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

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The Seductress

April 24, 2015

The Seductress

Proverbs 7
1 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your kinsman; 5 they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words. 6 At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. 7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. 8 He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house 9 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. 10 Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. 11 (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) 13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said: 14 “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. 15 So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! 16 I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! 19 My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. 20 He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” 21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose 23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. 24 Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. 25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We, as human beings, are the sum of our strengths and our weaknesses. What truly makes our chain stronger is the power of the Spirit of Christ within us.
Proverbs 7 starts out by a father exhorting his son to keep the commandments, the Word of God within him. He emphasizes that by saying, don’t just listen to the Word, but make it part and substance of your being. Let that Word influence the works of your hands and write them on the tablets of your heart till they become who you are. Make God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding as your sister and near relative.
Why do I need to do that? “They will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words.”
This passage is not just about sexual seduction; it is more about spiritual seduction. Most all of us are familiar with the passage in 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” This is that same spirit that is at work to entice our souls away from Christ. It looks for our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, and those areas of foolishness that we have yet to fully submit and bring into the obedience of Christ. They may have been subdued, lurking in the darkness of our soul. We haven’t wanted others to be aware of them and many times we ourselves are in denial that they exist, but they are there, looking and craving for the opportunity of expression and release. We often wrestle and struggle with these areas in our lives, but there will be a time and place of weakness in our lives that we will give place to them. We may not even see the immediate consequences of our actions, but this seductive spirit feeds upon the dust, the humanity and the lust of our souls. Once we begin to give place to this spirit it is like a spark and flame, it is never satisfied, but rather desires and hungers for more. It will drive us into the deeper clutches of sin and darkness. As we give more and more place to this seduction and the passion of our soul it is as the story of this young man and the harlot. We have become the fool and foolishness leads us down the road to ruin and destruction.
Many of us know or have known someone who was walking with Christ and then, as an animal caught in a trap, they became caught up in sin and their life departed more and more away from the path of righteousness. This harlot and seductress had laid hold upon them, seduced them with the lie and began leading them down the pathway to hell, while all the time exciting the passions of the flesh and promising temporal, empty riches of this world’s goods and pleasures.
It is possible as we read this, that this foolish young man could be us. Many of us know that, except for the grace of God, it would be us. This is why God’s Word must be the standard and the anchor upon which we found our life, our morality and our principles for living. When we depart from God’s precepts we exit onto a road that departs from the High Way of Holiness. That exit leads us away from the pathway to Life.
We have this illustration to let us know that the only thing that stands between this foolish young man and us, is following God’s Word through a maintained and intimate relationship with Him. Any of us could follow in his footsteps at any time, if we fail to continually guard our heart and keep it in the way of God’s Word and righteousness. Worldly enticements are always before us and they will touch the areas of weakness in our lives. This is where Christ and His Word shore up and fortify the breeches in the wall of our city. We must stand with the armor of God, ready to defend the citadel of our heart from the intrusion of the enemy. That enemy will always entice us with peace and safety while a dagger is concealed beneath their coat.
Be wise in the Word; discern the craftiness and the deceitfulness of your enemy. Know that it is the spirit of death that is wooing you into its arms. This spirit may have a beautiful face and enticing breasts, but within her grasp is the bosom of spiritual death and destruction.
A brother emailed me a scripture yesterday that fits very well here, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)”

Blessings,
#kent

His Provision

January 12, 2015

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

His Provision

As I spent time with the Lord this morning I talked with Him about provision and blessings, not just for our needs, but for the needs of the body of Christ. So many are struggling in these times. You can imagine my delight as I came this morning to write and the Lord spoke into my spirit Philippians 4:19. I had no idea that this was the content of the scripture when He spoke it to me.
For over a year now I have been hearing he Lord speak about divine provision through the things that I’ve heard Him speaking, but honestly I haven’t seen those expectations manifest yet, but just as honestly I continue to have the faith and confidence that the Lord is our provision. There are areas that He is dealing with in our lives and with the body in general.
One of those areas is in the unity and the function of the body. We are like a husband and wife with separate checking accounts and finances. We are possessive of our own things. We haven’t yet begun to move in the area of unity that Christ has called us too. We are fearful of being taken advantage of or we are jealous that someone else appears to be blessed more than we are. There are dynamics within the body of Christ that we need to move past, because truly most of us aren’t operating out of kingdom principles. If we don’t have the kingdom principles down then we are never going to see the kingdom power manifest. Just as there are rules of aerodynamics there are rules of kingdom dynamics. If we ever want to see our lift out of this earthly and into the heavenly then we all need to begin to apply these kingdom principles. The body doesn’t work where one member supplies every other member’s need; it works as we jointly supply one another’s needs.
One of the areas so many of us need to release to God is in the areas of our finances. We have become so fearful that we tend to horde what we have and dole it our quite sparingly. We not only rob the body, we rob God and even more, we rob ourselves. A seed planted will always produce more than a seed eaten. There is a need for the body of Christ to begin moving back to the book of Acts principles of having all things in common. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have things that are personal, but that we are all more willing to share of the resources and the talents that we all possess. We are family. If we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone then the same holds true for those who are our brothers and our sisters in Christ. We are each other’s responsibility. Maybe you don’t have finances, but you are skillful in building, or sowing or accounting. I am reminded again of Haggai 1:3-6, “Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
God is telling us why there is such lack in our lives and in the body of Christ in general. We are still dwelling in the houses of our making, our agenda, our own prosperity, while God’s house lies in ruin. God’s promise to us is that if we build His house first we will see blessing in our own lives. This is that promise that He gave me a year ago. He concludes it in Haggai 2:15-19 by saying, “” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ”
It isn’t God that is withholding our blessing, it is us. His desire is to bless us, but we have to get things in order in our personal lives as well as our spiritual lives for the Lord to be able to release to us our divine provision. We are moving into times where it is more and more important that we learn the value of corporate unity and oneness in the sharing of our resources. It is no longer about us as individuals living the American dream, filling our pockets and others be damned. We are about putting each other’s needs before our own, reaching out in the love of Christ and often personal sacrifice to meet the needs in one another. This is building the house of the Lord. This is the restoration of the unity that Christ longs to see in His body.
We are the stewards of the Lord. In order for a Stewart to be entrusted with much, he must prove himself first faithful in little. Do not despise the days of small beginnings for they are the foundation stones to the days of greatness and blessing. Let us be faithful where we are at and with what we have. Be willing to give of yourself to the body in all of the areas that you are blessed and gifted. Isn’t this what God is looking for in His people? God is able to meet all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, but there are hindrances that we must deal with first. We are all looking to God for our needs to be met and He is looking to us to start meeting the needs in one another and to faithfully give to Him what is His. If we will follow kingdom principles we will see kingdom results.

Blessings,
#kent

Leaking Cisterns

June 16, 2014

Leaking Cisterns

Jeremiah 2:13
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

A cistern is a well, pit or a storing place usually of water for any who may not be familiar with what a cistern is.
Jeremiah is unveiling the state of Israel as the Lord sees them. He would speak to us much the same way in this hour. We are a people that began with a faith in Christ and His righteousness. He was our fountain of living waters. He washed us in His blood and made us whiter than snow. He clothed us with the righteousness of His saints and He was our source of life and the focus of our daily living. We rejoiced in His fellowship and had great joy in our relationship with Him. Unfortunately, little by little our fidelity began to wane. Gradually the Lord ceased from being our all in all as we began to turn our eyes and hearts to other things and desires. Without even realizing it we began to move away from our fellowship as our focus and dependence became more and more on the world around us. Outwardly we would deny that anything was wrong with our spiritual state, but inwardly we knew we were losing the fountain of our fellowship and life.
What do we do to hide this spiritual breech of intimacy and life we had with the Lord? We create substitutes. We hew out our own cisterns of religious and spiritual appearances so that we can maintain a façade of spirituality and holiness to those around us. We don’t openly forsake the Lord, but we create a storefront of spirituality while, we live out our own desires in the backroom. Obviously this façade is our broken cisterns. They are fashioned like the real, but they are created in the flesh and as a result cannot hold the life of God. For those casually looking in everything may seem right and good, but we have become like Jesus’ description of the Pharisees, “whitewashed grave sites, full of dead men’s bones.” In our deception of ourselves we deceive others and lead them down our same path of destruction and ruin. Jeremiah 2: 19 says, “Your wickedness will punish you;
your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” When we lose that fear, awe and respect for the Lord it takes us into dangerous territory. Many of us may find ourselves there today if we honestly and without guile search and discern our own hearts. The Lord warns us of our state so that we might judge ourselves and turn from our wicked ways, before God Himself has to judge us. This is where we return to those first principles of repentance from dead works. This is where we acknowledge our sinful and deviant ways before the Lord and turn back to Father with a broken and a contrite heart which the Lord says He will not despise. This is where we abandon the cisterns of our own making and turn again to drink from the fountain of living water. There we will find His grace and forgiveness if we will but fear Him and repent.
Father is calling those out who will hear His voice to be separated unto Him. It is not yet a separation unto judgement, but the lines of spiritual separation are being drawn between the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. Let Him who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour. “Come out from among them and be ye separate.”

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

 

The Death that Defiles Us


Haggai 2: 10-19

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’ ”

The priests answered, “No.”

13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”

14 Then Haggai said, ” ‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the LORD. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.

15 ” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ”


The Book of Haggai is written during a time when a remnant of Israel has returned from their Babylonian captivity.  They have returned to a devastated Jerusalem and a former glorious temple of Solomon that now lies in ruin.  The Spirit of the Lord is stirring up the people through the prophet Haggai to come together and rebuild the temple.  Up till this time every one has pretty much been to themselves and only concerned with their own welfare and building back their own houses.

Our scripture today may not make a lot of sense to a lot of us, but I felt compelled to share a few spiritual truths from it.  This analogy that the Lord is giving is about those things which sanctify and those things which defile.  First He is saying that just because a priest has sanctified meat or meat that had been offered on the altar and it touches some other food or drink does that mean this other substance becomes sanctified.  For instance, spiritually speaking, you carry around in you the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  For He has said, “ except you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have not life in you.”  Therefore by faith we are partakers of God’s holy sacrifice, Jesus, and as such carry Him in our spiritual garments.  Does that mean that every life that we touch becomes sanctified and redeemed because we have touched them?  No, they have to come into a personal relationship with Christ by faith and partake of the Christ for themselves. It doesn’t just rub off of us onto someone else.

The same is not true concerning the contact with a dead body.  Anyone touching a dead body became defiled by it.  Then Haggai reminds the people that before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple when anyone came to a heap of twenty measures there were only ten and whenever they went to the wine vat to draw fifty measures there was only twenty.  How many times have we came to lay hold of the life and substance of Christ and His Spirit and we have come up short?  We haven’t found the fullness and the substance that we needed.  How many times have we experienced want, or need or adversity instead of blessing?  “You did not turn to Me, declares the Lord.”  The law of sin and death around us has defiled us.  So many of us are still trying to live out of that life or else we are allowing it to touch and contaminate us.  We are in Christ, but Christ has not been fully formed in us.  This is why we must come together in the unity of the body of Christ to rebuild the true temple and tabernacle of God whom we are.  Too long we have been contented to abide in our “ceiled houses” our own denominations, doctrines and religious houses, ideologies and thinking.  God is calling us to come out of the defilement of flesh and spirit and come together to build His house.  What we see in the world today has little to do with His true house.  What we see is a fragmented bunch of religious people, many of whom are into it for their own profit and gain.  The world is seeing people that call themselves by the name of Christ and yet they are dishonest, unreliable, backbiting, slanderous and many other things that shouldn’t even be named among us. We have become a mockery of His holiness.  We are a defiled people.  We are defiled by the world and defiled by a dead religion still operating under the principles of sin and death, rather than life and peace in Christ Jesus.  Where is Christ really seen and glorified in all of this?  His true temple lies in ruin, but He is calling forth a people to build it again.  He tells us that when we put His house first there will be blessing.  Where you haven’t seen fruit before you will begin to see fruit as the Lord is lifted up and His house is built.  How is the house of God built?  Christ has to be formed in us.  He has to be not only our habitation, but also our expression in this life.  It is not just about believing in Jesus; the faith has to become substance and Christ wants to be the substance of your life and of His entire house.  The Spirit of God will build the house as we come together in the unity of the Spirit and the love of Christ to join hands and hearts and be ONE in Him.  Christ is not divided; He is ONE Man, ONE Lord, ONE Spirit and ONE Baptism.   If we will separate ourselves from the defilement of this world, from religion and dead works, if we will consecrate ourselves to His work, we will see blessings in areas that we have never seen them before.  He has called us to build HIS HOUSE!

7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:7-13)

 

Blessings,

kent

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

This key verse was spoken in an interesting setting. A remnant of the children of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem was in ruin with its walls torn down. Under the leadership that God raised up through such great men as Ezra and Nehemiah the people were organized and the walls of the city were rebuilt through adversity and opposition of surrounding peoples. Now the city, walls and temple of Jerusalem were in ruin because God had brought judgement upon Israel for their sin and rebellion against God. After seventy years of captivity and exile from their country the people have been allowed to return and begin again to pick up the pieces and rebuild their city. When we come to the point where this verse is given we find the walls have been rebuilt and the gates have been hung. The work on the walls is done and all the people have gathered in Jerusalem to hear the Law of Moses read and explained to them. From early morning till noon the people listened attentively as the Word was read and explained to them. The people began to weep, for the verse prior reads, “And Nehemiah, which [is] the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [is] holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” Then, in our key verse, the people are exhorted and encouraged, ” Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Through our lives we are pretty much follow the same pattern as the Israelites of old who tend to go through many cycles of God’s goodness and blessing, then the people would forget and eventually turn from God to pursue sin. God would lovingly and patiently warn them, they would stubbornly and rebelliously ignore Him until the consequences of their sin and unwillingness to repent would bring judgement upon them. Under the hand of judgement the people would repent, turn from sin, and cry out to God. God in His loving mercy and kindness would hear them, restore and again bless them. Eventually the cycle would repeat itself. Have our personal lives been so different? This event takes place at a time the people have just returned from the judgement of God through their exile to Babylon. God has dealt with them even further through Nehemiah and others. They have labored to build up again not only the physical walls, but the spiritual walls of their walk with God. They learned in a practical way to put on the whole armor of God so that they no longer have to fear or submit to the surrounding threats of the enemy. Now as they sat and really heard the Word of God, just as we must sit and really, from a hungry and contrite heart, hear the God’s Word, it breaks our heart, because we realize how much we have grieved the heart of God through our life and our actions. We, like the people of that day, become truly broken and repentant as we are convicted by God’s Word. The Spirit of the Lord that day was not there to bring condemnation, or rebuke. The Spirit of the Lord, that day, was to make glad. We find that when we really come through a place where we have acknowledged and repented of sin in our lives then there comes a day of true joy. We feel the freshness and forgiveness of God’s cleansing. We often will weep for joy at God’s incomprehensible goodness, patience and love toward us in that He still loves us and embraces us back into His fellowship. May there be a day, as we have come through that place of repentance and restoration of right fellowship, that we have a holy day, a day when God dries our tears and blesses us. Let there be a day when we eat of the fat of His blessing and drink the sweetness of His love and mercy. As we are blessed in His goodness, He exhorts us to go our way and make our blessing in Him a blessing to those that have not. We become the portions for whom no portions has been prepared. Our joy is our strength to live, with renewed commitment, a life that is holy unto Him. It is not a day to be sorry, but a day for joy, as we experience God’s renewed presence and blessing, “For the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Blessings,
kent

Marriage Defiled

August 2, 2013

Marriage Defiled

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

We have touched on this subject before, but this is what that Holy Spirit seems to be impressing upon my heart today. Not unlike times past our society and the moral fabric that holds it together is being compromised. We stand upon the precipice of ruin because so much of our society has lost the value and the sanctity of marriage. Over and over again when we watch a movies or TV or read a magazine the acceptance of a homosexual agenda is being presented as an acceptable lifestyle and alternative to marriage between one man and one woman. Now it is being pressed upon our society through the acceptance and legalization of same sex marriages.
Since the early 60’s the acceptance of cohabitation between unmarried couples has gained greater and greater acceptance, even now this comprises a great many of our households today. Then there are the many households where the lack of commitment has left children without fathers and many times with little or no support except from the government. Likewise, it is rare we watch movies, television and soap operas that fornication and adultery aren’t prevalent scenes and themes. What has all of this done to us as a society but make us hardened and callused to the fact that this is sin and an abomination to the heart of God? We have placed ourselves as a society and as individuals into a place of judgement because we have ignored and blatantly disobeyed God’s Word. If that isn’t bad enough we kill our unborn that result from much of this lifestyle. When we have not done these things literally we have entertained them and engaged them with our minds through impurity and pornography and vain imaginations. We have become a diseased society; infected with immorality and sin to such an extent that our hearts have become hardened and insensitive to the affects of the decay it is having on our families, our society and nation as a whole. There are hardly any of us that can say we haven’t been personally affected by this sin in our society, because it is touching each one of us either directly or indirectly. We have to come to the place and do all that we can to bring our society to the place where we really reverence the sanctity of marriage, the home and the family. God has been infinitely longsuffering and gracious towards us, but we must realize what a stench our sin is to His nostrils and He will not withhold his judgement indefinitely. By our own hand our nation will fall into perversion and ruin.
We have to again begin to really value and reinforce the importance of the institution of marriage between one man and one woman as God ordained it from the beginning. We have to reinforce the value of commitment and covenant in this relationship to where divorce isn’t found in one out of every two marriages. We have to again lay hold of the revelation of what it means to be one flesh with the man or woman we enter into covenant with, for better of for worse.
God doesn’t hate us because we have engaged in homosexuality, fornication, adultery or numerous other perversions and sexual sins, but He hates the sin. We have made ourselves His enemies in as much as we have engaged in it. If we are unwilling to repent, turn away from it and ask the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from these sins, then we will be judged in them. The Word says that the people who engage in such things have no part in the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” God puts His finger on it and tells us how it is going to be. We, as the people of God, must first purify our own hearts and get free from the strongholds and struggles we face in these areas. How can we help others until we have addressed our own issues? To our shame we have embraced many of the world’s values in regards to sexual purity and the institution of marriage. Marriage is the only acceptable area we can enjoy and share our sexuality in God’s eyes. He has given us this precious gift for a reason, but we have grossly perverted it and exploited it. We have to continually bring our hearts before Him and allow the Holy Spirit to examine us and show us our sin and folly, so that we can repent and return to a pure and right state in our minds and our hearts. We have to bear the torch and the standard of purity before our society. As long as we are in a state of hypocrisy and compromise we only reinforce this state of sin.
“God help us to purify our hearts and turn from our wicked ways so that we can be a light of righteousness to all around us. May they see the standard and the law of God written upon the tablets of our hearts through lives that glorify and honor you in word and deed. Help us to hold to the sanctity of marriage in our own lives and continue to keep covenant with the husband or wife of our youth through the power of the love you are working in our hearts. Amen”

Blessings,
kent

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