Forgiveness is in the Forgiving

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a subject we have talked about before and while we accept the words of Jesus here in theory, how are we at practical application? When someone really wrongs you, hurts, betrays, cheats or deceives you, how quick are we to release forgiveness. Most all of us go through those times in our lives when we have every justification to really hate someone and not forgive them in the natural way of thinking.
Allow me to use myself as an example here that may not be so different from something you have experienced and quite possibly you have experienced worse. Recently I met a lady and did some work for her. She is a professing believer, her dad she has told me, is a preacher and her mom a missionary. She is a businesswoman running several companies. She hires me last minute to do some work for her the same day and then the next day. Each time she keeps me waiting three or four hours before her and her people are ready to go. Both days we work quite late. Now I have asked for a $500 retainer up front which she has her assistant pay me with a check. Making a long story as short as possible she owes me over $1500 dollars for the work I have done for her. While she has made many promises to pay she hasn’t. What is worse is, I have since found out that a number of other people, including other photographers are owed money they haven’t been paid. What is even worse is the check for the $500 came back after about two weeks with insufficient funds. This is about the time I reached the end of my patience, put in a call to lawyers, and let the lady in a stern and blunt way know that I was ready to take action if she didn’t get this resolved. Her promise was to pay me half in cash the next day and then the other half a few days later. Well, again she didn’t follow through. Do I have every right to be angry and sue her? You bet, in the world I do, but what is God’s way? If I pursue a legal course of action and do all that I can to expose her fraudulent behavior, have I really forgiven her? Here is the practical place where our faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word has to override our natural feelings, emotions, anger and lack of forgiveness. Does she deserve for me to forgive her? Did I deserve for Christ to forgive me? If I harbor that unforgiveness who is the one that is damaged most by it, her or me? The Word says if I don’t forgive others, neither can God forgive me. My personal forgiveness from God is dependent upon my forgiving others who have offended and wronged me.
There are areas where some of you have been deeply wounded and hurt, far more than I was. Perhaps, you may feel it is impossible for you to forgive that person or persons. We often have to leave the judgement and the vengeance to God, that is His and not ours. The key to our emotional and spiritual healing in these times begins with us simply confessing and giving it over to the Lord. Our emotions and feelings may not be there yet, but if we can begin to take the step of faith to release those who have offended us, then we have taken a step toward our own emotional healing and recovery.
Matthew 5 is full of principles that are utterly contrary to natural thinking and reasoning. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have shared this today so that in a practical way we all might see that God is wanting us to conform to the higher standard of His Word. These kind of experiences are where the rubber meets the road and we have to live what we say we believe, otherwise how are we any different than those who have offended us?

Blessings,
#kent

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If I have to live this way, just shoot me!
1 Kings 19:4
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I [am] not better than my fathers.

Have you ever felt that way? You came to a point in life, maybe more than once, where life was just too painful, too hopeless and a dark cloud of depression and despondency covered your soul. Maybe it was from physical pain, emotional heartbreak or pressures around you that were just too much to bear. Thoughts of suicide were contemplated and maybe even attempted. Voices were in your head telling you, “just to end it, get it over with. Once you’re dead your pain is over. Besides, who really cares? Everybody will probably be better off without you.” Do any of these thoughts sound familiar? If they do then you have wrestled the enemy of depression and despair. If you have been in this place, don’t feel condemned or weak, even the most spiritual of men have had there bouts with these demons. Our scripture today is speaking of Elijah, the mighty prophet of God and it came just after one of the greatest spiritual victories of that time. He should have felt invincible, but here we find him weak, frightened, fearful, despondent and despairing of his own life. Isn’t it wonderful how God shows us the great spiritual men of the Bible in their weakness as well as there strength? That in itself gives us hope. If they are so spiritual and yet they went through these things, then maybe there is hope for me and you.
Beloved, some of you have endured great pain, suffering, persecution and affliction, beyond what one should have to bear. Even if you have tried to fight the good fight and be faithful, you can grow weary in the battle. Mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion can overcome you until thoughts and reasonings can come in that have no place being in your head. These are like the testing experiences of Christ in the wilderness when He was at His weakest point. The enemy tries to come in for the kill. He would tell us, “God is a lie, that He is not faithful, He has forsaken you, He doesn’t care about you, and there probably isn’t even a God.”
His strategy is to disconnect us from our unity, oneness and identification in Christ, who is our strength and our life, because that is our power. If He can rob Christ from us then what do we have? What strength can we stand in?
Some of you are thinking, “yeah, but if God loves me so much, why would He allow me to have to go through so much pain?” Sometimes it is the deep inner working of pain and suffering in our lives that brings us to terms with areas that we would just as soon keep buried forever. There may be root causes for these pains and afflictions in our lives that can’t be healed and delivered until they are brought into the light and dealt with. If Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered as it tells us in Hebrews 5:8, are we then greater than He?
It is not God’s will that we are in continual suffering and pain, but these are often the tools brought to bear upon us by the enemy, but God turns and uses them to do an inner surgery upon our character and our heart. One thing we have to come to terms with is, “God is faithful all the time”, but you won’t always outwardly see that faithfulness. Quite the contrary, everything in the natural can be speaking and demonstrating against the faithfulness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us a secret, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.” What does Hebrews 11:1 tell us about faith? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” As hard as it is, our trust can not be placed in the outward circumstances that surround us.
God loves you and is with you even in your weakest, darkest moments. He has not abandoned or forsaken you. What you are living with or going through may be the valley of the shadow of death, but David says, “I will not fear, for thou art with me. Thy rod (authority of the Word) and thy staff (salvation) 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.” While the enemy is doing everything in its power to defeat and destroy you God is setting the table of blessing and mercy right in the face of the enemy. You are the anointed of God. He is pouring the anointing of His Spirit and power over you that you may be more than a conqueror through Christ who has loved you and gave Himself for you. See with your spiritual eyes, embrace with all the faith of your spiritual man the love and goodness God has for you, even in the midst of such darkness and despair. Don’t give up, keeping on trusting Him. The race isn’t to the swift and strong, but to the faithful.

Blessings,
#kent

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

September 24, 2013

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

2 Timothy 4:14-18
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

How many of us have been living life on a pretty even keel. We are getting along pretty well in our social relationships with people, living, what we feel, is a relatively good Christian life and testimony and then it happens. Some one comes into your life that train wrecks you emotionally and possibly in many other ways as well. Quite possibly they have come to you under the guise of another Christian Brother or Sister who loves the Lord. Maybe, initially you have sat and had great fellowship with them. They have won your friendship, trust and confidence and then it happens. At first some things start not adding up, there are seeming misunderstandings or miscommunications. Eventually it becomes evident that they are lying to you. They have been manipulating and using you as long as they could for their own gain or cause. Perhaps they are slandering you, spreading vicious rumors and trying to destroy your reputation. This is especially true if you are trying to expose them for who they are. What is worse is that they are still below the radar of most of their other associations, so most still perceive them as this wonderful spiritual person. Whether they are still perceived as spiritual or not you find yourself duped and taken advantage of. When you confront them they are always full of false promises of restitution and reconciliation or in total denial, turning it back on you as having the problem. What do you do with someone like that?
These types of people are probably much like those Paul describes in 1Timothy 3, when he talks about those who come having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was (1 Timothy 3:1-9).” What is disturbing is the emotional and spiritual destruction they leave in their wake. They often come defrauding honest people, deceiving, manipulating and betraying those who have embraced them in Christian love and fellowship. They often bring division and strife, as they turn brother against brother and sow the seeds of discord. Sometimes you would wonder if even they realize that they are the instrument of satan rather than the instrument of God.
The Word tells us that there will be those wolves in sheep’s clothing that will come among and try and destroy and undermine the work of God. We must guard our hearts, for their greatest strength is gained when they get us into the flesh, operating out of emotion and feelings, rather than out of the spirit. If we are able to rather stand in the Lord, entering into the fortress of prayer and lifting up a spiritual standard against this spirit, in time it will be broken. When we become frustrated, angry and discouraged, we tend to want to fall back upon the arm of the flesh to fight our battles. What did Moses do when Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses? Jannes and Jambres were thought to be the Pharaoh’s Egyptian sorcerers and magicians. It is interesting that Jambres name means, poverty, bitter and a rebel. What Moses did was let the Lord be His authority and vindicate his position. God will vindicate the righteous, but it may not be before there is great persecution. Again our lesson is to be discerning of men, stand our ground based on the Word of God and through prayer and confidence in God allow God to go before us in battle, so that we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

Blessings,
kent

Life in Liberty

May 23, 2013

Life in Liberty

Psalms 119:42-45
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. 44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. 45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Our life in the Spirit and in obedience to Christ is one of liberty and freedom and not restrictions. Freedom is not in the exercising of our will to sin because sin is bongage and a very terrible taskmaster. It gives the allurement of freedom, but it is only the bait of ensnarement that brings us into its trap. Once it has fed off of our life and worked its destruction it cruelly abandons us to our hurt, pain and destruction. This is why the Word and the precepts of the Almighty are life to the spirit and health to our bones. They cause us to walk in true freedom and liberty. The purpose of the Lord Jesus coming to earth was to bring liberty and freedom to man. In Isaiah 61 it speaks of the liberty that He brings and even Jesus declared that He was the fulfillment of this passage. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Jesus is our liberator from the tyranny of sin that has so ruled and ruined our lives. The very sacrifice of His life was for our freedom. He has not only set us free from sin, but from the curse and the condemnation of the law. He has caused us to pass from death to life and from bondage to freedom. In light of this we can see how foolish we are when we allow ourselves to come again under the bondage of sin. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and the respect and obedience to His Word.
Galatians 5:1 exhorts us, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Again we are exhorted in Galatians 5:13, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Liberty is an exercise of faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. When we walk in liberty we must be walking in faith and good conscience toward God and man. Thereby we have our peace and confidence toward God. There are some weaker who may not have our faith in areas and would stumble in the areas where we feel freedom. It is the love of Christ in us that constrains us, not the law or the ordinances of men. For the sake of others we will restrain ourselves in the areas where we have freedom if it is a stumbling block to another. If they attempt to follow our freedom, but do not have the faith in that area it will be sin unto them. James 2:12 says, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” The law of liberty is freedom, but it is freedom that seeks not its own, but the good and well being of others. Its foundational principles are love.
1 Peter 2:15-17 describes our liberty this way, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” Liberty is in not letting anything possess you or rule over you, but the love of Christ. He has set us free to be the servants of righteousness and bring the liberty of heaven to the earth. Be faithful in the liberty that He has afforded you and let not anything bring you again under the bondage of sin.

Blessings,
kent

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