Blessing and a Curse

May 20, 2015

Deuteronomy 11:1,26-28
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Blessing and a Curse

Love is obedience to those things we might not other wise choose. Love is, yes Lord, not my will, but thine be done. The Lord set before us two laws and principles, blessing and cursing. The Word reveals here that blessing is the fruit of obedience and the curse is the fruit of disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. What are we pursuing and what are we incurring today?
The prophet Haggai speaks this from the Lord in Haggai 1:2-11, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”
3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”” Does our blessing not come because we are too busy in pursuit of building our own house, success, dreams and ambitions while the Lord’s house lies in ruins within us. The Lord says, “Take a look, how’s that working out for you as you pursue your things and neglect mine? Doesn’t seem to be much blessing in it does there?”
The Word of the Lord comes again through Haggai in Haggai 2:15-19, “” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ” The Lord is giving the call to our hearts and lives because the foundation of the apostles and the prophets has been laid and Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone, has been set. Now is the time to come build His temple both corporately and individually. Now is the time for us to turn from our ways to His. In our own ways, pursuing our own interest we have only experienced lack and coming up short. If we will set our hearts to His work in obedience and faithfulness, we will experience His blessing. Let us prove God’s Word to know the blessing of obedience by casting off the curse of our own selfishness and self-will.

Blessings,
#kent

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Green Pastures

October 13, 2014

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest. It is the green pastures of His rest. There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth. There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye.
Some of us are still searching for this green pasture. It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life. Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.
It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt. Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack, that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them. When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain. Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful. ‘He has led us out here to let us die. We should have never trusted Him. We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’ Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts. In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah. The waters were bitter and the people could not drink. Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us? Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed. Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts. Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing? Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives? Do we get anxious and panic? Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need. Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest. Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Those green pastures speak of His life. That is the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth?
When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it? We are testing it for integrity and service. We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency. God often proves our faith the same way. He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts. He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts. Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him. It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test. When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision. It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances. No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful.
Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness. Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us. Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.

Blessings,
#kent

 

A Series of Right Decisions


Proverbs 3:1-12

1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline 

and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.


The essence and sum of our lives can be measured and is made up of a series of decisions.  There will be things in our lives that we have no control over other than how we respond to them and what we do with them.  When we look back over our lives and to the point that we presently live, we can see that our lives are the result of a good number of smaller decisions and choices. Some of those have had more impact on our lives than others but even the little decisions have contributed to the larger whole.  When we understand that each day is made up of a series of decision that can impact and guide the direction of our lives, we then understand the importance of making right decisions.  

Proverbs 3 speaks to us out of the wisdom of a Father to his son.  As we read this we insert ourselves into the object of this conversation.  The Father is reminding the son that to live a prosperous and healthy life there are certain things you need to maintain, remember and exercise in your decision making.  The foremost is that you keep the teachings and the commands of God’s Word in your heart.  The continual meditation upon the Word of God will serve to keep your life focused and continually aware of what your life is about.  

The way that we exercise the Word that we store up in our hearts is through love and faithfulness.  These are the keys that allow us to partake of the treasures of God’s wisdom and grace and to put them into the vocabulary of our daily lives and actions.  Love, trust and obedience, these are the essentials that need to be with us in every decision making process.  When we have them and exercise them, and then they will assure a right motive to the decisions that we do make.  

Even with these essentials we realize that we lack the insight, understanding and wisdom to really know what is best for our lives and if the decision we are making may be the best choice we could have made.  

Again, the Lord reminds us to trust Him with all our whole heart and to lean not upon our own understanding.  God knows so much more about our lives and the impact of our decisions than we do. It only makes sense to really trust Him to guide us and lead us.  He says He will make our paths straight.  Romans 8: 28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  These are those ones that are practicing Proverbs 3.  If we acknowledge Him, trust Him and love Him with all of our heart, then He is able to take even the bad things in our life and work them for our good.  There are going to be times in our life we won’t be able to grasp the whys and wherefores of how God operates and the reason He has allowed things to happen as they have.  He never told us we had to understand Him, just acknowledge, love and trust Him.  

We can never boast in ourselves, in our ability, our prosperity or our wisdom.  We do acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  Sometimes we are tempted in our spiritual or natural successes to be lifted up to think we are something or somebody more than somebody else is.  We have to always keep our feet on the ground while we keep our heart in heaven.  Spiritual pride is a foolish man’s prize.  We are all the products of God’s rich grace and mercy.  None of us can boast in ourselves for it is God alone that gives us value and worth.  If we fear God and turn away from evil then it will be health to our body and nourishment to our bones.  

I heard a minister the other day who was sharing that the temple had five gates.  There was a priest stationed over each one of those gates as a watchman to assure that no danger or that nothing unclean entered the gates.  He went on to share that these five gate are like our five natural senses and God has set us as a priest to watch over them and insure that nothing harmful or unclean passes through them into the temple which we are.  This is much like the principles of Proverbs 3.  If we will do our part to love, acknowledge, trust and obey the Lord, He will do His part to direct and order our steps.  

As He honors us, we must in turn honor Him with the firstfruits of our increase.  We can’t bring the leftovers or the second best.  We must honor Him with the firstfruits of our best.  He assures us that we won’t lack because of it.  

We are His children.  He loves us and whom the Lord loves He chastens, disciplines and corrects.  We can’t become discouraged when our lot in life is tough.  It is not God’s anger and displeasure at work; it is His love.  The trials and tribulations in our lives are what shape and mold our character and integrity.  They are a part of the process of bringing us into conformity with Father’s nature and character.  All that God is working in us is in preparation for a much more glorious life.

Just remember that it is the series of everyday decision that add up to the sum of your life.  Allow God to be a part of every one of them.  

 

Blessings,

#KentStuck

 

The Death that Defiles Us


Haggai 2: 10-19

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’ ”

The priests answered, “No.”

13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”

14 Then Haggai said, ” ‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the LORD. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.

15 ” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ”


The Book of Haggai is written during a time when a remnant of Israel has returned from their Babylonian captivity.  They have returned to a devastated Jerusalem and a former glorious temple of Solomon that now lies in ruin.  The Spirit of the Lord is stirring up the people through the prophet Haggai to come together and rebuild the temple.  Up till this time every one has pretty much been to themselves and only concerned with their own welfare and building back their own houses.

Our scripture today may not make a lot of sense to a lot of us, but I felt compelled to share a few spiritual truths from it.  This analogy that the Lord is giving is about those things which sanctify and those things which defile.  First He is saying that just because a priest has sanctified meat or meat that had been offered on the altar and it touches some other food or drink does that mean this other substance becomes sanctified.  For instance, spiritually speaking, you carry around in you the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  For He has said, “ except you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have not life in you.”  Therefore by faith we are partakers of God’s holy sacrifice, Jesus, and as such carry Him in our spiritual garments.  Does that mean that every life that we touch becomes sanctified and redeemed because we have touched them?  No, they have to come into a personal relationship with Christ by faith and partake of the Christ for themselves. It doesn’t just rub off of us onto someone else.

The same is not true concerning the contact with a dead body.  Anyone touching a dead body became defiled by it.  Then Haggai reminds the people that before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple when anyone came to a heap of twenty measures there were only ten and whenever they went to the wine vat to draw fifty measures there was only twenty.  How many times have we came to lay hold of the life and substance of Christ and His Spirit and we have come up short?  We haven’t found the fullness and the substance that we needed.  How many times have we experienced want, or need or adversity instead of blessing?  “You did not turn to Me, declares the Lord.”  The law of sin and death around us has defiled us.  So many of us are still trying to live out of that life or else we are allowing it to touch and contaminate us.  We are in Christ, but Christ has not been fully formed in us.  This is why we must come together in the unity of the body of Christ to rebuild the true temple and tabernacle of God whom we are.  Too long we have been contented to abide in our “ceiled houses” our own denominations, doctrines and religious houses, ideologies and thinking.  God is calling us to come out of the defilement of flesh and spirit and come together to build His house.  What we see in the world today has little to do with His true house.  What we see is a fragmented bunch of religious people, many of whom are into it for their own profit and gain.  The world is seeing people that call themselves by the name of Christ and yet they are dishonest, unreliable, backbiting, slanderous and many other things that shouldn’t even be named among us. We have become a mockery of His holiness.  We are a defiled people.  We are defiled by the world and defiled by a dead religion still operating under the principles of sin and death, rather than life and peace in Christ Jesus.  Where is Christ really seen and glorified in all of this?  His true temple lies in ruin, but He is calling forth a people to build it again.  He tells us that when we put His house first there will be blessing.  Where you haven’t seen fruit before you will begin to see fruit as the Lord is lifted up and His house is built.  How is the house of God built?  Christ has to be formed in us.  He has to be not only our habitation, but also our expression in this life.  It is not just about believing in Jesus; the faith has to become substance and Christ wants to be the substance of your life and of His entire house.  The Spirit of God will build the house as we come together in the unity of the Spirit and the love of Christ to join hands and hearts and be ONE in Him.  Christ is not divided; He is ONE Man, ONE Lord, ONE Spirit and ONE Baptism.   If we will separate ourselves from the defilement of this world, from religion and dead works, if we will consecrate ourselves to His work, we will see blessings in areas that we have never seen them before.  He has called us to build HIS HOUSE!

7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:7-13)

 

Blessings,

kent

2 Corinthians 6:9-11
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

You Don’t have to Give

Giving should never be a mandate, a law, a legalism or a guilt trip. Those should never be the reasons for our giving. For so many giving has ceased to be a joy and has become an obligation and burden.
The truth is so many of us are continually being pressured to give. I am a business man and I wish I received half as many calls from people that wanted to do business with me as I do with people wanting me to do business with them. Then I go to the mail box and the majority of the mail is again full of requests for what I can give to them. Then I may go the kids school or have the kids coming to me raising funds for school projects. By the time I go to church or I have the opportunity to give unto the Lord, I may well feel tapped out and resentful at one more person or organization wanting “my money.” By the time the pressure of the holidays come people often feel overwhelmed and unable to live up to all of the expectations put upon them without going into debt to do it. Is this the way giving should be?
First we must get rid all of the guilt and manipulation when it comes to giving. Can I tell you that God doesn’t want you to give if it is not in your heart to do so. God meant for our giving to be a joy and not a burden. One of the things that really affect how we give and the attitude with which we give is our mindset about what is mine and what is God’s. If I see everything that I get as mine then it comes under the limitations of my mindset. If I see all that I posses as God’s, with Him entrusting it to my stewardship, then that shifts the ownership from me to Him. While God wants me to enjoy what He has put into my care, I know it is not His nature to be selfish with it. If I believe that God is responsible for all that I have rather than just the works of my own hands, then I have to understand a kingdom principle. It is stated in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” The way to harvest more seed is to sow a portion of the seed I have already harvested. No seed planted results in little to no harvest reaped.
Giving is not as much about the amount or the percentage as it is about the attitude of our hearts. Why has God so generously and bountifully given to His children? He doesn’t do it out of obligation. He does it because it is His nature and joy to give. He wants us to experience this same heart in our giving.
Can I just be honest from my own heart. God was speaking to me today that I have a fear of giving, because deep down I always think there won’t be enough. “I’ve got to horde this back or I’ll run out.” But He showed me fear is not faith. It is quite the opposite and fear will always rob you of what faith can produce. If I give out of fear then my giving is begrudgingly, reluctantly and without joy. That is not the Spirit of my Father, that is an orphan spirit. A spirit of lack, rather than a spirit of abundance. I need my Father’s heart to have that giving spirit. God knows that I can’t give what I don’t have, but first I must be faithful in what I do have. Doesn’t He say that if you faithful in the little, He will make you faithful over much?
Do we really dare to believe God or are we content with the little while we rob God through our lack of faith and obedience? Let’s dare to prove God with a joyous heart of outrageous giving. It doesn’t have to be just monetarily, it should flood over into every aspect of our lives. When aligning our minds and paradigms with God’s mind and kingdom thinking there will be no lack for we will see and meet the needs in one another and provide for God’s house. We will see God’s abundance begin to flow through us as we are willing to open up resources for His use rather than just ours. He tells us in Proverbs 28:7, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” What Father is trying to show us is that we are robbing ourselves when withhold from those in need. It doesn’t mean that we have to give to every thing that comes along, but that we should have the Father’s heart in our attitude of giving. While I am still of the mind to consider my finances, “my money”, it will always come up short and always experience lack. When I see it as His money for blessing others then I am brought into a whole new freedom and joy of dispensing His wealth and not my own.
You don’t have to give, but that would be to rob yourself of the greatest joy. It was God’s joy in giving us the greatest gift of all, His son Jesus to die for our sins, that we might see the Father’s heart for unconditional giving. Why wouldn’t we want the joy that is in His Spirit of giving? Why would we want to rob our own selves through our spirit of want, fear and lack? Luke 6:38 promises, ” Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We can’t out-give God!

Blessings,
kent

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