Where isYour Focus?

May 26, 2015

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Where isYour Focus?

There is an old song that goes, “Set your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” I believe this is what this scripture is, in effect, telling us to do. The attitude of a Christ-minded person is going to be focused on the things above and not on the things of this earth.
Our heart is to be honest and forthright in our dealings with others, because the Holy Spirit is honest with us in love as He deals with us. Our heart is to see justice, to uphold a righteous standard and integrity, judging and discerning all things out of the mind of Christ and not our flesh or earthly perspective. Our focus is on purity, putting away all defilement of flesh and spirit. In every area of our life we want to line up with God’s standard of holiness. This isn’t self-righteousness or an attitude of being more spiritual than everyone else is it is simply a mindset that runs everything we do through the purifying filter of the Holy Spirit. “What would Jesus do?” What is the attitude and position of the Word in what and how I do things? Often times our purity can be helped by accountability that helps us to see ourselves through the eyes of others and find areas that we have become blind, deceived or indifferent too. We can help wash one another’s feet by voluntarily guarding one another’s souls. We deal with each other like we would want to be dealt with, not in judgement, but in love. The enemy does his best work in the darkness of our hearts and where things are hidden. Are we doing anything that we wouldn’t want to be shouted from the rooftops? If we are able to keep all things out in the light, the enemy has nothing to work with in temptation or condemnation.
It is often so easy to see and major on the faults that we see in others and in those things around us. Here we are exhorted to look for the best, the lovely things in people and in our circumstances. Focus on the good and how God can use it to make something lovely out of that which may not be so lovely. Look for the positive attributes in people and focus on those things, being patient, longsuffering, forgiving and self-controlled concerning the areas in others that present themselves as offensive, selfish and hurtful.
Seek out the good news that edifies others and glorifies God, not on gossip, slanderous speech and backbiting. Turn away from those that only want to create dissention and find fault. We are builders and creators, not destroyers and wasters. Look for the things that are of good report, those things that speak graciously and out of a kindly spirit. How often we gather to find common ground for our negative feelings and viewpoints rather than to extol the virtues of another. If we can find any virtue and good in a person or a situation then set your mind there. Isn’t it amazing how our minds always want to gravitate to what is wrong with a person or a situation rather than what is right about it? When we see the wrongs they should compel our prayers and not our criticism.
We are in the midst of changing our paradigm and mindset. This passage definitely goes against the grain of what we have grown up with and the direction our own speech and point of view has gone. We are worshippers with praise and rejoicers in the truth. How can we rejoice in iniquity and evil? The worshippers that are filled with praise and rejoicing are focused on the goodness of God, His sovereignty and ultimate justice and righteousness ruling. We are now a kingdom people living in the kingdom of God and ruled in our hearts by kingdom principles and ways. We are exhorted in Christ Jesus to put away our negative, our pessimism, our criticism, our judgements and our impure ways. We are exhorted to set our eyes upon Jesus; ‘to look full into His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace’.

Blessings,
#kent

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What the Lord has Cleansed, Don’t Call Common

Acts 10:9-16
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice [spake] unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Many of us today in our Christian walk don’t consider ourselves to have prejudice or be judgmental. We really feel like we have the love of God toward all men until God begins to bring us into the presence of something or someone that flies in the face of all that we consider holy, right, just and good. How do we respond when God places us in the midst of drunks or drug addicts, gothic peoples with colored or spiked hair, tattoos and piercings? How about ministering to people that are slow, poor of speech and dress, lacking in cleanliness, etiquette and manors? What about old people, incapacitated and lacking in faculties and social skills? Can we really love those extremists, god-haters, abortionist, gays, idol worshippers and those of false religions? You might be thinking, “well, wait a minute, God hates sin and a lot of these that you are mentioning are sinners and anti-god.” Yes God hates sin, and what were we before He saved us and washed away our sin? The truth is that, like Peter, we all have prejudices; rather we acknowledge them or not. All of us can be put in situations with certain people groups that we would feel uncomfortable to say the least. The fact is that consciously or subconsciously we avoid or condemn what we don’t feel comfortable or accepting of. There are times in life when God will put us right where we don’t want to be. What we would often protest to God, that is unclean, common and should be rejected, is exactly what He suffered and died to redeem and sanctify. Not unlike Peter, we don’t want to be the ones to defile our hands and dirty our righteous garments. We are faced with a crossroads at certain times in our lives. Will I live out of a pious religious attitude that says to me, “I am better than these people, I will just cross the street and walk on the other side and ignore their existence?” Is the Holy Spirit convicting us in these times that, “you are not your own, you were bought with a price, it was the same price that Christ paid for these you deem undesirable and rejects.” “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Don’t think it strange when God begins to move in what we might consider some unholy arenas and areas of humanity. Jesus loved that demoniac that no one else would dare to go near. We have to be willing as the priests and ministers of God to operate out of a love that requires that we die to personal prejudices and feelings. These are still a part of our natural man and not a part of the Spirit and love of Christ within us. Jesus was never afraid to roll up His holy sleeves and get his hands dirty with tax collectors, sinners, adulteresses, people demon possessed, sick, diseased, criminals, enemies of Judah, crippled and lepers. Those that no one else wanted anything to with Jesus loved and ministered life, health and deliverance. Quite honestly, most all of us have lived in our comfort zone where nothing we consider common or unholy enters in. In that place we can live piously, comfortably and enjoy our little religious, well groomed lifestyles. The truth is that Jesus went to Hell to redeem the most defiled and ungodly of sinners. Dare we turn our backs on those He so loved and died for? Will these not stand up to testify against us on judgement day? The Love and nature of Christ in us will take us outside of our comfort zone if we will really listen to the Spirit within us. His love reaches out to the depths of humanity. When He cast out His net of salvation He draws in the clean and unclean alike.
We, like Peter, have to have a revelation of our prejudices and God’s incomprehensible love. We have to be willing to lay down our lives, our pride, our dignity, so that Christ might reach through us to love and save the lowliest of men. Are we willing to get our hands dirty? Even the priest of the Levitical order had to get bloody, stinky and dirty as they prepared the sacrifices for the altar. It went with the job. Whatever it takes we must be willing to do, wherever He leads us we must be willing to go. We have been called to be Christ to the Nations. Are you truly willing?

Blessings,
#kent

How We Perceive Others

March 7, 2013

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

How We Perceive Others

As I was spending time with Papa this morning this scripture came to mind and how it can pertain to how we see others, how we see and relate to one another as fellow believers and how we see those in the world around us.

As a Christian culture I think a lot of the world has an image of Christians as being the sin police, self-righteous, condemning, fault-finding, intolerant and often hypocritical. What they see so readily in others that don’t seem to see in themselves. They are quick to see the sin and faults in others while conveniently overlooking their own. Even among Christians I have seen how quickly brothers and sisters can take up an offense with one another and instead practicing forgiveness, long-suffering and forbearance, they hold grudges, speak evil of the other and only see them after the flesh or the fault that they perceive that defines that person in their mind.

2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” I believe what the Word is teaching us is that God doesn’t want us to be seeing and judging out or natural mind and thinking. He wants us to see Christ and others after the Spirit, even as He sees us. If God had only seen humanity from humanities’ point of view He would have destroyed us a long time ago, but even with all our sins and faults He saw something redeemable in us, because He saw past our faults and saw our need; so much so that He was willing give us His only Son to die for our sins and become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. If God was that willing to see beyond our sin, faults, failures and offences, don’t you think He wants us to do the same for others around us? Don’t you think He wants us, not to focus on their negatives and all the things we can find wrong with them, but to focus their spirit and who they can be in Christ. We do that by practicing this scripture: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. He didn’t come with a stick, but with a cross. He laid down His life so that others could succeed where once they had failed. He saw us for what we could be and how He could transform our lives as we gave them to Him, not as in the mess that He found us. He saw beyond our flesh into our spirit where His image and likeness resides and said, “I am going to bring that back to Myself no matter what the cost.” Do we have that heart for others? Do we even have it for one another? Are we so focused on the faults and shortcoming of others that we can’t see their good and potential or have we already written them off as not living up to our standard, a standard that we probably don’t even live up too.

Grace, which God has given us, doesn’t hold on to wrongs, offenses, disappointments and failures, it is willing to put those under the blood of Jesus and move on. When we are unwilling to do that with others then we are living under the law and not under grace. Unforgiveness puts us again under the law of condemnation and we are then judged by the same law that we judge others. That is why the Jesus says, ‘judge not lest you be judged and with the same judgment that you administer to others you will be judged by the same standard.’ You see, living under unforgiveness and judgment is no longer living under grace. Grace says, “even though you may not deserve it, I forgive you. Even though you disappointed me, I forgive you. Even though you didn’t live up to my standards and perceptions, I forgive you. Even though you failed me and offended me, I forgive you. When you free others through that kind of forgiveness, you not only set them free, you set yourself free.

God is wanting us to see the best in one another, not the worst. We all fail. We all have chinks in our armor. We are all cracked pots and broken vessels, but the love of God is the glue that fixes all of that. When we walk by Spirit in His love then we see others in the light of how He sees us, redeemable, forgivable and worth saving. It is not about our personal preferences, opinions or values. Those are different for every person and not everyone is going to fit in your box. That means your love has to be outside of the box. It has to be more than human love. It has to be His love. In His love we can give to others the same grace that He has so freely given to us. We can begin to see the good in others, rather than just their faults and all of the things we don’t care for. We can use the Word of God to heal rather than to just cut and maim. We can love even the unlovely, because that certainly is how God found us. All God asks of us is that we are willing to give to others what He has given to us. If He forgave our debts which were so many how can we not forgive others whose debts are so few?

When you look at others, in or out of the body of Christ then see them after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Even what they are now, might not be what they can be and are becoming. Only God has a right to set in the judgment seat and before Him alone we stand or fall. Look for the truth, the honorable thing, for what is right, what is pure, what is lovely and of good report. Look for the excellence and that which is praiseworthy. Any fault finder can find faults, but it takes one whose eyes are fixed on the positive to always see the good. Find the best in people and not the worst. It is far more edifying and reaps much greater benefits. Let us be that expression of Christ to one another and to those without the household of God.
Blessings,
kent

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