Roots

January 30, 2015

Matthew 3:7-10
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Roots

Roots in our lives come from seeds that were planted either in our lives or perhaps the generations before us. Roots go down into the recesses of our soul, but they produce fruit upward. That fruit can be good or bad, selfless or selfish, spiritual or fleshly. Like any good garden it is the gardener’s desire to enhance the fruitfulness of the good plants and to pull out the weeds that want to choke out what if fruitful and good. What happens to a weed if we only pull off what we can see? We know that if we didn’t get the root, the weed will grow back. Such are the areas of our lives that the good Gardner, the Holy Spirit wants search out in us and root out.
William Law wrote, “Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state. We are without God, because we are in the life of self. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking, are the very essence, and life of pride; and the devil the first father of pride, is never absent from them, nor without power in them. To die to these essential properties of self, is to make the devil depart from us. But as soon as we would have self-abilities have a share in our good works, the satanic spirit of pride is in union with us, and we are working for the maintenance of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking.” He perceived that the major root of sin and separation from God is self. When Christ came into our lives it should be as John the Baptist said, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” All that was built upon the foundation and has the root of self in it must be cut away. That root must be cut out, along with all of the other off-shoot roots that it produces.
Many of us struggle in different areas of our lives. We may pull them off for a time, but then they seem to continue to come back, sometimes even stronger than before. The question is, “Have we found the root?” Unless we trace these strongholds back to their root they may be hard to get free of. Somewhere we or an ancestor as opened a door for a spiritual attachment to come in and find root. It doesn’t mean that we are possessed or anything, but it does mean that there can be a strong soul tie to something that needs God’s axe to sever and separate us from it. It is something that we recognize the fruit of in our outward life, but we haven’t fully identified the root of it and then renounced and cut off that soul tie to it. Sometimes these roots like those of our wisdom teeth can become candy-caned and intertwined in the areas of our life where it is a process of identifying, renouncing and cutting off these roots by the power and authority we have in Christ Jesus. Nothing ever leaves our lives until we have fully repented of them, renounced them and no longer give them permission in our lives. We can go through the motions, but until our will is one with the Father, these roots will not be fully extracted.
Hebrews 12:15 refers to one such root. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Bitterness, offense, unforgiveness are roots that are prone to try to get a hold of members of the body of Christ. If we don’t recognize and deal with them they can cause division, dissention, backbiting, gossip, slander and all manner of poisonous manifestations that would defile the many. Prejudice is often a root that is passed to us from previous generations.
The Holy Spirit has indwelled us to bring us into the nature, mind and character of Christ. We need to have intimacy with the Father and the time in the Word so that we can say like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)”
It is only as we partner with the Holy Spirit that these roots can be identified and cut out. If we want a weed free garden, then it starts with our renouncement of self in every area of our lives and the full surrender to Christ as our Lord and King. As we give the Holy Spirit permission He will search our hearts and reveal things to us that we then must renounce, repent and surrender to Christ. This is an ongoing process in all of our lives, but the more we work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to give Him place the more freedom and liberty in the Spirit we can come into.
A lot of us want to continue to sweep our issues under the rug and just ignore them, but we are only robbing ourselves of that place of greater fullness through a wholly surrendered life to Christ. Find your roots.

Blessings,
#kent

Offenses

December 23, 2014

Proverbs 18:19
An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

Offenses

Did you ever wonder why the body of Christ is so often offended with one another. Think about what is at the heart of most of our division within the body. It is offenses. Out of these offenses we do exactly as Proverbs 18:19 says, we become more unyielding than a fortified city and we become close minded. What is at the heart of these issue if it is not our pride and our determination to be right.
Our pastor once shared something to the effect that religion is the need to be right, but true Christianity is the need to pursue righteousness. Why do you think many that heard Jesus, in particular the religious crowd, were offended with much of what Jesus had to say? Jesus trampled on their pride because He spoke the truth about what was in their heart. He revealed God in a way that didn’t fit within all of their traditional perimeters.
What we have to understand about offense is it usually reveals a heart condition in us. Peter swore up and down to Jesus that though everyone else might be offended in Him, he would never be offended. What resulted as Peter was confronted with being one of Jesus’ disciples was his denial. It was the testing that revealed his heart condition that he was blind too until that moment of testing came. There are many things in life we are going to want to be offended about and we may feel totally justified in doing so, but remember offenses are but a test to reveal what is really in our heart.
I love a statement our pastor recently ministered, “Offenses are simply opportunities turned inside out.” They test where our faith is, where our love is and where heart is for others and for God. When we can pass these tests of offenses then we can move on to the next level in our walk with Christ. Discipleship is not just calling yourself a Christian, it the learning of how to walk out your faith and not be offended. It is the love that can forgive your accusers, those that curse, malign, abuse, deceive and defraud you. It is walking as Jesus walked, without offense, even when He had every right to be offended.
When we can walk without offense. When can release and forgive our offenders, then we have moved past pride and the need to be right, to find true love, humility and righteousness of the God kind.

Blessings,
#kent

Deuteronomy 4:5-8
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

The Nation who Fears the Lord is a Wise and Understanding People

God took this nation, the United States, and birthed it out of a persecuted people that sought to love and worship Him in spirit and in truth. He took this infant nation and protected and preserved it from the enemy that sought to destroy it. From its conception and foundation it was built upon the principles of faith in Him and His Law fashioned our laws. When we look back at the fathers of our constitution who framed and structured our government, we see in them such a spirit of wisdom. It wasn’t natural wisdom, but it was wisdom from above, because they came together and asked God to help them in this great endeavor that would impact the generations to follow. Everything in that document was formed, not to force religion upon anyone, but to preserve everyone’s right to pursue his faith and hold it in freedom of worship and expression. The other nations of the world surely couldn’t help but see the wisdom and understanding that formed this nation. Many others since have followed this model of democracy. As a result, this nation has become the most powerful and prosperous of nations in the earth. That didn’t happen because of us as a people. We are like any other people, but it happened because we made our motto, “In God We Trust.” If we depart from the secular history books and really follow the history and the documents that substantiate it we will find a rich history of God fearing men, who put their trust and reliance upon God as they lead this nation. It was because of God’s law that was set before this nation, that we have had God’s favor and blessing.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 goes on to say, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”” Unfortunately, we, like the nation of Israel, have forgotten to a great extent where we came from and what is the source of our wealth, blessing and prosperity. We have grown wise in our own eyes, full of ourselves and our vain philosophies so that many think that God no longer has a place in our government, our schools or even our nation. Each generation seems to stray further from the truth. The advocates of darkness have perpetuated the lie through every medium that touches our lives and many of us have failed in taking our stand for righteousness and speaking out against this lie.
We, as a nation, now sit upon the precipice of ruin. First it will happen within and then it will happen without. We see the decay of moral values all around us. We watch them daily on the TV and read about it in the newspaper. Many of us are even the victims of it as we try to walk in the truth. These are perilous times and a time when all of us need to be fervent in prayer and in action. Soon the governments of men will end the governments will become spiritual strongholds. The battle that we fight is not one of the flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. The people of God are all that stands between this nation and its judgement. We must lift up a standard of righteousness again and no longer be a silent majority. We are soon becoming a silent minority. The greater the cloud of darkness and deception that covers our nation the brighter we must shine forth as the people of God. We must not lose our conscience, but be the conscience of our nation. Instead of our children being taught the precepts and principles of God’s Word they are now indoctrinated with humanism and every false thing. If we, the people who bear the name of the Lord, don’t make a difference, then who will?

Blessings,
#kent

What the Lord has Cleansed, Don’t Call Common

Acts 10:9-16
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice [spake] unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Many of us today in our Christian walk don’t consider ourselves to have prejudice or be judgmental. We really feel like we have the love of God toward all men until God begins to bring us into the presence of something or someone that flies in the face of all that we consider holy, right, just and good. How do we respond when God places us in the midst of drunks or drug addicts, gothic peoples with colored or spiked hair, tattoos and piercings? How about ministering to people that are slow, poor of speech and dress, lacking in cleanliness, etiquette and manors? What about old people, incapacitated and lacking in faculties and social skills? Can we really love those extremists, god-haters, abortionist, gays, idol worshippers and those of false religions? You might be thinking, “well, wait a minute, God hates sin and a lot of these that you are mentioning are sinners and anti-god.” Yes God hates sin, and what were we before He saved us and washed away our sin? The truth is that, like Peter, we all have prejudices; rather we acknowledge them or not. All of us can be put in situations with certain people groups that we would feel uncomfortable to say the least. The fact is that consciously or subconsciously we avoid or condemn what we don’t feel comfortable or accepting of. There are times in life when God will put us right where we don’t want to be. What we would often protest to God, that is unclean, common and should be rejected, is exactly what He suffered and died to redeem and sanctify. Not unlike Peter, we don’t want to be the ones to defile our hands and dirty our righteous garments. We are faced with a crossroads at certain times in our lives. Will I live out of a pious religious attitude that says to me, “I am better than these people, I will just cross the street and walk on the other side and ignore their existence?” Is the Holy Spirit convicting us in these times that, “you are not your own, you were bought with a price, it was the same price that Christ paid for these you deem undesirable and rejects.” “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Don’t think it strange when God begins to move in what we might consider some unholy arenas and areas of humanity. Jesus loved that demoniac that no one else would dare to go near. We have to be willing as the priests and ministers of God to operate out of a love that requires that we die to personal prejudices and feelings. These are still a part of our natural man and not a part of the Spirit and love of Christ within us. Jesus was never afraid to roll up His holy sleeves and get his hands dirty with tax collectors, sinners, adulteresses, people demon possessed, sick, diseased, criminals, enemies of Judah, crippled and lepers. Those that no one else wanted anything to with Jesus loved and ministered life, health and deliverance. Quite honestly, most all of us have lived in our comfort zone where nothing we consider common or unholy enters in. In that place we can live piously, comfortably and enjoy our little religious, well groomed lifestyles. The truth is that Jesus went to Hell to redeem the most defiled and ungodly of sinners. Dare we turn our backs on those He so loved and died for? Will these not stand up to testify against us on judgement day? The Love and nature of Christ in us will take us outside of our comfort zone if we will really listen to the Spirit within us. His love reaches out to the depths of humanity. When He cast out His net of salvation He draws in the clean and unclean alike.
We, like Peter, have to have a revelation of our prejudices and God’s incomprehensible love. We have to be willing to lay down our lives, our pride, our dignity, so that Christ might reach through us to love and save the lowliest of men. Are we willing to get our hands dirty? Even the priest of the Levitical order had to get bloody, stinky and dirty as they prepared the sacrifices for the altar. It went with the job. Whatever it takes we must be willing to do, wherever He leads us we must be willing to go. We have been called to be Christ to the Nations. Are you truly willing?

Blessings,
#kent

Beware the Seductress of Your Soul

Proverbs 7:1-5
1MY SON, keep my words; lay up within you my commandments [for use when needed] and treasure them. 2Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple (the pupil) of your eye. 3Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4Say to skillful and godly Wisdom, You are my sister, and regard understanding or insight as your intimate friend– 5That they may keep you from the loose woman, from the adventuress who flatters with and makes smooth her words.

Proverbs 7 is an exhortation and an illustration of what can happen to any one of us, at anytime as we travel through life. God has called us to be fishers of men to bring the gospel and the good news of the kingdom to our world and sphere of influence. We are the lights and the instruments of God’s choosing and using to draw men to Him. Even as men are persuaded to righteousness and faith in Christ by the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto life, there is an antithesis that works unto death. Satan is a fisherman also, continually casting the lure and bait that appeals to our base appetites. It is rare that one is so foolish to walk into an obvious trap, so what we get caught up in usually starts out very unthreatening and alluring. We’ve no doubt all been there at one time or another and to one degree or another. Some of us, by the grace of God, have been delivered in areas of our life where the enemy was able to bring great devastation and damage because he was able to get his hook into us and we couldn’t seem to get loose. Some of us may well still be experiencing the prison of this entrapment are still battling issues in our lives from wrong choices that we made or others that were close to us have made. How many of us have felt the effects in our lives from alcohol, drug, sexual addictions, fraud, lying, cheating, stealing and just plain selfishness? Sin has touched all of us directly and indirectly.
Listen to how the seductress and loose woman of Proverbs 7 seduces and ensnares her prey. The young man is vulnerable because he is simple, empty-headed and empty-hearted.
“And behold, there met him a woman, dressed as a harlot and sly and cunning of heart. 11She is turbulent and willful; her feet stay not in her house; 12Now in the streets, now in the marketplaces, she sets her ambush at every corner. 13So she caught him and kissed him and with impudent face she said to him, 14Sacrifices of peace offerings were due from me; this day I paid my vows. 15So I came forth to meet you [that you might share with me the feast from my offering]; diligently I sought your face, and I have found you. 16I have spread my couch with rugs and cushions of tapestry, with striped sheets of fine linen of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us console and delight ourselves with love. 19For the man is not at home; he is gone on a long journey; 20He has taken a bag of money with him and will come home at the day appointed [at the full moon]. 21With much justifying and enticing argument she persuades him, with the allurements of her lips she leads him [to overcome his conscience and his fears] and forces him along.” This woman is a chameleon and will take on the guise of whatever is necessary to capture your heart. She is a savage beast in beautiful array. Her one intent is to draw you into temptation that she may destroy your faith and devour you. Her ways are death and lead to hell. She has entered the backdoor of your soul in order to drive her dagger into your spirit. In verses 22-27 we see his end, “Suddenly he [yields and] follows her reluctantly like an ox moving to the slaughter, like one in fetters going to the correction [to be given] to a fool or like a dog enticed by food to the muzzle 23Till a dart [of passion] pierces and inflames his vitals; then like a bird fluttering straight into the net [he hastens], not knowing that it will cost him his life. 24Listen to me now therefore, O you sons, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25Let not your heart incline toward her ways, do not stray into her paths. 26For she has cast down many wounded; indeed, all her slain are a mighty host 27Her house is the way to Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead), going down to the chambers of death.”
Our exhortation is to avoid her and not to even flirt with her, for her ways are death. The way we avoid her is by not being simple minded, but Christ minded. We set our mind on things above. We fill our hearts with word of God and His wisdom and discernment. We do not allow ourselves to become ignorant or naïve concerning the ways of the world and the enticements that it holds. We keep our hearts humble and trembling before the Lord, for we know that ‘pride preceedth a fall’. In all humility we seek to warn others lest they also become the prey of satan and their faith is shipwrecked. Hold fast to the Word of Life. It is the anchor and preserver of your soul.

Blessings,
#kent

To God Be the Glory

May 19, 2014

Acts 14:8-10
In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

To God Be the Glory

Is the word that we speak one that creates faith in the hearer? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” When we truly speak the Word of God it should produce faith in them that receive it. When Paul perceived the faith that was produced in this man’s heart, he simply spoke to it and it manifested in the man’s healing.
Don’t we believe that God wants to do like-miracles among people that we are willing to speak the word into? The danger of men is that they want to put their eyes upon what is seen rather than what is unseen. They want to get their eyes and worship on the facilitator rather than the Healer. If we are not void of that self identity we are apt to take this glory and praise unto ourselves rather than channeling it back to Christ where it belongs. When ever we allow people to start lifting us up then we are already setting ourselves up for a fall. In the following verses where the people saw the miracle of what happened to the crippled man they began to worship and want to make sacrifices to Paul and Barnabus. It was all they could do to restrain the people from doing this, but they didn’t make themselves out to be anything more than mere men. They were telling the people we are not God, we are simply the messengers sent from God to communicate and confirm God’s good tidings toward you.
God is looking to work through a people that aren’t in it for themselves. A people who aren’t really seeking their own glory, attention, or the recognition of men. How many did Jesus heal and then told, “go and tell no man.” God is looking for us to be the signs and wonders that point all men to Him. Many a vessel of God started out with the right heart, but got caught up in the glory and the praise of men. They began to think upon themselves more highly than they ought. They began to think that all that they did was okay, because they were God’s man or woman of the hour. Many of the those men or women have since fallen. The fear of God we must maintain in our hearts is that, ‘too whom much is given, much will be required’ and James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
When God begins to break out through us in a greater works anointing, it is important that we judge and discern the motives of our heart in all that we do. Pride and self will quickly spring up if the root of them is still in you. An interpreter should never take credit for what the speaker is communicating. Their responsibility is to communicate what they have heard as clearly and distinctly as possible, but not to take credit for what was said. We are God’s conduits and while we carry the source and the power of His life and we are His distribution system, we don’t usurp His place as Lord or take from His glory. That is His to give to us and through us, but not ours to take from Him.
Prepare your heart for what God wants to impart through you and search your heart that there is no unclean or selfish motive to misuse what He wants to give you.
“They cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!”” (Revelations 7:10)

Blessings,
#kent

Pride and Humility

March 31, 2014

Pride and Humility

Zephaniah 3:11-13
In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

Pride is the arrogance of man usurping the place of God. Psalms 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts.” What is the place of God in our lives? Isn’t it to be in every pattern of thinking, demonstrated in our motives and revealed in our actions? Every place in our lives that we rob and exclude from God becomes a place of pride. Pride is our self -exaltation over the will and mind of God. Sometimes we have taken pride to the other extreme of being self-abasing. Declaring how worthless and evil we are and how we don’t deserve God for He could never love someone like me. We have declared God a liar because we have taken upon ourselves such condemnation that we refuse the goodness, forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ.
Humility and meekness, the counter parts of pride, simply places our heavenly Father in the place of Lordship in all areas of our lives. If we are gifted or blessed above others in areas it is a place where God is to be exalted, not us. I think of Jesus and the potential power He had resident within Him. How destructive He could have been if He had ever let pride have place in His life. In His meekness, He was strength under control and in submission to His Father. He never had to exalt Himself for the Father affirmed and exalted Him. In His greatness He became lowly and showed himself to be the servant of men. He was not lofty and condescending even to sinners, but gently got underneath them and lifted them up in His love and truth.
The “afflicted and poor people” referred to in this scripture from Zephaniah carries the connotation that these were people who constantly saw their need and weakness outside of the Lord. They were people not so much outwardly poor and afflicted, but it spoke more of the condition of their hearts, much like Jesus addressed in the beatitudes of Matthew 5. It is an attitude that the Lord you are everything: every provision, every strength, every direction and purpose, every ability I have or can have is found in You. Without you Lord I am poor and afflicted in my own state of being.
Pride will always turn away the face of God, but humility and meekness are an open invitation to His presence. It is the condition of our heart that allows Him to be God in us and to be all that we need to be in Him. It allows Him to have His expression of love and grace through us, because we are not in the way to mire it up. This is the state of the God’s true flock and the sheep of His pasture. They know the Shepherd and are totally reliant upon Him. Thus He cares for them and makes them to lie down in His green pastures of rest. Their confidence is in their God and in Him alone.

Blessings,
#kent

Worthy of this Calling

March 25, 2014

Worthy of this Calling

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I would like for us to be very real and practical today as we consider our calling in Christ Jesus. We often try and talk spiritual and be spiritual around what we consider spiritual people or environments, but what is every day life like for us? How does our real faith play out in the everyday activities of our lives? In the light of that, many of us may not feel too spiritual. We may see ourselves getting angry, losing patience, arguing with the kids and the spouse. A lot of times we see some pretty unattractive words and attitudes demonstrated in our lives. Nothing we could really take much pride in as far as being spiritual or glorifying the Lord. We may get pretty down on ourselves in the light of our many shortcomings and feel there is really no hope that I could be anything in Christ. “Look what a mess I am and how totally unchristian I can act.” Most of us can have those “flesh days” when we are just a mess spiritually. Our spiritual enemy preys on our vulnerabilities. I believe situations are often set up by the enemy, just to push our buttons and lead us off into unspiritual actions and attitudes. You may have really felt that you were drawing close to the Lord and then you are attacked in the areas of your vulnerabilities. You are tempted in the areas of your greatest weaknesses. As much as you don’t want too, perhaps you fail and stumble again in those areas where you thought you were experiencing victory. What follows is nothing less than a barrage of condemnation and discouragement as the devil condemns you for your failures. Perhaps he even uses those around you to assist in heaping on you the condemnation and failure you already feel. With feelings of shame, disgrace, added failure and guilt we become discouraged. We think, “Why am I trying to be something I can never be?” Exactly the state of mind the enemy wants to bring us too.
Realistically our lives are a never-ending struggle of flesh and spirit. We hear about who we are and who we should be in Christ, but then we struggle to live our faith in Christ, often with feelings of being so unsuccessful. These are the reasons why we often grow weary, discouraged and want to just give up. You know what? We all have these feelings, discouragement, and setbacks. Our God is not just writing us off because we do, but He does want to use them to allow us to recognize our weakness, so that we may better lay hold of His strength. The Word tells us that the efforts of the flesh can never produce the righteousness of God. That is why religion is so futile. It is our attempt at finding and pleasing God in our own works.
We find in life that we are most influenced by those we associate ourselves with. If we hang around a worldly and ungodly crowd, it is not long before we find our own actions and attitudes becoming more and more conformed to theirs. It is that same old principle of sowing and reaping. What we are sowing into our lives is what we are reaping in our attitudes and actions. Hosea 10:2 tells us, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Galatians 5:25 tells us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” While we will have those times where we will experience failure and discouragement we must stubbornly and uncompromisingly not relinquish who we know ourselves to be in Christ. Our only hope of this is in our identification and relationship with our Lord. No matter how we may get sidetracked and bushwhacked by the enemy of our soul, our spirit and our soul must turn back to Father. He assures us forgiveness when we repent and promises to wash our sin away. Christ in you is your hope of glory. With all that is within us we must cling to Him, relinquish our lives to Him and stay in close fellowship and relationship with Him. He alone is the one that transforms us into His image and likeness. In order to be worthy of His calling, it is our patient and enduring faith in Him that is the manifest token of our salvation. It is maintaining the place of intimacy and relationship that we truly know our God and experience the workings of His righteousness in us. The reality of our faith and walk in the Spirit must be the greatest reality of our lives. Even when we wander or fail, it is the faithfulness of His Spirit in us that continually keeps us returning and drawing near to Him. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5)”

Blessings,
#kent

 

A Series of Right Decisions


Proverbs 3:1-12

1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline 

and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.


The essence and sum of our lives can be measured and is made up of a series of decisions.  There will be things in our lives that we have no control over other than how we respond to them and what we do with them.  When we look back over our lives and to the point that we presently live, we can see that our lives are the result of a good number of smaller decisions and choices. Some of those have had more impact on our lives than others but even the little decisions have contributed to the larger whole.  When we understand that each day is made up of a series of decision that can impact and guide the direction of our lives, we then understand the importance of making right decisions.  

Proverbs 3 speaks to us out of the wisdom of a Father to his son.  As we read this we insert ourselves into the object of this conversation.  The Father is reminding the son that to live a prosperous and healthy life there are certain things you need to maintain, remember and exercise in your decision making.  The foremost is that you keep the teachings and the commands of God’s Word in your heart.  The continual meditation upon the Word of God will serve to keep your life focused and continually aware of what your life is about.  

The way that we exercise the Word that we store up in our hearts is through love and faithfulness.  These are the keys that allow us to partake of the treasures of God’s wisdom and grace and to put them into the vocabulary of our daily lives and actions.  Love, trust and obedience, these are the essentials that need to be with us in every decision making process.  When we have them and exercise them, and then they will assure a right motive to the decisions that we do make.  

Even with these essentials we realize that we lack the insight, understanding and wisdom to really know what is best for our lives and if the decision we are making may be the best choice we could have made.  

Again, the Lord reminds us to trust Him with all our whole heart and to lean not upon our own understanding.  God knows so much more about our lives and the impact of our decisions than we do. It only makes sense to really trust Him to guide us and lead us.  He says He will make our paths straight.  Romans 8: 28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  These are those ones that are practicing Proverbs 3.  If we acknowledge Him, trust Him and love Him with all of our heart, then He is able to take even the bad things in our life and work them for our good.  There are going to be times in our life we won’t be able to grasp the whys and wherefores of how God operates and the reason He has allowed things to happen as they have.  He never told us we had to understand Him, just acknowledge, love and trust Him.  

We can never boast in ourselves, in our ability, our prosperity or our wisdom.  We do acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  Sometimes we are tempted in our spiritual or natural successes to be lifted up to think we are something or somebody more than somebody else is.  We have to always keep our feet on the ground while we keep our heart in heaven.  Spiritual pride is a foolish man’s prize.  We are all the products of God’s rich grace and mercy.  None of us can boast in ourselves for it is God alone that gives us value and worth.  If we fear God and turn away from evil then it will be health to our body and nourishment to our bones.  

I heard a minister the other day who was sharing that the temple had five gates.  There was a priest stationed over each one of those gates as a watchman to assure that no danger or that nothing unclean entered the gates.  He went on to share that these five gate are like our five natural senses and God has set us as a priest to watch over them and insure that nothing harmful or unclean passes through them into the temple which we are.  This is much like the principles of Proverbs 3.  If we will do our part to love, acknowledge, trust and obey the Lord, He will do His part to direct and order our steps.  

As He honors us, we must in turn honor Him with the firstfruits of our increase.  We can’t bring the leftovers or the second best.  We must honor Him with the firstfruits of our best.  He assures us that we won’t lack because of it.  

We are His children.  He loves us and whom the Lord loves He chastens, disciplines and corrects.  We can’t become discouraged when our lot in life is tough.  It is not God’s anger and displeasure at work; it is His love.  The trials and tribulations in our lives are what shape and mold our character and integrity.  They are a part of the process of bringing us into conformity with Father’s nature and character.  All that God is working in us is in preparation for a much more glorious life.

Just remember that it is the series of everyday decision that add up to the sum of your life.  Allow God to be a part of every one of them.  

 

Blessings,

#KentStuck

A Measure of Faith

January 30, 2014

 

A Measure of Faith


Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith


This experience we call being a Christian and partaking of God’s salvation through Christ has one key element that we all have to start with, and that is faith.  It starts with faith to believe upon Christ and receive that which we cannot see into our hearts.   We start our walk with God and we enter into His saving grace because we heard a Word and by that Word we believed in our heart and acted upon it by praying a sinner’s prayer, asking Christ into our hearts.  For all of us to have taken this first step into a Christian walk we had to have a measure of faith.  The Word says here in Romans 12:3 that, “God has dealt every man the measure of faith.”  Now this faith will be common in many ways to the faith of other believers, but it will also develop its own personality because each of us has been given different gifts and abilities by the Holy Spirit.  All of us grow and function out of the faith that works through our lives.  As we begin to grow in faith and act out of faith we learn a reliance not on ourselves and our abilities, but upon God’s ability to channel Himself through these earthly vessels as we yield and trust Him to do so.  

Jesus, in His ministry and walk upon this earth, told us that He didn’t do His own will, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (John 5:30).”  Even Jesus is demonstrating through His earthly ministry that His life is functioning not in self-will or purpose but as an extension of the Father to do His will and speak His Words into the earth.  In Christ we see the full measure of faith in operation as the Godhead is channeled through His life through the full surrender of His will to the Father.   In the wilderness the account of Matthew 4:3-4 says the tempter came to Jesus and told Him He could turn these stones into bread, but Jesus knew that His life was not about what He could do, that would have only given place to pride and self-reliance.  Instead, He said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” He is communicating a profound revelation that my life is not about me; it is about the Father.  His Word is life, substance and reality.  At that moment, that statement didn’t make Jesus any less hungry, but Jesus knew and expressed that the spiritual realities of God’s Word superseded the natural realities of His hunger and present physical condition.  Throughout the trial Jesus faced, in a place of great physical exhaustion, His focus was on the Father and His strength and confidence was in the Word.  

We live in a natural world where we are constantly assaulted with trials and tribulations.  Whether they are physical, financial, emotional, family, work or any number of other things, problems are a part of our lives.  We have an enemy whose sole purpose is to rob, steal, kill and destroy.  Our faith is at the top of his hit list.  Our reality, as children of God, must be based foremost on the Word of God.  The enemy’s strategy is to divert our attention from what God’s Word says to what our circumstances and natural reality is telling us.  Jesus didn’t deny that He was hungry, but the basis of His obedience and trust was based on the Word of God, not his hunger.  We have to exercise our faith to exalt God’s Word above our circumstances and natural realities.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  Spiritual reality is first to the spiritually minded, natural reality is second and subject to the first.  If ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ as Romans 10:17 declares, then God’s Word is what we listen too, His promises are what we rely on, His Word is our declaration and profession over the obstacles in our lives that we face.  Our hope and confidence in that Word stands in the gap, our profession of His Truth and our praise in the midst of our battle, release the forces of heaven till faith has its manifestation in the natural.  Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  

As we exercise the measure of faith that God has given each one of us we will see His faithfulness, but it will not come without it stretching us from where we are to where He wants to take us.  Fix your eyes upon Jesus, set your heart upon His Word and rest upon His Promises.  That measure of faith will grow as you mature and exercise that daily and constant trust in Him. 

 
Blessings,
kent
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