Psalms 119:11
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

What We Treasure in Our Hearts

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)”
Think about the things we protect, hide away, keep and save. They are the things that we value and that are meaningful to us. Most of the things that we treasure and value are temporal and perishing. Many of us save and put away money, possessions, jewelry and other items we consider valuable. The most precious and lasting treasure of all lies upon the pages of the book we call our Bible. While we treasure our earthly things, for many, the Bible sets upon the shelf and collects dust. It might even get taken to church on Sunday, but do we really appreciate the treasure that is contained and hidden there among the pages of God’s Word. The treasure that we find there is life-giving and eternal. It has the power to change our lives and helps us to know the true heart and mind of God. It has the power to show us ourselves and bring light where there has been darkness.
God no longer walks among us in flesh and blood as He did in Jesus Christ, but neither is He absent and gone from us. He has left us the testimony of His Spirit and His Word. It is His Spirit within us that unlocks the mysteries and reveals the treasures of His Word. If we want to walk with God and have a closer relationship with Him then we must treasure, honor and revere what is precious to Him. His Word is what reveals and imparts that to us. Do we desire to please God? His Word gives us that direction. Do we desire to be free from sin and avoid that which is evil? Again, His Word digested and hidden in our hearts is what transforms our thinking and renews our minds to think and see things as God does. It puts within us the fear, the reverence and awe of God that we would in no way want to offend or displease Him and at the same time dispells the fear that we find in the world and in our minds. We hide many things in our hearts, but far too often it isn’t the Word of God.
John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” We know through the scripture that Christ declared that He was the Word. We know that spiritual life is contained and obtained through Him. When we possess the Christ and He truly possesses us then we will find that treasure that is hidden in our hearts. He will take those words from a page and make them a fire in our belly. His Word will illuminate and transform us. Come and find that treasure that doesn’t perish with the using, that only increases and never decreases and brings you into the presence of the Father.
Where is your treasure today? What do you value and store up in your heart? “Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also.”

Blessings,
#kent

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Draw Near to Me!

April 17, 2015

James 4:7-9
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Draw Near to Me!

If there is one theme I hear in what God is speaking in this hour it is, “Draw near to Me!” The greatest asset that any of us can have in their lives is a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we know Him intimately and are in communication with Him consistently then we know that we are in touch with the resources to meet every need and challenge that life might bring. Many of us for so long have become intoxicated and drunk in the well being that we have had all around us. We, especially Americans, enjoy and have so much. We, as a whole, don’t wake up every morning wondering what we are going to eat, where we are going to find shelter, how we are going to provide for our families, how we are going to get to our job and how we are going to survive. We may not be rich in the sense of having great amounts of money, but by and large our needs are met and we enjoy many luxuries in addition to our basic needs. As whole, we probably have and enjoy more than about 80 or 90 per cent of the world’s population. We have been very blessed. There is nothing wrong with being blessed, but one of the snares that follows blessings is that we can become complacent in our faith and trust in God. We begin to look at all that we have and possess as the results of our own talents and resources. Because we have need of little, we often have little need for God.
The Lord is sounding a trumpet in Zion and He is sounding an alarm to awaken us out of our complacency and calling us to return to Him. The first order of returning to God is in the area of submission. “Submit yourselves then to God”.
Jesus tells it to us this way in John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” The presence of the Godhead abides upon the one who is willing to submit in obedience to God and His Word. Develop an ear that hears the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and then be quick to obey it.
Secondly, He says resist the devil and he will flee from you. Many of us exercise very little resistance. We willing take in whatever is put in front of us. We exercise very little discipline of our flesh rather it is what we take in mentally, visually, audibly or physically. There is very little difference between most of us and the world at large. God is awakening us to our state of being, not to condemn us but to prepare us. If we men were suddenly taken out of our present lifestyle and placed on the front lines of battle, how do you think we would fair? The enemy would cut through us like butter and in effect that is what he is doing now, because we have become fat and lazy through our life styles. What we are not seeing is the spiritual battle that is raging before us like an ominous thundercloud.
God is saying to us, ‘take stock of your condition and where you are physically, mentally and spiritually.’ He is saying, if you will begin right now coming near to me, I will meet you and come near to you. Start by washing your hands of the sin and filth of this world that you have allowed to come into you. Cease from being double-minded, spiritually minded one time and fleshly minded the next. We are like a Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. Depending upon the place and the company we are in we are either spiritual or fleshly. We must be of a single mind at all times and that mind has to coincide with the mind of Christ. We all need to come to a true state of repentance where we honestly recognize and acknowledge the spiritual state we are in and then truly repent of it with true weeping and mourning. If we humble ourselves before the Lord and fear Him, He will lift us up. He will ready us for the days to come and preserve us in the darkest hour. Only hear His exhortation, “Draw near to me!”
There is only One that can preserve us when the world is overtaken in calamity. Your wealth, your reputation and position, your influence and all of your possessions can be gone tomorrow. They are temporal. You only have one sure foundation and cornerstone that cannot be moved and His name is Jesus Christ. Draw near to Him with all of your heart, your soul, your mind and strength. “

Blessings,
#kent

Prosperity

November 6, 2014

Philippians 4:10-20
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Prosperity

We, in this country, we have become a prosperity oriented people. In some cases we almost equate our outward wealth with our spirituality. Is that what we glean from this passage that Paul is sharing here?
We love to quote the word that he gives to the Philippians, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” but what prompted that statement. It was because the Philippians were all about giving. They appear to be one of Paul’s primary supporters and as such he speaks this blessing over them. It was the giving that brought the blessing.
Now Paul is not a prosperity preacher in the since of worldly goods. The prosperity that he preaches is the riches of God’s grace and glory in Christ Jesus. He speaks to the rich things God has for us and that isn’t always gained through the riches of this world. The truth is when the soul is pampered in comfort, it often doesn’t grow much in substance. We read about Paul’s training in this principle in the first of this passage. The training we see God taking Paul through and what He wants to bring us through is that of “being content whatever the circumstances”. God’s life and purpose are not really found in the pampering of our flesh, but more in the crucifixion of it. We are actually dying to the outward man and what we perceive its needs and desires to be. Our Christianity isn’t about living out of the benefits and provisions of the outward man, it is about living out of Christ who gives us strength to endure all trials and find contentment whatever our circumstances.
I know this kind of flies in the face of the prosperity teaching many of us have sat under. Indeed God is a God of blessings and most of us can attest to the enormous blessing over our physical lives as well as our spiritual ones. The thing that we need to understand in this hour is that there are going to be tougher days ahead and it is important for us to know and realize that our life and spirituality does not rest on these outward things. There is now a depth and treasure of riches we need to search out in knowing Christ. He alone is the riches that never fail. He is still that God that will meet our need, but it may not conform to the Christian-American mindset that many of us have developed. What’s more, is that we are to learn a key principle, the key to having our needs met, is in our willingness to see and meet the needs in others. This blessing that Paul spoke over the Philippians was birthed out this key principle. Our natural inclination when things get tough is to fear and react by hoarding to ourselves. The spiritual principle is that we see and meet the needs in the body of Christ, as well as blessing those who are in the world.
If we want to really prosper in this hour, it is to be found in the depth and intimacy of your relationship with Christ. It is out of Him that you can do all things. As Paul says here in verse 13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It is only as we lose our supply that we begin to truly experience His supply. Let’s get a revelation of what true prosperity is. It is not in the things that you possess, but in the person that you possess.

Blessings,
#kent

Strongholds

April 24, 2014

Mark 3:23-27a
So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

Strongholds

There are strongholds that each one of us deals with in our lives. Some may be stronger than others, but all of us have dealt with areas of our flesh where we are weak and more prone to failure and sin. Most all of us tend to want to keep these in the secret places of our closets so others won’t see, but often very ugly things reside behind the closed doors of our home and our hearts. These strongholds have fettered us and kept us in a state of bondage even as Christians for far too long. It is most often a love-hate relationship. We hate our sin and yet we love it too much to let go of it. As a result we struggle with our hypocrisy, often justifying it or rationalizing it so we can live with this bondage that is crippling our wholeness in Christ. Many of us live with much guilt and condemnation because we truly love the Lord and yet in these areas that may differ with each one of us, we are weak and seem unable to break free.
The enemy knows our areas of weakness and vulnerability. These are his inroads to our soul to hinder us and cripple us in walking in obedience in these areas. No amount of rules or laws are going to deliver us from these sensual or fleshly indulgences.
Paul says this in Colossians 2:19-13, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The truth is that Jesus Christ has bound the strong man, disarming his powers and authority. We now possess in Christ a greater power and authority than that which has bound us. Verse 10 says ‘you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.’
So why are we still enslaved by these strongholds of sin and flesh? God has placed the Spirit of Christ in us to overcome the flesh. It is easy when someone does everything for you, but it doesn’t help you to grow or to find the strength you need to live in victory. God has called us to overcome in Christ Jesus.
We plead, “But I have tried and I still fail. I can’t do it.”
That is exactly right, we can’t do it, but we have a power resident within us by which we can. Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The key words here for us are “By the Spirit”. We have an identity in Christ that we must put on in every area of our lives. We are no longer identified with the weakness, fearfulness and the lust of our flesh. We are identified with what we possess which Colossians 2:10 says is the ‘fullness in Christ’.
Colossians 3:1-11 exhorts us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” We must know who we are and where we now reside in the Spirit. We are not an earthly people any longer, we are a kingdom people with the King of Kings setting upon the throne our hearts and souls.
Some of us cry out in our souls and say, “I want to be free, but I can’t.” Can’t is not a statement of faith, but of fear and unbelief. “We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.” Our greatest enemy is the deceptiveness of sin. We hide our sin in the closet because of our shame. We don’t want people to think of us less than spiritual; when in truth we are all struggling with the same garbage. It doesn’t matter how wicked or perverse the thing is that you struggle with, God sees it and He knows. It is not His will that this stronghold possesses you and rules over you. The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you alone with your sin, like you are the only one going through this. You are not alone. We all struggle in areas of our life. Our greatest strength and victory is going to come when we bring our sin and struggles into the light and we allow the body of Christ to stand with us, pray with us and offer accountability to us. James 3:16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The reason we confess our sins to one another is to bring them into the light, which renders the devil powerless. He can only work in darkness. In the light we unite with the strength and support of fellow believers who can pray with us, stand with us and help us to be accountable in those areas where we are so prone to temptation.
It is time for all of us to come out of our dysfunctional state of sin and failure. Let us help one another in coming into the full freedom and deliverance from these strongholds that have so long crippled and hindered us in our walk and full devotion to Christ. You are not alone in your struggle. Surround yourself with other solid believers that you can trust and confide in. You may find that you are able to help them as much as they can help you. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light. No more strongholds!

Blessings,
#kent

Higher Level Living

March 5, 2014

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Higher Level Living


What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations?  Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers.  Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are.  We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.  

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say.  Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says,  “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.”  

Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.  

Why?

Because it denies all of “my” rights.  It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”.  It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person.  It  seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.  

When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ.  For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of  Christ.  These are the principles that He walked and lived by.  The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.  

We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for.  We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold.  It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.  

What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or  really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm.  Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being.   We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?  

What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways.  They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable.  If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us?  The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.  

Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above.  If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.  

Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying,  “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.”

Jesus is calling us to a higher place.  It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love.  It  is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love.   It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ.  It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being.  Are we ready for a higher level of living?

 

Blessings,

kent

The Treachery of Riches

October 9, 2013

The Treachery of Riches

Psalms 49:4-20
I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle: 5 Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me- 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? 7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him- 8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough- 9 that he should live on forever and not see decay. 10 For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. 12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Selah 14 Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. 15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah 16 Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; 17 for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. 18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed— and men praise you when you prosper- 19 he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. 20 A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

In the natural world it is the rich and powerful who think they have arrived and are in control of life. That is the goal of many, to have riches, fame and power. We are under the delusion that if we have these in abundance then our kingdom and our goals of success are secure. We think that when we pass on, our riches, our kingdom and our accomplishments will be carried on in our descendants.
What amount of money can redeem life, purchase forgiveness or deliver us from death, hell and the grave? What power among men, commands and rules over death? Even, as the beasts of the field perish, so we also have a limited number of days before our bodies will see corruption. When the rich, powerful and worldly successful men are in the grave, what then can their riches, their princely mansions and the power they wielded on earth do for them? As the word of Job 1:21 says, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. “ What then did the pursuit of riches and power gain the rich man when he goes to join the generation of his fathers who will never see the light of day? It as the Psalmist concludes, “A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”
Is it wrong to possess riches or power? No, not if your trust, your love and affections aren’t given over to them. Those things have no power or life in regards to our eternity. It is shortsightedness on our part if our life is dedicated to the pursuit of things that will so soon pass away from us. It begins to make sense what Jesus said in Luke 12:33-34, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our eternal riches aren’t found in our bank account, our investment portfolio, our houses, lands or inheritances. They are only obtained through giving, not getting. Eternal riches are a paradox to the world. It is not till we pour out and give our life, first to the Lord and then to others, that we truly begin to become rich. The richest people in heaven won’t be those who had all of the wealth and power in the earth. The elite of heaven will be comprised of those who walked in the footsteps of the Master, who poured out their lives for others and who became poor that they might make others rich in Christ.
Many of us think in terms that if only we could win the lottery, look at the good we could do. We forget that we are already rich in the things that matter most. Most of the time and for most of us, earthly riches would only detour us from the eternal riches we already possess in Christ Jesus. The sacrifice of His life and the cross was the only thing worthy enough, powerful enough and rich enough to purchase us from eternal corruption, hell and death. We are a very rich people who possess the Lord. Take your eyes off of the outward and begin to tap into the riches you possess in Christ in order to give and bless others. Then you will possess the riches and the rewards of heaven that will greet you at death’s door rather than those riches that flee away from you. Many of us are rich beyond measure and don’t even realize it. I read a quote the other day that said, “the poorest man in the world is the man that only has money.” Hebrews 11:24-26 says that Moses saw this truth when, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
The apostle Paul also prayed that we would get a revelation of our true riches in Ephesians 1:18-23. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
The bottom line is that we don’t want to make the mistake of putting our trust in the treachery of the world’s riches, for the love of these things will result in our greatest poverty, life without Christ. Comprehend what the true riches are and that you already possess them in Christ. Now, let us go and invest them in His Kingdom that does not wax old or pass away and there they are laid up for us as an eternal weight of glory. The richest of all men are those who realize who they are in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Three Dimensions of Jacob

September 20, 2013

Three Dimensions of Jacob

Genesis 32:22-32
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Many of us will remember this story of Jacob. We often say that Jacob wrestled with an angel. As I was meditating upon Jacob this morning I felt like the Lord gave a little insight into this man Jacob. Jacob’s life is like our spiritual journey. Consider with me some of the analogies I felt like the Lord was showing me and I know there is so much more to this than what we will share here today.
When Jacob came into this world, he came in with his first-born twin named Esau. Now Esau was hairy, red and ruddy. He was a man of the earth and field. You might say he was the Adamic nature. The scripture that gives us great insight into these three dimensions of Jacob, which is type of us, is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” While Esau is a type of the body, which is pretty much self-centered and driven by its needs and wants, Jacob is a little more subtle. Jacob is a type of the soul. The soul is where our identity lies. It is our mind, will and emotion. It is expressive of who we are as a person. Like Jacob, most of us have our spiritual side and then we have our fleshly side, for our soul is a mixture of flesh and spirit. Even the name Jacob means “heel holder or supplanter”. The truth was he was an artful manipulator. Even so, Jacob had a spiritual side that hungered for the things of God and the desire for the inheritance or birthright that would normally go to the firstborn. The trouble with the firstborn is that he had little or no appreciation for the birthright. Yes, he wanted the blessing that came through the birthright, but he didn’t have a heart or desire for the legacy and the responsibility that it carried with it. Jacob on the other hand did, but he sought to gain it through unscrupulous means, even though prophetically it had been spoken that the older would serve the younger. Jacob is like us in so many ways. He was always cunning and devising in the flesh how he might obtain the things of the spirit. Whether it was his life, livelihood, his wives or his children, Jacob set about with natural wisdom and understanding to obtain them. That is not to say that Jacob did not have his spiritual side. He encountered God at Bethel in the dream of the stairway or ladder with ascending and descending angels. He experienced God’s blessing, protection and wisdom in his life, but like us, we often seem to struggle and work so hard only to come up so short of our dreams and strongest desires. We have that Labon in our lives, Jacob’s father-in-law, that is always promising so much and delivering so little. No wonder, like Jacob, so many of us are frustrated physically and spiritually.
Even though Jacob knew God and had a relationship with Him, he had his shortcomings, his fears and demons to face. His biggest fear was his brother Esau, the one he had taken the birthright and the blessing from. It is like even though we possess the promises and blessings of God we face our own mortality. Faced with who we are in the natural we fear. In the natural we perceive our weaknesses, our failures, the ungodly part of our nature. That is what Jacob faced in Esau.
In Genesis 32 we see Jacob escaping Labon and his stronghold to return to the promise land, but there he must face his Esau. In this place of fear for himself and his family, he is crying out for answers and favor from God. Try and scheme as he will, he fears the strength of the flesh that is represented in Esau and his ability to take all that he has labored to build. While he possesses the promises and the birthright they are of little value to him in his own identity. He sends his family and the others on ahead and takes them over the ford of Jabbok, which means emptying. He sent away his family and all that he had and now, empty, he is left alone. There he encounters this third man. The scripture doesn’t say it is an angel, but it is definitely an agent of God. There, Jacob wrestles with this man till daybreak. Could this be the spirit of Christ in us? The spiritual man that we need to change our nature? The first thing that had to happen in Jacob was an emptying and laying down of all that he loved and possessed. Then there was a battle, the struggle and wrestling with that old nature of Jacob, the heel-holder, supplanter and deceiver. These two men seemed pretty equally matched for strength for they wrestled through the night till daybreak. Is this our place of prayer and intercession where we are in a spiritual battle. Have we come to the place that we are going to lay hold of God and let go of everything else unto He blesses us? Are we the overcomers that will prevail with God and man?
What is our greatest blessing? Isn’t it to be delivered of our former nature?
That morning, at daybreak, the man said, “let me go, it is daybreak.” Jacob said, “I won’t let you go till you bless me.” In Genesis 32:27-31 it goes on to tell us,” The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.” It is there that Jacob prevailed with God and received a new name and a new nature. The new name is Israel, “God Prevails”. The man touched Jacob in the hollow of his hip, so that the sinew shrank and he crossed over Peniel, which means, “facing God”. Jacob would always walk with a limp, no longer dependent upon his own strength and ability.
We have a similar word to us in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” There is a day for our transformation and new nature to come forth in its fullness, but we wrestle on through the night till we, like Jacob, prevail with God and lay hold of the promises of our inheritance. Then, no more do we need fear our strongholds like Labon or our mortality and flesh, like Esau. No longer are we afraid to loose the things we possess and love. The losses and the wounds we suffer are a small price to pay for what we lay hold of. God’s nature and character will prevail in us if we faint not. We will see the face of God, our Lord, and live; no longer after the flesh, but after the spirit. These are the three dimensions of Jacob, body, soul and spirit.

Blessings,
kent

Rags to Riches

September 2, 2013

Rags to Riches

Colossians 1:27
To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

As kids we often would muse, “if you had three wishes, what would you wish for?” As adults today, if we had one wish, what would we wish for? Would it be fame or fortune, health or peace, beauty or strength? I would say the majority of us, while having our needs met, wouldn’t consider ourselves rich or beautiful or famous or wise. If we stopped to really evaluate the ways in which we are rich or we are poor, what would we conclude? Many of us would smile and say; I’m rich with family, or in relationships I have with others. We might be rich in the joy and satisfaction we receive from serving and blessing others and making a difference in their lives. We have often gotten into the mindset that riches means having millions of dollars, but is a millionaire always rich?
Proverbs 13:7 says, “One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” In order to be rich, must one always have the tangible substance of material things in their possession?
When we discovered Christ, the Son of God that has freely provided so great a salvation, we discovered a vein of the most precious substance known to man. It runs so deep and so wide and it runs from the earth beneath to the heavens above. So many of us still haven’t really grasped how rich we have become in having Christ. Our concept of riches it still focused on outward possessions. It is fine if you have outward possessions and wealth, but if that is all your heart is content with then you are indeed most poor. There is no greater poverty than the leanness and depravity of one’s soul. In Matthew 16:26 Jesus poses the question, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” When we found that relationship with Jesus Christ, we went from rags to riches, rather anything changed outwardly or not. What is the price for eternal life in the riches of heaven with our almighty loving heavenly Father? What is the price for having all of my sins and faults and failures forgiven and my debts cancelled? What would it cost to have the Christ, the Spirit of the living God, dwelling in me? Does anyone possess that kind of earthly wealth that they could purchase these priceless gifts? Yet Christ died to pay the price that He might freely give them to all that would believe. You and I are so rich beyond measure and yet we are so often focused on what we don’t have. If we truly tapped into what we do have we would realize that there are no limitation on what it is possible for us to have or to do? While we are very, very rich through Christ, we have limited understanding and wisdom in how to use the wealth we possess in the fullness of how God has intended, so we are in school. The school of life is teaching us to practice the principles of the Kingdom that is ours. In order for us to come into the fullness of our inheritance we must learn the ways of kingship and godly rule. In order for us to rule like the King, we must come into the nature of the King. How did our King demonstrate His kingdom to us? Philippians 2:5-8 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We have gone from rags to riches when we fully comprehend that this Christ is in us. He became poor, of no reputation and endured the death of the cross so that you and I might possess so great a riches. Will we miss the greater by always focusing on the lesser? We spend the majority of our lives and resources pursuing that which is perishing while we neglect that which is eternal and priceless. We are the sons and daughters of Most High God; let us begin to dress ourselves in the rich garments of His righteousness. The world may despise us, but they don’t possess what we possess. We, like our example before us, must become void of self, so that we can bring others up. We want all of those around us to experience this “rags to riches” story. We want them to come out of the poverty and emptiness of their soul into the riches of God’s love and grace. There are not any greater riches in all of earth or heaven than “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Blessings,
kent

Giving

June 18, 2013

Giving

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Around Christmas time we all think a lot more about sharing and gift giving. We have learned that it is not just the joy of getting, but that it is the joy of seeing someone else’s face light up when they receive something that blesses and pleases them, that is the greater blessing. I guess we tend to give more around Christmas time because it is the season, but we know that it should be an attitude that we carry with us throughout the year.
You know, God is an extravagant giver. He doesn’t just give to us what we deserve it and His gifts aren’t even based on how good we are, because His love is unconditional and it can not be bought or earned. It has been the prayer of my heart for some time now, “Lord, make me an extravagant giver like You are.” We don’t want the giving that is based on how much we have monetarily or in possessions, it is an attitude of God’s nature within us that says, “make me a blessing.”
When Jesus came into the earth as God’s most extravagant gift to mankind, He didn’t grow up to take what He could have rightly claimed as His own, He came to give His life day by day. He cared about people and He showed that love and caring in personal and real ways. His richest gifts weren’t money or wealth; it was himself. Oh, that I might give myself to bless others as He has blessed us.
Christmas often gets caught up in commercialism and gift giving and getting, but our most important asset is a giving heart. In all we give and do, I know that God looks at our hearts. Proverbs 21:2 says, “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” In Matthew 12:35 Jesus says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Our giving then is not about how much, but the attitude of our heart in what we give. One day Jesus was observing the people giving their offerings. Many of the rich were presenting their offerings with great pomp and show. It didn’t impress Jesus, but He saw a little widow that humbly put in her two mites or about the equivalent of a penny and he said, “truly she has given more than them all, because she gave all that she had.” The Lord is looking upon our motives that same way.
“God so loved the world.” It is His love that makes us extravagant givers. In as much as He enables and helps me, I want to learn to give like our Father gives and with the same motive of heart, how about you?

Blessings,
kent

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