The Substance of Reality

November 22, 2016

Colosians 2:13-17

And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. 15[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. 16Therefore let no one sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath. 17Such [things] are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ.

The Substance of Reality

The Law of Moses with its decrees, regulations and ordinances has stood as a weapon of destruction and condemnation in the hand of satan.  Because we are weak in our flesh and couldn’t live up to the holiness of the law it became death to us and not life.  When Jesus went to the cross the Word says that He took that former Law and nailed it to the cross so that when He died, it died with Him.  Our biggest mistake is that we want to resurrect our flesh and the former laws that governed it by identifying and putting back into place those former things for which Christ died.  There is a strong religious spirit out there in Christendom today that is putting men and women again under the bondage and regulations of the law.  The Word of God says that if we are in Christ we are dead to the law.  This was an on going battle that the Apostle Paul taught and preached against.  Judaizers were continually trying to bring new Christians under the ordinances and regulations of the Mosaic Law.  The former Law is dependent upon the flesh to keep and live up to it.  That is why it is death and condemnation to those that try to live under it.  Those that seek to live under it will be judged by it.  The Law of Moses was a type and shadow of that which was to replace it and the substance of that replacement is found in Christ.  Why would we settle for the lesser, the shadow when we can have the substance of the reality?  

Roman 8:1-4 sets it forth very plainly, “1THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], 4So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].

We are spiritual beings ruled by the law of Christ and the Holy Spirit that has come to abide in our hearts.  The New Testament bears witness of that Law of life in Christ Jesus that now governs our souls.  Let go of the former ordinances and ways that bring you again under the condemnation of the flesh and walk by the Spirit in the principles of life and godliness.  He has freed you to be the expression of Him and He has written His laws upon your heart.   No longer trade the former shadow for the substance of His reality.

Blessings,

#kent

Faith or Law?

February 26, 2016

 

Faith or Law?

Galatians 3:1-5

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? 

What we believe and have conviction for in our lives can come at a high price.  In many times and various places it could cost you your livelihood, your possessions and even your life.  With that kind of a price tag you want to be pretty sure that what you believe is right on and that it is worth the price you pay.  The Galatians were such a people.  They began their faith as they heard the gospel and embraced it by faith, but now the apostle Paul finds them mixing the law and faith.  They are getting caught up in the doctrine that the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not sufficient in itself, but must be supplemented with works and the keeping of ordinances.  This was a battle that Paul had to war with on many fronts throughout his life.  If Paul ever had a thorn in his flesh, this was a major one. If anyone would have thought that faith alone in Jesus Christ was not sufficient for our salvation you would think it would have been Paul.  Having been raised and trained in the rigors of the Mosaic Law as a Pharisee, his whole life had been built upon this premise.  It is obvious by Paul’s passionate apologetic of the gospel that he no longer sees the law as a necessary component of our faith and salvation.  He in fact, strongly views the legalism brought in by the Judaizers as an undermining of the faith that stands in Christ alone.  

Some might argue will if you have faith and the law isn’t that even better?  Don’t we have the best of both and isn’t that more pleasing to God?  

The reason that Paul is so passionate on this point is that the law is based in man’s righteousness.  The whole reason that God gave us the tutor of the law was to teach us that man’s righteousness would always miss the mark of God’s righteousness and holiness.  If the law had been sufficient we would not have needed Christ.  Our faith in Christ bases our righteousness in Christ and not in ourselves.  The Law leads us to believe that by our goodness and observances of the law we obtain favor with God.  Yet the Bible teaches us without faith it is impossible to please God.  Our faith cannot be in us; it must be in Him.  Roman 10:1-4 bears out this truth, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

When Paul speaks of the two laws in Romans 8:1-4 he says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The Law doesn’t work because it is dependent upon our goodness.  Faith in Christ works because it is dependent upon His goodness which is imputed to us by faith and not by works.  When we mix the law with faith we put ourselves again under the law of sin and death.  The only way that we abide in the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is through faith in His finished work upon the cross.  When we say we still need the law, observances and ordinances to supplement that faith, then we are in affect saying, “Jesus, you are not sufficient for our salvation.”  Any of us who are still putting ourselves under the law need to strongly consider that.  We will never enter into the fullness of God’s Holiest while we are still clinging to the former things.  Hebrews 9:8 says, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.”  The new wine was never meant to be put into old wineskins.  Luke 5:37 says, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.”  The Old and the New Testaments are two different covenants; they were not made to be mixed.  

Through the Old Testament we gain many wonderful insights into examples of man’s interaction with God, God’s nature and revelations of the principles and purposes of God, but we see them consummated and fulfilled in Christ.  In Christ, we live out of His righteousness by faith.  When the Word tells us that we are the righteousness of Christ, it is telling us that when the Father looks upon us, He sees us in His Son who is without spot or wrinkle.  How do you stand before God today, in your righteousness or in His?

Blessings,

#kentt

Matthew 17:1-13
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
10The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
11Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

The Pattern of a Transfigured Life

Many are seeing this spiritual day that we are in as the seventh day or the day of the Lord. This is the day of both fearful and great things. It is no coincidence that the author states here in Matthew 17 that after six days Jesus took with Him his inner circle of Peter, James and John and led them up into a high mountain by themselves. This was a special time when Christ was transfigured before them and they saw Him in all His splendor and glory. This could well be seen as a first fruits unveiling of the Christ. In this glorious moment we see two other figures appear with Him, Moses and Elijah. These two speak to what Christ is, was and shall be, the fulfillment of the Law and the manifestation of the Spirit of God. They were like two witnesses of Christ, the Word and Spirit. Then the Father Himself speaks; the final and ultimate witness that, ” This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
We get a context of the feast of Tabernacles by what Peter is inspired to ask Jesus, offering to build three booths or shelters, much as was used during the Feast of Tabernacles when the children of Israel were called to remembrance of their sojourning days when they lived in tents and temporary dwellings. “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Peter was thinking after the natural dwellings or shelter, but immediately God sheltered them in His cloud of glory and he gave witness of His Son.
The Lord is bringing His elect up into the mountain or the high places of the Spirit to reveal Himself in a way we haven’t known before. It is a picture of the glory that is hidden in His people. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” In verses 16-18 Paul goes on to tell us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” What the disciples were seeing was the eternal glory that awaits the believer in Christ. We are in effect already those tabernacles or dwellings that house the Christ and all that He is as seen in Jesus, Moses and Elijah. We are seeing all of the facets of what He represents to us, the fullness and completeness of Him in Word and Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 really further defines this very truth of not who we are, but what we are looking into by faith, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The Lord is giving us an insight into our heavenly dwelling that we have in Christ and into a transfigured or transformed man who has metamorphosed into his spirit man. Remember that Jesus is the prototype and the pattern for us. What He showed us of Himself, He is bringing us into. Jesus later goes on to reveal that the Elijah that was to come had come in John the Baptist. This day and this hour we stand again in this time of a John the Baptist or Elijah ministry where the voice of God’s Spirit is going out through His people to ‘make straight the way of the Lord. Repent and get your hearts right before Him, for the King is coming and His kingdom with Him’. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 tells of this day of the Lord, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”
When we have this understanding of the Christ that is yearning to be revealed through us we know our time is short and our calling is great. It is a time for us to put the daily routines of life aside and press into God’s purpose through us in this hour. It is not in our efforts or righteousness, but in learning the REST of who we are in Christ. It is all about releasing the spirit man that is in us and following in obedience to the Spirit that is leading us into His fullness.

Blessings,
#kent

Romans 14:1-5
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judgement on Disputable Matters

If we were all to gather around and talk our theology hopefully we would be in agreement concerning the basic tenants of our faith such as Jesus being the Son of God, His blood being the atonement for our sins, that we are saved through faith and not of works, the virgin birth and other foundational truths that define Christianity. Hopefully, what we do not do is what Paul and others warned us about and that is adding or taking away from the gospel. Many times men, doctrines and denominations want to put their addendum that it is not just by faith that we are saved. The Galatians had been deceived into thinking that it was Christ and the works of the Law that saved them, but Paul clarifies this all through the book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:16 it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” The Law is all about our doing and doing is never enough, therefore we find ourselves standing in condemnation because we can’t live up to the Law or we become judgmental and condescending because we think we are keeping it so much better than others around us. Christ came and died to deliver us out of the mentality and the separation from God that it brought. In Galatians 2:20 Paul puts our faith into perspective as to where our lives should be if we are a Spirit-led people. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is no longer about what I am or what I believe; it is about being the expression of the Christ that indwells me. “I” should no longer live, only Christ in me. The summary of our past, present and future in Christ is summed up in Ephesians 2: 1-10. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Now if we agree on these basic tenants of our faith, then what is all of Romans 14 about? It is about all of little disputes about what we see, understand, are persuaded and comprehend the Word of God to say. I have found in myself, that over my lifetime many of my opinions and perceptions have changed and are still changing. We all walk in the light of what we know, see and understand, but 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The truth is, no matter how much we know, we all still just know in part, because we are limited through our natural mind and understanding. I read an illustration recently that helped me see this more clearly. If I held up a nickel between us and we were asked what was on the nickel, I would say an impression of Thomas Jefferson and you would disagree and say no, it is an impression of Monticello. The truth is that we would both be right depending on our perspective, paradigm and way of seeing it. Religious men, including us, have often been guilty of taking a particular truth and making a dogma out of it. The truths of God are like spokes in a wheel; they can only keep the wheel in round if they are balanced by all other truth. If I take any truth to an extreme it becomes out of balance. The truth is I need both Thomas Jefferson and Monticello to make that nickel work.
Let’s not get distracted by the minor points of truth that we loose sight of the bigger picture here. We are not in fellowship with one another to bicker over our differences, but to edify one another in who we are in Christ. Let us lay our petty differences aside and let us allow one another the freedom to walk in the light of what we know realizing that we are all growing in the light and knowledge of Him. God is our judge, not man, before Him alone do we stand or fall. The Lord told me once concerning trying to correct how someone else believes. Don’t argue and debate them. Speak the truth in love and the truth will set them free.

Blessings,
#kent

When I am Weak

August 20, 2015

When I am Weak

Psalms 6:2
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I [am] weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

Show me Thy ways and I will aspire to walk in them,
Impart unto me Your strength that I might carry them out,
Give me Your heart that I can have like passion and commitment,
Take my will that Yours may be done.

Father, we often faint in the heat of the day,
Our eye dims and our desires begin to stray.
Please take my hand and lift me up,
I keep wanting to sink in this miry clay.

Life can be good, but it is also hard,
It is not always easy to keep up my guard.
Often I grow discouraged with myself,
I want give up on my spiritual health.

Like a diet gone bad,
Sometimes I just want to give in to sin.
“Ah, what’s the use?
I’ve already blown it again.”

Yet the cross compels me not to give up,
It can’t be in vain that Christ drank from that cup.
I can not give place in my weakness to sin.
Would I drive those nails in His loving hands again?

Lord, I cry out in my weakness to You,
Help me not my old ways to pursue.
They never brought me peace or joy before,
Help me, oh Lord, not to open again that door.

You know my frame, that it is weak,
But my eyes are on you, and it is You that I seek.
Let it be no longer I that lives,
Help me lay all on the altar to freely give.

For my death, You give me Life.
For my heartache, you give me Peace.
For my sin, You give me Righteousness.
For my failure, You give me Salvation.

Your Word have I hid in my heart,
That I might not sin against Thee.
It mirrors Your Love and Grace,
When my eye grows dim and I fail to see.

Keep my feet in that narrow path,
I want to know Grace, not judgement and wrath.
Grace that takes me to a higher standard than law,
Grace that restores me in those times I fall.

Lord, You are my everything,
Without You I really have nothing.
Help me when I grow frail and weak,
May it be Your Life within me and Your words that I speak.
Kent Stuck

Blessings
#kent

The Pathway of Life

June 12, 2015

Proverbs 12:28
In the way of righteousness [is] life; and [in] the pathway [thereof there is] no death.

The Pathway of Life

The Word teaches us that the way of life is the way of righteousness. In that pathway there is no death. Today, when we walk in Christ we are walking in life. There is spiritual life and power resident and at work in your life. If we think that somehow that righteousness comes from our natural man we err and do not walk in the truth. It is because we died and were crucified with Christ and now, in spirit, we have been raised with Him in resurrection life. Romans 8: 10 tells us, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.”
The Apostle Paul speaks to this attitude of righteousness in his life in Philippians 3:8-11, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” The way of righteousness is the way of a Christ centered life where we endeavor to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. It is the spiritual law and principle of life that we find clearly defined in Romans 8:1-8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Condemnation at work in our life brings death, but in Christ there is no condemnation for He has washed us in His blood and forgiven all of our iniquities. He has raised us up in the newness and righteousness of His life. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is the blood and our fellowship with Jesus that restores us and keeps us in the paths of righteousness and life.
Let us keep ourselves with all diligence in the pathway of righteousness and life. The Lord Jesus Christ has gone before us to make the way for us to walk in that righteousness and enjoy the benefits of His divine life that is resident within us. In the pathway of righteousness there is no death except to that former way of life, which was death.

Blessings,
#kent

Galatians 3:2-4
2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Legalism Seeks to Nullify Faith

The law is a static force, which is good in itself, but serves only to show man his weakness outside of God. The law in and of itself doesn’t stand as our salvation, but rather our condemnation. Instead, it is faith that is the dynamic force in union with the Spirit of God that produces life changing events and substance. ‘Without faith we know that it is impossible to please God.’
Most of us aren’t steeped in Judaism, but we might be surprised how much we try to please and earn God’s favor by our works rather than by our faith. We allow others to impound us or we put ourselves under bondage, rituals, ceremonial and dietary restrictions, the keeping of days and numerous other legal restrictions that allow us to feel somehow more superior and holy than those that do not observe and keep such things. The Word plainly tells us that righteousness is not of the law. Galatians 3:21-24 says, “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” The Law then was but an instrument and a tool to prepare us for Christ, who is our righteousness by faith. The Law was not an end in itself. Verses 26-29 goes on to say, “26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Our position in God is not about who we are, where we came from, what sex we are or what race or background we come from. Our position in God is “Sonship” through faith in Jesus Christ. Our position is in Christ and He in us. It is out of this position that we will move into our full inheritance in Christ. This is why we must put on Christ by faith and no longer live out of the mentality of our natural minds that perceive us as separate and away from God. We are united with Him and it is our faith that lays hold of this truth and lives it out to produce victory and overcoming in our lives. This is the place we must learn to abide; the place of living out of His Spirit and His Life. This is the truth that declares we are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to promise. It is no longer the identification with the flesh and our goodness. That is legalism. It is our identification with “Christ in us” that will set us free and lead us into the expression of righteousness and justification that is by faith alone and no longer by works. Our works will be the fruit and expression of our faith and no longer the means of obtaining our goodness and righteousness.

Blessings,
#kent

Four Wells (Part 1)

May 7, 2015

Four Wells
(Part 1)
Genesis 26:16-32
Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’-between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.
32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

The Bible takes the time to relate to us this story about Isaac and Abimelech the King of Gerar along with the accounts of how Isaac dug wells where his Father Abraham had done the same in the past. It is interesting that we find that these wells had been filled in and covered up by the people of the land. We know that water is the commodity that is absolutely necessary to sustain people and livestock. In the Word of God we find the symbolism of water being like the Spirit of God. In our spiritual lives, without God’s Spirit we would perish. Jesus used the water in John 4 when speaking with the Samaritan woman to relate to her the truth of living water. Jesus related Himself as being that source of living water. What we see here is that where God’s people are there is blessing and there is water. Abraham had dug wells and found water, but after Abraham died, what happened, the people of the land covered them up or they became filled back in. Truth and life ceased to flow.
What we could see here is that when people are walking with God in obedience and relationship they bring life wherever they dwell. Blessing and the favor of God will rest upon them. People around us often want the blessing of God upon their life, but without the walk of obedience and relationship so the wells become polluted and covered with the earth and sin of humanity. They become filled in because sin makes a separation. It takes an Isaac or in our case Christ to redig those wells and bring us back into relationship with the water of life
In this account of Isaac we read of Him being asked to leave the land because He has become so influential, powerful and rich that he actually is greater than the people in land in which he dwells. As he honors the request of Abimelech and starts to travel away from there, he obviously has what might the equivalent of a small city moving with him, along with a great amount of livestock. He needs water, so he redigs these wells that were once dug by his father. What we see is that the people of the land are jealous and envious of Isaac, because He carries with him the same blessing as his father. These people of the land then figure that this well is on their land so the water belongs to them and not Isaac even though Isaac did all of the labor and uncovered them. We find the inhabitants of the land coming and contending for the water. This happens twice and we see Isaac naming these wells Strife and Contention.
Have you ever labored and through the blessing of the Lord developed something, just to turn around and have someone come in and want to take it away from you. You could fight for it and maybe even win. After all, you have a force more powerful than those do who are in the land. What was the principal Jesus gave? “If they take your cloak give them you coat also”. So Isaac didn’t go to war with them. He moved on and dug another well. Just as the herdsmen of Lot and Abraham strove, Abraham did not exercise his rights and authority, he gave the choice to Lot and he took what was left. What appears good to the eye of the flesh is not always the blessing, in fact, it can turn out to be the curse as it was for Lot. God the Father is the blessing, if we possess Him and He possesses us, then no matter where we go the blessing will follow.
Perhaps we could even think of this passage in context of the Father establishing the principles of the law and life in the old testament being like Abraham first digging these wells in faith. Then what happened? It wasn’t the wells that were bad; it was man through self-efforts of trying to keep the law that filled back in these wells. It was the law made weak by sinful flesh that caused the wells to fail. It is that old principle that man working outside of faith will never produce righteousness and spiritual life will dry up or become covered up by the efforts of the flesh. That is what had happened to these wells. Isaac was a type of Christ coming back through and redigging the wells His Father had already dug. Yet we see the people of Christ’s day receiving the living water and the blessing of Christ like they received Isaac. Many of them were jealous, envious and resentful of Him. He was perceived as a threat to what they felt belonged to them, but what they could obviously not produce in the law and religious works. Thus we can see the symbolism of Strife and Contention, between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day.

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 5:17-20
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Law: To Abolish or Fulfill

Often times many us think of the Old Testament as being a former dispensation of God that applied to the Jewish people, gave the Law, the history, the Psalms, Proverbs and a lot of good stories. Many might think that because we are a New Testament people that the Old Testament doesn’t have real application and promise to us. After all we are no longer under the Law. While there is truth to this we might be overlooking what Jesus is saying here. Jesus declares that His mission and purpose isn’t to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. The Old Testament and the Law provided the foundation and groundwork for the fulfillment of that Law through Christ. What has changed for us is that it is no longer the works of the Law that we are trying to keep through the efforts of the flesh, but it is the Spirit of that Law now written upon the tablets of our heart. The nature of God has not changed or His Laws, but He has taken them from the outward to the inward through the power of the Holy Spirit and His nature that now resides in us. Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Christ fulfilled what we could not in that He fulfilled all of the requirements of the Law, but more than that, He became the sin offering to take upon Himself all of the penalty of sin for us. His faith in us embraces and appropriates that finished work of Christ that fulfilled the Law. It is that faith in His finished work that is now reckoned unto us for righteousness. The Law is fulfilled in us only through Christ. As we now live in Christ it is His nature within us that fulfills and keeps the Law. As we walk by the Spirit we no longer fulfill the lusts of our flesh. Romans 8:10-11 declares this truth by saying, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” In Christ, in this New Testament man, we do not abolish the Old, but we become the fulfillment of it. We have the power, authority and life of Christ to walk into what the Old Testament saints dreamed about. They were our examples and mentors to help us walk into a greater dimension of faith and faithfulness to the Lord. We walk into it by the power of Christ in us and the identification that we have died to the weakness of the Law, which is our sinful flesh. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have the finished work of Christ behind us. We have a commission of Christ to bring Him into our entire world. The Law and the Prophets live on. They along with the apostles have become the foundation of our faith. What is it that God is building? Ephesians 2:19-22 declares, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We are God’s lively stones built upon this foundation to be the holy temple of the Lord. This is that place where God chooses to make His abode. Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them and we a part of that fulfillment as we abide in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Two Trees

February 16, 2015

John 6:44-59
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Two Trees

Most all of us are familiar with the story in Genesis of Adam and Eve and how God placed them in a garden. In the midst of that garden were two trees, the tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said of all of the trees of the garden you can eat the fruit thereof, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you do you shall surely die. Sure enough, when Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and partook of the fruit of that tree, death entered into the human race and the Pandora’s box of all of it consequences. Before this day it was perfectly acceptable to partake of the tree of life. We have come to know this tree as Christ Jesus who brings us into fellowship, unity and oneness with God. After the fall, the tree of Life was cut off. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden; a mighty angel was stationed there to prevent their return. They know longer knew the realm of personal fellowship they had once experienced with God. They now lived in the realm of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was not all evil, good did exist there as well, but it was a mixture and was subject to the will of the flesh.
What we actually are hearing Jesus say here in this passage from John 6 is that the tree of Life has been returned to us by the Father to bring us again into a state of fellowship and personal relationship lost through the ages since Adam. Romans 5:18-21 says, “18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Once again we have been given access through the tree of Life back into the realm of Spirit and God is Spirit. There, in that place, we can once again walk with Him, talk with Him and find His rest. In that place we have unity and oneness in Christ and are a part of His family experiencing adoption as sons.
Here is a paradox. Just as the partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil caused Adam to die to the spiritual dimension of God and at the same time become alive to the realm of the flesh and soul, we who, now come into Christ and partake of the tree of Life, must also die. This death is now to tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the flesh and the soul, so that we can become alive in the Spirit and experience the eternal life of Christ. The apostle Paul gives us the key to this revelation in Romans 5: 1-14, “1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
Where we struggle is that even though we become identified with Christ in His death and resurrection in our spirits there is a process of possessing and conquering the land of our soul and body. Just as God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites, they had to go in and conquer the land. Possessing the promise and disposing the former inhabitants in our case of the un-renewed mind, will and emotion; along with the giants of our imaginations and strongholds. Their victory was not in their strength, but it was in the reliance and obedience to the One who had promised. It is our identification with Christ, who He is and what He is, that is our victory within our own mortal being. When we take our eyes and identification off of Him then we find ourselves in the realm of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Which tree are you going to continue to eat from?

Blessings,
#kent

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