Unity in Diversity

October 20, 2014

Unity in Diversity

Romans 12:16
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Why is it we struggle so much with our human relationships with other people? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if everyone thought just like us, even if they could just see that the way that we think is the best way to do things? Unfortunately and maybe fortunately, we are quite diverse in how we solve our problems and deal with the issues of life. While that is not so much a problem if we are dealing with just us, it becomes quite a challenge when we are in relationships where we need to be in one accord concerning decisions and policies of how we want to do things. We all have different ideas of how something should be. Often it is not a question of one being right and one being wrong, except perhaps in their own eyes, it is more a matter of being in one accord and reaching a common ground where we can share and come into agreement though we differ in opinion and logic. This is the crux of life, whether it is in business and working relationships, marriage, family, the body of Christ, no matter what the relations, it is often a challenge to come into one mind. How do we find unity in the diversity of our personalities and ways of thinking and viewing things? Well, obviously the world has come up with many ways of dealing with these issues, monarchies, dictatorships, socialism, totalitarianism, democracies and even theocracy.
Perhaps you are struggling in a relationship today. In secular relationships we seek to have the mind of Christ and as Romans 12:18 puts it, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” What about our Christian relationships, our marriages and our families, these areas that we all struggle with daily? Unfortunately we don’t have a much better record at these relationships than the world does, but we should because we have what they don’t have, Christ. If we have committed ourselves to live our lives under the theocracy of God’s will then what our efforts should be focused on is not what my will or my way is or what yours is, but what is the mind of God concerning our decisions. Do we come to the bargaining table with different agendas and different priorities? How do we arrive at peaceable solutions? First, are all parties willing to lay down their rights, agendas and opinions to submit to what God’s will is in a particular area of dissension? Are we willing to approach our differences with respect for one another and our differences of opinion, realizing that we are all made up of strengths and weaknesses? Are we willing to give place to someone else’s gifting or strength in an area? Are we willing to lay these differences at the altar and unselfishly pursue the Lord’s will through praying together and seeking the mind of the Lord? That’s probably not normally our way, but it should be. Are we all honest in our dealings and can we bring our feelings under submission to the Lord? We often want to resolve our differences emotionally which usually only further polarizes us rather than unifying us. Are we willing to come with unselfishness in our hearts and pursue the end that best meets the needs of all concerned? Our God is a God of Peace and He wants us to pursue peaceable means through His love that is within us by being longsuffering, courteous, respectful and giving place to one another.
It comes back to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5).” He became a servant though He was Lord of all and laid down His life for us. We need this mind to be the servant of one another working, living and giving what is best for the benefit of others and not just ourselves. When we get ourselves out of the picture then resolution to our conflicts and differences becomes much easier. Love is about our desire to give and not just to get. The more this love is working in the hearts of all concerned the easier our differences will be resolved and we will find unity in our diversity.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:13-16).”

Blessings,
#kent

Kindness and Severity of God

September 10, 2014

Jeremiah 4:8
So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us.
Isaiah 60:5
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
Kindness and Severity of God

Today’s passages come from two totally different aspects that represent both the kindness and the severity of God. Even in the severity of God, He is working to bring all things to His purposed end. He is able to deal with His people in whatever means are necessary to accomplish that purpose. Our faith and obedience to Him or the lack of it often determine our choice in this process.
In Romans 11:13-24 the apostle Paul teaches this, “13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
We see then that the severity of God has worked to our salvation and our being grafted into the tree of God’s family and people, but it will also work to the ultimate reconciliation and restoration of natural Israel. Then we two branches will become one spiritual Israel unto His glory. Even within our lives now we see both the kindness and the severity of God. We love His blessing, but He also gives of His correction because Hebrews 12:4-12 reminds us, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Within the severity is contained the same love as in His kindness. We often reap what we sow and bring upon ourselves the need for His severity, but even in that severity it is to lead us to repentance and turn us back to Him. God’s severity is not His first course of action and with great longsuffering He often forbears our sin and rebellions. Romans 2:4 speaks of how God desires to deal with us, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? We are most often the ones that forsake our own mercy and provoke the severity of God.
This doesn’t mean that our sin or failure brings on all of the trials that we go through. Often it is these trials and tribulations that are most likely to cause us to keep our eyes and attention fixed upon Him. God’s sternness is to those who fall away, but His kindness is to you provided that you continue in His kindness.

Blessings,
#kent

Longsuffering

January 31, 2014

 

Longsuffering


Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 

 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

 

Longsuffering, patience, forbearance are all attributes of our heavenly Father and those that are to be a part of our nature and behavior as we walk in the Spirit.  Many of us might have to admit that longsuffering and patience is not one of our stronger areas.  We have goals, agendas, deadlines and most of us are in the rat race of moving a hundred miles an hour through life trying to get as effectively and quickly from one point to the next in the shortest amount of time.  Time is a commodity that is precious to us.  There never seems to be enough of it.  We are usually rushing from the time our feet hit the floor until, exhausted, we fall into bed.  Invariably in our race through life there are the slow pokes, the obstacles, the things that don’t go right, the obstructions to what we have our eyes fixed on as our next destination.  Those are the things that raise our blood pressure, push our buttons and often cause us to get very irritable and impatient. Without realizing it we want everyone to be patient with us when we take our slow sweet time, or impede the procession of life in some way, but we have a hard time dealing with being on the other end.  All of these objectives we have and time crunches we are in make it very hard for us to be patient and longsuffering.  The human element and personalities of others often just drive us up the wall, because they aren’t meeting our expectations.   

We can even see the frustration of God’s heart when He deals with us time after time, after time with areas of our lives and we don’t seem to want to change or lay hold of it.  We read the rebukes of Jesus sometimes, even with the disciples, because what should be plain, they don’t get.  Yet Jesus doesn’t scream and shout, throw up His hands and walk away, He forbears with them.  All of us are aware in dealing with the dynamics of human relationships we can all become frustrated, which can lead to impatience and anger.  Then we end up acting and saying things that latter we feel like a horse’s rear end for having done.  

Think about Sunday morning, you’re trying to get ready and get to church on time, but somebody is in slow mode.  You hate walking in after things have already started, but its looking like you are going to be late again.  Frustration is building, you continue to ask if they are about ready, the other person begins to get irritated with your irritation and impatience, words start to be exchanged and before you know it war has broken out.  The trip to church is an exchange of angry words, frustrations and by the time you arrive, you at your spiritual best.  

The enemy is at work to always rob our peace and rest in Christ.  Sometimes our longsuffering is brought about through a lot of prayer and tongue biting.  The flesh, emotions and feelings are often hard to contain and maintain.  Isn’t it wonderful that we get so many opportunities to practice?  Most all of us struggle in these areas, but we must always be reminded that our position is that of the servant and putting others before ourselves.  It is often these surface issues of impatience that cause us to miss the deeper needs of people and how God would have us to minister to them.  We always have to remind ourselves that God’s business is our priority and not our own.  Sometimes I think God puts obstacles in our way to force us to slow down.  I’m convicted that I don’t want to become and be like God’s people of old, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15).”  Where would you and I be today without the longsuffering of our Father?  We wouldn’t even exist.    

Sometimes the one I get most impatient with is myself, for all the stupid mistakes I make and all of the things I forget, but then, if it does nothing else, it should serve to give me patience and longsuffering with others; being as forbearing with them as I must be with myself.  As the Australian’s say, “ No worries mate.”  Let’s slow done and be aware of how God wants to move in us and though us, even in those often frustrating times and events that touch our lives.  We are learning to be His expression and that can only come through longsuffering and patience.

 
Blessings,
kent

 

Ezekiel 6:10

 

And they will know that I am the LORD; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them. 

 


 


 

How do I Know that You are the Lord?

 


 

Ezekiel 6 is a prophetic word talking about the judgement that the Lord is going to bring upon Israel.  He is speaking against the land and the corruption that fills it.  Specifically verse 10 is what I felt the Lord giving me this morning.  Often, because our God is so long-suffering and patient we tend to think that just because we haven’t seen what He has said will do come to pass, happen yet, that we can just blow it off and ignore it.  Father is long-suffering in order to give us time for repentance and restoration.  Father would much rather see us come to repentance and be restored than He would to bring judgement and punishment.  How often have we taken so much of what the Lord has spoken to us for granted?  We are like the man in James 1: 22-25, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”  This is our exhortation today.  Give heed to what God is speaking into our life through His Word, His Spirit and His ministers.  We are coming into a tremendous spiritual shift and it is imperative that we are tuned into Christ in this hour.  John 10: 27 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  If there is one thing we must do in this hour it is to learn to discern the Lord’s voice and be obedient to it.  We are standing upon the threshold of many changes in life, as we have known it.  Perhaps there has never been a more dangerous time in our history than today and our tomorrow.  God is not trying to scare us, because He has not given us a spirit of fear.  Our fear comes from being outside of His will and purpose. He is trying to position us for what He is bringing forth.  

 

How do we know the Lord is God?  It is because He is going to do what He said He would do and we can count on that.  It is time for us to awaken out of our spiritual slumber and awaken to the trumpet and alarm that is sounding.  Revelations 18:4 speaks and declares, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” 

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

kent

 

The Thunder of My Presence

October 7, 2013

The Thunder of My Presence

Job 26
1 Then Job replied: 2 “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!
3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! 4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth? 5 “The dead are in deep anguish, those beneath the waters and all that live in them. 6 Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered. 7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. 8He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. 9 He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. 10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness. 11 The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. 12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. 13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the gliding serpent. 14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

How often do we stop and really meditate on the awesomeness of our God, how great His ways and how marvelous His acts? I marvel at God’s seemingly infinite patience with man and even myself, as I think how such a mighty and wonderful creator endures the insolence, arrogance and foolishness of man. Especially when we see how God sees mankind in Genesis 6:5 when is says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.” The fact that mankind still exist is a testimony to God’s incredible loving-kindness and long-suffering. How many times He must have been grieved that the creatures that he created in His own image and honored with dominion and authority over the earth would turn from Him and despise Him through their actions and their deeds. If our God had not had a plan and a vision wherein He saw the end product of what He was bringing His creation too, surely He could not have endured us.
It is incomprehensible that the very God who created the immeasurable vastness of the universe with all of its wonders, stars, constellations, planets and all that is contained therein, could care about you and me. We, who in His sight, would be less than microscopic dust in light of His great creation. Yet, He tells us that He loves us and His thoughts toward us are more than we could even recount. Psalms 40:5 tells us, “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” If God showed Himself to us as He did to the Children of Israel we would become as dead men in the fear and dread of His Almighty presence. Exodus 20:18 tells us about when the people had gathered before the mountain of God and He revealed His holy presence, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance.” After that, they didn’t want God speaking to them, they wanted Moses to speak to them on His behalf for the fear of Him. When we get an inkling of the Holiness of God it will make us quake and fear Him. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him, for He has not given us a spirit of fear, but we do need to greatly reverence and hold Him in the utmost respect. Because God’s grace has been so rich toward us many of us have in our minds and hearts reduced God to someone on our level or who is simply there for our benefit. We treat God as common and regard Him lightly. We must realize what an insult and offense this is to the Holy God that has given His all for us.
Leviticus 10 reveals how God feels about that kind of an attitude when we see what happened when the two sons of Aaron, offered up strange fire before the Lord. They decided they would do things their way, instead of His. They lost their fear of God and counted His holiness as common. It says, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ” ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ” Aaron remained silent.” We see a similar incident in the New Testament church in Acts 5 with Ananias with Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit.
What we must realize as the people of God is that we have been called apart unto holiness and we must take very seriously the responsibility we have to sanctify ourselves before the Lord. Why? Ezekiel 39:27 tells us, “When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations.” God has purposed us to the expression of His holiness. We can not be what He has purposed us to be until we truly see and reverence Him for who He is in the fear of the Lord. The Word tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We can be like the children of Israel and know God from a distance through the revelation of others, but if we want to know Him intimately and personally we must approach in the fear of His holiness with boldness, confidence and full assurance of faith. Jesus tells us in John 14:21 to whom He and the Father will reveal themselves, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

blessings,
kent

Ephesian 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The Prominent Woman of the New Testament

I was thinking this morning, “If I were to identify the most prominent woman in the New Testament, who would it be? Would it be Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth or one of the other godly women? Then it struck me that the most prominent woman and the one to whom the whole New Testament is dedicated too, is the bride of Christ, us, His Church.
He loves us so much that He laid down His life to redeem us for His bride. His love for His bride becomes the model of every husband’s love for his natural wife. For Jesus, the life that he lived, the love that He proved in action, the Word that He gave and His Spirit that now indwells, all speak to the passionate love that He has for us. He did nothing for Himself, but all was for us.
The Word teaches here that even with the same love and care you extend to your personal self, you should extend to your wife; loving your wife as your own body. Our wife is an extension of our own flesh and blood. Spiritually she is united and one with us. This scripture teaches us that all that Jesus did and is still doing, even His very life was dedicated to this woman, His bride. All that He has done and is still doing is to make us all that we were called to be in union with Him. We were called and betrothed to holiness, so He cleanses us with His blood for the forgiveness of our sins and He washes us with the water of His Word that renews us in our identity with Him; His mind, His heart, His love. By the sacrifice of His own self He imparts into us His own righteousness and virtue to remove every stain, wrinkle and blemish. As husbands who follow this example, we are compelled to provide an atmosphere and environment where our bride is treated in the same manner. When she submits herself to us there is no fear or trepidation in her, because she is so secure in our love and best interests for her. In that love she finds such a place of security and peace. She knows that she is at the forefront of all that we do and provide. She delights to submit, because her joy is to reciprocate the love that is so freely and unselfishly lavished upon her. Her husband has cut all ties to his former obligations and earthly commitments that He might put her first. She is His treasure and He will protect and cherish that treasure with His very life.
This may all sound very idealistic, but it shouldn’t. It should be the way, we, as Christian men and husbands should think and believe, because it is the Word of God. It is the way that Christ loves us. Since we have inherited this same love, it is incumbent upon us to love our wives in this same manner. God gave us all of His Word, but in particular the New Testament as His love letter to His bride. His one desire is to bring us into all that He is and all that He possesses. Jesus loves us with undying, unfailing and unending love. Just as He is so in love with us; He wants us to be so in love with Him. He gave us marriage to practice that love affair. In the same way that we love one another in that marriage relationship, it is the same way we love Jesus. You may think your spouse is so stubborn or has such issues that you can’t get along and love them in that way. Do we think that it has been any easier for Christ to love us through all of our issues and sins? Yet He does. His love never fails, it never gives up and never runs out on us. He looks past our faults and sees our needs. While He would have every justification to divorce us, He doesn’t. He patiently loves us, forgives us, ministers life and blessing to us, even when we live in defiance and rebellion to Him. Love never fails when it comes to this prominent woman in the New Testament. He has committed to stay with Her until He brings Her into His highest and into the fullness of Himself.

Blessings,
kent

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