately he had men who still believed in Him and helped him to come into his place of ministry and service. Mark was also known to be Mark the Evangelist and later wrote one of the first gospels, the gospel of Mark, thought to have been largely narrated and influenced by Peter.
When we look over the lives of many of God’s great people we see them coming up against times of apparent failure, shortcoming, trials and tribulation. What we come to realize is that this is really God’s school of preparation. We may know that God has anointed us and given us a passion in some area of ministry, but what we have to be careful of is that we allow Him to establish and place us in that ministry in His time and His way. That often means that we may feel passed over, put aside or not really valued. All of the time it is searching our true heart and motives, to see if there would be any unclean, impure or selfish motive on our part. When we can truly be okay with whatever and whenever the Lord wants to use us, then we are getting much closer to being where He wants us. Love always wants God’s best first and our best last.
Moses was 80 when he started his ministry. David was anointed as young teen, but didn’t become king until he was 30. The word tells us not to despise the day of small things. It is in those days that our hearts and lives are being prepared for greater ministry. We must first prove ourselves faithful in the little before we can be faithful over much. Don’t be discouraged if your life and ministry isn’t where you want it to be. Remember God is in control, not you and not man.

Blessings,
#kent

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Setting the Prisoners Free

December 31, 2014

Setting the Prisoners Free

Zechariah 9:11-12
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

This passage of scripture deals with the ushering in of the spiritual kingship and lordship of Jesus. His was not the outward kingdom that so many looked for, but His kingdom was one that was established in the hearts and souls of the men and women that would believe upon Him. Through the blood of His covenant Christ has come into our hearts to be our Lord, our salvation and our fortress.
While we have experienced the liberation of our spirits, our souls have remained the battleground of our will and desires coming into conformity and submission to the lordship of Christ. All through the Old Testament and into the New we see the warring of flesh and spirit in the midst of God’s people. We see the dealings of God when the flesh went unchecked and how it led to perversity and sin. God would warn, but the will of the flesh made for deaf ears and a hardened heart. So often it took the severity of God to bring His people back to repentance. We are no different today. We all have struggled with sin and its strongholds in our lives. No doubt we have often cried out to God to deliver us from our ungodly and impure ways. We have experienced being the prisoner of that waterless pit which is like a well without water. Instead of drinking from the wells of salvation we are experiencing the parched emptiness and life void we experience in that place where we have been a prisoner to our sin. How many times have we cried out in our weakness as we have sought to climb out of the slimy pit of our despairing ways only to slide back down again? In our spirits we know it is not what we want to be, we know it is not God’s highest or best for us and we know that it is void of the Spirit and Life of God and yet we still feel a prisoner to it.
The good news that the Lord is speaking here is don’t give up and don’t despair; the Lord has not given up on you and me. He will not forever leave us to our prison, but He says, “Return to the fortress”. You are not a prisoner of hopelessness and despair, but a prisoner of hope. Paul makes this cry in Romans 7:21-25, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
Doesn’t Paul describe himself as a prisoner in this passage? And we can all relate with where he is coming from. Yet he is a prisoner of hope in the midst of his despair. He sees, as we must, our hope, our anchor and our fortress in Christ.
Joseph was thrown into a waterless pit by his jealous brothers and then sold into slavery. Joseph had nothing but the dream, the destiny and the hope that God had placed inside of him. How many times he must have longed for and cried out to God for his deliverance and freedom, yet things didn’t get better they only got worst. Joseph may have been a prisoner outwardly, but inwardly through faithfulness and a right spirit he was the Lord’s freeman. He remained a prisoner of hope until one day the Lord brought him forth out of the prison and into the palace. It was a day of double portion blessing. He not only gained his freedom, but he came out of prison to reign.
If we have become discouraged by the state of our life, our growth and seeming immaturity in Christ, never be a prisoner without hope. We keep returning to our fortress, which is Christ in us, our hope of glory. His blood covenant has made a promise to deliver us from this body of sin and death. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Never succumb to your sin and fleshly weaknesses even though you may stumble in them. Never depart from the hope you have in Christ to bring you out of the waterless pit of your sin struggles. Continually turn to your fortress, identify with who you are in Christ and know that His blood covenant will bring you through and bring you out. Hold fast that you my see your double portion blessing.

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

Parables of the Kingdom

August 7, 2013

Parables of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:44-52
44″The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45″Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47″Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51″Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Jesus has given us some parables here in Matthew to help us grasp a spiritual understanding of the kingdom of heaven. It is much like you having discovered a large reservoir of oil beneath your property. You grasp the potential wealth of what you are sitting on, but until the oil can be brought to the surface it has no practical and realized value or worth to you. Aren’t our lives the same way? We have discovered the great truth and wealth we have of Christ in us, our hope of glory, but as long as He stays locked up in our spirit, our property, remains pretty much unchanged. So what will we do? Now having this knowledge of the great treasure possessed beneath the surface, we will make it our primary pursuit and investment in gleaning the treasure we know is there. We will make what ever sacrifices are necessary of what we now possess outwardly so that we might tap into the rich resources that are hidden in our earth. 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” There is treasure in these here vessels of clay and we need to mine it out. We are drilling for the nature, the power and the life of Christ, and we don’t want to spare any expense or fail to make any sacrifice necessary to lay hold of it. What is more is that as we are in pursuit of the riches within, we want to share the good news with others around us. We want them to know that they also can have this treasure, but we find that many are far too self-absorbed to hear us or lay hold of the truth that we are sharing with them. Paul says in verses 4-6, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” We have been blessed with the revelation of the riches we have within, now it is about laying hold of them till they become resident and manifest in our daily lives. In laying hold of these riches there are other things that we value in life that we will have to let go of. We have to decide where our treasure really is and what we are willing to give up to lay hold of it. If we choose the riches and what is valuable to us in this life then we will lose our grip on the eternal life and fail to realize the riches that we held. On the other hand when we are willing to forsake all else and spend all our resources to lay hold of this treasure within, then we will lay hold of riches that so far exceed those we could ever know in this world.
In another parable Jesus gives here of the net drawing in a great catch of fish we see that the kingdom of heaven is currently made up of a mixture of both good and bad. We see it in the realm of Christianity. It is a mixture of flesh and Spirit. We also see that in God’s time there will be a purification and casting out of all that is bad or that defiles. This same analogy could apply to our individual lives as well. We may often become disgusted with all of the flesh and ungodliness we see in the body of Christ, but we don’t have to look any further than ourselves to see where it comes from. We are like that net of fish, full of a mixture of good and bad. Surely, I am not the only one that becomes so discouraged with myself; with how far I miss the mark and fail to walk after the Spirit in so many aspects of my life. We are a mixed bag that the Holy Spirit is trying to help us sort out as we look and fully lean upon Him. Most any valuable thing in its natural state is impure. That is why God is processing us, to bring out the riches of His pure nature and love. Sometimes it is like going through hell with fire and gnashing of teeth as we deal with these areas of impurity and iniquity in our lives.
In Matthew 13:52 Jesus says something rather interesting, “52He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”” It is like, the more the Holy Spirit instructs us in our lives through knowledge and experience in godliness, the more we understand and know of its ways. As we grow in understanding and experience we share that with others who are likewise seeking to know Christ in a deeper and more meaningful way. We all have rich experiences of how the Lord has dealt in our lives and how He has taught us. As we share these with others it is mixture of not just past experiences and knowledge, but also of fresh revelation and insight into areas of our lives. Our lives should be a combination of new treasures and old. It is like building a house, you are continually building upon the former with new material. God’s Word never changes and yet it is always fresh as He unveils new truth, insight and revelation in it.
What kingdom truths is the Lord opening up in your understanding and what are we doing to lay hold and see the reality of these truths come to pass in our lives? He is our resource, our provision and our salvation, but we have to let go of the world with that other hand. It is going to take both of our hands holding fast to His so that He can pull us up into Him.

Blessings,
kent

The Groan Within

July 8, 2013

The Groan Within

Romans 8:18-24
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

As much as we can love the Lord and desire to be filled with the fullness and glory of His divine life we find that as long as we are still of this earth we are still tethered to our body of flesh. It is this body of flesh that poses our limitations; it is the dust to which we are bound and upon which the serpent feeds. This flesh is ever demanding our attention and our care as it provides the earthly housing for our spirit man. Yet it is the spirit man within us, redeemed and conformed to the image of Christ, that so groans to be set free from the limitations, the hindrances, the weakness, the sin and the failures that the flesh prompts and facilitates. Every day must be a recommitment to crucify this flesh, hold fast our faith in Christ and walk in a manner that glorifies Him. Yet every day it seems the enemy is at work in our lives to undermine, to seek some avenue of darkness that he might exploit in us. Everyday it is necessary to set ourselves in array with our spiritual armor to combat our spiritual foe. The battle is waged not so much without as it is waged within. We battle our thoughts that are impure or out of alignment with the Word of God. We war with our passions and our impulses to act out of our flesh rather than our spirit. We war with the individual weaknesses that are characteristic and inherent within us. “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin and death (Romans 7:24)?” Isn’t that our groan and cry to the Lord? We often hate what we are still manifesting in our flesh, but we seem so powerless to gain the victory and righteousness that we so desire to see. It is this reality that we continually face that causes us to know that we are the products of God’s grace and mercy alone and through no righteousness of our own. It is His righteousness and life with which we now relate and identify. The answer to our cry and groan for the deliverance from this body of death is still “Jesus Christ”.
We groan to see that full deliverance from the influence and power of our body of sin, but God in His infinite wisdom has chosen that even in salvation that we must walk in faith and trust for the in-working of righteousness and deliverance in us. God has structured it in such a way that it is only in a holy and sustained union with Him and identification with who we now are in Christ that we walk each day in faith, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our day to day victories are only accomplished as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has set me free from the law of sin and death. There are two laws operational in your life today. Whichever law you make the choice to serve that is whose servant you are. We know that, in ourselves, in this flesh, dwells no good thing. We know that the heart is deceitfully wicked and who can know it? This is why we need an ally to prevail over this body of sin.
Romans 8:12-13 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 to a victorious life in Christ is living and walking in the Spirit and by the power of the Spirit putting to death the passion and misdeeds of the flesh.
It is not often an easy walk. Sometimes we grow weary or complacent. Sometime we allow the moldy corruption of our sinful desires to have place under a cloak of righteousness, but eventually the stink of our misdeeds will be revealed. Yes, we are often weak and we can all stumble. We need to pray for one another. We need the ability to be transparent with one another without judgement so that we can minister grace and encouragement to each other. We are the body and with the life of Christ within each of us we must minister and function to the good and health of the whole. As we hold fast our faith and hope, one-day that groan will be turned to the shout of victory, as we will triumph fully in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
kent

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