Be Perfect

August 7, 2015

Be Perfect

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

When we read the passage in verse 48 where Jesus tells us, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” what does that mean to you? Are you thinking that is impossible or yeah, maybe when I get to heaven? Why would he tell us this now when we perceive ourselves in such an imperfect state? How could we ever aspire to be perfect, as he is perfect? We are not only to aspire to it, it is our calling. Why would Jesus call us to do what was impossible to do?
Jesus throughout Matthew 5 is calling His disciples and following to a higher order of love than that of the world. He is calling us out of natural reasoning and fairness. He is calling us to a level of love that we have come to know as Agape’ love. It is a love that is not governed by what others do to me, it doesn’t respond to circumstances. It is an action and not a reaction.
The word “perfect” used in verse 48 is the Greek word “telios”. It means brought to its end, consummate human integrity and virtue, full grown, adult, of full age, mature. The purpose of God is to bring us unto perfection, to bring us into His unconditional love and divine nature. This is the reason He gives the five fold ministry in Ephesians 4:11-13, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” The word mature here is that same word for perfect. It is going to take our faith to grasp this concept, because all that we see in us and in the body of Christ around us pretty much testifies against this. What we have to see here is that there is a standard that has been set before us, but what is impossible with men, is not impossible with God. God is the one that has called us to this standard and He alone can be the ability to attain it. It is obvious to us that it is not in our natural ability, so that is our first clue that we need to be walking and living in something that is beyond the natural. We are called up to walk in the supernatural. We are called to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. It is only in the realm of the Spirit that we can even comprehend the perfection that Christ has called us too.
Listen as 2 Peter 2:2-4 reiterates our calling and where the power comes from, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” We see here that perfection and maturity in Christ is a calling of faith, because it is in laying hold of the promises of God’s Word that we move into this realm. There is no perfection without His power and life working in us, changing us and transforming us. The ability is not in us to change ourselves to perfection, but to position ourselves in Him, by faith and through a broken and contrite heart to yield to the working and moving He is doing in us. What we perceive as trials, hardships and adversities may truly be opportunities to exercise and mature in His divine nature.
Abraham became the friend of God because he had enough faith and vision to move out of the realm of the seen into the realm of the unseen. He counted God faithful to do that which He had promised. Are we counting Him faithful to perfect our lives in love and in all that pertains to godliness? Are we willing to quit looking at our circumstances and our inability’s long enough to see His ability and His promises to us? Are we like-minded with the apostle Paul to press into the high calling we have in Christ Jesus? “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you (Philippians 3:12 –15).”

Blessings,
#kent

More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

November 25, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

Set your eyes on none other than Jesus Christ, the high priest of your confession, for He alone is the author and the finisher of your faith. Many eyes are upon men, but no man can save you or transform you. There is one new man of which all the saints are a part. It operates out of the Spirit and anointing of Christ. It moves in accordance as the head directs it and energizes it with His power and life.
“It is not man that you are to be mindful of says the Lord, it is Me. Set your eyes upon Me for I will not disappoint you.”
Man will always disappoint. Follow after the example of Christ you see in others, but know that they are subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as you.
Jesus says there is only One good, God the Father. Our goodness is only in the measure that the Father expresses His righteousness through us by faith. Christ in you, that is your righteousness. The spirit of a man may be willing, but his flesh is sometimes weak. In all your ways, set your eyes upon Jesus. He is your Savior and Messiah.
Many are hurt and wounded in the body of Christ, because they have lifted up the man of God, rather than the Christ in him. When the man falls down, often the faith of the those looking to him falls with him. We do want to respect and hold in honor those who are spiritual leaders. While they may guide us and teach us, they can not save us. Never transfer upon them what only Christ can do for you. Our faith should never be moved by what happens to man. They walk by the same grace that holds you and I. Pray for them that they would not fall, for they are often under great attack and pressure. It is not our criticisms that will stay them, it is our prayers and intercessions for them. They bear the same infirmities and weaknesses as we do, but the burden of responsibility is so much greater upon them.
We are a body that under-girds one another, upholds one another, ministers and serves one another. What we give to leadership in prayer and support is every bit as important as what they can impart back spiritually. A true leader is not a lord, they are a servant. Their burden and responsibility are the ones they serve. Likewise the ones they serve have the responsibility to encourage, support and pray for them that serve in this office. None of us are above another, but some do carry greater responsibility. We all have the responsibility to help them to stand, not alone, but with the strength of our gifts (spiritually and monetarily) and our prayers.
Call no man Father, for you have but one Father, but know that there are those that father you in the faith and help you to grow in the likeness of Him. Respect and honor them, but do not set your faith and trust in them, but in the Christ they have led you to know and believe in.
This is no longer a day of big names and men of renown. It is a day when the kingdom is at work in the body of Christ teaching each of us to function in our gifts and callings. Each of us needs one another, for together, with Christ who is our head, we make up the whole new man in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, love one another, care for one another and pray for one another. Honor and pray for those that labor over you. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us, ” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is time for the body to grow up into the fullness of what God has called us to be in Christ. Ephesians 4:4 reminds us, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Let us all flow in the unity of that one Lord who has loved us and gave Himself for us. Ephesians 4:25-32 goes on to exhort us in our behavior toward one another. ” Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We are one another’s keepers. Lift each one up in the faith, in love and prayer He has called us too. In Him we are one man and one body.

Blessings,
#kent

Love Your self

October 27, 2014

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love Your self

It is interesting sometimes as a photographer to see how people view themselves. Often, when viewing family or individual photographs people can be very critical of themselves. Most often it is the women. They can see and magnify weaknesses or faults that most everyone else considers normal and a part of them. It is not uncommon that great family portraits will fail because mom doesn’t like the way she looks.
In today’s age of technology we have the skills and abilities to actually go in and alter the way someone looks. We can lift and tuck some of the sagging parts, hide the blemishes and soften the wrinkles, but the real issue may not be how we look to ourselves outwardly, but how we perceive ourselves inwardly.
On the other hand I have photographed attractive ladies who may have had a scar that could have easily been removed. I find it is often best to ask people what they do and do not want taken away, because assumptions can get you into trouble. These women that I refer too wanted their scars to remain, because to them they were a reminder of what they had been through and the gift of life that they still had. In today’s world many of us feel the pressure to live this façade of a perfect life, have a perfect body, beautiful looks, a perfect home, children and husband or wife. The truth is that that is not the real world. We all have scars, wrinkles, handicaps and weaknesses whether they are outwardly evident or not. Brushing or photoshoping over them isn’t going to take the reality of them away, nor should it. These blemishes upon our lives are the evidence that we have lived and experienced what life had to offer and that it wasn’t always nice or kind.
The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but some of us don’t really love ourselves, so how can we love our neighbor properly? Understand that all real people have weaknesses, faults and frailties. That is a trait of our humanity. Don’t be ashamed of yourself and don’t boast in yourself, but rather see the completeness of yourself in Christ. Christ is not a crutch; He is the fulfillment and the completion of our humanity. The scars, the wrinkles and experiences that we share all testify that by the grace of God we survived them and we are still taking hold of life. The wonderful thing about our relationship with Christ is that where we end, He begins and where we are weak, He is strong.
Don’t be so harsh and judgmental of yourself. I know that sometimes I think, “God, why am I stuck with being me?” It is because in my weakness He is made strong and His grace is sufficient for all of my needs, my infirmities and my weaknesses. If you are down on yourself today it is because you don’t have your eyes on Jesus. Take courage, take heart and know that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you. Love yourself as Christ loves you.

Blessings,
#kent

Kindness

May 30, 2013

Kindness

Colosians 3:12-13
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

“Kindness”, an obvious word with an obvious application, it is often descriptive of one of the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. Kindness is so obvious and so simple and yet so missing among so many of us. It is simply goodness and favor toward another person. Many families and relationships are missing this little social grace from their words and actions. Even in our every day encounters with strangers and people that we interact with, we fail at this little thing called kindness. Oh yes, we feign kindness through superficial words and platitudes, but is it an issue of our heart? True kindness pities, it empathizes, sympathizes and identifies with another’s need. Kindness puts itself in the place of its neighbor and then responds appropriately according to how it would want to be treated. Kindness isn’t a social mask that we put on to give the illusion of our graciousness; it is something that issues out of the foundation of who we are in Christ. Kindness genuinely cares for another and will not think about going out of its way to minister or help another. Kindness overlooks the opportunity to be right when it is at the expense of another. It compliments the rest of the attributes of the Spirit and it chooses the high road even at its own expense. Kindness is what covers another with grace and favor even when they may not deserve it. Kindness is slow to be offended and it returns good for evil. True kindness is often the brunt of abuse and is commonly taken for granted. Yet, it is the kindness working in us that causes our Father to smile and reminds Him of Himself.
Today and each day of your life, develop the habit of random acts of kindness, not just on the deserving but on the undeserving as well. Practice that kindness on the ones you say you love and yet always rub you the wrong way. While others may not always appreciate it and it may be abused by some, you will never regret the warmth it leaves inside and the smile it puts on the face of God.

Blessings,
kent

Life Principle

February 13, 2013

Matthew 7:12
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Life Principle

The base nature of man is selfishness and self-centeredness. Life starts out being all about me; my wants, my needs, my hunger, my well being, my dry diaper. A lot of people grow up without deviating much from that principle of “what about me”. As we grow up and mature, even natural law teaches that as I become responsible for a spouse and family, it isn’t as much about me anymore, in normal development it becomes more about them.
Jesus gives us life principles in His Word, that if we follow them, we can live a fuller richer life than our natural ways would or could ever provide for us. Our natural man is prone to live after the flesh in what gratifies and satisfies our natural needs and wants, but Jesus comes along and awakens in us the reality of our spiritual man that has been pretty much lying dormant. He makes us aware through His Word and Holy Spirit that life isn’t just about living to our own gain and dying. It isn’t about the person that dies with the most toys wins.
What do they win, an award for being the most selfish, greedy, self serving, covetous, and immoral? That is a hedonistic and totally selfish philosophy.
Jesus taught us two primary life principles that everything else operates out of and both of them are based in love. Matthew 12:28-33 gives these principles, “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”29Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;30AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’31“The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”32The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;33AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.””
The life principle we should come to grasp is that God is Love and the light of the spirit is love. When our spirits comprehend that love then our bodies, souls and lives should become the expression of what our spirit has attained. We should come to grasp that it is only as we live out of love that we are transported into Love which God is. Love is the transport system that brings us into God’s presence and will. It first starts vertically with us and Him. As that relationship and communication is established then what fills our spirit should be spilling into our soul which is our mind, will and emotions. As that is filled then it should be transmitted horizontally through our lives into others. As we maintain that place of fellowship, intimacy and relationship with Father, then what and who He is begins spilling out of us into others.
We come to understand that selfishness and self-centeredness, only kept us from being the full expression of who we were meant to be, the expression of God’s love which is the essence of Him.
We come to understand that in the blessing of others we are blessed. The principle has a reciprocal effect upon our lives. In our giving and extending to others, it gives back to us. Even if it is not always seen, Jesus says we are storing up for ourselves riches in heaven where thieves can’t break in and steal, and where moth or rust cannot destroy. Our being spent for others is our investment in heaven. Everything that we gain in this life quickly perishes as does as our mortal man, but the higher purpose is to live to impart God’s love into others through our extravagant giving and generosity. That doesn’t just speak to material things, but our time, out attention, our grace and forgiveness, our willingness to see past the faults in others, as Jesus saw past ours, to meet our need, even as we endeavor to meet the needs of others. Loving God and loving others is the gateway of kingdom living and being. As believers in Christ, our physical beings, should simply be God deposits in the earth, conduits and transmission lines through which He can bring His power and love into the earth and all of mankind. It is the key principle of true life.

Blessings,
kent

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