Cistern or Septic

June 10, 2015

Cistern or Septic

James 3:7-12
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Jesus makes this statement Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The tongue and the speech of a person are the reflection of the aquifer of a man’s soul. Many things touch us as we go through life and how we process and the attitude with which we handle them can make all the difference in the world in how they affect our life and who and what we are. Most of us, at one time or another, will experience hurts, disappointments and offenses at the hands of another individual. It can be someone who might have been a friend or it may be from our closest and most trusted loved one or relative. Offenses, hurts, wounding can come from many directions, but no matter where they come from, it is how we deal with them that becomes important.
When water falls upon the earth it percolates down through the ground into voids, pockets and underground reservoirs. Many of us have had or at least drank from wells supplied by underground water. What is it that makes that water either pure to drink or in some cases septic and contaminated? Usually it is the process of filtration as it goes through the ground and works its way down into the reservoir. We have a filtration process that we have to take the events of our lives through. What we find in the Word is that if we process our lives with an attitude of the world or if we allow offenses or hurts that may be very real, to be processed the wrong way it can allow our inward cistern of life to become polluted and defiled. It will not only defile us, but it will make our speech and attitudes septic, which can, in turn, defile others.
The bait of satan is to get us to take offense, after all we are justified in doing so, we are the ones that were wronged. In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus makes the statement, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” You see our soul and our heart can be a cistern of life giving water or it can become a septic tank of bitterness and unforgiveness. What would have happened if the Lord had taken the offense of our sins, disobedience and rejection into His heart and held unforgiveness? If we still had life at all there would be no hope and there would be no avenue of relationship. If the Lord had only dwelled on our offenses and had not offered forgiveness could we have known anything but misery and death? As the Son of God was hanging on the cross, grossly beaten, abused, tortured and now crucified of men, His words were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He didn’t hold the offense. He released it and the destructive power it could have contained with unforgiveness.
Maybe some of us today are sensing that our cistern has been polluted and made septic by offenses we have been unwilling to forgive and release. That unforgiveness hinders the forgiveness of our offenses to the Lord. It must be as the Lord’s prayer says,’ forgive us our sins, our debts, our offenses, as we forgive those who have sinned against us, have unpaid debts toward us and who have offended us.’ This process can be a painful one and in a sense it is like turning the other cheek to forgive when everything within us wants to return pain for pain, an eye for eye and a tooth for tooth. We want the offender to hurt and suffer every bit as much, if not more, than we have. We have a mighty God who is our avenger and just judge before which all of us will stand and give account. Allow your heart to be freed of the offenses that you have held so that you may have a clean heart and know God’s wonderful love and forgiveness for you that we could never deserve, yet He freely gives.
Filter out the offenses and the hurts that want to go into your heart and mortally wound your soul. You must filter them with the love and the forgiveness that the Lord has given you. You must extend the grace that He has given at the expense of his mortal life. It is the only way to purify the living waters of your heart so that you might issue forth life and not death.

Blessings,
#kent

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Unity in the Body

April 8, 2015

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Unity in the Body

I was just thinking about if my right thumb got offended with my index finger and decided to leave my right hand go over to my left. Now I’ve got two left thumbs. Then my left big toe has falling out with my left foot and decides to go join up with my nose. Now I’ve got my former big left toe trying to function as a nose. Do we get the picture of how dissension and disunity in the body can quickly bring dysfunction and misalignment? It doesn’t take long before we no longer have a functioning body, but a freakish mess. Does that resemble how we see a lot of the body of Christ trying to operate in today?
Why, because we are all so easily offended and willing to move out of the place where God has set us. It is important that you truly seek God to place you in a body and that when He does you are not moved except by Him. Most of us know that when you start rubbing a lot of different personalities together you may well create a blister or a sore spot. Our first tendency is get up and just move to a different seat or a different church. Just because our brothers and sisters are Christians doesn’t mean everything in our relationship with them is going to be rosy. What we may overlook is there is always an enemy at work to kill, steal and destroy and while he may well be at work to cause disunity and division, there is also God that is at work to mature us in our love and tolerance of one another.
I see people come and go out of our particular body of Christ all of the time. Most of them are precious men and women of God. I observe that so many times it is personal dislike, disagreements or offenses with others that make them move on. Maybe it was in God’s time to move them on, but a lot of times I think it is because we won’t allow ourselves to be perfected in love. Our love is still mostly about our personal preferences, opinions and how we think things should be. Because we took up a grievance and moved out of position of where God placed us, how do you think that ends up impacting your ministry for yourself and for others. Now you move someplace else until you are offended or in disagreement again and so the cycle goes. Thus so many play the game of musical churches.
What we are missing is some of the spiritual clothing that we are suppose to have put on. Instead of our suit and tie or our going to Sunday dress let’s put the clothing that the Word exhorts us to be clothed with. Compassion, having more of a heart for others than we do for ourselves. Kindness, which extends itself to looking after the interest of others and not just self. Humility, which is strength under control, so that despite who and what you may be in the Spirit, you are always coming under and lifting others up. Gentleness, it is not harsh, or brash, but handles others with the love of Jesus. Patience, last but not least, it is the patience of God that helps us to endure the offenses, misdeeds and issues of others. Remember that, unless you’ve started walking on water, you have some issues of your own that others have to tolerate in you. The bottom line is we have to grasp and lay hold of what true agape’ love is, if we are going to start seeing unity at work in the body. As long the body is always upset and fighting among itself it can never come into the focus of its purpose. The first revelation we all have to get is that body ministry and functionality is not first about us; it is about Him! We come together to first worship and serve Him, not just to get our ego stroked and our preferences met.
We have entered into an hour and season where love and unity in the body is paramount to what God is doing at this time. He is calling us to be a healthy, living breathing organism ruled and compelled by love, not a misfit organization trying to play church. We’ve come to treat our relationship with the body of Christ like we do many of our marriages, when it gets to messy we bail out of it. As long we keep running away and moving on, we can’t come into the fullness of unity, love and purpose God has for us.
I am not going to tell you that everything leadership or somebody else in the body did to you was right or justified. It probably wasn’t, but what does the Word say? “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Have we all truly done that? It would be great if we were all perfect in our love and didn’t have to deal with these issues, but the truth is that it takes dealing with these issues if we are going to mature in the love of Christ. You don’t think there were days Jesus might have felt like kicking his disciples to the curb and saying, “I don’t have to put up with this.” It was because He clothed himself with these very attributes that He not only put with them, but endured the cross for them, as well as us. If it is our desire to be identified with His nature and character, then we are going to have to endure some of the work of the cross in us. Be where God places you and stay there until He moves you. If you are going through some things it is because you need to grow through some of these things. Remember it is the lowest valleys that prepare you for the highest mountains.
The body must truly put on the love and humility of Christ if we are to walk in unity to accomplish the purpose of the Father. He said we would be a bride without spot or wrinkle. Well, obviously there is a whole lot of cleaning and ironing that needs to go on to get us there. Allow His love to have its perfect work in you.

Blessings,
#kent

The Darkness of Hate

March 10, 2015

The Darkness of Hate

1 John 2: 9-11
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Matthew 5: 43-44 says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
There are some of us that have been offended, hurt, defrauded, cheated and taken advantage of. There are some of us who have hate in our hearts and who feel so strongly about it that Christianity or no Christianity, it is our right to hate this person or persons and no one is going to take that away from us. “If they had done to you what they did to me you would hate them too.” We are convinced we are justified and in the right, but somewhere deep down has to be the realization that hate is now your master and you are its slave. Maybe you are determined to get revenge and right the wrong, pay back evil for evil and hurt for hurt. When that is all done will your spirit be healed, will a relationship be reconciled and will you feel good about yourself again?
Hate is darkness when it possesses us. It often overrides rational and clear thinking because it is only fixed on one thing, revenge. Forgiveness isn’t even in our vocabulary at that point in time. It is ironic that nothing can destroy hate like forgiveness and nothing can bring a greater retribution than love. While hate will shut us down to the Spirit of God and allow us to be driven by the passion of our emotions, if love and forgiveness are given place, it changes the dynamic from destruction to construction. Hate perpetuates itself and only serves to destroy all who take it into their soul and hold on to it. It is like a cancer and infection that only breeds more sickness and disease.
What if Jesus just happened to know what He was talking about when He said, ‘love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. ‘
The Father is telling us that when others offend and hurt us, then they are answerable and accountable to Him for hurting His kids. He is telling us, “ you don’t have to hate and get justice; you let Me take care of that”. Romans 12:17-21 says, “17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If you want to get to your enemy then do the opposite of what they expect, love them and forgive them. Even go so far as to do them good and bless them.
Hate destroys and damages the hater far more than it hurts the object of the hate. Our hate and unforgiveness puts a wall up that holds back God’s forgiveness for us. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” When you fall into hate you further allow that person you hate to damage you more by hurting your relationship with the Father.
You may be saying, “I can’t help the way I feel and this person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.” You and I didn’t deserve the Father’s forgiveness, but it says that, ‘while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.’ We were the enemies of God. Our sin had a part in putting to death Jesus upon that cross. We as much as nailed His hands and feet to the cross. As Jesus hung their dying and having all of the reason and excuse in the world to hate His enemies and what they had done to Him, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If Jesus could forgive you and I, do we have a right to not forgive one another?
When you are able to go beyond your emotions and feelings, and despite your feelings pray in faith for forgiveness for those that have hurt you, it will begin to set you free. It may well take time for your emotions and feelings to catch up with your act of faith and obedience to God’s word, but you have opened the door for Him to begin to heal the hurts and offenses you have held in your heart. It is not saying that the person you have hated was at all justified in their actions toward you, it is saying that in spite of that you choose love and forgiveness. Release whatever hate and unforgiveness you have been harboring in your heart and give it to the Lord. Allow Him to be your judge and vindicator. Allow the light and love of God’s forgiveness to once again release your soul from the darkness that hate has held you in. Come into the light and love of His forgiveness as you release yours.

blessings,
#Kent

Garbage: Destructive or Constructive?

Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43″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.

Which of us doesn’t deal with garbage in our lives? When I say garbage I am talking about all of the offenses, insults, persecutions, inequities and evils that come at us in life. We all deal with it on some level and some more than others do. Life inherently holds hurts, disappointments, pain, frustrations and offenders of our person. Most of these come directly or indirectly through people that touch our lives in a negative way. Mostly we brush it off and go on, but there is garbage that can emotionally cripple and traumatize us. There are some offenses that are gut-wrenchingly hard to deal with, let alone let go. All of this is the garbage that gets dumped into our life. Even in the good things there are by-products that must be passed and flushed down the toilet of forgiveness and forgetfulness.
Here’s the thing, if we don’t pass the poop in our life, it will back up on us. It will eventually make us sick and can even become septic, especially if gets into the rest of our system. It not only makes us sick, but it can begin to poison our other relationships that were healthy as well. It changes our state of emotional and spiritual health.
In the scripture that Jesus gives here in Matthew 5 we find some principles that in the natural are kind of hard to swallow, because they seem unfair. There is an old saying, “No one can get your goat unless you have one to be got.” Jesus is simply saying get rid of your goat. These principles that Jesus speaks of are hard, because we are still holding on to us, our rights, our goods, our dignity and pride. You see, a dead man can’t be hurt. If we are truly dead to this old man and alive unto Christ, then our life is hid with Christ in God and living a life pleasing unto Him is all that matters. Most of us aren’t there yet. We are still struggling with the garbage.
Garbage or dung can have a positive and a negative side. We have just spoken to the negative effects it can and does have on us such as bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, envy, gossip and the like. It feeds upon the flesh like bacteria. On the other hand if we can process our garbage and our dung in a healthy way, then it can become the fertilizer for a productive and godly life. If we ask ourselves, “Where do we grow spiritually”? Is it when everything is roses, prosperity, health and great relationships? No. We grow out of adversity, trials and tribulations. These are what stretch and exercise our faith. These are what cause us to lose ourselves and press into Christ. The law of our mind wars against the mind of the Spirit, because it still wants the law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ The kingdom we are entering into is not one in which we seek to preserve this life, but we willing lose it for Christ’s sake. We are to be using our garbage to grow from and not to be allowing it to pollute and defile our lives. Your garbage must become your fertilizer. It must become the fabric for growth and not destruction. It is out of this garbage that we can see the fruit of the Spirit produced in us, but if we hold it in and allow it to become septic and toxic, it will poison us. It will feed the fruit of our flesh and it will produce death and not life.
Be careful how you process your garbage. Don’t hold on to it. Process it and pass it. Use it as the fertilizer for your spiritual growth and health in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

God Offenses

February 21, 2014

Genesis 4:2-6

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”


God Offenses


How many of us, if we are being totally honest, have had times and maybe still are, when we were angry or offended at God?  God didn’t answer in the way or time that we thought he should have.  Maybe someone we loved dearly was taken from us or someone we had been praying for to be healed died anyway.  Maybe that spouse never came back as we believed God to heal our marriage.  Somewhere along the way most all of us have had the opportunity to take up an offense with God, because He didn’t meet our expectations.  I know there has been times I have struggled with that and maybe we say, “We’ll God, what is the use of praying and believing if you’re not going to answer.”  The fact is, He did answer, it just wasn’t the answer we were looking for or that we wanted to hear.  One thing about God is that He is far too great and big to fit in the box of our finite thinking.  

When we come to these places in our life we find ourselves in the place where Cain was.  God didn’t reject Cain.  He simply told him to do what was right and he would be accepted, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 

What was Cain doing wrong?  There is a principle in the Word of God that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).  Cain was a man of the soil, which speaks to him being man that operated out of the works of his hands.  What he brought God was the product of the works of his hand.  Our works are not an acceptable sacrifice.  It is not that good works can’t result out of faith, but neither can they be the substitute for faith.   The fat portions of the lamb that Abel offered spoke of the blood that covers sin and the sacrifice of that offers up our flesh to Him as a living sacrifice (Roman 12:1).  

When we pray and believe God that is a good thing, but He doesn’t act according to our will unless it is in alignment with His will and purpose. 

Let’s take a New Testament example of offense.  This one that the Lord showed to Sharon, my wife, but a lot of us don’t really see it.  It deals with John the Baptist when he is imprisoned by Herod.  

Does he know who Jesus is?  

John 1:29-34 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”  So, yes, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  

Matthew 11:2-15 reveals John the Baptist’s offense with Jesus. “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

We just read in John 1 where John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Christ.  So if He is the Christ why hasn’t He done a miracle or something to rescue John the Baptist?  Do you suppose John the Baptist was praying to God to take him out of that prison?  If Jesus can work miracles and He is the Son of God, then surely He can get his servant, John the Baptist, this great man of God out of prison.  

John was in a test.  The enemy was no doubt bringing everything about God and his ministry into question as he remained there in that dark dingy cell.  He was even beginning to question if this Jesus really was the Son of God. Sin was crouching at the door and only an unrelenting faith would conquer it, but he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the Christ.  Have we ever been in a test like that?  

“4Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

Jesus rehearses the greatness and the calling of God on the life of John the Baptist, that there was none greater and yet what does He say?  “yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Why?  Because John the Baptist had taken up an offense with God. 

11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear.

What forcefully advances the kingdom of God is those who refuse to be offended when things don’t work out their way.  They will speak as Job did in Job 1:18-22, “While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job didn’t take up an offense, even though God contradicted every principle he knew,  he would not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.  It was this kind of faith and faithfulness in Job that would eventually promote him into a priestly ministry  of intercession and bring a double portion increase of all that had been taken from him.

We may need to repent today if there has been a offense in our heart against God.  We aren’t always going to understand the ways of God and it is not necessary that we do.  What is necessary is that we maintain our faith and our faithfulness.   ‘He gives and He takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.’  ‘When we can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.’

 

Blessings,

kent

Be Kind to One Another

February 3, 2014

 

Be Kind to One Another


Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. 


It occurs to me that simple acts of kindness are perhaps one of the greatest expressions and testimonies of the love of God working through us.  Think about the example of marriage for a moment.  Two people start out deeply attracted and hopelessly in love with one another.  There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other.  What changes?  Through time we tend to become more involved with life outside of each other, little irritations and annoyances begin to eat at us, our familiarity with each other begins to give place to disregard and sometimes even contempt for each other.  What was so special becomes more and more common and less and less special and appreciated.  Soon we begin to give expression to annoyances, irritations and dissatisfactions.  In defense and hurt the spouse releases their own barrage of complaints.  Little by little, what was so perfect and beautiful can become a battleground of insults, hurts and offenses.  The relationship becomes divided; each party withdraws from the other more and more till often the end result is separation and divorce.  

One of the givens in life is that even the people you love the most will sometimes offend and fail to meet your expectations and likewise you will do the same to them.  The greatest antidote to these shortcomings is love, forgiveness and kindness.  Let’s back up for a moment and see what precedes our scripture on kindness.  Ephesians 4:24-31 says, “But ye have not so learned Christ.  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 

 Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Right here some of us may see our relationships and where they have come too.  If we find ourselves here, we are not only grieving that person we are in relationship with but we are also grieving the Holy Spirit.  You may say, “but you don’t know how much this person irritates me, failed me and disappointed me.”  You may not realize how much you have irritated, failed and disappointed the Holy Spirit.  If God dealt with us, as we deserved we would all be toast.  The Lord sees beyond our faults, shortcomings and the attributes of irritation and sees our heart.  He has determined to love us in spite of ourselves and He operates in our lives for our highest good, not His.  If the Lord were only looking out for His interests He would have never laid down His life for the undeserving creatures that we are.  In Christ, we must adopt this same mindset, where we are no longer responding and acting from our feelings, but out of the mind and heart of God.  This is an attitude in life where we are not easily offended through the hurtful comments and actions of others, where we return good for evil, where we bless those who curse us, give beyond that which others may take from us, go the extra mile and act out of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness.  These are the love and actions that the world can’t understand, because it so supersedes any kind of love we find in the world.  

Our place to develop and practice this love and kindness of Christ is first in our own homes and relationships.  Most of the time the hardest people to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving too are those of our own household.  This is most often where we will see the reflection of the true nature that is working in us.  Do you like what you see?  Is it what you want and hope to be?  

As we learn to bring every thought and action under submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit we may find ourselves speaking and acting, not out of what we feel in the natural, but out of what we know to be the mind and love of God.  As we plant these seeds of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness, we may find our harvest much richer than we ever imagined.  We can’t change the heart and actions of others.  They alone are responsible for those.  The way we can change them is by first changing us.  Perhaps they aren’t really the problem; they are only a symptom of a problem that may have its root in us.  Let God have His perfect work of grace in you today.  Speak the words of kindness that bring grace to the hearer.  Let random acts of kindness fill your day as you bless even those who may not deserve it, even as the Lord has blessed you.  Take this to heart concerning your former nature, “But ye have not so learned Christ. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” 

 
Blessings,
kent

Hot Spots, Cold Spots

October 29, 2013

Hot Spots, Cold Spots

Revelations 3:2-3
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

If the Lord were to do a geological survey of our spiritual lives today, what would that topographical map look like? Would we see a high plateau of spiritual consistency with every area of our lives being in alignment with the Spirit of God? I think we are not so much different than the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 that John addresses by the Spirit of God. Each one had their strengths and weaknesses, their high points and their low points. While the Spirit commended them in their strengths, He rebuked their weaknesses and exhorted them to pay attention and give diligence to correcting them. Our spiritual lives are not so different than the churches, because we can see ourselves represented in them. Each one was in a different place, under different circumstances, but each one was exhorted to have an ear to hear the Spirit and overcome. When we honestly survey our spiritual lives most of us can see hot spots and cold spots. We see areas that we are fervent and faithful in, areas of strength where we are walking and doing well in the Spirit. Then, on the other hand, most of us can see areas in our lives where we are in compromise and weak in faithfulness and obedience to the will of God. We tend to preach from the areas of our strengths, while we try to hide and disguise the areas of our shortcoming that we hope others won’t see in us. While the Lord wants us to maintain the strengths that we have and the areas of victory we possess, He is, at the same time, wanting to show us the areas of shortcomings that are hindering us from His highest and best for us. He is constantly calling us to come up higher, to cast off the earthly garments of unrighteousness and put on Christ. These areas of weakness are as varied as we are as individuals, but the Holy Spirit knows our spiritual typography. He knows our high and low places. What we want Him to do in us, as we act in faith, is to bring us up in those low areas so that every area of our life is dwelling in the heavenly places. That place, where there are no holes in our faith and walk with Him that are still abiding in the flesh.
Many of us go to great lengths to put up walls and barriers so that we isolate certain areas of our lives from others. Many of us have a spiritual side and fleshly side. We just conveniently put on what we feel is needed at the time for the place and circumstance we are in. When we are in the worldly setting we act as the world, when we are in a spiritual setting we act spiritual. This is hypocrisy in us. God wants a people that are wholly and consistently His in every area of their lives. Our spiritual destiny and reward with Him is dependent upon it. When we read what the Spirit is saying to the churches here in Revelations, there are strong consequences if areas of offense and weakness are not repented of and corrected. Do we think it is any different with us?
In order to allow the Holy Spirit to have His perfect work in us we need to be willing to allow Him to be Lord in every area and aspect of our lives. We need to have the kind of relationship with Him that we get quiet before Him, listen to Him to speak to us about areas of our lives, through His Word, His Spirit and what other avenues He chooses to use. Then we need to make them a matter of prayer and priority to address and change. Our days are filled with much busyness and distraction, but it is imperative that we prioritize the will and work of God in our lives. What we are speaking of has eternal consequences in our spiritual walk. We can’t afford to allow the temporal things of this life to distract and rob us of our eternal destiny and calling in Christ. He must be the first priority of each day and each area of our life.

When we get too many hot spots and cold spots, we tend to mellow into lukewarm. Revelations 3:15-16 says, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” If God is turning up the heat in our lives it is so that we might become hot for Him. We must allow the heat of His Holy Presence to come into those cold areas of our lives and melt the ice cubes of selfishness, inconsistency, complacency, compromise and sin. God wants us to be all or nothing.

Blessings,
kent

Be Kind to One Another

July 25, 2013

Be Kind to One Another

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It occurs to me that simple acts of kindness are perhaps one of the greatest expressions and testimonies of the love of God working through us. Think about the example of marriage for a moment. Two people start out deeply attracted and hopelessly in love with one another. There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. What changes? Through time we tend to become more involved with life outside of each other, little irritations and annoyances begin to eat at us, our familiarity with each other begins to give place to disregard and sometimes even contempt for each other. What was so special becomes more and more common and less and less special and appreciated. Soon we begin to give expression to annoyances, irritations and dissatisfactions. In defense and hurt the spouse releases their own barrage of complaints. Little by little, what was so perfect and beautiful can become a battleground of insults, hurts and offenses. The relationship becomes divided; each party withdraws from the other more and more till often the end result is separation and divorce.
One of the givens in life is that even the people you love the most will sometimes offend and fail to meet your expectations and likewise you will do the same to them. The greatest antidote to these shortcomings is love, forgiveness and kindness. Let’s back up for a moment and see what precedes our scripture on kindness. Ephesians 4:24-31 says, “But ye have not so learned Christ. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Right here some of us may see our relationships and where they have come too. If we find ourselves here, we are not only grieving that person we are in relationship with but we are also grieving the Holy Spirit. You may say, “but you don’t know how much this person irritates me, failed me and disappointed me.” You may not realize how much you have irritated, failed and disappointed the Holy Spirit. If God dealt with us, as we deserved we would all be toast. The Lord sees beyond our faults, shortcomings and the attributes of irritation and sees our heart. He has determined to love us in spite of ourselves and He operates in our lives for our highest good, not His. If the Lord were only looking out for His interests He would have never laid down His life for the undeserving creatures that we are. In Christ, we must adopt this same mindset, where we are no longer responding and acting from our feelings, but out of the mind and heart of God. This is an attitude in life where we are not easily offended through the hurtful comments and actions of others, where we return good for evil, where we bless those who curse us, give beyond that which others may take from us, go the extra mile and act out of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness. These are the love and actions that the world can’t understand, because it so exceeds the kind of love we find in the world.
Our place to develop and practice this love and kindness of Christ is first in our own homes and relationships. Most of the time the hardest people to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving too are those of our own household. This is most often where we will see the reflection of the true nature that is working in us. Do you like what you see? Is it what you want and hope to be?
As we learn to bring every thought and action under submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit we may find ourselves speaking and acting, not out of what we feel in the natural, but out of what we know to be the mind and love of God. As we plant these seeds of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness, we may find our harvest much richer than we ever imagined. We can’t change the heart and actions of others. They alone are responsible for those. The way we can change them is by first changing us. Perhaps they aren’t really the problem; they are only a symptom of a problem that may have its root in us. Let God have His perfect work of grace in you today. Speak the words of kindness that bring grace to the hearer. Let random acts of kindness fill your day as you bless even those who may not deserve it, even as the Lord has blessed you. Take this to heart concerning your former nature, “But ye have not so learned Christ. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

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

Repeating Offenses and Failures

Romans 7:17-24
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. or I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

I don’t know that there are any of us that don’t struggle in our lives with our character flaws and weaknesses that seem to want to continue surfacing and have long been a source of consternation and dismay to us. We don’t like these flaws, habits, strongholds, weaknesses and shortcomings; we hate them. We know they don’t please God and yet we find ourselves again and again falling back into these snares. We may even wonder if we could still be saved, as many times as we have failed, repented and then failed again. This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us in our spiritual walk. The latter part of Romans 7 deals, I believe, with this very issue. It really boils down to a warring issue within our lives. There are two laws that war in our members and while we serve the law of God in our mind, we find the law of sin, still wanting and seeking place in our bodies. As we seek to ascend in our minds and spirits we have the flesh seeking to pull us back down, bringing condemnation and once again breaking and interrupting our spiritual fellowship with the Lord. We, like Paul, cry out, ” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he goes on to answer his own question, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” What is he saying, that we can be divided and our mind serves God and our flesh serves sin? No, he is saying that which ever one we give place to that is the one we will serve. Romans 8 really goes on to give the extension to the answer of our dilemma that he has addressed in Chapter 7. Romans 8:1-2, ” [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” It is in grasping and laying hold of the higher law that now governs our lives that we begin to walk and live in a new mindset. It is the mindset that is identified, not with our old man governed by the law of sin, but our new man which is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. One of the greatest reasons for our prayer life and spending time in the Word is so that we can renew our minds in who we are in Christ. We are no longer that old person, enslaved under the law of sin, subject to its bondage. We have been set free; the Lord has broken those shackles off of us. Does that mean that we will never be tempted or influenced by the former things? Not at all, we know that the flesh, and that former mindset that wants to regain its strongholds in our lives, constantly assault us. Our freedom is in Christ and in our walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:5-10, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” If we are the ones still trying to conquer our weaknesses in our own strength then we are doomed for the failure we’ve experienced in the past. It is the Spirit working in concert with our will and submission to Him that is our empowerment. Romans 8:13, ” For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Our lives in the Spirit are a continual overcoming of our flesh and the law of sin that wars against our members. Are we going to loose some battles, yes, we still fall short far too often, but we have set our course. Our eyes are fixed upon our Savior and “it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).” That old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, but daily we become a living sacrifice consecrated unto Him. He is our victory and in Him we are more than conquerors. Don’t be discouraged, for His blood washes and forgives our failures as we repent and turn back to Him. The more Christ fills our hearts and minds the less room and place there is for sin as the Holy Spirit is given full place to govern over our souls. Press on, identified with who you are in Christ. The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be the sons of God He has called us to be.

Blessings,
kent

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