Honor the Lord

January 19, 2016

Matthew 15:8-9

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

9They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

Honor the Lord

Does the honor of our lips match the integrity and obedience of our heart towards God?

Yes, God loves the honor of our lips if it is coming from a pure heart of love and worship, but if we are just going through the program, singing and saying the things that we are directed to sing and say it is in vain.  It is hypocrisy to honor God with lip service, but then live in rebellion and sin.  A consecrated life is what honors the Father.  It is one that humbles itself before Him and draws its direction and strength from Him.  It is one that willing says “Yes” to whatever Father says do.  

The honor of the lips should proceed out of the honor of the heart.  If we don’t honor Him with our lives then we are hypocrites to honor Him with our lips.  How much of our religious service to God has just been our religious tradition of service and doing our religious duty.  If that is what it is, it is vanity and emptiness.  We don’t become holy by putting on our “Sunday go to meeting clothes” and playing Church.”  The church isn’t the building, it is who we are as the body of Christ.  “No ye not that God does not dwell in temples made with hands?”  He dwells in the temple of His people; those who fear and worship Him out of a broken and contrite heart.   We can no longer just go through religious motions and expect God to move on our behalf.  He is looking for an expression of Himself and to have that we must love what He loves and hate what He hates.  So many that call themselves and identify themselves as Christians really have no revelation of what Christianity is really about.  

This is a sober word, but one I believe God speaking to awaken some of us out of sleep.  Romans 12 exhorts us to present ourselves as living sacrifices which is our reasonable service.  That speaks to a daily walk where we are set apart unto Him.  We still live and function in life, but we are always pursuing His highest and His kingdom, not the kingdom of this world.  

The true church are those who are gathered in one accord to truly bring honor to the Father out a heart filled with gratitude and praise.  True worship emanates out of our spirit that so desires to fully connect with His.   It brings worship and honor because He is truly worthy of all worship and honor.  We are not only honoring Him with our lips, but out of our lives that have become an expression of worship, because they are an expression of Him.  True church endeavors to humble itself under the direction of the Holy Spirit and allows Him the freedom to move and direct the order of our worship.  It is not about a one man show, but a body functioning in His giftings in an orderly fashion where God is honored and the body is edified; building itself up in love.  

We have so missed it by making it all about our agenda and time constraints.  That is one of the reasons we often don’t experience God in the depth and dimension we might desire.   Yes, we still need good teaching and preaching, but we need the balance of the rest of God’s gifts and offices in operation as well.  

It is no longer a time just to play church.  It is the time for us to be the Church, in and out of the church building.  Let our lips praise Him from an honest heart of gratitude and worship, as well as a life that is living after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  We are the organism of Christ’s body, not His organization. 

Blessings,

#kent

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Savor the Laver

December 29, 2014

Savor the Laver

Exodus 38:8
And he made the laver [of] brass, and the foot of it [of] brass, of the lookingglasses of [the women] assembling, which assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The brass laver was a piece in the tabernacle of Moses between the holy place and the brazen altar that the priests would come to wash themselves before their service. Exodus 40:30-32 tells us, “And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash [withal And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.” The laver provided the facility for washing both when ministering to the people and when ministering to the Lord. The fact that it was made of the highly polished looking glasses of women spoke of its ability to reflect back to the one washing, their image and likeness. God’s Word is like a laver in that it gives us a standard of God’s character and righteousness and helps us to examine ourselves for who we are in the light of that standard. God’s Word can provide the introspection we so desperately need to see and wash the areas of sin and blemishes from our lives. This practice of washing was obviously a routine event that took place quite frequently as the priest would minister and serve. It is one we should practice in ministering within our own household.
Ephesians 5:25-27 gives us some insight into the spiritual application of this piece of the tabernacle furniture. It says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The Lord gives us the Word to wash us and the Holy Spirit to be the polished brass that reflects our image so that we might see ourselves as He sees us. The Word of God has that power to transform our lives and wash away our uncleanness as we apply it to our minds, our thinking, our actions and our words. It is what translates to us the mind and purpose of God for us, as well as helping us to see where we are in light of that.
Please understand that God doesn’t give us the Word to condemn us, but to convict us. We were already under condemnation before we came to Christ, so the Word acts as introspection that reveals our sin so that we may repent, be washed and delivered out of our sin through the blood of Jesus. The Word speaks in several places about the need for us to judge ourselves, so that God doesn’t need to judge us. Whenever the Lord’s Supper or Communion was administered the partakers were exhorted to examine their own hearts and motives so that they didn’t partake of the Communion with sin still active and present in their lives. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 says, “27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” It is important for all of us to perform this self-examination in the light of God’s Word continually and respond to the evidence of sin in our lives by ridding ourselves of it. If we judge ourselves in this manner then we avoid the need for the Lord’s discipline to come upon us and deal with us in a more severe manner. This is true for all of us, but the ministers and the leadership of God’s house has even a greater responsibility in this cleansing, because they are the ones who help to wash the rest of the saints by giving forth the Word of God. This is a time when we are seeing God beginning to reveal and judge the sin in His house. It will start with the ministry of greater accountability and will follow down from there. 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
James 1:21-25 sums up the spiritual aspect of the laver quite well, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” We need to savor the laver, judging our own selves in the light of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s conviction. The laver was not just to look into, but to wash in, through this washing we can be the instruments and ministers who can effectively serve both the Lord and man. It is essential that we are clean and right before the Lord.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn [yourselves] from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. (Ezekiel 18:30)”

Blessings,
#kent

Defining Love

December 22, 2014

1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Defining Love

How do we define love? 1 John 4:16 says, “…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” We know that, in and of ourselves, our love is limited and conditional, but in Christ it knows no such boundaries, ‘for while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ The secret to loving as God has commanded us too is in the abiding in Him. That abiding love is not static, it is dynamic in its expression toward all that surrounds it. The eyes of that love are always looking to the real needs in each individual that it encounters. Outwardly men say that they need a lot of things that aren’t really even relevant to the deeper need of their heart. They might not even understand what there need is, but God does. As we walk in the love of God, we become the expression of God by the Spirit at work in and through us. We want to ask God to help us see each individual, from those in our own family to those who are strangers, through His eyes and His heart. Operating and living out of the love of God is in seeing your life as a ministry and service to those around you. Love is an open door of giving. It is often returned with ungratefulness and abuse, but it stays open because it is the avenue of God’s love to our fellow man. When we suffer reproach, abuse and ungratefulness from others then we are, in a sense, filling up the sufferings of Christ. We are experiencing and feeling what He felt. We understand the sadness and heartache for those who reject Him, while at the same time we share in the joy of those who embrace Him.
We have become a very self-contained society wanting our own space and our own things. God blesses us to be a blessing. Abiding in the love of God will often take us out of our comfort zone, as it requires that we often lay down our wants and desires so that we might meet the needs in others. For us to intimately know God we must truly respond to the love of God and become the expression of His love to others. If we are a closed channel, then we have effectively cut off the life to God to someone who needs it. God says, “that is not my love. My love extends it’s arms open to all who will receive Christ and come into Me.”
Do we really know God? For us to really know Him means that we have to be the expression of that same love wherewith He has loved and gave His life for us. Are we willing to give our life for others?
Ask God to give you the eyes to see the world and the individuals around you through His eyes and His love. Then ask Him to help you to respond accordingly. The world is starving for genuine love. You are that love because God abides in you.

Blessings,
#kent

What Has Church Become?

November 28, 2014

1 Corinthians 14:26
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

What Has Church Become?

Does our church, our gathering together in the name of Christ still resemble this exhortation in 1 Corinthians 14 or has it gotten swallowed up in the organization, the structure, the program and the one man headliner. Is it about a functioning body where different members are able to contribute as they are led of the Spirit or have we become dumbed down to depend only on the leadership to carry out the act of worship and give the Word. In many churches our services have been reduced to a series of rote mechanical functions that we have memorized and go through. That isn’t the church that Paul speaks about here. We have become accustomed to playing church rather than being the church. Our religion has separated us into clergy and laity. One performs and the other is the audience that listens. We wouldn’t know what to do if the Holy Spirit actually showed up in our service because He would throw the agenda on our bulletins all off and mess everything up. We would lose our order and our control and our smooth running programs. We have been so raised up in this organized church mentality it is really hard for some of us to conceive of something so different where we actually individually and corporately begin to operate in the gifting the Holy Spirit has for each member. Besides that it would most likely get out of our time limitations and constraints. Then we couldn’t beat crowds to the restaurant after the church and we might miss the football game.
Church has really ceased to be all about Him. It has become all about us. After all, we are doing God a favor just to show up on Sunday mornings, right? God forbid if someone or something should offend us. We’ll just take our attendance elsewhere where we are more appreciated and they sing our flavor of songs. What has the church become?
The truth is when we turn everything over to the Holy Spirit it can get out of our comfort zone. It can get messy and it certainly may not fit into our agenda. or box It doesn’t mean there isn’t leadership and there isn’t an order, but it is subject to the Holy Spirit and not to man. Let me tell you, when we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to show up we go home with more than just a self-righteous attitude. His presence touches our lives and changes us in ways that only He can. He doesn’t use just one man or a worship team to do it, He moves through His body and upon His body as His will dictates, when we allow His will to be done. Paul says here we have these different functions through the various members for the strengthening of the church. Something tells me that church might have looked a lot different back then than it does today. Today, our churches are built around our charismatic leaders, not our charismatic bodies. Isn’t it time we quit playing church and start being the church where each one of us functions in the calling and gifting upon our lives? It doesn’t have to be limited to the Sunday service. Your ministry and calling should spill out into your everyday life. You are not only for the edification of the church, but to edify, encourage and build up all who are in your presence. If we are in Christ and He is in us then we must become the daily expression of who He is and we need a place of worship where that is actually what we do, WORSHIP Him who is worthy until we enter into His presence and He is the headship and the direction of our service. I can tell you it won’t be the same thing every week. It will always be fresh and new. You will know that you have been with Him, not just heard about Him.
What has church become? How do we bring it back to what it should be? It is time we became activated and no longer stagnant, because the church that we have known isn’t what is lighting a fire in the midst of our unbelieving nation. They need to hear and see the reality of God’s presence just as we do, not just the rhetoric about who He was. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed, we have. Church, wake up to who you are and come alive in your spirits so that you can be the expression of Christ in the midst of His body and in the earth today.

Blessings,
#kent

Lord, You Mean Everything

September 17, 2014

Lord, You Mean Everything

Philippians 3:7-14
Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

What is our level of commitment today in our walk with the Lord? What does He really mean to us in terms of our life plan, our goals and where we are going and what we hope to accomplish? In the above scripture we are seeing Paul lay out his mission statement and his life plan before us. Does ours sound anything like that? Paul says in the next verses 15 and16, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” He says if you want to be perfect then try this goal on for size. Even in all that Paul had committed of his life to the service of the Lord and even through all that he endured he didn’t say I’m there yet,” but I’m running with all my might.” He lost all affections for the things of this world. He was spiritually minded and heavenly visioned. He so desired to experience the depths and the riches that Christ alone could provide, everything else paled in comparison. I believe Paul wanted to so identify with Christ that in the sharing and partaking of the sufferings of Christ and the conformity to His death, he might experience and lay hold of the resurrection life. That resurrection life was so much more than just dying, going to heaven and experiencing the resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ. He desired to experience the resurrection out of the dead things of this life. What holds us back from experiencing the fullness of life right now if it not the death that works in us? And what is the power of death if it is not sin. The resurrection out of the dead is the resurrection out of the sin and death that works in our members.
Paul says in Romans 8:10-11, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness, But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” We may live in the natural realm and as such so much of our energy, thinking and identification is with the things of this world. I believe Paul was saying turn around from the world and look at who you are in Christ. Look what He has provided for us and where He wants to take us. ‘The things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.’ Paul is telling us here in Romans 8 that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you and I. What is the implication of what He is saying? If we are dead to the flesh, then there is Spirit Power of Resurrection Life at work in us to raise us up in the power of His life. I believe Paul ran and lived his life to lay hold of that resurrection power and life even in his natural life. If he didn’t fully realize it then he carried and ran with that vision right into heaven and into the arms of Jesus. There is a high calling of life and power in Christ that we should yearn and long for. So many of us complacently wait for heaven as the end in itself. Paul wasn’t running that hard just to get to heaven. He had a greater vision and higher calling; he pressed for the high calling that is in Christ Jesus. Again, in Romans 8:19-23 I believe he gives some insight to this calling, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body.” The first fruit partakers of this liberty and redemption from corruption will be the administrators of its glory and life to creation. There is coming a day of restoration when all of creation is going to be set free from the bondage of sin and corruption. We who are in Christ should be travailing and groaning within to be free from the bondage of this natural man that we may experience the coming and the presence of Christ within us. Don’t let the realm that we live in now hinder the vision of what you are becoming and living your life for. If we truly live in Spirit life, the natural body and life just facilitates that in this earth, but we should already be living in the light of God’s eternal plan and not just our natural life span. The implications and fruit of how we live our lives carries on into eternity. As many as are perfect or spiritually minded want to catch the vision of God’s highest for us.
In conclusion Paul gives us gravity by saying, don’t look behind you at what you have or haven’t been. Don’t live in past condemnation or victories, but look ahead at what is before you. Set your eyes on Christ and the high calling that is in Him nevertheless wherever it is that you have thus far attained be faithful to walk in the light of the truth that you have and understand the high calling that Christ has called you too.

Blessings,
#kent

The Pothole of Self Pity

February 28, 2014

 

The Pothole of Self Pity


Jonah 4:1-4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.  Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 


In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity.  He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see.  He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter.  So he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.

While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either.  

I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated.  That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way.  What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes.  

The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently.  Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs.  Now the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems.  So finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”.  The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did.  Afterwards I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into.  Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me.  Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is.  I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others.  I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me.  The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine.  How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others.  This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization.  That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others.  The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself.  

We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do.  Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives?  In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at.  Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition.  We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.”  Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart.  It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values.  Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature that God wants to work in us.  It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it.  There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy.  If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of.  Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ.  If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves.  

Watch out for that pothole of self-pity.  It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk.  Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”

 
Blessings,
kent

Galatians 5:13
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

For the Benefit of Others

As I was thinking and meditating on what it means to serve, it comes to me that a servant acts for the benefit of another. If I only act for what benefits me, then I am self serving and basically selfish. The kingdom principle that the Lord would have us operate under is that in serving Him and one another, all of our needs are going to be met. This has become rather a foreign concept in our capitalist society where success is often measured by taking advantage of others in order to promote one’s self to the top.
Recently Sharon and I began to work with a group that has very much impressed me because it works by kingdom principles. The only way you succeed is by helping others to succeed and no one can succeed without the other benefiting. Instead of competition, envy and strife, it promotes everyone helping everyone else even when it doesn’t directly benefit them. Why isn’t this principle operating more in the body of Christ, because this is the way the body should work. Each member should work out of the direction of the head to perform its function to the benefit of the rest of the members. A healthy body works this way. It flows with unity of direction and purpose.
When we love our neighbor as ourselves we are fulfilling a basic kingdom law and principle. It is a law of reciprocating love whereby we help and support one another. This is why the early church had all things in common, because they operated out of this servant principle of meeting the needs in one another so that no one lacked.
It gives me pause today as I examine my own life and my willingness live for and serve others. We all tend to become very self-absorbed in our own lives. Maybe it is time for us to get a revelation of a bigger picture where our benefiting and serving others is the key to receiving our own greatest benefit and blessing.

Blessings,
kent

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