Luke 18:18-29

18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” 21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29″I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Hidden Issues of the Heart

We never truly see the fiber and the substance of our being until we are stretched beyond the boundaries of our comfort and norm.  There we see the flaws often hidden from sight.  We can oftentimes see ourselves much like this rich young ruler if we are willing to acknowledge it.  We love and have a zeal for God.  We try to keep His word and commandments.  We feel in our hearts that we truly love God.  We want to serve Him and we hunger and want more of Him.  We acknowledge that we have already done the fundamental requirements.  

“We have done all of these Jesus, what more do I need to do?”  

When Jesus puts His finger on our true heart issues.  He goes where we don’t want Him to go.  He goes to those little sanctuaries and strongholds of self that hold our affections.  It is those areas that often we don’t even realize how much they mean to us until we are asked to give them up.   For the rich young ruler it was his riches and wealth.  It had become what defined who he was and his identity was in his position and wealth rather than in God.  When Jesus touched on His heart issue it made the young man very sorrowful.  The Greek word here conveys that it was sorrow as to cause one’s death, a deep grief and grieving.  Jesus asks him to exchange his riches on earth for the riches of the kingdom of heaven.   He couldn’t bring himself to do what Jesus asked of him.  

Most of us want to continue on and be content with where we are spiritually.  When we begin to really hunger for more of God and ask God for more, then we have to be willing to pay the price.  We have to be willing to deal with our heart issues and the little strongholds of self that we still want to hold on too.  It grieves us to give them up, but we can never give up something, but what He will not give us so much more, if not in this life, then in the life to come.  

When the Lord allows circumstances and people to come into our lives that stretch us out of our comfort zones.  It is there that we begin to often see how shallow our love really is, how easily we are often offended and put out with those who step on our toes and our rights.  What God shows me is that there is far more of me there than I want to acknowledge and lay claim too.  When He stretches me and proves me and sounds the depths of my heart that is when I often find how shallow the waters of His love are in me.  If we want more of God then there is always more of a relinquishment of self.  The way of obtaining and walking in resurrection life is through the cross and through the death of this former man.  We can mentally and spiritually aspire to it, but it has to become substance in our lives.  

There is an old saying that “no one can get your goat, unless you have a goat to be got.”  How many goats are we still hanging onto?   We must not fail the challenge that the rich young ruler had.  The things of this earth are perishing and passing away, but His life is eternal and His riches endure forever.  “What is impossible with men, is possible with God.”  Lord help us to not turn from you, but press into You even when it cost us everything.  Help us to do what seems impossible to us, because with You all things are possible.  

Blessings, 

#kent

I Come to do Thy Will

April 22, 2016

I Come to do Thy Will

Hebrews 10:8-9

Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law.  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

Do we live Old Testament or New Testament lives?  Do we live to please and appease our God or are we like our Lord who came to do His will.  Much of the Old Testament thinking was about pleasing God, making amends and sacrificing objects to Him.  It wasn’t the motions of keeping the Law that the Father longed for, it was the sacrifice of “will”.  When Jesus came into His ministry there were more than a few times he offended the religious people by not “keeping the law”.  What they didn’t comprehend is that this man was the fulfillment of the law.  He was what they could never be or ever accomplish, because of the inherent weakness of the creature that tried to live up to it.  Creatures weakened by a state of sinfulness.   It wasn’t through the offerings and burnt sacrifices that God took pleasure in, it was in the sacrifice of His Son that took away the first order to establish the second.  

We think of Calvary as being the sacrifice that Jesus offered, but it was only the consummation of the sacrifice of a life that “came to do Thy will.”  Romans 6:5 –7 says, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”  When we became identified with Christ, we became identified with His death to sin.  Sin comes forth out of the will of man; therefore our will was crucified together with Christ that we might no longer live to the will of the flesh, but to the will of God.  We took up the identify of Christ in that “we came to do Thy will, oh God.”  King David caught the revelation of this truth in Psalm 40:6-8, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will, O my God; 

your law is within my heart.” According to Exodus 21:6 if a servant willing gave himself to serve his master the rest of his life his ear was pierced to mark him as free will servant.  That is what we are called to become, free will servants, having offered our will for His, not my will, but Thine be done.  2 Corinthians affirms this calling upon our lives, “And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him whichdied for them, and rose again.”  Again, in Galatians 2:20 Paul defines the sacrificial life, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The Father is not looking for our offerings, our works and our tributes of religious service, He is looking for the hearts that are saying, “Here I am, I have come and I desire to do Your will, oh my God!”  The place I start is on my face, emptied of self and seeking You to fill me and order the steps my life each day

Blessings,

#kent

 

1 Samuel 15: 22-23

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” 

Obedience is better than Sacrifice

Most of us have grown up in religion that operates as king Saul did.  It is more about doing than obedience.  We have developed numerous programs to do things for God and about God, but how much of it comes out of direct obedience to the Spirit to do all of these things.  It seems good.  It sounds good, but does it produce the life and Spirit of God in others.  What God does and what He builds will have this characteristic.  It will produce life and it will accomplish the purposes of God.  If we build something in the flesh, no matter how good or noble it may seem, then we have to maintain and support it in the power of the flesh.  What God has commissioned, He will provide for.  

Saul, like so many of us, is justifying to Samuel how he did good.  Listen to how we often respond to God in how Saul answers the Word of God through Samuel in verses 17-20, “Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” 

20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 

How many of us have had directives of the Lord either personally or through His Word and we have compromised what He has instructed us to do.  We have made it subject to our interpretation and justified our manipulating of what God has instructed to best meet our needs or purposes rather than His.  Religion always acts in the name of God, but is not always subject in obedience to the express will of God.  Many of us in our religious spirits, put on our outward vestures of obedience and righteousness, while inwardly we work things after the will of our own devices.  

God has a strong word for Saul and for us who are being religious, but not obedient.  God calls it rebellion and He says it is like witchcraft.  It is where we purpose to manipulate and control what God has spoken to us to do.  We are not honoring and worshipping Him in this process, we are honoring and worshipping our agendas and ourselves.   God doesn’t delight in our pretenses at what is good; He delights in our obedience.  Through this kind of stubbornness and rebellion God rejected Saul as king.  Now Saul didn’t cease to sit in the place of kingship from that day even as Adam didn’t literally die in the day that he partook of the forbidden fruit, but in both cases something happened in the spirit realm that brought death.  When God withdrawals His Spirit from a thing it will eventually whither and die.  

God has withdrawn His Spirit from religion because it is only a pretense of godliness, built upon the letter of the law and not the Spirit.  He is not looking for those who have a form of godliness, He is seeking after those who will worship and walk in Spirit and in truth.  He is looking for those whose obedience is pure from a heart of love.  They are not interested in what makes them look good or what benefits them.  They are only interested in what glorifies the Father, so they will do things in His time and in His way.  If God doesn’t move, then they won’t produce their own agenda to make up for it.  They have put on the harness of the Lord and they will only move as the King directs them.  

Are we operating out of this spirit of obedience or are we still a lot like Saul, manipulating godliness to what best suits our ends?  Our stubbornness and self-will has no place in the kingdom. 

Blessings,

#kent

The Love of God

October 20, 2015

John 3:16-21
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

The Love of God
John 3:16 is one of those scriptures that many of us as young Christians memorize. Sometimes in its simplicity we forget or miss how profound it truly is. How many of us as fathers can really grasp what it would be like for us to give our only son as a sacrifice for someone else’s misdeeds? Romans 5:6-8 tells us, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So even if you could be willing to allow your only son to be sacrificed for someone would it be your enemy? Would it be for the one who deserved your wrath and judgement rather than you love and mercy? When we really stop to analyze and think about God’s love for this world it should just blow us away, because it makes absolutely no sense to the natural mind or reason. How can we take this manner of love so lightly? How can we even regard it as common or ordinary? Our God is such an extraordinary God that works through such a supernatural and incomprehensible love towards us and the world rejects it. So many times, even we, as the people of God, treat as common place and ordinary this holy love, displayed and sacrificed for mankind. If we do, it is because we don’t truly comprehend it or have it operating fully within us. Those who go willingly and offer their lives as willing sacrifice for the gospel of Jesus Christ have come into a revelation of that love. They comprehend that if this love is so great that even the holy Son of the living God and Creator would lay down His life for us then it is worth our laying down our lives as well. Most of won’t even sacrifice our comforts let alone our lives.
One of the things a true revelation of God’s love will bring us too is that there is something so much greater at stake than just us. It will give us the heartbeat of God for creation. It will empower us to love the unlovely, the rejected and the destitute. It will cause our hearts to hurt for the lost and dying, just as Father’s heart hurts and longs for them to come to Him.
As human beings perhaps one of the things we like least is having our darkness exposed. We are often comfortable in our sin and deception even though it only brings us misery and pain. We don’t want to see ourselves for what we are and as God sees us. The capacity of the love of God is to see past our faults and see our need and it is to that need that He addresses Himself. He created mankind to rule and reign with Him, but we exchanged the truth for a lie and righteousness for pleasure. Romans 1:21-25 says, ” For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
“For God so loved the world.” What a blessing and a privilege that we have come to an acknowledgement and acceptance of this love by our faith in Jesus Christ. Is our love now so shallow that His love towards us stops with us? No, an immature child is one that is only concerned for their own needs, but when one comes into maturity they learn to become the givers and not the takers.
What is our revelation of God’s love in us today? Are we still just content to take it and not give it? God didn’t build us to be reservoirs to horde and store up for only ourselves, us four and no more. He is wanting to impart His heart of love into us that we may become the conduits and pipelines of His love and blessing. We are the salt of the earth and a city set upon a hill. We are the outshining of his glory and the expression of His love. If not us, then who?

Blessings,
#kent

Appeasing or Pleasing

July 30, 2015

Appeasing or Pleasing

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I think that I may not be so different than many others who earnestly love God, want to have an intimate relationship with Him, but are often tempted to make compromises to please the flesh rather than to please God. I was meditating this morning on how much appease and please sound alike only they are different. If we examine our hearts we will probably find that there are many times we actually try to appease the Lord, rather than please Him.
“So what’s the difference?” you might ask.
I’m glad you asked that question. The dictionary defines appease as, “To pacify or attempt to pacify (an enemy) by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle.”
Now we don’t think of God as our enemy, but He is the enemy of our flesh and when we are trying to appease God that is usually where we are operating from. Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” When we get out of faith and into the flesh then we begin operating out of a mindset that wants to appease God rather than please Him. We want God to wink at our sin and to let us slide. We want the favor and blessing of God, but on our terms. Maybe we start to bargain with God. “God, if you will just let me do that, or have this or grant me that, then I’ll do this.” Maybe we give more and try to do good things. Usually we are not only trying to appease God, but our conscience as well. It is not that we want to forsake God or not serve Him and believe in Him anymore. It is not that we want to displease Him, it is just that we want our way more than we want His way. What we don’t want to acknowledge and submit too is, that it is always our ways that lead us away from His. It is our ways that separate and break fellowship with Him and it is our ways, the natural mind, that hinders us from God’s highest and His best for us.
Like King Saul of the Old Testament we become headstrong about doing things our way rather than God’s way. Listen as Saul attempts to appease God rather than please Him. 1 Samuel 15:13-26 says, “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”
Whenever we compromise what God has instructed by doing it our way rather than His, we only are deceiving ourselves and leading ourselves to heartache and misery. Hebrews 10:5-10 says in contrast, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” 8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Father is now asking the same of us. He doesn’t any longer want our burnt offering and sacrifices, our concessions and appeasement. He wants our lives, our obedience and our faith to trust and walk with Him wherever it is that He chooses to lead us. We can no longer seek to appease our Lord; we must walk in the faith and obedience that pleases Him.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

Blessings,
#kent

Horns of the Altar

March 16, 2015

Leviticus 4:18
He is to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

The Horns of the Altar

There were four horns on the brazen altar in the tabernacle of Moses. These were made of acacia wood and covered with brass. What was the significance of these four horns and why were they touched with the blood of the sacrifice?
The brazen altar was a type of the cross of Christ that was the place of the sacrifice for our sins. The brass speaks of the judgement upon sin. On the cross there were four ends and each of them was touched with the blood of Jesus. The top of the cross was touched with his bloody head from the crown of thorns placed upon Him. It represented the sacrifice of the Lamb to God, the Son of God given for the sins of the world, an acceptable sacrifice unto the Father. The two sides were touched with the blood from His outstretched hands that extended grace and the redemption of the cross to all of mankind. Lastly the feet that were pierced touched the bottom of the cross, His grace extended to the least and the lowest of men. The rest of His blood was poured out at the base of the altar of the cross when the side of Christ was pieced by the spear and blood and water issued forth. Thus, atonement was made for all of our sins through the shed blood of Christ.
As I asked the Lord what these horns represented, I felt He was saying these are my strength and grace in judgement to endure the cross and to become the living sacrifice I have called you to be. Psalms 118:7 says, “God [is] the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, [even] unto the horns of the altar.” God has called us to salvation by calling us to be identified with Christ upon the cross and dying to this body of sin. In Romans 12:1 the Lord exhorts us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.” It has often been said that the biggest problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off of the altar. We are to be bound to the horns of the altar by the love of Christ and the fear of God. It is His grace that is sufficient to keep us in that place of self-renunciation and Christ acknowledgement.
I am reminded of the Apostle Paul when he sought the Lord three times to remove the thorn that was in his flesh. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” With the horns of the altar are the grace and the strength to endure the cross and suffer the shame. The judgements of God are at work in us now as we present ourselves before the Lord in Christ. He is at work in us performing His good pleasure and while death is at work in our mortal bodies the issue of that death is the blood of life. It is His blood in ours working life and becoming a godly expression of righteousness. These four horns of the altar are the anchors that bind us and keep us in all the directions that God is at work in our lives. There are times when our flesh cries out, “how much longer God.” His answer to us is that “My grace is sufficient.” Hold fast your course, even Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” That, which is working death in us now, will ultimately work to bring forth life. Lay hold of the horns of the altar finding His grace and strength there as He sanctifies and purifies us through the baptism of fire into His redemption purposes.

Blessings,
#kent

Descended to an Ascended Life

February 26, 2015

Descended to an Ascended Life

Ephesians 4:7-10
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Jesus came down that He might bring us up. The Son of God became the son of man so that He might bring the sons of men to be the sons of God. Christ came down and imparted Himself into humanity that He might bring us into His ascended life. It is a life that is marked by the same attributes as the One who has gifted and imparted it to us. It is a life wherein we die to live, a paradox that the world doesn’t comprehend. Just as a caterpillar dies to it’s old ways in the cocoon of transformation, so we are transformed and changed from glory to glory, even into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). While we live the blessed life, in the favor and fellowship of the Spirit of God, we, at the same time, may be living out the trials and tribulations that are facing us in this world. Again, we find a paradox that we can find peace and joy in the midst of trials and tribulations. While we descend in a spirit of humility into the lives of those that God has placed within our influence, loving them in Christ and meeting them where they are at, we are living an ascended life that is drawing us into the presence of the Father. With eyes and heart set upon things above, we are not an island unto ourselves we are a light and a ladder to bring others to ascend with us in hope and in faith.
The Lord, when He ascended up on high, led captivity captive and gave gift unto men. These gifts He gave us, were not for our glory, but for His. He is glorified when these gifts serve to bring others into this ascending life. While we are ascending up into Him in spirit, we are being poured out and offering up a spiritual sacrifice in the natural. The abundance of God’s glory is manifested in our weakness. When we are operating out of an ascended life then others will see Christ; they will not see us, because the ascended life is not about us, but about Him. We become a usable commodity spent upon a higher good and calling. We spend and are spent that others might taste and partake of that ascended life.
Allow me to leave you with the Apostle Paul’s definition in 2 Corinthians 4:7-19, of the ascended life and how he also descended that he might ascend, but not without hope and not alone.
“7But this precious treasure–this light and power that now shines within us–is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.
13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.” 14We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. 15All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

Blesssings,
#kent

Troubles that Confront Us

November 12, 2014

Philippians 1:19-24
…for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.d 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Troubles that Confront Us

Throughout life, those near us or ourselves personally, are touched by tragedy, disappointments, hardship, setbacks, hurts, sickness and trials of various kinds. If we don’t have a revelation of what our life purpose is we can become discouraged, bitter, unforgiving and even blame God for what touches our life or the lives of those around us. Paul gives us a perspective here of a life that is lived and dedicated to Christ. No matter what adversity befalls him, Paul has one goal and purpose. His life, he does not consider his own, but Christ’s and the life he now lives, he lives by faith, not for himself, but for Christ who died and gave Himself for Paul. Whether in life or death, Paul’s life is about living for Christ and fulfilling his purpose in Him. We all need to get a greater revelation of how Paul lived his life. Most of us still see our lives as being mostly about us. In that place of giving life to self there will always be things that we are struggling with that will touch us through our emotions, feelings, mind and will. Things that we struggle with because we are rationalizing them with the natural mind and understanding. For the person that is truly dead in Christ all that really matters is that Christ is fully living through them. Rather good or bad, it His will and destiny that directs their lives and gives them the purpose for living and being. The body and earthly life are but a tool in the hand of God to work His greater work and will through. We are the callused hands of His working in the earth to make a difference in the lives of those He touches through us. We are also the gentle touch of compassion and grace that leads others to repentance. We are His precious hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God into the earth and we do that as He lives and has expression through us. The more of self that is in the way, the more of that purpose is hindered and His true nature is polluted.
Bad things do happen to good people, Bad things happened to Jesus, the Son of God and bad things can happen to us. It is not the bad things that happen that define our life, but rather the goodness of the God that lives within us. We don’t always see the ultimate and long-term purposes of God. The disciples couldn’t see the purpose and goodness of God when Jesus was crucified. When, we, like Jesus are willing to pour out our lives for others then we can have assurance that God will take the seed of sacrifice that we planted and bring forth a harvest. Let us not be so concerned about this current life, but rather living out of the eternal life that inhabits us. Fear God and not the things you may suffer, for as Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” All of this is the preparation for the revelation of the sons of God who will set creation free. Our rest is in our death and His life, so when this life is spent it only gives place to a greater place of glory. It is not the physical death that we must fear, it is the spiritual life or death with which we must be concerned. The purpose of our life is to perpetuate that spiritual life. No matter what confronts us we live out of His life and not our physical strength and being or natural understanding.

Blessings,
#kent

Prosperity

November 6, 2014

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

Prosperity

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

Blessings,
#kent

Thankfulness

October 21, 2014

Thankfulness

Psalms 100:4
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.

Why is there power in the words, “Thank You,” or in the words that express thankfulness and thanksgiving? If these are words from the heart then they convey the attitude of deep appreciation and gratitude. We have discussed in the past about praise and worship, but where do these come from if it is not from an attitude of thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a gate, it is an entrance, and it is a condition of heart that makes us ready to really appreciate and express that appreciation to our Lord. It is like the precursor to praise and worship as well as being a part of it. Are we going to praise and worship what we don’t appreciate and aren’t thankful for?
It is important that thankfulness is a constant attitude of our heart. Psalms 30:4 says, “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Psalms 18:49 reiterates with, ” Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” The Psalms are alive with scripture that exhorts us to be thankful:
Psalms 75:1 Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, [unto thee] do we give thanks: for [that] thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
Psalms 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Psalms 92:1 [[A Psalm [or] Song for the sabbath day.]] [It is a] good [thing] to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
Psalms 97:12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psalms 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Psalms 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Psalms 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, [and] to triumph in thy praise.
Psalms 107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
These are among a few of so many that extol thankfulness to the Lord.
Jesus even demonstrates the importance and attitude of thankfulness, when He broke bread when feeding the multitude. Even at the Last Supper He gave thanks as He broke the bread that represented His body that was soon to be broken and offered in the sacrifice of His life at Calvary.
Our giving thanks at meal times is a constant reminder to us of where our blessings and supply comes from and who we depend upon to provide our needs, as well as the expression of appreciation to Him who has so graciously provided it.
The New Testament exhorts us as well in the area of Thanksgiving:
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:13 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When we give thanks in all things aren’t we acknowledging that God is sovereign upon His throne and in control of all that touches our lives? Aren’t we declaring His faithfulness regardless of circumstances and conditions? Isn’t our thankfulness an acclamation of His Lordship?
Hebrews 23:15 continues this thought, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.” 1 Timothy 2:1 continues the theme of how our thankfulness ties into our praise, worship, ministry and intercession before the Lord, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;”
The relevance, significance and importance of thanksgiving is not just an earthly principle, it is a heavenly one as well that continues on through eternity, precious to the heart of God. Revelations 11:16-17 speaks, “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
On the other side Romans 1:21-25 speaks of the ungodly and unrighteous who knowing about God fail to have a thankful heart, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Ungratefulness leads to a hardened and perverse heart. It is the fools gate and entrance to wrath and judgement. That lack of thanksgiving can take us out of the right perception and acknowledgement of who and what our God is in relationship with our lives.
As we acknowledge our God today and each day let us do it with a heart that is thankful and appreciative of the matchless grace and abundance He has worked in us. Sometimes we get focused so much on the adversity and the negative in our lives we loose sight of who still sits on the throne and is in charge of all that affects us. While we are not thankful for the evil that befalls us we are forever thankful for our God that brings us through our adversities and is perfecting us in the process. Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Blessings,
#kent

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