Our Greatest Possession is Love

1 John 3:1,11-19
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not…
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

There is no greater possession we can possess than the love of God. We in fact, as believers in Christ, possess that love, because we possess the Spirit of Christ in us. Christ, is in truth and in deed, the greatest definition of God’s love we could ever have before us. While we use the word love in many different contexts, most of us know that in the Greek there are several words that define different kinds of love which I am not going into. Agape is the form of God’s love with which we are concerned with here today. This is the manner of love that the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. We possess this love because we possess Him. What should define the sons of Gods should be the nature of the love they possess. As we truly possess and manifest this love we will fulfill the law of God. All of the law is fulfilled in His love. Galatians 5:14 says, ” For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Normally a person’s first instinct and concern is for themselves, their welfare, safety, needs, wants, desires and well being. The love of God takes this love we have for ourselves and channels it through us to others. We begin to empathize with others, identifying with them by how we would feel in their circumstances. Agape love is totally unselfish, self-sacrificing and treats the needs of others as it would it’s own.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 tells us, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, [and] is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” It does not matter how many gifts, abilities, works, words or knowledge we have, if we don’t possess the Agape love of God everything else is meaningless. There is nothing in the world or in what God has given us that will do more for conforming us and others to the nature and image of God than His love. That love has to be so much more than ideology or theology, it has to be expressed through us in deed and in truth through our actions and our words. 1 John 3:16 is the revelation of God’s love through us much like John 3:16 is the revelation of God’s love through Christ. It tells us, “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” Did you catch that we are to be the extension and continuation of John 3:16? If we are the sons of God should we be any different than the Son of God in our mission and purpose?
When I view my life, perhaps you, like myself, feel like we come up way short of the kind of love that God wants to express through us. We must remember that this is not the kind of love we can produce in the efforts of our flesh. Romans 5:5 tells us, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” So this love is a product that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. The way we have more of this love is to have less of us and more of Him. We are constantly maturing in our faith, or we should be, to where the Lord is filling and possessing every part our being. As we walk by the Spirit and have our focus in life fully on Him, His love will be the by-product of the relationship we have in Him. It is not in what we can produce; it is simply letting Him be God in us and through us. We will have His heart, His vision and will be the instruments and channels of His love and grace. We already possess the most precious possession of all. We must just release it and let its fragrance fill the earth.

Blessings,
#kent

Our Desire, Our Blind Folly

2 Samuel 11:1-5
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Most all of us are familiar with the story of David and Bathseba. It was a love and lust story of tragic proportions. Why would David, this man after God’s own heart and champion of Israel do such a thing and make such an error in judgement that would lead not only to adultery, but murder as well?
One area we see in verse 1 is that it says this was a time when kings go off to war, but David doesn’t, he sends Joab out while he stays behind and hangs out back at the palace. The old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” seem to hold true here. When we are bored, with time on our hands, it is fertile ground for the enemy to come in and lead us astray. This would appear to be the setting in which we find David at this time in his life. Life is good, no more running for his life, fighting giants, fighting battles, finally the days of middle age have come. He’s got money in the bank, chariots in the stalls and he is enjoying the good life. That can be a very dangerous place spiritually for many of us.
Now if someone had told David prior to this what he was going to do, he would probably have been appalled, shocked and perhaps angry, protesting that never would he do such a thing. Do you find that when you are headed into temptation and desire is drawing you into it’s embrace that your mind just starts shutting down as far as rational reasonable thinking goes. It’s like we put this wall between us and the voice of reason that are screaming, “are you crazy, what do you think you are doing?” This obviously is what is going on for David at this time; desire and temptation have overridden all logic, reasoning and spiritual gravity this great man should have had. He just goes headlong into sin and contrary to the Spirit and law of God that he so loved and held dear to his heart.
Some of us have found ourselves in similar situations in our lifetime; maybe some of us are facing such a circumstance now. We can’t even begin to see the disaster, heartache, scandal and damage it will reap. What’s worse is, that we don’t want too, our desire is so strong that it is like a blindfold over our spiritual discernment and right judgement. Often, like David we look back in retrospect, after reaping the consequences of our actions and think how did I let this happen? How could I have been so foolish? We are creatures who have had wicked and deceitful hearts that are prone to sin. We all can easily fall back into the areas of weakness and temptation in our lives if we don’t continually guard our hearts. It is an important principle that we continually be about our Father’s business not just idly doing our own thing, enjoying the good life and allowing our imaginations to be fertile ground for temptation and sin to grow in. If we are continually setting our minds upon the Lord in prayer, worship, praise and the Word then it is a source of continual accountability and awareness of God’s presence and our relationship with Him. We can also see the value of making ourselves accountable to others. When we commit to doing this, then even if our desire turns us dumb and stupid we have counsel that is objective and is correcting us in love. I don’t know that any of us would say we are more godly than David is, but he is an example that none of us are beyond the folly of temptation and sin. We must set a continual watch over our souls. We must never cease to go up in our authority to battle sin, when we become complacent; our desire can become our blind folly.

Blessings
#kent

May 22, 2014

Who’s Your Daddy?

John 8:42-47
42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

The question we ask today is “who is your real Father?” In this passage from the discourse that Jesus was having with the Jews they were quite convinced that they were of the seed of Abraham and that therefore God was their Father. Jesus was telling them it is not a matter of natural descent. Many people in this country and even in others think they are Christians by virtue of fact they grew up in a Christian heritage and that is their general belief even though it may have no effectual working in their lives. Many even call themselves Christians and claim God as their Father because they go to church, or they are involved in church activities or they have a religion. Muslims believe that God, or Allah, is their Father, so much so that many are willing to sacrifice their lives and yours too for what they believe is His cause. What Jesus was telling many of these same types of people are that God isn’t your Father, you only think that He is. If God were your Father, then it would stand to reason you would know His Son. The reason you would know His Son is because the Son is just like the Father in nature, in character and in purpose. The true children of God are able to hear the Father. They are able to receive spiritual instruction, exhortation and even rebuke. The true children of God embrace the Son of God, for they recognize and acknowledge that it is only by His life we have access to the Father and are adopted into sonship. The difference is seen in the fact that we have a new nature and what is more, we have put off the former nature with the sins and lusts that it carried. God’s children no longer pursue the flesh, but walk after the Spirit. We are as Romans 8:12-17 puts it, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” We live and operate our lives under the influence of who our Father is. We have to ask ourselves what is the fruit of my life, what am I producing and is it in likeness of God’s character and nature?
The Bible and Jesus himself warns us that in the judgement day, “21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).” This tells us that it is not even the outward miracles and demonstration of the Spirit that are true evidence of who one’s Father is, it is the faith and the fruit produced by one’s life. It is seen in whom we listen too, whom we obey and whom we follow. We, like the Jews, can profess that God is our Father, but how much do we look like the Son; are we like it says in 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” It is not our outward appearance and demeanor that always reveals our true nature and descent. It is our heart for God, our love and faith in His Son and our obedience to His Word as the Spirit that speaks to His Fatherhood in us, leads and directs our lives. Who’s your daddy?

Blessings,
#kent

The Snare of Pride

December 11, 2013

The Snare of Pride


Psalms 10:4

In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.


Pride is a stronghold that stands in opposition to God.  It is centered in self and self-reliance.  The prideful person is most often blind to their arrogance and is often blindsided by their own self-righteousness.  A good case and point are the Jews in John 8:31-46.  “31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

33They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 

34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 

39“Abraham is our father,” they answered. 

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” 

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 

42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” 

Pride will blind us to sin and who we really are.  Just as these Jews protested that they had always been free and that their father was Abraham, Jesus spoke to them the sobering reality that they were sinners and slaves to sin.  If we are righteous, then we will first hear the words of Jesus, we will acknowledge our sin and repent of it and then we will walk and live in obedience to God’s Word.  Pride will cause our ears to be deaf to hear the spiritual truth that will bring conviction.  John 8:43 says, “…Because you are unable to hear what I say.”  It will often even protest its religious alliance to God, but its fruits of true righteousness and obedience are barren.  It is interesting in this passage that it says Jesus was talking to the Jews that believed and yet they were the ones ready to kill Him.  As believers we too can have pride in our hearts that we aren’t even aware of.  We can have spiritual pride as well as natural pride.  It can be the root and gateway to sin in our lives.  Pride will always justify itself and never want to acknowledge itself for what it is, rebellion against God.  When God says, “to this man will I look, even to him that is of a humble and contrite heart,” he is looking for the man that is emptied of pride, self-reliance and self-righteousness.  He is looking for the man who only has eyes for the Lord and is totally and completely reliant upon the Lord for all that He is. His willing obedience and submission to the Word of God and his love for the Lord verifies his true humility and trust.  He is not trying to live a life outside of God, but totally in God. 

What place is pride playing in our hearts?  Are we harboring sin, are we self-reliant and self-directed?  Have we truly yielded every area of our lives in obedience to His Lordship?  Have we gone to the other extreme where we perceive ourselves as being more righteous and spiritual than others are?   Have we unknowingly and unwittingly been caught up in the snare of pride?

 

Blessings,

kent

My Rights

November 15, 2012

James 4:2-3
You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

My Rights

Isn’t interesting that James would be writing this, not to the people in the world, but to God’s people? James isn’t mincing any words. He is speaking to attitudes that can be found today in the heart of believers. How do we approach our world? Is it about getting our way whatever means that it takes or is it about each day kneeling in surrender before the throne of Jesus and saying, “Lord have Your way, not my will, but Yours be done.”
Many of us, especially as Americans, are really big on “our rights”. If we think we have a right, God help the person that tramples or violates it. We’ll be all up in their face big time. After all, you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t fight for it. So we will do whatever that takes, we’ll slander and kill with our words, we’ll gossip and turn others against those who oppose us. We’ll even often reject those who won’t pick up our offense and take our side. After all, that is our “right”.
We do exactly what James is talking about here. “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” You can go to a lot of churches and see the division and the dissention, because someone isn’t getting their way.
Do you think we might have missed something when read what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount? ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)”. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)”
What do you think should come first, “our rights” or God’s righteousness. When we wonder why our prayers are so impotent and God doesn’t seem to hear us or be close to us perhaps we should examine more closely the spirit and the attitude we are living out of.
I believe God has given us some rights that are precious and worth fighting for, but it is not just about our self-rights. Jesus had rights as well, far more than we do, but what did He do? He willingly laid down those rights. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” Was Jesus more concerned about preserving His rights or in imparting His righteousness to us? Our attitude, it says, should be the same as His.
Before we get on our high horse and go to battle for our rights, perhaps we should ask the question of God, “Father what is going to best work your righteousness?”
Don’t allow the lack of character in others cause you to lose yours.
Forgive them and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It’s not always about being right, but about being righteous.

Blessings,
kent

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