1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 

Put Your Love where Your Mouth is!

John 3:16 says, “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.”  Isn’t it ironic how John 3:16, the love of God through Christ and 1 John 3:16, the love of Christ through us, coincide so closely together?  Both of these scriptures involve the giving of a sacrifice in love.  Both of these scriptures involve the laying down of a life as the ultimate expression of love. 

My conviction today is how shallow and conditional my love is.  It is not nearly so focused on others as it is on its own agenda.  That self-love wants to preserve and cater to this life rather than sacrifice and give it.  Rather we think it out loud or not, how much of our life is motivated by, “what’s in it for me?”  What is even more convicting is how we so often treat the ones that are the closest to us and that we say that we love the greatest with the most contempt, disrespect and selfishness.  Where does all of that line up with the love of God in us?  We talk about the love of Christ, we preach it to others and we go through the motions, but is that love, that agape love, alive in action in our personal day to day relationships.  

Husbands, why are we not bringing the love into the home?  Why do we not love our wives, like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it?  Why do we not love our brethren, rather than using and taking advantage of them?  Should it surprise us that the world has so much contempt for us as Christians?  A good deal of the contempt and mockery of Christianity has little to do with how much we are like Christ.  Our hypocrisy betrays us.  When Christians and churches don’t pay their bills, borrow and don’t return, and only take, but never give, what does that speak about the love of Christ in our lives?   Many of us need a reality check about what the love of Christ is, because it isn’t being seen in us.   Where has the depth of God’s agape love gone?  When that love is operating people will be drawn to Christ and they will know us by our love.  How do others perceive and know us now?  Is that self-giving, sacrificial love what we are known for?  

Our prayer should be, “God make me a giver like You are a giver.  Make me a lover like you have loved me.  Make my life a living sacrifice daily poured out to You as I serve and love others as You have served and loved me.  Help me to experience in daily deed and reality what it is to love my neighbor as myself.  Help me to put Your love where my empty hollow words have been.  Amen.”

 
 
Blessings,
#kent
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The Root

October 27, 2015

The Root

Proverbs 12:3
A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.
As it has come to be the season where the leaves have changed their color and are falling to the ground I take stock of my own life and see that age is coming upon me, the hair is receding and the winter is before me. As we grow older we begin to see that it is not always the outward that is permanent and beautiful, for that beauty will fade and pass away. Even in the Christian world we see a lot of outward demonstrations of worship and religious fanfare. All of these outward manifestations have their day and they catch the eye, but most soon fade and pass away. Proverbs 30:31 says, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” This outward life is like the beauty of a woman. It is vain, as is the favor of man, for it is not the outward that is the heart and soul of a substance, it is the root. When all of the outward beauty falls from a plant and outwardly it looks cold and dead, there is still the life that remains, but it is hidden to the outward eye.
So many Christians go through life living by the appearance of what looks good or spiritual, but the true life and tenacity of a thing is in the root. The root is not really concerned for the outward things, the outward beauty that stems from the root comes as a natural manifestation of that which it is by nature and character, but the root is more concerned in the things which are not seen. It is always seeking to go deeper into the ground and extend itself into new places of moisture and nutrition. That is the description of the man and woman of God. They aren’t nearly as concerned for the outward beauty, as they are for going deeper and more intimate in their relationship with Christ, which is their life, their source, supply and water. Judging a person by the outward appearance is a vain and shallow thing. In order to truly judge a thing, you must first truly know its heart and its root. There are those in the kingdom of God today that by their outward appearance and circumstances you might consider them forsaken, barren and cursed of God. That is because you don’t know their root. Their roots have wrapped themselves around the very heart, life and fiber of God. They live, move and have their being out of that life. Outwardly there may not be beauty that one would desire them and others may in fact pity them, but some of these ones have more life and reality of God than all the pretty Christians will ever know. That is because they have come to experience and lay hold of God in the dark places, in the droughts, in the heat of the summer, the freezing of winter and the fires that have burned away the outward beauty. There is no comeliness that you should desire them. They are really quite similar to another root that is spoken about in Isaiah 53:2-7, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
This is a day and an hour when we don’t want to be moved by what we see outwardly. Judge a matter by its root and where its heart is. Situations and circumstances will not move one who is firmly and deeply planted in God. Miracles and outward manifestations and lofty words will not move them. Even the Anti-Christ can manifest these. Look to the heart and the root of a matter, there you will find the true revelation of what it is or what it is not. Out of what many will have judged to be nothing will come the true oaks and trees of righteousness; the planting of the Lord.

Blessings,
#kent

The Oil that Sustains Us

February 10, 2015

Matthew 25:1-13
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6″At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7″Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10″But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11″Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12″But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Oil that Sustains Us

Virgins are symbolic of those who have been made pure before the Lord. They all have obviously had an experience with the Lord and are aware of His imminent coming. The lamps are the illuminated lights of God’s Spirit within us. What keeps that light burning is the oil. The oil is the Holy Spirit, but it is more than that. It is the Holy Spirit worked out through our lives in experience.
In Leviticus 24:2 the Lord tells Moses, “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.” This oil was created through a process of beating or pressing. This is the in working of the cross of Jesus Christ in our lives. We are beaten and pressed as we press into Christ. Through our walk we experience tribulations, trials, persecutions and difficulties. It is as we walk through these hard places in the faith of Jesus Christ that the precious oil of the Holy Spirit is formed and stored up in us. The wise virgins know that if the relationship with the Bridegroom isn’t there, then the oil will not be there either. The oil has flowed out of that relationship of walking in faith and obedience.
The foolish have received the fundamentals of the faith, but they have not pressed into the relationship to really know the One to whom they professed to give their hearts. They have gone about life eating, drinking, giving and taking in marriage. It is life as usual. In other words their relationship is shallow and without substance and depth. They have chosen to remain babes when they should have grown into maturity. The things of the world and the cares of life have occupied their time and their hearts. As a result they have not bought the oil with the price of experience and relationship in walking with the Lord. Now that the time of the midnight hour has come they have been found wanting. Now it is too late to go out and buy the oil, for the Lord has opened the door to the ones who have come to truly know Him in an intimate way, not just from a distance through the teaching of others. The hour has come and they can’t ride in on the coattails of those who have stored up the oil and prepared for this hour. By the time they get what they need the door is shut and it is too late to enter into the Bridegroom. His reply is, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
Religion is the oil of the foolish virgins. It is merely man’s search for God. It is merely head knowledge and outward works to appease God. God doesn’t want our sacrifices, He wants our obedience and He wants our hearts. Relationship with Christ is what will bring forth the oil of His Spirit as we walk through the hard and difficult places and come to know Him as our Redeemer and Deliverer in every situation.
Hear the word of the Lord. This is the hour for you to be storing up the oil. The midnight hour is soon approaching and you better have the oil of His Spirit and Life worked and stored up in you if you want to enter in. If we have been half-heartedly serving the Lord, it is the time to repent and give Him our whole heart, mind and soul. We must walk in the truth of His life if we are to have the oil to see us through and keep our lamps lit in the greatest hour of darkness. We need this oil if we are going to go the distance and hold fast the course. We must make Him the priority of our lives, for His kingdom is come and it must be established in us. Let us come to Him and give our utmost for His highest.

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Do We Change the Atmosphere?

When light comes into a dark place it brings a change in the atmosphere. It brings illumination. Suddenly we see things more clearly than we did before. Suddenly we see a quality that contrasts with the darkness, but its qualities are so much higher and better. If that were not so we would sit in our dark houses at night rather than turn on the light.
Jesus says we are that light. We are the people that change the atmosphere of our world and our sphere of influence. We are often the only illumination of what people see and perceive to be God. How are we doing with that? Many in the world have looked upon the church and said, “If that is God, I’ll keep my darkness. They may talk different, but their lives are no different.” We, as the body of Christ, can only produce and bring forth what we ourselves are walking in and saturated with. Our lives have so often become shallow muddy wells rather than the artesian rivers of living water that flow from the throne. What we are producing in our atmosphere is a commentary to us on what is, or is not filling our lives. It is not about what we can produce of our own making or our own goodness, it is simply being in such a love relationship with Jesus that the abundance of that love and joy spills out on all who are around us. We want people that are around us to sense and know there is something different about us even before they speak to us. The world is hungry for the reality of Jesus not the facade of it. How sad that we, the people of God, are often God’s own worst enemies when it comes to being His ambassadors to this world. If we are ambassadors then we have to fully represent the values, culture and dynamics of the kingdom that we stand for.
It is sad that many of God’s people are living in defeat and discouragement. That is not God’s will or His best for you. Yes, you may be going through hard times. Even when King David, before he became king, was being pursued by King Saul to take his life, he found his joy in the Lord. In Psalm 103:1-6 David declares, “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” The secret that David learned was that no matter how dark it looked outside the Son was always shinning in heaven. It was the praise and acknowledgement of God’s goodness, even in the bleakest of times that brought back the joy and confidence of faith to David. He had to encourage his soul to bless the Lord with his spirit man. It wasn’t because he felt like it, but he knew that praise, worship, thanksgiving and the remembrance of God’s Word and promises are what would restore the oil of joy and bring the light of gladness.
Saturate yourself in the oil of the Holy Spirit. Become ignited with the love of God. Change the atmosphere around you by the power of His love and life in and through you. You are the light of the world because He is the light within you. Live out of light!

Blessings,
#kent

Shallow is the Grave, Deep is the Well

John 4:6-10
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with [his] journey, sat thus on the well: [and] it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The word today is from the account of the woman at the well which many of you are familiar with, but if not take a few minutes to read it. There are many wonderful truths in this short encounter. The truth I feel impressed of the Lord to bring out today concerns areas that He is dealing with in my life and no doubt areas He wants to deal with in yours. In the natural scheme of the life of that day, this encounter with Jesus should have never happened. In the eyes of society and especially the typical Jewish outlook, this woman was way beneath good Jewish men, being considered little more than a dog. You know, in our state of sin we are much on that same level in regards to God and His holiness and greatness. Yet, God’s incomprehensible love humbles itself to come down to where we are in the messiness of our lives, in the squalor of our filth and sin and minister’s life to us. All of our lives we have come to the well and drank the waters of self efforts, our goodness and the accomplishments our own lives. The very best of what it could do or offer always left us thirsting again. Now, here is a man that is offering us living water that we would never thirst again. Wouldn’t that be great to never have to rely on my self-efforts and goodness to satisfy that thirsting of my soul? Here is a man that is offering to allow me to drink from the deep wells of salvation. It is so much more than the well of my religion that my forefathers dug. It is a well of deep relationship that forever satisfies.
As that woman, I would think, “this is wonderful, but who is this guy? Are you greater than what we have had before? Are you greater than our doctrine or religion or the belief system I have grown up with all my life? And where do you get this water seeing you have nothing to draw it with (no degree, pedigrees or theological background)? ”
“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).”
“Okay Lord, I’m convinced. Yes, give me this living water. This has got to be so much easier and better than the old routine of drawing from the well that I am used too.”
Then Jesus says something that catches her off guard and goes to a place she doesn’t really want to go. He tells her to go and get her husband and come here. She says, “Well, I’m not married.” Jesus sees right into her heart and says, ” You are right, you’re not married. You have had five husbands and the one you are with now is not your husband.” Immediately, though, no doubt taken back by His insight, she says, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet,” and begins to engage in a religious discussion about where the true place of worship is. When the Holy Spirit addresses the other husbands in our lives, our personal sins and idols. We get pretty squeamish, defensive and want to get out of the light of His conviction by changing the subject.
There is an underlying truth here. Jesus wants to give us the living water, but He also wants to deal with these other husbands who haven’t even been true husbands at all. When we drink of this living water we enter into a relationship where Christ becomes our true husband that is our eternal supply, which is able to meet every need. In order for us to drink the fullness of the deep wells of salvation we have to deal with these other husbands in our life. If we have other husbands in our life we are in adultery and idolatry, because they will be taking the place of our true husband, Christ. The only way for us to be in right relationship with our true husband is for these others to die and be buried.
Easily said, not always easily done. These other husbands can represent strongholds, drives, habits, addictions and affections in our lives we don’t really want to let go of. We still have a love or at least a lust for them. We would rather the Lord not go there, but in order for us to experience the depths of the well of salvation and living water we must experience the death and the shallow grave of our idols and the husbands of affections that have ruled over us. So it comes down to a choice, to exchange, a shallow grave for a deep well or keep a shallow well, wherein we continue to thirst and a deep grave if we continue to hold on to the things that only bring death and destruction. Either way, there has to be a death, death to the spiritual to maintain the natural or death to the natural to experience the depths of the spiritual. In what areas do you have other husbands or lovers? Which well and which grave will you choose?

Blessings,
kent

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