A Heart of Lust

February 7, 2017

Psalms 78:18-42

18And they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their [selfish] desire and appetite. 

19Yes, they spoke against God; they said, Can God furnish [the food for] a table in the wilderness? 

20Behold, He did smite the rock so that waters gushed out and the streams overflowed; but can He give bread also? Can He provide flesh for His people? 21Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was [full of] wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob, His anger mounted up against Israel, 22Because in God they believed not [they relied not on Him, they adhered not to Him], and they trusted not in His salvation (His power to save). 23Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven; 24And He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them heaven’s grain. 25Everyone ate the bread of the mighty [man ate angels’ food]; God sent them meat in abundance. 26He let forth the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by His power He guided the south wind. 27He rained flesh also upon them like the dust, and winged birds [quails] like the sand of the seas. 28And He let [the birds] fall in the midst of their camp, round about their tents. 29So they ate and were well filled; He gave them what they craved and lusted after. 31The wrath of God came upon them and slew the strongest and sturdiest of them and smote down Israel’s chosen youth. 32In spite of all this, they sinned still more, for they believed not in (relied not on and adhered not to Him for) His wondrous works. 33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste. 34When He slew [some of] them, [the remainder] inquired after Him diligently, and they repented and sincerely sought God [for a time]. 35And they [earnestly] remembered that God was their Rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. 36Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouths and lied to Him with their tongues. 37For their hearts were not right or sincere with Him, neither were they faithful and steadfast to His covenant. 38But He, full of [merciful] compassion, forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not; yes, many a time He turned His anger away and did not stir up all His wrath and indignation. 39For He [earnestly] remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that goes and does not return. 40How often they defied and rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! 41And time and again they turned back and tempted God, provoking and incensing the Holy One of Israel. 42They remembered not [seriously the miracles of the working of] His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy.

A Heart of Lust

The account we read here in Psalms 78 is an example of the lust that tends to work in all of us.  Often we only think of lust in a sexual sense and there is certainly that aspect of it, but it is much broader than that.  It was a quality and aspect of humanity that kept the children of Israel in the wilderness, it continually provoked the wrath of God and it remembered not all His benefits because it becomes so focused on its own.  Lust defined is the selfish and self -indulgent desires and appetites of our flesh.  Many of us are still controlled, to a large extent, by an attitude and mindset of lust.  Our focus is so often on what pleases us and what we want, rather than on what is pleasing to our Lord.  Even in our prayers, we are crying out to God to give us meat, give us what we want rather than being content with the provision of God’s hand.  Human nature is usually to always want what it can’t or shouldn’t have.  There are times when God will allow us to have the lust of our hearts.  He will give us what we think we must have.  What we find is that the fulfillment of our desires soon becomes a curse.  What we thought was going to fulfill and satisfy us leaves us empty and lean of soul.  It brings with it consequences that we didn’t anticipate.  Verse 33 of Psalms 78 says, “33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste.”  This is the fruit of our lust.  It is enmity with God and so it brings death to us and not life.  It is the antithesis of faith and trust in God’s goodness, sovereignty and provision.

1 John 2:15-17 tells us this, “15Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 17And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”  We want our lust to be for those things of the Spirit that pertain to life and godliness.  Our desire is for a deeper and more intimate relationship with our Lord that we might know and experience the fullness of His life and blessing upon us.  We must learn from our former examples that the lust of the flesh breeds death, but walking in the Spirit produces life and the attributes of a godly character.  

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

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

Blessing and a Curse

May 20, 2015

Deuteronomy 11:1,26-28
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Blessing and a Curse

Love is obedience to those things we might not other wise choose. Love is, yes Lord, not my will, but thine be done. The Lord set before us two laws and principles, blessing and cursing. The Word reveals here that blessing is the fruit of obedience and the curse is the fruit of disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. What are we pursuing and what are we incurring today?
The prophet Haggai speaks this from the Lord in Haggai 1:2-11, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”
3 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.”
7 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.”” Does our blessing not come because we are too busy in pursuit of building our own house, success, dreams and ambitions while the Lord’s house lies in ruins within us. The Lord says, “Take a look, how’s that working out for you as you pursue your things and neglect mine? Doesn’t seem to be much blessing in it does there?”
The Word of the Lord comes again through Haggai in Haggai 2:15-19, “” ‘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 Lord is giving the call to our hearts and lives because the foundation of the apostles and the prophets has been laid and Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone, has been set. Now is the time to come build His temple both corporately and individually. Now is the time for us to turn from our ways to His. In our own ways, pursuing our own interest we have only experienced lack and coming up short. If we will set our hearts to His work in obedience and faithfulness, we will experience His blessing. Let us prove God’s Word to know the blessing of obedience by casting off the curse of our own selfishness and self-will.

Blessings,
#kent

The Lord’s Friendship

John 15:14-15
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Jesus says there is a characteristic that goes along with friendship with Him and that is obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is something we all probably take much too lightly. We tend to go our merry way through life and regard lightly the many ways and places in our lives that we offend the Holy Spirit and regard lightly the Lord’s will and commandment for our lives. It becomes an unconscious act on our part, because we get caught up in our busyness and our lives. We fail to always keep the Lord constantly before us, so that our day, our thoughts, our actions and words are centered around and in Him. Jesus is more often our afterthought rather than our forethought. What the Lord is communicating to His disciples is that in order to be in that relationship as a friend of God, rather than just a servant of God, requires obedience and cognizance of His will and His ways in all that we do. Obedience on our part is an expression of our love and friendship with the Lord. We are communicating that we value Him above ourselves and the relationship we have with Him is of more value than our personal will and desires. Jesus speaks in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In this fourteenth chapter of John where Jesus is basically bidding farewell to His disciples before His Passion, He emphasizes this aspect of love, friendship and obedience quite strongly. “At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me (John 14:20-24).”
Most all of us want a closer and more intimate relationship with Christ. We want to hear His voice and experience His manifest presence in our lives. It is the consecration of desiring Him above all else that brings us to that place. Would we want to be or abide someplace where we were ignored, put aside, unappreciated and not valued? Yet, somehow we expect to experience the presence of the Lord when this is often the attitude of our hearts toward Him. If the Lord is to feel welcome in us and extend His tent over our lives, then we have need of a heart attitude that reflects true love, reverence, respect and obedience to Him. He needs to know that we are truly His and not our own. He will not usurp the will He has given us and we can certainly override His will for our lives. Most of us have learned that when we do this, we rob ourselves of God’s best for us. Is there anything really better than abiding with Him, experiencing His closeness and abiding in the heartbeat of God? That is the place we really realize the fullness of joy, contentment and purpose.
The Lord wants to be our friend. He wants to reveal Himself to us in a much more personal way. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.” Jesus wants to be that friend to us that is closer than a brother, but we must show ourselves friendly through our response and obedience to Him. Our obedience is the expression of love to our dearest Friend.

Blessings,
#kent

Counsel of the Lord

October 15, 2013

Proverbs 19:21
[There are] many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Counsel of the Lord

Are there any of you, besides myself that get in our mind what we want to do and that is like our final counsel? We have decided this is the way it needs to be and in our mind we are right. We are insistent in our arguments and dogmatic in our commitment to see it done our way. Maybe someone has said to you, “It doesn’t matter what I say, you are going to do what you are going to do.” So we bulldog our way through; sometimes it turns out good and a lot of times not so good.
Conviction of purpose is a good thing to have if we follow the right counsel. Proverbs 19 says that there are many devices in a man’ heart. We have our ways of how we think things will work, what is best and how things should be done, but is that God’s counsel or ours? What we often find out, and don’t like to admit, is that we are not always as wise as we thought we were at the time we decided what the right way to do something was. What we all have to come to the realization of is that no matter how good our intentions or our motives the only counsel that will surely stand is the Lord’s counsel. How imperative it is in this hour that we develop an ear for the Lord’s counsel. Most times we can find it in His Word if we have ears to hear and a heart to obey. Human nature is such that it usually hears what it wants to hear and kind of ignores the rest.
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel [is], the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors [there is] safety.” Counsel is an important element of success. Where we lack proper direction we usually fail, but if we have the right counselors to advise us and we have a willing and an open heart to listen, we can be successful because we follow sound advice. The advantage of a multitude of counselors is that you get a multi-faceted opinion and direction. The key here is to choose a multitude of counselors that are people of God and seek to have the mind of the Lord. In that multitude you may find confusion or you may here a reoccurring theme and advice that is a witness that this is the way to proceed. Most of us have had the experience of hearing something that we thought was of the Lord, then we started hearing that same thing or something similar coming from different places and people. It serves as a confirmation in our hearts that what we first heard was true. It is like a multitude of counselors and can work the same way.
Many of us can relate to places in our spiritual walk where we are much like teenagers. We thought we had it all figured out, we had just enough knowledge and information to be dangerous, but in our minds we knew what we wanted and what was best for us. So despite the counsel of others we proceeded to do what we wanted to do. We usually continue in that vain for a time until we gain enough maturity, generally through our failures and mistakes, that we realize we don’t know it all and that those who were trying to give us good counsel weren’t as dumb as we seemed to think they were. Why is it that we can see it in our teenagers, but we can’t see it in ourselves? What we generally find out is that we didn’t want to do something God’s way because we wanted to have our freedom. What we come to find out is that our so-called freedom became our bondage and downfall and our response of obedience really brought the liberty and freedom that we thought we would miss. The sad part is what we had to go through to come to this realization.
Lord may we find the wisdom of your counsel each day of our lives. May the divine counsel of the Holy Spirit guide us and order our steps in the ways of righteousness. May You place the will and the do of Your good pleasure within us to follow Your counsel and gain the principle thing, which is divine wisdom. Help us each day to put on the mind of Christ, not being conformed to this world, but being transformed through the renewing of our minds in Your counsel. Straighten our crooked paths and correct us when we steer off course. Bring us into the straight and narrow of Your divine will and purpose for our lives. In that place we will find the green pastures of your peace and the gentle stream of living water. In that place our soul will be satisfied with comfort and joy because we are the sheep that know Your voice and follow in Your counsel. Amen

Blessings,
kent

Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31″For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Bone of His Bone and Flesh of His Flesh

The law of first mention in the Word is that wherever we see something first mentioned in the Word it establishes a precedent, truth and principle that guides us in the interpretation of where it used in other places. Genesis 2:23-25 is where this precept and principle is first used and it establishes a precedent for the mystery and the principle that Paul speaks of here in Ephesians. It says, “The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
If you can receive it, think of Adam before the fall as being like Christ in the earth. Everything is perfect. There is no sin, decay, pestilence or strife. It is a utopia. The only thing Adam is lacking is companionship. He is alone in that he is existing in a level by himself. Above him, he has the fellowship with God and below him he has the companionship and provision of God’s creation, but there is no one to meet him where he’s at.
I believe when God created Adam that he was created in the image of God and he was complete in one person in the male and female sense. Both genders were already complete in him. But God in His wisdom and divine purpose saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so He put Adam in a deep sleep, from his side He took a rib and formed a woman. He separated out a gender that was a part of Adam and made it separate from him. When Adam awoke and came to know this woman, what he spoke, is what Christ has spoken of His bride, the church, when she was taken out of His side. Remember when Jesus hung upon the cross and after He slept in death, the soldier pierced his side and out that wound flowed blood and water. These are the elements of birth and life. The woman, the bride was now taken out of Him, washed in His blood and baptized into the death of the flesh that she might become alive in the spirit. Jesus, the Christ, could now say of her, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” Christ might now say of His church, you are flesh of my flesh and spirit of My Spirit. The profound mystery is that we are only complete as we are in Christ and He is complete within us. We are two parts come together to make the whole man Christ. Christ the head and Christ the body must become fully one. His Word must wash us by renewing our minds and hearts in the mind and will of Christ. Our full consummation with Him will be seen as we are presented ‘without spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless.’ When Christ left the Father it was to take unto Himself a bride. When He comes again she will be ready and prepared for Him. The Holy Spirit has been grooming us for Him and like Esther when she went into the king, we will be so radiant in beauty that none other can compare. The reason Esther was so pleasing to the king is because she took the effort to find out from the eunuch what was pleasing to him. We must find out from the Holy Spirit what is pleasing to Christ and be conformed to it. Then we will be ready as His presence and appearance comes forth. We will be flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone in consummate fullness.
The Father wants us to see and know who we are in Him. It took time and process for Esther to see herself as the queen of the great kingdom of Babylon. She had to change her thinking from who she had been to who she had become. We must also change out thinking, being transformed in the renewing of our minds to who we now are in Christ. We are one flesh and one spirit in Him. He is the last Adam, without sin or fault and He is conforming us into His own image and likeness. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” We must be in a place of full respect and commitment unto our Husband, who is our head in all things. We can’t be the rebellious, self-willed and self-serving wife that lives only for her wants and desires. Our purpose is for Him, to complete Him by allowing Him to have expression through us. Through us, the woman, He procreates Himself in the earth.

Blessings,
kent

Lust

September 11, 2013

Lust

Psalms 81:12
So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

Lust is an area where we all struggle. Many of us automatically associate lust with sexual lust and while that is one arena that it greatly works in, it is by no means that only one. Lust, is much the same as covetousness. It is the strong desire, passion and delight in a desirable thing or object. Typically, what do we have a strong passion and desire for? Usually it is for the things that we can’t have or that we ought not to have. This is what we commonly phrase, “lusting after the flesh”. It is our flesh that is at enmity with God or at war with Him. It is a battle that we fight in our souls, but finds expression through our flesh. Now, lust could have a good connotation, in that “I lust after the Spirit”, or have a strong passion and desire for God. Certainly this is the direction we would want our lust to take us, but more times than not it is taking us in another direction, the way of the flesh.
In our scripture today the context of what is being talked about is when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and was leading them through the wilderness. Lust was a condition of their hearts that led them away from God and the higher purposes that He had for them. It continues on after our theme verse to say in Psalms 81:13-16, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, [and] Israel had walked in my ways I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” If we want to be fed with the finest wheat (the bread of Life) and the honey out of the rock (the truth and revelation of Christ), then we have to hearken unto the Spirit and not unto our flesh when the lust of our desires and want to’s conflict with the Spirit within us.
What is the first thing we want to do when our desires or lust conflict with our spirit? Typically we begin to reason, justify and compromise. Let’s put the old mind to work on it, he’ll come up with a way to make it all right. Isn’t that how we generally try and find peace with ourselves, by rationalizing something in our mind? Or we compartmentalize it and justify it by saying to ourselves, “this is okay in this area of our lives, but not okay over here.” We develop different standards depending on whether we are dealing with family, or business, or social engagements, or spiritual activities. The truth is, God has one standard that applies to every area of our lives. Daniel, in the Old Testament, didn’t cease to pray routinely, just because it wasn’t the politically correct thing to do. He was consistent in every area of his life. We must be no different.
What happens when we start shutting the voice and the conviction of the Holy Spirit out and continue on in the way our flesh wants to go? For one thing, we grow hard of hearing and hard of heart. We have a free will and God will let us go our own way, but the more we go our way the more estranged we become with Him and the less clearly we hear His Spirit’s leading and direction.
Temptation is merely the incitement of my passion, desire or lust for something. James, deals with this issue in a very straight forward way when he says in James 1:12 -16, ”
Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” He lays out the progression of lust from beginning to end and then exhorts us, “don’t fall for it precious saints.”
Again, James deals with lust in James 4:1-5, “From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” It is the lust of our hearts that entices us away from God to pursue our own passions that are in opposition to His will for us; thus we become His enemy rather than his friend. Our desires become our idol and God is saying, “Don’t you know how jealous I am over you?” God is envious and desirous of us, of our hearts, our affections and our faithfulness to Him. We become like the adulterer that forsakes his relationship to pursue another lover. We grieve the Holy Spirit in doing this.
The apostle John gives us this exhortation in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Peter makes the remark that the corruption that is in the world is the result of lust and the whole reason that God has given us such wonderful and divine promises is to help us escape out of that snare and stronghold that is taking the world to judgement. He says in 1Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” God desires that our desire be first for Him. He loves us with a jealous love and desires that we are faithful. He wants to give us a divine nature that has escaped the corruption that lust brings to our hearts and lives. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so that we would no longer be in bondage to our lust and former desires. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to help us break the strongholds of lust off of our lives. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the more our hearts are set upon Him and the more we are walking after the Spirit, the easier it will become to overcome these areas in our lives. The Holy Spirit will help us, but He will not act against our will. Only we can submit our will to His.

Blessings,
kent

God at Arm’s Distance

July 18, 2013

God at Arm’s Distance

Revelations 3:15-20
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Did you ever have a relationship with a person where you really liked them, but you wanted to keep a little space with them, you really wanted the relationship on the terms of your comfort level? Many of us have those kinds of relationships in our marriage where we love our husband or wife, but we want our own space to live our own life and do our own thing. We want a relationship, but we want it at arm’s length, a place we can either pull away or be close, but not feel too confined. Isn’t that very much like the relationship many of us have or have had with the Lord? We believe in Christ, we love God, but we are afraid to get to close to Him. We’re afraid He might let us down, or we’re afraid He might require too much of us, or we’re afraid we’ll have to give up the things we love and want to do. Fear is the counterpart of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Herein is contained a promise of God that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. For a lot of us there is truth we would rather stay ignorant of or things we would rather not hear, because it requires of us accountability and we rather like things the way they are. I know these things because I see so many of them in me. I don’t always like it when somebody speaks the truth to me in areas where I am comfortable and don’t really want to change, yet I know that if I refuse to hear the truth and harden my heart, I am shutting out the Holy Spirit. I am holding out my arm and saying to God, “don’t come any closer Lord, you are infringing upon my territory, my self will.” Then I am reminded that I am not my own, He bought me with a price and my life belongs to Him completely and without reservation.
So many of us, especially here in America, have been so blessed and we have enjoyed so many things and privileges that we have become fat and satisfied. We are the Laodicean Church it speaks about hear in Revelation 3. “We are rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing.” In the natural that is true, but in the spirit it has left us “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” We can’t serve two masters and when we choose to be rich in the things of the world we suffer spiritually.
Most of you who read this faithfully are those who are willing to hear the truth even when it is convicting and most who don’t may not want to read it because the Lord does deal with us in hard areas that we maybe rather not have to deal with. The truth is we will have to deal with these issues either now while there is still time for us to align ourselves with the will of God or when it is too late and we experience the displeasure of the Lord. If there is one theme the Lord seems to be reiterating again and again through these writings it is that He is calling out a people for His Name, a people He wants to have relationship with and bring out of the common into the Most Holy Place. He is calling us higher into Him. The Lord is a consuming fire and as He draws us into His bosom and into His heart that fire is going to become hotter and hotter to our flesh till it consumes it more and more. Will we welcome his embrace which means we will buy the gold of His nature tried in the fire and we will put on the white raiment and clothing of His righteousness? Will we anoint our eyes with the salve of His Truth so that we might see by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh? Will we receive the rebuke, the correction and chastening of the Lord that brings us to repentance because we have quit holding God at a distance, surrendered our whole heart and said, “Yes Lord, I want all of you no matter what the cost.” Some of us need to make that commitment today in our lives. Perhaps we had in the past, but have found ourselves again compromised with the world. It was to the Church that Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus is calling out for us to come back into right relationship with Him, to sup with Him, to “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood” so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can never give up anything in this life that the Lord requires of us but what it will result in so much more in Christ. Instead of holding God at a distance open your arms and embrace Him with a full commitment of your love and devotion. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelations 3:21-22).”

Blessings,
kent

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