More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

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

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

Blessings,
#kent

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We the Many are One Body

October 17, 2014

We the Many are One Body
Romans 12:4-8
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

It is important that we all realize our importance to the body of Christ. Many of us Christians, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, really don’t see ourselves in ministry and service to the body of Christ. We quickly look to all of our faults and failures and think how could God ever use someone like me. If we all thought that, the body of Christ would quickly disintegrate and you definitely wouldn’t be reading this writing right now. We don’t serve the Lord because we are so good or better than anybody else. We serve because He is so good and it is His sufficiency. It is the gifts and abilities He has placed in each one of us that enables us to minister and bless the body of Christ in whatever area the Lord has graced us. The Lord wants us all to realize how important and vital we all are to one another. He didn’t give anyone of us all the goods. He gifted each one of us with different gifts and abilities so that we could not be high-minded and think of ourselves more highly than we ought. He made us interdependent on one another for a reason, so that we could function as a body. Each one providing what the other one needs. Only our head, Jesus Christ has all the goods and even He has incorporated in His plan the need for a body and a bride made up of born again, blood washed believers. It is all of us under the headship of Christ and the direction and enabling of the Holy Spirit that flow together in love together for the health and vitality of the body as a whole and not just individually. We are in a symbiotic relationship wherein there is a giving out and a taking in, a mutual benefiting of one from another. All the members of our body function in their own office and the abilities for which they are designed to bring full health and functionality to the body. If I have a lazy eye that doesn’t want to focus and work with my other eye. It becomes a detriment and a hindrance to my body. It is a burden to overcome its deficiency. If I have cells that are out of control and not submitted to the order of the rest my body I may have cancer and we know how detrimental that can be to the body. There is such an order with God and everything functions through love, because love seeks not its own but the good of others.
The Lord is not asking of us for what we have not, but to be faithful with what we have. If we are always taking and never giving back then we are only draining strength and resources from the body that could be used in more positive and constructive ways. When we are babes in Christ it is to be expected that we will be taking and not giving, but as we grow and mature it is time to grow from selfishness to selflessness. The Lord has invested talents in each on of us and we have a spiritual responsibility to use those talents for the increase of the kingdom of God. We are accountable for there use, misuse, or lack of use. Let’s take the time to pray and seek the Lord to comprehend and act on what we can give back to the body of Christ. You are important to the Lord and to His body. We all need what you have to give. Start out even in the little things and let the Lord give you the increase. He will help you and direct if you submit yourself and your talents to Him.
Let us put aside our differences that serve only as a human and religious detriment and hindrance to the body as a whole. Let us see the larger picture of all the saints in the body of Christ and not just our particular religion or denomination. Christ is not divided; He is one Spirit even as we should be of one Spirit. Roman 12:16 says, “[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.” It is a time for us to humble ourselves and become servants of one another that the body may built up in love. Let’s seek the practical ways this can happen through what each one of us has to give. You were created to be a blessing. Let the Life of Christ flow through you, beginning today, to be that blessing.

Blessings,
#kent

A Day with the Lord

October 10, 2014

1 Corinthians 1:9
God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Day with the Lord

The sun strikes the peaks with pinkish hue,
As I rise to start my day with You.
Soft, back lit clouds streak across the eastern sky,
As the day dawns and You are nigh.

With sleepy eyes I step out into the newborn day,
With praise and worship, I begin to pray.
Lord you are faithful, good and so kind,
You are the treasure I seek and the wisdom I find.

In the fresh clean morning air,
I step out and sense You are there.
A dove coos nearby as Holy Spirit says I’m here.
A fragrant breeze passes saying God is near.

Outward signs remind me of our inward chat,
A dialogue where we can talk about this and that,
Where God listens intently as I pray,
And I so want to hear what He has to say.

Often it is quiet when I listen for Him
With patience in prayer, I seek Him again.
He doesn’t always respond like I think He should
But often He speaks differently than people would.

Sometimes during the day that He is speaking to me,
Even through my wife, a friend or someone I meet.
I must learn to listen and see with spiritual ears and eyes,
Or I’ll miss what He is saying as my life goes whizzing by.

God often speaks when we’ve ceased to pray,
He talks to us often in such little ways.
He gives us opportunities to respond in His love,
Allowing those little tests for us to rise above.

No, He doesn’t speak audibly to me,
But He is speaking in ways that are setting me free.
He is not constantly condemning my sin,
But He is teaching me the liberty of the righteousness in Him.

Let us always start our day with prayer and praise,
Let us bask in His love, rising above the earthly haze.
Let us learn to carefully listen and look for Him.
Walking in the Spirit, is knowing our dearest Friend.

Blessings,
#kent

Galatians 5:13
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

For the Benefit of Others

As I was thinking and meditating on what it means to serve, it comes to me that a servant acts for the benefit of another. If I only act for what benefits me, then I am self serving and basically selfish. The kingdom principle that the Lord would have us operate under is that in serving Him and one another, all of our needs are going to be met. This has become rather a foreign concept in our capitalist society where success is often measured by taking advantage of others in order to promote one’s self to the top.
Recently Sharon and I began to work with a group that has very much impressed me because it works by kingdom principles. The only way you succeed is by helping others to succeed and no one can succeed without the other benefiting. Instead of competition, envy and strife, it promotes everyone helping everyone else even when it doesn’t directly benefit them. Why isn’t this principle operating more in the body of Christ, because this is the way the body should work. Each member should work out of the direction of the head to perform its function to the benefit of the rest of the members. A healthy body works this way. It flows with unity of direction and purpose.
When we love our neighbor as ourselves we are fulfilling a basic kingdom law and principle. It is a law of reciprocating love whereby we help and support one another. This is why the early church had all things in common, because they operated out of this servant principle of meeting the needs in one another so that no one lacked.
It gives me pause today as I examine my own life and my willingness live for and serve others. We all tend to become very self-absorbed in our own lives. Maybe it is time for us to get a revelation of a bigger picture where our benefiting and serving others is the key to receiving our own greatest benefit and blessing.

Blessings,
kent

Is it all about Me?

October 31, 2012

Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Is it all about Me?

One of the things that most of us deal with and have the most problems with is our ego and our self. Even when we don’t see it in ourselves there is often that inner selfish voice screaming, “what about me, what about me”. It is truly a paradigm shift for many of us to turn our focus from ourselves and now use that same concern on the behalf of others. It becomes the shift from selfish to selfless. God’s love has this characteristic in that it sees the needs of another before it sees its own. In this world it is all about taking care of number one if you are going to be successful, but, as with most things, in God’s economy and kingdom we esteem one another as better and more important than ourselves. This can’t be born out of a false humility, but out of genuine love and concern for those around us. We are there to assure their success and well being and if they are functioning in the same principles they will be there to assure our success.
It is often hard for us when we see someone promoted before us. Someone we perceive as certainly not being anymore qualified and deserving than we are. If our heart and mind are truly set upon promoting others before ourselves, then we will take joy and accomplishment in that we fulfilled our goal of promoting and esteeming others as better than ourselves. The other side of that coin is that we develop this martyr complex where we want to be seen as laying it all down for Jesus and it can still be a backdoor to our ego in that it draws attention to itself by all that it sacrifices and gives. God’s balance and order is that no one person gives it or does it all, but we all work together, esteeming each other above our own interests where there becomes a balance of a body of believers or even in a marriage of serving one another. If we all had as our purpose the happiness and well being of those around us, would any of us lack? This is being one in spirit and in purpose. I know this is what God wants to grow us up into in our walk and relationship with Him. When this happens the divorce rate will go way down, because it ceases to be about egos and selfishness and it will become about what we can do to bless and care for the needs our spouse. How can I build them up and how can I be sensitive to their needs. This often flies in the face of our current selfish ambitions and agendas, what we often fail to realize is that in that other person’s happiness and fulfillment lies our own.

Blessings,
kent

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