Follow Peace with all Men

Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

                Often our relationships with others reflect the true condition our soul.  Just as our words are the reflection of our heart, our relationships with people should be the expression and the root of our relationship with our heavenly Father.  So often there is such a contradiction between what we want to think we are our as Christians and how we really treat other people.  Can we say that we are at peace with all of those that we have been in relationship with?  Have we ended up offending, hurting, betraying, backbiting, gossiping or taking advantage of someone we have been relationship with at some level of social interaction?  Have we found people that, for some reason, no longer want to associate with us or have turned against us?   Unfortunately, we aren’t often as pure and godly as we would like to think we are.  Through careless words, deeds or acts of selfishness, we can offend and hurt others without even realizing it.  This is especially true of the ones we say we love; our families, spouses, children or parents.  Loving and close relationships are much like our reputation, we can spend years building them and in one careless moment we can destroy them.  Perhaps some of us have issues like that today.  We may have even acknowledged our offense, repented of it, but maybe the person we have offended won’t allow us to mend that fence.  They may still carry that hurt and offense. 

                It is so important for our spiritual lives and social relational lives to line up with one another.  We say we love and serve God, but do we most often work in our self-interest or the interest of others?  Are we willing to truly live Christ before men and especially toward the irregular people that most push our buttons and whom we have a hard time dealing with? 

                We are all like a bunch of rocks in stream.  As the turbulence of life and trials pass over us we rub against each other with our sharp edges, we offend and hurt each other.   Over time the ruff edges begin to wear off and instead of rough rocks we become smooth stones.  Are you still rough around the edges?  Are you still wearing on and irritating those around you?  It is often ironic how God can turn the tables to allow us to experience from others what we ourselves have been guilty of.  When we judge others, do we first judge ourselves and see how, we too, have been guilty of many of the same offenses?  All of this is a part of growing up and maturing in Christ.  The end of the matter is that if we are truly pursuing holiness with God as the Word says we should, that also reflects on our human relationships and how Christ comes out of us with regards to others.  Our fruits of actions, words and deeds should bear out who we are in Christ; by the way we treat and respond to others.  Colossians 3:17 exhorts us, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  1John 3:18 likewise encourages and commands us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”  Our actions speak louder than our words.  What have we promised our children or our spouse that we never follow through with?  Are we a people whose actions verify their words? 

                Sometimes we create offenses that we can’t fix or make right, ‘but as much as possible live peaceably with all men.’  Roman 12:16-21 leaves us with this instruction about our human relationships, “Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

                Let’s be right and make things right as much as possible with others.  Let us really walk in love toward our neighbor and fellow human beings.  May they truly see Christ and not us.  This is pursuing holiness in the fear of God.

Blessings,

#knet

Forgiveness

December 16, 2020

Forgiveness

Ephesians 1:7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

                Forgiveness is a word that we use a lot and often fail to really consider the depth of what it implies and what it accomplishes.  Forgiveness is a necessary ingredient before any true restoration and reconciliation can take place in a relationship where an offence has occurred on the part of one or both parties.  Where an offence remains not forgiven, it may be pushed down or ignored by the offended one, but when forgiveness is not released it is like getting a splinter under the skin.  Even a small splinter that is not released will begin to fester and be a constant source of agitation until it is removed. 

                God, in His great wisdom, saw all the offences we committed toward Him as human beings.   While we might have good intentions, we have come to realize that God’s standards of holiness and righteousness are not obtainable in our fallen state and so we are a constant source of offense to Him.  We have come to realize that under God’s mandate and law we are all destined for judgement and the eternal consequences for our sins.  This was not God’s plan.  His plan was to provide for us forgiveness.  Through the sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of His perfect Son, He could extend release and pardon to us for our offences and sin.  God’s heart is to reconcile, redeem and restore His creation back to Himself and He paid the ultimate price to do so.  We all know what we deserve, but the mercy and grace of God said, “no”.  He has extended to us the olive branch of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation through the blood of His own precious Son.  God, in Christ, has done all the hard part for us and all we have to do is extend the hands of faith and receive this great and precious gift of forgiveness and pardon. 

                Imagine that you have murdered someone in the heat of passion and you have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Nothing you can do can undo the consequences of your sin.  Then one day the son of the president comes to you and says, “You know that you have committed a crime and the debt and punishment for that crime has to be paid.  I am here to take your place, pay for the crime and let you go free.  It will be just as if you had never committed that crime.  It will be erased from your record.”  If you accept this exchange then the doors to the prison open and you are free to go.  As if that were not great enough, the president’s son tells you that now that you are free he wants you to assume the position of the president’s son with all of its rights, powers and privileges.  Wouldn’t we be a fool not to accept such an offer?  Obviously, in turn we would owe the president and his son our lives for that exchange.  Obviously, what he is offering is far better than what we were facing.  We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The point is that if we never accept the pardon and we hold on to our offence then it can never be pardoned or released.  With every gift given there is an exchange, but for the exchange to be complete it must be received.  The gift isn’t mine till I accept it from you and I can never open it and experience its contents until I am willing to reach out, take it and open it.

                In our human relationships forgiveness is an important part of our interactions with one another.  We offend and hurt one another rather intentionally or unintentionally all the time and we need to ask and extend to one another forgiveness.  As Christians we are commanded of God to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and gave Himself for you.  Many of us are struggling with our relationship with both God and man because we have been unwilling to release forgiveness.  It doesn’t mean that we extend forgiveness and are expected to continue in a hurtful or destructive situation given a choice, but we need to forgive to set ourselves free.  It is the only way we can get those splinters of offense out of us.  When we withhold forgiveness we create a dam that withholds the love of God from flowing through us.  We close our heart and emotionally detach ourselves. 

                Many of us need the restoration and the reconciliation that can only come, as we are willing to release forgiveness.  We can’t always be responsible for the other party accepting it, but we can release it and thereby release ourselves.  Often pride, on both sides, is the greatest hindrance to our reconciliation.  You can see why God loves humility in us, because it is not too proud to say when it is wrong and it is not to proud to forgive someone, even when they don’t deserve our forgiveness. 

                Unfortunately, our unwillingness to forgive can become for us a puddle of self –pity that we continue to wallow in and feel sorry for ourselves.   We can do the same thing with our unwillingness to receive forgiveness.  We remain in the bondage of our offenses.  

                Forgiveness is one of the most powerful instruments of love that the Lord has ever given to us.  We all need to take it, use it and exercise it often.  Nothing can set us free and restore right relationships like forgiveness.  It can unlock the many prison doors of our hearts and sets us free to love and be loved with the love of God. 

                Search your heart and if you find their a hurt, a wound and offense that someone has committed either intentionally or unintentionally, exercise the gift of Father’s love and forgive them.  You are right.  They may not deserve it, but then neither did we.  When we set others free, we free ourselves and become again and instrument and a heart that God’s love can flow through.

Blessings,

#kent

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

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

%d bloggers like this: