Galatians 5:13-15
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Beware of the Pack Mentality

One of the things that I have often observed in the work place or social gatherings where people are in frequent association is what I will call a pack mentality. It is so subtle that often we don’t even realize that we have been caught up in it. I know I have at times and probably most of us have and perhaps still are.
It often goes something like this, someone, especially someone outside our circle or click, has a weakness or makes a mistake. Some one of our peers begins to make jokes either to the person or about the person to others. Before, long others are chiming in with their wise crack, comments and jesting. Suddenly we find ourselves adding to that dialogue as we all laugh at that person’s expense. The person may seem to take it in stride and may even laugh along with you, but what is going on inside of the person who is under attack? That person is being demoralized, made to feel less of a person and has become a victim to a group of people who are delighting in biting and devouring the person’s dignity and worth. This can be very demoralizing to a person and many of us have been on the side of the victim so we may well know or remember what that feels like. What may have started out in light ribbing or jest can become a blood bath for the victim. The more blood that is drawn the more the “pack” moves into devour and tear apart. Gossip works that same way.
This kind of behavior not only takes place in the work place and social gatherings; it can and does often take place in our churches and among our assembly. While this may afford some of us great entertainment it usually doesn’t come without a price, but as long as we are not the one paying it, who cares, is often our attitude.
Our scripture today reminds us that walking in love is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are a part of doing something to someone that we wouldn’t want done to us, then we are not walking in love. Our jesting and faultfinding can sometimes turn very ugly and hateful as one party may try and out insult the other. What started out in fun can become very personal and hurtful. The Spirit of Christ is seen in Philippians 4:8, which should be our guiding, light. “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.” We have the Spirit of the life of Christ in us and by His very nature we are to be life-givers and not life-takers. Speak those things, which edify and build up. In the pack mentality that will make you like a wet blanket in a blazing fire, but we were not called to be a part of the world and their thinking.
Each day, make it your objective and desire to see how many people that you can build up, edify and speak good things about. Be quick to praise others and very slow to find fault. There is a need for life-givers in a cruel and negative world. Let us fit the description of Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Blessings,
#Kent

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Temptation

October 30, 2014

Mark 26:21
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.

Temptation

Temptation seems to always want to come and visit us in our weakest moments, entice us with its sweetest fruit and numb us to the consequences of its poison. Lust and desire are strong aphrodisiacs no matter what level or place in life they come to us. They always seek to turn our heads from who we are in Christ to who we were. In Genesis 3 we see the beguiler as he comes to rationalize with Eve that what God said wasn’t so and God just didn’t want her to partake of what would make her like Him. God warned Cain in Genesis 6, “… sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” We all, like Cain and those that have gone before us, are often caught up in our mind, will and emotions where we rationalize and court sin. It so often starts so subtly with the innocent and seemingly harmless things, just like a fish playing with the bait on a hook until before we know it the hook is set and we are being reeled into the depths of our sin that can lead us to strongholds and addictions.
In our passage from Mark 26, Jesus sees this happening even to His own disciples as He cautions them, “watch and pray”. Like them. many of us go through a time of spiritual victory and strength where we tend to let down our guard and think we are no longer vulnerable to the temptations of sin. What Jesus speaks to His disciples, He speaks to us. “Be vigilant, watchful and mindful of the cunning strategies of the enemy. Your spirit may be strong and willing, but your flesh may not have the resolve that you think that you have in your spirit. Given opportunity, it will want to indulge itself in those areas where it is weak and vulnerable.
Our spirit, in unity with God’s spirit is the strength we have to reign in the flesh with its desires. While we no longer have that appetite for sin, we all fall prey to it at various time and in various ways. What we all now have confidence in, is that even if we make a mistake, we no longer live in the realm of the law of sin and death, but in the realm of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We know that in Christ we have an advocate with the Father who ever lives to make intercession for us and if we fail 1 John 1:5-8 reminds us of the message we have from Christ. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
God warns us even about the company we keep. Where our hearts are our actions will follow. 2 Corinthians 6:14 -18 exhorts us, ” Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
17″Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
18″I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
While we minister the love and righteousness of God to the world, it is no longer the place of our fellowship or abiding. We are a people separated out of the world and unto Him, so our affections are set on things above and no longer of things beneath. It is as we maintain the identity of not who we were, but who we have now come into that we live in Christ through the power of His Word and Life. We are no longer conformed to this world as Romans 12 tells us, but we are transformed through the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.
Remember that the war that you are in, is not one of flesh and blood. The enemy is as 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He is looking for our places of weakness and vulnerability. And Jesus says, the mission statement of the devil is “to kill, steal and destroy.” He will always entice you through logic and lust into sin and then condemn you for it. Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us that we are in a war and not a casual relationship with this world and the spirits that seek to rule it. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
We must not only be mindful of ourselves, but pray and watch out for one another. The enemy is always trying to catch us on our blindside and your brother may be able to see what you have been blinded too. Let us watch one another’s back in love, not in judgement or condemnation. Together we stand as one man to defeat our foe and overcome temptation. We need to watch and pray, not only for ourselves, but for one another. Together we must stand helping, ministering and exhorting one another to be strong, resisting the devil so that he will flee from us. The serpent only feeds on dust. Your dust has been redeemed through the cross so that you walk no longer in the former dust and lust of your flesh, but live out of the life of the Spirit of Christ in you. In that place he has nothing to feed upon.

Blessings,
#kent

Ascending up into the Golden Mount of Life

Life is a gift given by God, an opportunity to discover His purpose and will and a journey to develop, mature and grow in His likeness. Many in this world will never truly understand the meaning of their existence beyond the natural realm of just living life, breathing, surviving; seeking security and happiness that meets or exceeds the needs of their natural person. There are those, who in the course of life, have an encounter with the living God, through Jesus Christ. If they venture on to really know Him, beyond just a religious tradition and into a true personal relationship, then here is where the ascension of a spiritual journey truly begins.

All of humanity travel down the road and the seasons of life. The broad way, the way most traveled, is tread by those content with this world or ignorant of anything higher. Some actually have the knowledge of a higher, but it proves to be too steep and challenging so they exit off back to the more comfortable and less challenging way of life. Here they will be content to live and do things their way or in just religious way. They still may aspire to knowing and professing a relationship with God, but are regulated by a mixture of flesh and spirit. A path one might term, “lukewarm”, but not a temperature highly favored of God. Yet, there remains the high road, the road less traveled. It is not taken because of its ease or because the fruit of its path is readily seen with the natural eye. It is a path of faith, of commitment, obedience and promise. It is a path that is adventurous, but full of challenges and difficulties, trials and tribulations. It is a path whose way is not always readily discernable and understood. In order to travel this way the affections for self and the more immediately gratifying ways of life must be left behind at the “Cross Road”, where the two paths separate. This high road is a road of promise that must be traveled by faith in the God that called us to it. It is an ascending path to glory, but whose glory is often not much seen until its completion. The ascending path to the Golden Mount is one that will test us, try us and bring us to our end, but for the glory that lies before us we fix our eyes upon the prize of the high calling and hold fast to the Christ in us that has promised to be with us to the end. Upon this ascending path we walk each day through life, finding our way and our strength with the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. As we ascend this path, each day we become less and He becomes more. We find that it is not in our effort and struggle that we ascend, but in our rest in the finished work of the cross. In that place, through trust and obedience, we have confidence as we learn to fellowship and worship in His presence. His Word provides the road map for our journey. As we study and meditate upon it, it provides us with our identity, position and purpose in life that supersedes the life that we live in this body. We find our bodies are the instruments, the vehicles and the temple through which the kingdom of God is planted and dispensed in this earth as we travel this road.

It is not to say that we won’t and don’t have our stumbles and setback along the way. This ascension along this elevated path is not an easy one, but it is a progressive one. It is pathway into the maturity and perfection of Christ and as we know from our childhood, we made our share of mistakes, wrong turns and poor decisions, but that was a part of our maturing process. No one walks this path perfectly, for we don’t walk in our own righteous, but by faith in the righteousness of Him who went before us to show us the way. The further we travel the more we realize that this is not a path of religion, tradition or of works. It is a path of losing ourselves in the identity with Christ. As we travel this path, many may stumble for a time and lose their way. They may lose their vision and their stamina of faith, but if we are truly called of Him then His Spirit, through our spirit keeps wooing us and calling us back to this upward path we first began. As the saying goes, the prize is not to him who starts the race, but to him that finishes.

As the years of life go by and we have run our course, let us have no regrets that we didn’t follow our destiny and calling as we ascended into the Golden Mount of Life. May we not settle for less, even if we haven’t lived our best, we can give God the rest. As long as there is breath, there is hope and if we have been idle or distracted or misdirected, it is never too late to pursue this path that leads home.

Yes, as the years of life go by and we see the end of this life before us, let us lift our eyes with ever more fervent desire and commitment of faith to ascend beyond and above the gates of death and to ascend upward on this path that leads us into the Golden Mount of life.

Blessings,

kent

Counsel of the Lord

October 15, 2013

Proverbs 19:21
[There are] many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Counsel of the Lord

Are there any of you, besides myself that get in our mind what we want to do and that is like our final counsel? We have decided this is the way it needs to be and in our mind we are right. We are insistent in our arguments and dogmatic in our commitment to see it done our way. Maybe someone has said to you, “It doesn’t matter what I say, you are going to do what you are going to do.” So we bulldog our way through; sometimes it turns out good and a lot of times not so good.
Conviction of purpose is a good thing to have if we follow the right counsel. Proverbs 19 says that there are many devices in a man’ heart. We have our ways of how we think things will work, what is best and how things should be done, but is that God’s counsel or ours? What we often find out, and don’t like to admit, is that we are not always as wise as we thought we were at the time we decided what the right way to do something was. What we all have to come to the realization of is that no matter how good our intentions or our motives the only counsel that will surely stand is the Lord’s counsel. How imperative it is in this hour that we develop an ear for the Lord’s counsel. Most times we can find it in His Word if we have ears to hear and a heart to obey. Human nature is such that it usually hears what it wants to hear and kind of ignores the rest.
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel [is], the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors [there is] safety.” Counsel is an important element of success. Where we lack proper direction we usually fail, but if we have the right counselors to advise us and we have a willing and an open heart to listen, we can be successful because we follow sound advice. The advantage of a multitude of counselors is that you get a multi-faceted opinion and direction. The key here is to choose a multitude of counselors that are people of God and seek to have the mind of the Lord. In that multitude you may find confusion or you may here a reoccurring theme and advice that is a witness that this is the way to proceed. Most of us have had the experience of hearing something that we thought was of the Lord, then we started hearing that same thing or something similar coming from different places and people. It serves as a confirmation in our hearts that what we first heard was true. It is like a multitude of counselors and can work the same way.
Many of us can relate to places in our spiritual walk where we are much like teenagers. We thought we had it all figured out, we had just enough knowledge and information to be dangerous, but in our minds we knew what we wanted and what was best for us. So despite the counsel of others we proceeded to do what we wanted to do. We usually continue in that vain for a time until we gain enough maturity, generally through our failures and mistakes, that we realize we don’t know it all and that those who were trying to give us good counsel weren’t as dumb as we seemed to think they were. Why is it that we can see it in our teenagers, but we can’t see it in ourselves? What we generally find out is that we didn’t want to do something God’s way because we wanted to have our freedom. What we come to find out is that our so-called freedom became our bondage and downfall and our response of obedience really brought the liberty and freedom that we thought we would miss. The sad part is what we had to go through to come to this realization.
Lord may we find the wisdom of your counsel each day of our lives. May the divine counsel of the Holy Spirit guide us and order our steps in the ways of righteousness. May You place the will and the do of Your good pleasure within us to follow Your counsel and gain the principle thing, which is divine wisdom. Help us each day to put on the mind of Christ, not being conformed to this world, but being transformed through the renewing of our minds in Your counsel. Straighten our crooked paths and correct us when we steer off course. Bring us into the straight and narrow of Your divine will and purpose for our lives. In that place we will find the green pastures of your peace and the gentle stream of living water. In that place our soul will be satisfied with comfort and joy because we are the sheep that know Your voice and follow in Your counsel. Amen

Blessings,
kent

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