Our Shortcomings

December 18, 2015

 

John 21:15-19 (Amplified)

15When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do–with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Feed My lambs. 16Again He said to him the second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Shepherd (tend) My sheep. 17He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]? Peter was grieved (was saddened and hurt) that He should ask him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep. 18I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, when you were young you girded yourself [put on your own belt or girdle] and you walked about wherever you pleased to go. But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a girdle around you and carry you where you do not wish to go. 19He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. And after this, He said to him, Follow Me!

Our Shortcomings

When I was a young boy I used to spend a lot of my summers down on the farm with my grandpa and grandma.  Somewhere around 13 to 14 years old my grandpa had taught me how to drive.  I remember he had, I believe it was about, a 1949 old red Chevy pick-up truck that he let me drive around the farm.  I remember a time I was watching some pheasants out in the field and looked up to find myself driving in the bar ditch.  I also remember a time I was driving in from the road to the house to park the truck.   We use to come in the driveway make a U-turn and park between a couple of big elm trees.  This time I came in a little too fast and didn’t quite make it between the trees.  I hit one.  Fortunately it wasn’t fast enough to do much exterior damage, but of course I was quite upset that I had wrecked grandpa’s truck and had to go tell him.  He didn’t get upset or yell at me.  We looked over the truck and found that I broken one of leaf springs.  We took it off, took it town and had it welded.  Then we came back home, put it back together and we were good to go. 

I see somewhat of a parallel in this story to how Jesus dealt with Peter after he had denied Him.  Peter thought he would not fail.  Jesus already knew the weakness in Peter, as well as the rest of the disciples.  We know Peter, no doubt, hated himself for his failure and denial.  At this time after the resurrection when Jesus is with Peter He is not using this opportunity to scold Peter or punish him for his failure.  Just as three times Peter denied Christ, Jesus gave him three opportunities to reaffirm his love and commitment to Him.  He let him know that if He truly loved Him that commitment would eventually cost him his life.  Peter would not make that mistake again; in fact he would become one of Christ’s most bold and avid spokesmen, even in the face of persecution and death. 

Sometimes it takes our mistakes and failures to take us to the next level in our growth as people and as children of God.  It is a wonderful thing to have someone give us grace even when we fail.  It takes someone who believes in us, to trust us and to give us the freedom to learn from our shortcomings. 

Blessings,

#kent

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You Have a Purpose

October 23, 2015

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You Have a Purpose

What has been worked in us by the grace of God is a God-thing. It has not been birthed out of man’s wisdom, strength or ability. You are a God-thing. You are His handiwork and design, not just because He created you, but because He created you for a reason and purpose. You are not an accident, but a God intention.
Sometimes we can get pretty down on ourselves. We see the difficulties and challenges that this life constantly poses. We see our own weaknesses and failures. Sometimes we may tend to think what real good am I to myself or anyone else? There are times we want to just give up and either just live like the world or even give up on life altogether.
The enemy of our soul always wants to magnify and condemn our faults. He is always trying to get our eyes off of Jesus and on to self. We can always see self for more than it is or less than it is. If we put our eyes and minds where they belong, upon Him and upon His Word then it gives us His perspective. Verse 10 says, ” For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You were prepared in advance for a mission and a purpose. Get your eyes upon the One by whose power you can carry out your purpose. Your purpose is good works, His works, the will and do of His good pleasure. It is no longer about us, but Him. He is the One we live for, we serve and we delight to please. He is our Papa and He loves us dearly in spite of all the reasons why He shouldn’t.
You and I have a purpose today. He is our purpose and it is His work that we have to do. We can’t carry that out as long as our eyes are upon us. Let us fix our eyes on the prize of the high calling that is in Christ Jesus. Psalms 119:15 says, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Only He can lead us into the fullness of our purpose and destiny, but it is only as we fix our eyes upon Him and walk fully in the calling He has set before us. Your purpose is good works. They are good because they are His works and the Holy Spirit will lead you in how to carry them out as you yield your heart and life to Him. The accomplishment of your calling is centered in your identity with Christ. 1 John 4:4 declares,” You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
You are the object of His grace. Make Him the object of your life’s purpose.

Blessings,
#kent

Be Careful How You Lead

April 28, 2015

Hosea 4:14
“I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!”

Be Careful How You Lead

Often we as parents are quick to judge our children for wrong things they do or choices they make. Often we as Christians are quick to judge our fellow believers who get caught up in sin or those who don’t agree with or accept our Christ. Are we above reproach? Have our own sins and shortcomings been the license for those who choose unrighteousness? Will not God hold us first accountable who are the leaders and the examples for others to follow?
Romans 2:1-10 declares, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.”
The Jews and the Gentile are like the leader and the follower, the parent and the child, the teacher and the disciple. If we don’t walk in the understanding that God has given us then we will come to ruin and we have the responsibility for the ruin of those who follow our example.
Before we point the finger at others let’s first examine the person behind the three fingers pointing back. Are you living in righteousness or self-righteousness? Is it more important that we are right or righteous? For the world to honor and desire Christ they must first see Christ in us. They must see in action what we profess in words. How can we judge them if we don’t even live the example before them?
Father is saying, ‘Take stock in the example of life that you are leading. If we are not walking in righteousness and in the light of understanding that God has given you, then you must ask who is the responsible one here?’ Often what we see in the lives of those who follow us is the reflection of ourselves.

Blessings,
#kent

In God’s Time

April 13, 2015

Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

In God’s Time

Many a young person has been caught up in the zeal of the Lord and desired to go into ministry. One thing that many don’t realize at first is that to be a true minister of God is it is not man or education that truly prepares you. Certainly God can and does us these in the process, but what any of us who desire to be in the service of the Lord must realize is God’s order and not man’s. It is really God who raises up a man or woman for His work. It is He who trains them through most often humble beginnings. It is He that anoints them for their calling and it is He that test their hearts before He sets them in a place of authority and ministry. For many of you who are excited to serve God, we are not always ready when we think we are. Such is the case with John Mark.
John Mark was the son of Mary and we first hear about him when Peter is locked in jail in Jerusalem. Herod had pretty much chalked Peter in to be the next martyr after having put to death James. We read the account of the angel coming into the prison and setting Peter free. Peter then goes to the house of Mary. Acts 12:12 says, “And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” We gather from this introduction that Mark had some strong Christian influences and roots. He gets his first shot at getting on the big name ministry team of Paul and Barnabas, and so we see him embarking on his first missionary trip in Acts 12: 25. Then over in Acts 13:5 it affirms that John is there with them as an apprentice and helper, but by verse 13 we see John leaving them and returning to Jerusalem. What happened? The word doesn’t give us much in the way of details, but it becomes obvious in Acts 15:37-40 that Paul was not impressed by Mark and wanted no more part in his going with them again. Apparently Mark wasn’t as ready and able as He thought. Maybe he couldn’t take it and went home, but Barnabas was one that did see the potential and continued to believe in Mark even after he apparently failed the first journey. Later we see that Paul has softened his position concerning Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he remarks, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
The message we can learn from Mark’s life is that ministry and service to God comes through a preparation of God. Sometimes we may fail to meet our own expectations or the expectation of those we are working with. Fortunately Mark didn’t just quit and fortunately he had men who still believed in Him and helped him to come into his place of ministry and service. Mark was also known to be Mark the Evangelist and later wrote one of the first gospels, the gospel of Mark, thought to have been largely narrated and influenced by Peter.
When we look over the lives of many of God’s great people we see them coming up against times of apparent failure, shortcoming, trials and tribulation. What we come to realize is that this is really God’s school of preparation. We may know that God has anointed us and given us a passion in some area of ministry, but what we have to be careful of is that we allow Him to establish and place us in that ministry in His time and His way. That often means that we may feel passed over, put aside or not really valued. All of the time it is searching our true heart and motives, to see if there would be any unclean, impure or selfish motive on our part. When we can truly be okay with whatever and whenever the Lord wants to use us, then we are getting much closer to being where He wants us. Love always wants God’s best first and our best last.
Moses was 80 when he started his ministry. David was anointed as young teen, but didn’t become king until he was 30. The word tells us not to despise the day of small things. It is in those days that our hearts and lives are being prepared for greater ministry. We must first prove ourselves faithful in the little before we can be faithful over much. Don’t be discouraged if your life and ministry isn’t where you want it to be. Remember God is in control, not you and not man.

Blessings,
#kent

Stop, Look and Listen

April 3, 2015

John 10:10
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

Stop, Look and Listen

Take just a moment to stop, close your eyes and listen to your life. Do you know how desensitized we become to the noises that are all around us? We can do the same thing with the people around us. We become so focused on life, routines and demands that we don’t take the time to stop and really listen to life and the people around us. We hear and respond on a superficial level, but what we need is to step back and watch our life for a moment as an outside observer or as that proverbial fly on the wall? What do we observe and hear there that we don’t really process in every day life? What are the kids really saying, what are their attitudes, their hearts and their greatest needs? What about our spouse, so much of our responses to one another have become cliché and the same way we continue to deal with the same old issues? What we need is a fresh perspective, a new and different point of view. I often wondered if we just video taped our lives for a day or two and watched them if we would see things in ourselves that we are totally oblivious too. We would probably be able to see how we really are to live with. Being immersed in our family and daily life it is often hard for us to really be objective of ourselves and our relationship with others. Sometimes it takes a traumatic event in our lives to really shock us into taking a long hard look at who we are, what we are and how our lives impact others in either a positive or negative sense. Usually one of the best mirrors that we have is our spouse, because they see us as we really are, they live with us and they can often see things in us much better than we can see them ourselves. Of course what happens when they talk to us about these things? We get defensive, we start trying to divert the responsibility, accountability and our shortcomings by identifying there’s or finding excuses for ourselves.
In order for God to change who I am I first have to acknowledge who I am, where I am weak and where I fail. This is our sensitive and vulnerable side and it is an area that we are not willing to easily open up. When we do open ourselves up to scrutiny and examination we want to be able to trust those that we share our true heart and selves with. We all have our darker sides, our ugly sides and weak sides. We generally try and hide these from public view and we tend to want to ignore them ourselves, but they are there none the less. We need a loving spouse or those that really love us and care about us to be able to put our heart in their hands to tenderly show us who we are. Often we live in denial of who we really are in areas of our life. Darkness, ignorance, denial are only areas where corruption grows. It is in the light that things are brought into the open, acknowledged for what they are and dealt with in the light of God’s word and truth. The thing we must be so careful of is that we are not the ones to set in judgement of another. Luke 6: 37 tells us, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” We are all sinners, capable of every vile thing outside of the grace and righteousness of Christ that indwells us.
Close your eyes, take time to really listen and reflect on your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you those areas where He wants you to yield to Him. He does it a little at a time. I am convinced if the Holy Spirit ever really showed us all that was in us in the light of His holiness we would be so devastated and hopeless we might never recover. God often has to take us through hard things to really show what is in our hearts, how much easier if we can come to Him with the willingness to be corrected, transformed and changed. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” As we draw near to God, we will come to Him not in our goodness or righteousness, but with humility, brokenness and repentance. In this heart attitude is where He will meet with us to lovingly correct us, deal with us and heal us. When we comprehend His compassion and love for us even in our state of ugliness and sin, it should work in us a true heart of compassion and caring for others and mercy should triumph over judgement. Take time listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to open up you spiritual eyes and ears to really hear and observe by the Spirit how He see the these things pertaining to your life. John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.”

Blessings,
#kent

Psalms 48:1-3,14
Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Our God Forever and Forever

You know there are times that I look at myself probably like many of you. I see all of my weaknesses, my frailties, failures, sins and faults. If I only had eyes to see myself, I could become very discouraged and depressed. Sometimes it is not only hard for others to live with us, it is hard for us to live with ourselves and still keep our hope. We can become very discouraged with life and want to give up. We can easily reason how the world would be so much better off without us. Maybe we feel all we ever do is screw up, make mistakes and fall so short of what we hoped we would be. There are times in our lives we can feel pretty beat up, battered and condemned. So why do we continue on? Why should we still have hope?
When I read passages like this one in Psalms it helps me realize that I am not an island, but I am part of a much greater plan. That faith I have in God and Jesus Christ rises up to show me that there is a mighty God that is so great and wonderful beyond my comprehension and that this God really loves me, even the way I am. He created me. He knows my heart, my thoughts and my intentions. He has not left me alone, but He has brought me into Himself to be a part of something so magnificent and glorious. He made me a part of His City and His Presence and Being indwells me. ‘This God is my God who is with me for ever and for ever and He will guide me even to the end.’
I realize that maybe He allowed me to have so many weaknesses and flaws for a reason. Maybe it was so that I could never boast in myself, but I could only boast in Him, in His grace and sufficiency for my life. What gives me courage and hope is that I know that my God is for me, that nothing can ever separate me from His love and that the reason that I am a conqueror and an overcomer is because of the Christ that indwells me.
I know that the purpose of the enemy and of satan is to destroy that life which you and I possess. Jesus tells us that in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” While the enemies’ purpose is to destroy us, Christ’s purpose it to build us up and to give us life abundantly. No, we may not feel worthy or deserving of that life, but He has given it to us just the same. Through Christ we can have eyes to see into Him and what we are in Him. We no longer have to focus on the mess that we have been and the inadequacies that we feel. I know that we are still struggling through so many of these issues. Our faith takes us where our present experiences have not yet been. It takes us to what God has to say about us, what His Word declares over us and promises to us. In these things we find hope, we find life and reason for being.
I love the scripture that Paul gives to us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Maybe that is why He chose me and that is why He chose you. In our weakness He is made strong and when people observe the marvelous things that can come forth from your life they will recognize that it is not you, but Christ in you. God knows how to take cracked pots and use them for His glory and praise. So before you and I give up and succumb to our discouragement, let us draw courage from the God of strength and life. I thank God for who I am because it makes me keep my eyes upon Him and my praise toward Him. I have to trust Him for every aspect of my life.
Yes, I see my faults, my failures and my weakness, but more importantly I see His life, His promises and His strength. These are what we are going to lay hold of. These are what will pull us out of the pit and set us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR STRENGTH, OUR LIFE AND OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. HE IS OUR FAITH, OUR FORTRESS AND OUR SALVATION. HE IS THE ONE THAT GIVES ME HOPE IN THE NIGHT AND JOY IN THE MORNING. HE IS OUR GOD FOREVER AND FOREVER, HALLELUJAH AND AMEN.

Blessings,
#kent

Worthy of this Calling

March 25, 2014

Worthy of this Calling

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I would like for us to be very real and practical today as we consider our calling in Christ Jesus. We often try and talk spiritual and be spiritual around what we consider spiritual people or environments, but what is every day life like for us? How does our real faith play out in the everyday activities of our lives? In the light of that, many of us may not feel too spiritual. We may see ourselves getting angry, losing patience, arguing with the kids and the spouse. A lot of times we see some pretty unattractive words and attitudes demonstrated in our lives. Nothing we could really take much pride in as far as being spiritual or glorifying the Lord. We may get pretty down on ourselves in the light of our many shortcomings and feel there is really no hope that I could be anything in Christ. “Look what a mess I am and how totally unchristian I can act.” Most of us can have those “flesh days” when we are just a mess spiritually. Our spiritual enemy preys on our vulnerabilities. I believe situations are often set up by the enemy, just to push our buttons and lead us off into unspiritual actions and attitudes. You may have really felt that you were drawing close to the Lord and then you are attacked in the areas of your vulnerabilities. You are tempted in the areas of your greatest weaknesses. As much as you don’t want too, perhaps you fail and stumble again in those areas where you thought you were experiencing victory. What follows is nothing less than a barrage of condemnation and discouragement as the devil condemns you for your failures. Perhaps he even uses those around you to assist in heaping on you the condemnation and failure you already feel. With feelings of shame, disgrace, added failure and guilt we become discouraged. We think, “Why am I trying to be something I can never be?” Exactly the state of mind the enemy wants to bring us too.
Realistically our lives are a never-ending struggle of flesh and spirit. We hear about who we are and who we should be in Christ, but then we struggle to live our faith in Christ, often with feelings of being so unsuccessful. These are the reasons why we often grow weary, discouraged and want to just give up. You know what? We all have these feelings, discouragement, and setbacks. Our God is not just writing us off because we do, but He does want to use them to allow us to recognize our weakness, so that we may better lay hold of His strength. The Word tells us that the efforts of the flesh can never produce the righteousness of God. That is why religion is so futile. It is our attempt at finding and pleasing God in our own works.
We find in life that we are most influenced by those we associate ourselves with. If we hang around a worldly and ungodly crowd, it is not long before we find our own actions and attitudes becoming more and more conformed to theirs. It is that same old principle of sowing and reaping. What we are sowing into our lives is what we are reaping in our attitudes and actions. Hosea 10:2 tells us, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Galatians 5:25 tells us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” While we will have those times where we will experience failure and discouragement we must stubbornly and uncompromisingly not relinquish who we know ourselves to be in Christ. Our only hope of this is in our identification and relationship with our Lord. No matter how we may get sidetracked and bushwhacked by the enemy of our soul, our spirit and our soul must turn back to Father. He assures us forgiveness when we repent and promises to wash our sin away. Christ in you is your hope of glory. With all that is within us we must cling to Him, relinquish our lives to Him and stay in close fellowship and relationship with Him. He alone is the one that transforms us into His image and likeness. In order to be worthy of His calling, it is our patient and enduring faith in Him that is the manifest token of our salvation. It is maintaining the place of intimacy and relationship that we truly know our God and experience the workings of His righteousness in us. The reality of our faith and walk in the Spirit must be the greatest reality of our lives. Even when we wander or fail, it is the faithfulness of His Spirit in us that continually keeps us returning and drawing near to Him. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5)”

Blessings,
#kent

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Romans 8:28-39

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

We often struggle with why the people of God go through so much suffering and trials.  Some might say it is because they don’t have enough faith or they must have sin in their lives.  I tend to believe that it is often the sweetest and most precious grapes that make the best wine, but in order for them to offer up their vintage taste and sweet fragrance they must first be crushed.  Suffering and trials have been the plight and portion of many a saint.  It is not a new concept.  We struggle with that because we think in our hearts, even if we don’t outwardly say it, “God if you are sovereign then why don’t you deliver the afflicted and the suffering, especially those who are calling out to You?”  The victory of life in the natural and fleshly man is not always living in health, wealth and prosperity.  It is not about what we have in the good times of our life.  The true metal of a godly nature is tested in the fire.  All of our works will be tested in that fire at some point.  Some may be going through that fire right now.  Perhaps you are very weary; the enemy has assaulted your faith and your God.  Your friends may be like those that Job had, only content on you confessing your sins or shortcomings.  It takes a tremendously faithful person to go through the fires that God sometimes allows in our lives.  The real victory is not in whether or not we see our earthly deliverance; it is in how we live our lives in the midst of those trials.  God’s Word says in 1 Peter 1:7-9, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.”  It is not the suffering and trials that God rejoices in, it is the faithfulness of His saints in the midst of it.  That faithfulness and praise in the midst of suffering is the sweet aroma and incense that rises into the heavens.  It is a sweet smelling savor unto the Father’s nostrils.  Nothing can speak louder to God that we love Him for who He is and not just what He can do, than our faithfulness in the midst of our suffering and trials.   

We know in our hearts that God’s arm is not short that He can not save, but nothing torments and discredits satan more than a Christian who will only honor and praise His God even when satan is twisting his arm behind his back.  What focuses us more on God’s grace and strength than our trials and tribulations?  In those places where we have no further human resources or help in the flesh to lean on, we learn to take hold of the grace of God.  We learn the patience to enter into His rest and know that these earthly vessels of clay and the very life that they we breath are in His hands.   Deuteronomy 32:39 says, “See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand.” We have offered ourselves up into God’s hand to do as it pleases Him.  Our lives are for His glory and not for our own.  We struggle with the perspective of suffering and trials because we see it from a human standpoint.  Our view is the preservation of the natural life.  God’s view is not in the importance of the outward haul of the seed, but He is looking to the life within.  The threshing floor was a place of separation between wheat and chaff.  The outward man with this body is like the chaff.  The separation is really a claiming of the Christ nature and a revealing of it.  No one has the goods like the one has passed through the fire.   Their testimony is not one borne out of head knowledge; it is a witness of experience.  Before Job went through his trials he knew a lot about God and had a relationship with Him, but it didn’t compare with how he knew God when he went through the fire.  In the conclusion of what Job went through and after his discourse with the Almighty he says this in Job 42:1-6, “Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.””  Many of us know about God, but it is only as we have gone through the fire that we come into a place where we have seen Him.  When we have seen Him, all foolish doubts and questionings cease and we repent in dust and ashes.  

God loves us.  We have been called out and set aside for a purpose.  He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.  His Son learned obedience through the things that He suffered.  If you are in that place of suffering then God is only proving your faithfulness and your faithfulness is a mockery of the enemy.  He is raising you up in LIFE even when your body only seems to be experiencing death.  Lay hold of the resurrection and the Life within you and live out of Him.  His grace is sufficient and He will raise you up to the praise of His name.  Hold fast your faith, you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

 

Blessings,

#Kent

 

Be Kind to One Another

February 3, 2014

 

Be Kind to One Another


Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. 


It occurs to me that simple acts of kindness are perhaps one of the greatest expressions and testimonies of the love of God working through us.  Think about the example of marriage for a moment.  Two people start out deeply attracted and hopelessly in love with one another.  There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other.  What changes?  Through time we tend to become more involved with life outside of each other, little irritations and annoyances begin to eat at us, our familiarity with each other begins to give place to disregard and sometimes even contempt for each other.  What was so special becomes more and more common and less and less special and appreciated.  Soon we begin to give expression to annoyances, irritations and dissatisfactions.  In defense and hurt the spouse releases their own barrage of complaints.  Little by little, what was so perfect and beautiful can become a battleground of insults, hurts and offenses.  The relationship becomes divided; each party withdraws from the other more and more till often the end result is separation and divorce.  

One of the givens in life is that even the people you love the most will sometimes offend and fail to meet your expectations and likewise you will do the same to them.  The greatest antidote to these shortcomings is love, forgiveness and kindness.  Let’s back up for a moment and see what precedes our scripture on kindness.  Ephesians 4:24-31 says, “But ye have not so learned Christ.  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 

 Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Right here some of us may see our relationships and where they have come too.  If we find ourselves here, we are not only grieving that person we are in relationship with but we are also grieving the Holy Spirit.  You may say, “but you don’t know how much this person irritates me, failed me and disappointed me.”  You may not realize how much you have irritated, failed and disappointed the Holy Spirit.  If God dealt with us, as we deserved we would all be toast.  The Lord sees beyond our faults, shortcomings and the attributes of irritation and sees our heart.  He has determined to love us in spite of ourselves and He operates in our lives for our highest good, not His.  If the Lord were only looking out for His interests He would have never laid down His life for the undeserving creatures that we are.  In Christ, we must adopt this same mindset, where we are no longer responding and acting from our feelings, but out of the mind and heart of God.  This is an attitude in life where we are not easily offended through the hurtful comments and actions of others, where we return good for evil, where we bless those who curse us, give beyond that which others may take from us, go the extra mile and act out of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness.  These are the love and actions that the world can’t understand, because it so supersedes any kind of love we find in the world.  

Our place to develop and practice this love and kindness of Christ is first in our own homes and relationships.  Most of the time the hardest people to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving too are those of our own household.  This is most often where we will see the reflection of the true nature that is working in us.  Do you like what you see?  Is it what you want and hope to be?  

As we learn to bring every thought and action under submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit we may find ourselves speaking and acting, not out of what we feel in the natural, but out of what we know to be the mind and love of God.  As we plant these seeds of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness, we may find our harvest much richer than we ever imagined.  We can’t change the heart and actions of others.  They alone are responsible for those.  The way we can change them is by first changing us.  Perhaps they aren’t really the problem; they are only a symptom of a problem that may have its root in us.  Let God have His perfect work of grace in you today.  Speak the words of kindness that bring grace to the hearer.  Let random acts of kindness fill your day as you bless even those who may not deserve it, even as the Lord has blessed you.  Take this to heart concerning your former nature, “But ye have not so learned Christ. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” 

 
Blessings,
kent

Hot Spots, Cold Spots

October 29, 2013

Hot Spots, Cold Spots

Revelations 3:2-3
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

If the Lord were to do a geological survey of our spiritual lives today, what would that topographical map look like? Would we see a high plateau of spiritual consistency with every area of our lives being in alignment with the Spirit of God? I think we are not so much different than the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 that John addresses by the Spirit of God. Each one had their strengths and weaknesses, their high points and their low points. While the Spirit commended them in their strengths, He rebuked their weaknesses and exhorted them to pay attention and give diligence to correcting them. Our spiritual lives are not so different than the churches, because we can see ourselves represented in them. Each one was in a different place, under different circumstances, but each one was exhorted to have an ear to hear the Spirit and overcome. When we honestly survey our spiritual lives most of us can see hot spots and cold spots. We see areas that we are fervent and faithful in, areas of strength where we are walking and doing well in the Spirit. Then, on the other hand, most of us can see areas in our lives where we are in compromise and weak in faithfulness and obedience to the will of God. We tend to preach from the areas of our strengths, while we try to hide and disguise the areas of our shortcoming that we hope others won’t see in us. While the Lord wants us to maintain the strengths that we have and the areas of victory we possess, He is, at the same time, wanting to show us the areas of shortcomings that are hindering us from His highest and best for us. He is constantly calling us to come up higher, to cast off the earthly garments of unrighteousness and put on Christ. These areas of weakness are as varied as we are as individuals, but the Holy Spirit knows our spiritual typography. He knows our high and low places. What we want Him to do in us, as we act in faith, is to bring us up in those low areas so that every area of our life is dwelling in the heavenly places. That place, where there are no holes in our faith and walk with Him that are still abiding in the flesh.
Many of us go to great lengths to put up walls and barriers so that we isolate certain areas of our lives from others. Many of us have a spiritual side and fleshly side. We just conveniently put on what we feel is needed at the time for the place and circumstance we are in. When we are in the worldly setting we act as the world, when we are in a spiritual setting we act spiritual. This is hypocrisy in us. God wants a people that are wholly and consistently His in every area of their lives. Our spiritual destiny and reward with Him is dependent upon it. When we read what the Spirit is saying to the churches here in Revelations, there are strong consequences if areas of offense and weakness are not repented of and corrected. Do we think it is any different with us?
In order to allow the Holy Spirit to have His perfect work in us we need to be willing to allow Him to be Lord in every area and aspect of our lives. We need to have the kind of relationship with Him that we get quiet before Him, listen to Him to speak to us about areas of our lives, through His Word, His Spirit and what other avenues He chooses to use. Then we need to make them a matter of prayer and priority to address and change. Our days are filled with much busyness and distraction, but it is imperative that we prioritize the will and work of God in our lives. What we are speaking of has eternal consequences in our spiritual walk. We can’t afford to allow the temporal things of this life to distract and rob us of our eternal destiny and calling in Christ. He must be the first priority of each day and each area of our life.

When we get too many hot spots and cold spots, we tend to mellow into lukewarm. Revelations 3:15-16 says, “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.” If God is turning up the heat in our lives it is so that we might become hot for Him. We must allow the heat of His Holy Presence to come into those cold areas of our lives and melt the ice cubes of selfishness, inconsistency, complacency, compromise and sin. God wants us to be all or nothing.

Blessings,
kent

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