Matthew25:14-28
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19″After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22″The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24″Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26″His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Faithfulness in What you Have

Most of us are probably familiar with this parable that Jesus gave in Matthew 25. What the Lord was showing me in this parable this morning is that it is not how much talent or resources you have to work with, it is your faithfulness in what you do have. Father is speaking that integrity and faithfulness starts with the little and small things. If we don’t have the heart and the nature of Christ in those we won’t have it in the bigger things.
The servants that had the two talents and the five talents were faithful about utilizing what the master had given them, even in His absence. Their focus was first on their service and faithfulness to the master. The servant that had the one talent wasn’t even faithful in the little that he did have and it was really his own selfishness, fear, doubt and unbelief that caused him to bury it and not work it. Obviously if he buried his talent, he wasn’t about the master’s business, he was about his own.
Many of us may not see ourselves as having much talent or ability, especially in spiritual matters, but in God’s eyes it is not how much we have, but how faithful we are with what we have. It is not in your ability that He calls you, but in His calling to you He provides the ability to do what He has called you to do. Don’t look to your abilities, look to His ability within you and be faithful to what He has called you to do no matter how small or great. Therein lies your reward.

Blessings,
#kent

God, On Our Terms

August 14, 2015

1 Corinthians 3:10-16
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

God, On Our Terms

Most of you who are reading this know Christ as the sure foundation of your life. We have received Him into our hearts by faith and we place our trust in Him. We have the sure foundation of our lives, which He is. The question then becomes as the apostle Paul addresses here, “what are we building upon this foundation?” Paul indicates that there are different materials that can be used to build this temple which we are. Some of them are fireproof and others are not, but He does warn us that there will be the Day that will bring to light what our house is made of.
Perhaps it is not so unlike the little story of the Three Little Pigs. Each one’s house was tested and those that were made of sticks and straw did not stand. The little pigs verily escaped by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin. I don’t think that this is how we really want to build upon this foundation that we have in Christ. Yet we have to consider the quality of the materials and the work that is going into building this temple.
Many of us have embraced Christ as our Savior, but do we really know Him as our Lord. Many of us have faith, but we still want God on our terms, rather than ourselves on His. We must understand that with the building of the temple there is a continual demolition of the old. While the grace and mercy of God builds us up we are allowing the cross to crucify and tear down that which is of the natural man and that which is not eternal, but will pass away. If we continue to build a corruptible temple on an incorruptible foundation, then there will be a day the building of our lives will come to ruin and destruction. What we invested our lives in building will come to naught, because it was on our terms and not His. We built with wood, hay and stubble instead of the nature of God, the redemption of God and His precious truth. God will allow us to build our house with whatever materials we choose, but their will come a day of final inspection and if we haven’t built according the blueprint and the materials declared in His word, then we can’t expect our house to pass inspection. Which of us wants to come to the end of our lives and then find out there was nothing lasting, permanent or of eternal value in what we did?
Jesus taught us that the foolish man built his house upon the sand and when the floods came it was washed away, but the wise man built his house upon the rock, the sure foundation of Christ. The same materials that have been used in the foundation must continue to be used throughout the building of the house. Then we will know and have confidence that it will stand and remain in the day of testing and fire. Consider that unless we know Jesus as the Lord, the One we relinquish all control too and are in true submission to His headship, then we are building with corruptible materials that will not be of lasting value or substance. That is the price of having God on our terms.

Blessings,
#kent

Love and Obedience

June 26, 2015

John 14:10, 21, 23-24, 31
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. ..

Love and Obedience

The Lord began to show how much love and obedience go hand in hand in this passage from John 14. Jesus is coming to His final hour and the words that He speaks are both weighty and meaningful. He is clearly communicating with us as He speaks to His disciples that truth, faith and love are demonstrated through our obedience to what He has been teaching us through His word.
Our greatest revelation of the Lord comes through obedience. That is when we develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so that we hear His voice. The more responsive and obedient we are to that voice the more clearly we discern and know it. The Holy Spirit is like our conscience in some ways. Often we have a feeling or a knowing when something isn’t right or when we are doing something wrong. We can either heed that knowing or we can ignore it, rationalize it, justify it or just disobey it. Eventually it becomes less and less as we desensitize ourselves to it. We do the same thing with the Holy Spirit within us. That is why we don’t hear the Lord the way we need and should be hearing Him. So often we have shut Him out rather than do things His way. Jesus is saying our love for Him and the Father should sensitize us to the Holy Spirit. We should be so aware of His presence and responsive to His voice and dealings in our lives. This is what our love for Him should produce in us. It is a love for God’s will and His way rather than our own mind and our own will. Just as the Father was manifested through the Son, because of the complete uncompromising obedience to all that the Father commanded Him, so Christ will be more fully manifested in us the more we walk in complete obedience and submission to His commandments to us. The commandments, the teachings or the Word of God is God’s mind for us. It is His direction, instruction, admonishment and teaching so that we might be fully equipped and come into the maturity of who He is.
If we want to see more of God in our lives, then we need to love Him the way He has instructed that we love Him, through obedience to His Word. When we truly love God through our complete obedience and surrender to Him, we will become aware of His personal leading and direction in every aspect of our lives. To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to obey Him. Jesus promises in John 14:21 that if we really love Him through our obedience then we are loved of the Father and Jesus says, “I too will love him and show myself to him.”
This is a key point to us in this hour that we become less focused on what our will and wants are and begin to focus on the will and purpose of the Lord for us at this time. We will find the key to that revelation in our obedience to Him. We must love Him as we never have before and with that love comes the complete surrender of our hearts and wills to His will. His commands are not burdensome, but they are life giving. There are times when God stretches us way out of our comfort zone, but if we are willing to obey and trust Him the reward can be tremendous. We will see, know and demonstrate God in ways that we didn’t even know were possible for us. Let us commit to love Him completely and fully through our obedience to His Spirit and His Word. In this place we will come to truly know Him.

Blessings,
#kent

Hope, Joy and Crown

November 24, 2014

Hope, Joy and Crown

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

When we selflessly plant ourselves into other people’s lives what is our gain if they can’t reward us and we see no earthly or monetary benefit? What do we hope to see in our children through the years of raising them, nurturing, teaching and mentoring them? It is not for what they can pay us back in material gain that we do it. It is a labor of love and the harvest we long to see, that we continue to pray for, hope for and believe for are lives that are healthy, productive and that produce a legacy. A parent’s greatest reward is to have children that love and respect them, but also that hold to the values of faith that were instilled in them and that they in turn instill those same values in their children. We long to see a perpetual legacy of generations that follow on to know and obey the Lord.
The churches that the apostle Paul established were his children. He taught them, mentored them and raised them up in the faith and knowledge of Christ. It wasn’t a job for him; it was his life, his purpose and his joy. When he stood before the Lord there was no greater testimony to his faithfulness and his greatness as a servant of God than those that he had raised up in Christ. He was able to stand with the Lord and look through the generations at the harvest he had been instrumental in producing in the earth. This stood as Paul’s greatest, hope, joy and crown. This was his greatest reward.
Our greatest reward in heaven won’t be about our businesses, our finances or our status in the community; it will be about what we planted in others. It will be about what we sowed into their lives through our faithful commitment and walk with Christ. We want to see it in our children and our grandchildren. We want to see it in the ones that we helped disciple and bring to Christ. Nothing breaks our heart more than to see what we have treasured and nurtured stolen and destroyed by sin. It is for this reason that our Lord Jesus ever stands as our high priest making intercession on our behalf. He too, longs after us to be His hope, joy and crown.
Let us not grow weary or complacent concerning the awesome responsibility that we have toward those who under our spiritual authority or influence. We must remember that we are the priests of our home and have the responsibility to pray, intercede, teach and persuade our families in the ways of righteousness and salvation. Be faithful to the gift, the calling and instrument that God has created you to be. How we respond and use what He has created us to be and how that translates into the lives of others will be our hope, our joy and crown. Our legacy is our glory and our joy.

Blessings,
#kent

Realities

April 22, 2014

Realities

Psalms 19:7-11
The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward.

The natural man builds his life on the realities of his understanding of this natural world and how it works. Those things that are real to his sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are the reality of his world. They are truth to him. When he looks out and sees the mountains, when he touches the soft skin of his wife, when he hears his children playing and smells the lilacs in spring, these are reality to him. When talking or relating to that which is beyond the natural realm, what is reality? What are the things that are as sure and reliable to the spiritual man, who is relating to those realities which are outside of the sense realm? For the Christian, who embraces the Word of God as His reality, the Word of God stands as the cornerstone and foundation of spiritual truth and reality.
This scripture in Psalms 19 gives us some very fundamental and foundational truths to build our house of faith and trust upon. Because spiritual realities are not always evidenced in the natural world, except in type and shadow; we must have a resource that puts all believers in God on the same page. That resource is the Word and the law of God. It is the source of input that feeds spiritual truths and realities into our natural mind. When we read and try to understand the Word of God with only a natural mind and understanding, many things don’t make sense to us and are conflicting.
I once heard it put in such a way that it made a lot of sense. If God is Spirit as it says in John 4:24, then it only stands to reason that He would write a spiritual book. As we know, the content of our Bibles is the compilation of numerous authors down through the ages that have written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God’s spiritual book. It only stands to reason that if we are reading a spiritual book, we need a spiritual mind to receive and understand it. This is why it is essential when reading God’s Word that we ask the Holy Spirit, the author of the book, for understanding and revelation to comprehend, assimilate and put into practice the truths of His divine counsel. In John 16:13 Jesus tells His disciples, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” The one sure promise that each believer has is that he or she can possess the Holy Spirit that is able to lead and guide you into truth. Peter speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaks this truth to us in Acts 2:38-39: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
While it is encouraging, edifying and instructional that we can glean much spiritual understanding from words and books of men, this should never become a substitute for our seeking God through His Word and the instruction we can receive from the Holy Spirit personally. The Lord doesn’t want second hand children; He wants each one of us to be in relationship with Him so that we are hearing and receiving personal truth and revelation from Him. What He reveals and shows us will not contradict the rest of His Word but will only further verify and confirm it. The Lord desires to further teach each of us the spiritual realities of His truth that will make us rich partakers of His divine life and blessing. His precepts and instruction are what leads us and helps us to grow in the path that leads to life and godliness. There is nothing sweeter or more precious than His Word quickened by the Holy Spirit that leads us into the reality, presence and revelation of who He is.

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

Ecclesiastes 9:11

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 


The Way of the Lord Leads Home


The way of the Lord leads home.  His ways are just and true.  He lifts up the brokenhearted and releases the captive from their captors.  Freedom is found in the Lord and in His presence. Joy is found in His fellowship and wisdom comes with understanding, which the Spirit imparts to man.  

Rescue the perishing, provide and have mercy toward the poor, the fatherless and widows.  Your mercy shall not go unnoticed, but will in due time reap its just reward.  

The expected gives place to the unexpected and wealth gives place to poverty.  The just shall live by faith, but the upright shall possess all things.  The man who is high in his own eyes shall be brought low and the humble before the Lord will be placed in their stead.  

Seek the Lord while He may be found, before the day of indignation and tribulation.  Know Him as the oil of your lamp and the life of your vessel.  As long as you are steadfast in your hope of Him, none will quench the light from your lamp, for the Lord Himself shall sustain you.   It is not by the will of man, nor his determination that establishes a soul, it is by the steadfast faithfulness of a broken and contrite heart that a man is lifted up and set in the high places.  Whom the Lord establishes and exalts, none shall remove.  Their place continues to abide.  Their eyes and heart are never set upon themselves, but in the might of the Lord they abide and their light shall not fail.

Watchmen, sound the alarm in Zion, sound the trumpets of battle.  The day of battle is at hand. The mighty Prince of Peace, the King of King mounts His horse and the sword of truth proceeds from His mouth.  Behold your King comes with His host of righteous ones.  Prepare for the day of battle that you may be among His noble ones.

 
Blessings,
kent

Treasure Life

January 29, 2014

 

Treasure Life


Psalms 17:14-15

14 O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, 

       from men of this world whose reward is in this life. 

       You still the hunger of those you cherish; 

       their sons have plenty, 

       and they store up wealth for their children. 

15 And I—in righteousness I will see your face; 

       when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.


Those who have come into spiritual understanding of God’s plan through Christ Jesus have come into an understanding that real life isn’t about the here and now.  We grasp that beyond this time and dimension, we live, walk and are pressing into life eternal.  It is a life and treasure that we contain in these earthen vessels with their limitations and weaknesses.  It is a light that shines in proportion to the amount we live unto this God life as opposed to our natural life.  Like moths drawn to the temporary pleasures and gains of this world we are often drawn to the flame of our passions and desires that will only consume us and frustrate the purpose and will of God for our lives.  What life is it that we treasure most of all?  Is it a life of hedonism, self-indulging pleasures and earthly wealth that we seek or do we have an eye and heart for the greater treasure, the eternal treasure, the treasure of God’s life and intimate fellowship.  

Look at Moses for a moment.  Here he is the prince of Egypt, the most powerful and influential country of its time.  He had it all at his disposal, power, wealth, authority and all of the pleasures of this life.  He had every thing that most of us have only dreamed about. Hebrews 11:24-27 tells us, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he looked unto the recompense of reward.  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.”  God has given His people insight and spiritual vision to see beyond this present earthly realm and momentary pleasures.  Because of the faith we have in this vision we are willing to forsake all things, endure all things and count it all lost that we might win Christ.  What does Paul tell us about the excellency of the knowledge of Christ?  Philippians 3:7-14, “Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ.  Yea, verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 

Treasure Life, the life that lifts us and holds promise beyond this present temporal existence; the life that leads us into the promises of the divine nature and the fullness of His presence. “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”

 
Blessings,
kent

The Fast of the Lord

January 20, 2014

 

The Fast of the Lord


Isaiah 58:3-11

Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 

 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 


Isaiah 58 is a good chapter to take and read in its entirety.  We have quoted enough here to give us some of the meat of what it is saying.  Many of us consider ourselves religious or spiritual. We profess to love God, we may have our set times to pray, read the bible, fast, go to church or other such spiritual activities we do in the name of the Lord for Him.  If we are doing all of these things to seek God and please Him, then we may ask, like the people of God in that day, “Lord, why don’t you hear our prayers and answer them?  We serve you, but we aren’t blessed.  How come you don’t acknowledge all of our efforts Lord?”  

He may in turn ask us, ” If you do all of these activities and things to seek and please me then why are your lives no different than those of the world around you?  Why is it you yell and argue with your family all the way to church and then come in to praise Me?  Why is it you fast and pray and then get up off of your knees to go and do your own pleasure?  Why is it you go to church, but are angry with the minister if he doesn’t get you out in time to beat the rush to the restaurant or see the sports game on TV?”   Could it be that a lot of our spirituality is phoniness and hypocrisy done more to make us feel like we have done our duty to God than doing what really pleases God.  If we want God to meet us in a greater way than He has before then it isn’t God that has to change, it is us, and more religious activity isn’t the answer.  

God takes the time in this passage to tell us where His heart is and what is meaningful to Him.  He tells us to do such things as “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break the yoke?”  What does all of that mean?  Could it mean that we are outwardly spiritual, but inwardly wicked?  We talk down to people, we talk about people in a demeaning way, and we’re critical, hateful, judgmental, gossips, backbiters and controllers.  We may want to put all of our baggage, laws, rules and standards upon others when we can’t even live up to them ourselves.  How often do we do things for others in the guise of being so nice and generous to help them out and then turn around and hold those things we gave or did for them as a yoke to control and manipulate them?  There are times we give or loan things to people and they can’t pay them back.  Sometimes we need to just release those debts and forgive them even as God forgave ours.  We can be cruel taskmasters to one another and to others.  When the world looks at that, are they seeing Christ?  Could it be that God wants us to quit being above others and treating others, that don’t have what we have in areas, as inferior and as servants?  Maybe it is time we become like Christ, to use what we have, to get under them to lift and build them up, to be their servants rather than them being ours.  

God goes on to tell us if you really want my blessing then you need to care about the things I care about.  Are you clothing the naked and feeding the hungry?  Are you visiting those in prisons, nursing homes, jails and shut-ins?  Are you even really taking care of your own family and making sure they have not only their physical needs met, but their emotional and spiritual needs met?  Are you spending the time you need to with them and nurturing them?  Are we pointing our finger in judgement and condemnation of others while we ignore the other three that are pointing back at us?  

When we start getting the heart of God then will we begin to hear from God and see His blessing.  This is the true fast of the Lord.  It is not about going to church, it is about being “the Church.”  We have to become in lifestyle and practice what many of us now only pretend to be.  We have a form of godliness, but we deny the power of it.   God despises pompous, pretentious spiritual pretenders.  I have been there more than I like to admit, how about you?  If we are going to have the real thing then everything we do has be about the Lord and what honors and pleases Him.  Ouch!  That’s pretty tough on my flesh, but then I said I reckoned it dead with Christ, so what’s my problem?  My problem is always “I.”  The more it is there the less effective I can be for God, because the less of Him that is in me.  It is only the death of self that can give place to the life of God.  This is the true Fast.  

 
Blessings,
kent
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