The Will and Do of His Good Pleasure

Philippians 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

You and I are a work in progress. How many times would we just like to give up and say, “it is no use, I’ll never change?” The Lord is encouraging us to do one thing, look to Him. It doesn’t matter what we see; it doesn’t matter what others say about us or to us. It doesn’t matter that satan is the accuser of the brethren and is forever parading our faults and shortcomings before us. God hasn’t called us to be the works of our own hands, “for it is God, which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure!” God not only wants too, but it is at work in your life in ways you don’t even see or know. What is that saying, “a watched pot never boils?” When we are looking at our lives we don’t often see the many obvious changes, but the Lord is working in us over the course of a lifetime. The more we are willing to submit these vessels to the will and do of His good pleasure the faster that work can be accomplished. The Lord is always steadfast and faithful; the problem is, we aren’t. We so often want to take these little rabbit trails that depart from His perfect will for us and get off doing our own thing rather than His. Yet He is faithful even in that to work in us and use the errors of our ways to correct us, teach us and instruct us in righteousness. So many times we are like our children, we can’t just take God’s Word about what is best for us, we have to do it our way and then endure the consequences of our stubbornness and disobedience.

God never loves us less or desires less for us. He has His perfect plan for our lives. Our greatest joy is to find the center of His will for us. When we are abiding in that place and find the center of His good pleasure we are fulfilled and content as well. It is like when we realize that it is in blessing others that we are blessed and that there is no greater joy than bringing joy and blessing to others. We can never be as content doing our own pleasure as we can be in fulfilling God’s good pleasure for us. This is true success in life. It doesn’t even matter what the outward surroundings are, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content (Philippians 4:11).” 1 Timothy 6:8 says, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” It isn’t in the abundance of the things we possess that we ever find our contentment, that is only found in the center of God’s will. We have a concept in our Christian culture today that if we aren’t wealthy and prosperous we aren’t living the “blessed life.” How many of the apostles and prophets do you see in God’s Word living the “good life” by the world’s standards? If you are and that’s where God has you, that is great. There is nothing wrong with being blessed materially in this life, but that isn’t the essence and meaning of our lives. That essence and meaning for our lives is only found in the center of God’s will. That is where we find true riches. It may be in some stench filled hovel in India or in the kitchen of your home raising these crazy little kids. If you are in the will and do of God’s good pleasure then you are experiencing the riches of heaven.

Even if you are in that place of discouragement where you are looking at your life as just a failure and waste then you are discounting and denying God’s great love and purpose for you. Sometimes we have to get off of our pity pots of self-doubt and failure and get our eyes on the Lord and not on ourselves. We all are cracked pots with weaknesses and failures, but we serve a mighty and perfect God that loves us never the less, in spite of those weaknesses and failures. Let it always be in our prayers that God will work “the will and do of His good pleasure in us” to the end that we might, in return, bring Him pleasure and blessing.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)”

Blessings,

kent

Feelings of Unworthiness

July 12, 2013

Feelings of Unworthiness

Luke 15:21-24
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

I think there are times when we all struggle with thoughts of unworthiness and condemnation as we approach and acknowledge the Lord. Certainly there is no worth in our efforts or abilities to please God or appease Him for our sins. Outside of the blood of Christ we could have no right standing and reconciliation with the Father. Yet the heart of the Father stands at the window day after day watching for His prodigal son to come home. When the son came home the reconciliation that took place between the two of them was possible, because of the attitude of both of their hearts. On the part of the Father there was the attitude of love, mercy, forgiveness and the strong desire for restored relationship. On the part of the son, his attitude had changed from the arrogant, self-reliant, self-serving and selfish son that had left the Father to one who was broken through a revelation of his utter worthlessness and unworthiness that he possessed outside of the Father. When we get a true revelation of what we are outside of the Father and the utter hopelessness and unworthiness apart from Him, we then have come to a condition and attitude that is right to approach Him. This time we return in total humility, fearing and respecting our Father. This time our heart is fully aware of its unworthiness of ever again being called a son. This time we come with a heart that is broken by the awareness of our sin and repentant with the willingness to fully turn from it. Both heart conditions were present for the full reunion and reconciliation of the Father and son to take place.
Even as believers we come to the times in our lives when we have rebelled, been self-willed or let sin enter in. One day we wake-up spiritually and realize how bankrupt we have become because we have forsaken the relationship we had with the Father. We have turned our back on our sonship for selfish pursuits. Eventually we return to the realization that without the life and the blessing of the Father, we are spiritually blind, poor, wretched and naked. We have become spiritually bankrupt and void of self-worth. For a time we are willing to work in the pig pens and the filth of the world we have again partaken of. Eventually, through the leanness and the spiritual hungering of our soul, we decide that we would like to return to the Father. We find ourselves living under the cruel taskmaster of guilt, shame, condemnation and unworthiness that is telling us you are totally unworthy and disqualified from ever having a relationship with the Father again. Maybe you even felt like you had committed the unpardonable sin. “How could Father ever again love and receive back a wretch and failure like me?”
Our Father is a God of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, “This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” While we may still have to face the consequences of our sin and rebellion the Lord has not shut us out into the cold. He says, “The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:19)” If we are willing to return to the Lord with the attitude of brokeness and repentance; then the Lord is willing to receive us and deliver from that taskmaster of condemnation and guilt. John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What He has done for you, be willing to do for others.
Don’t allow the feelings of unworthiness and condemnation rob you from a restored relationship. All who are in Christ Jesus have come to know that none of us have any standing or worth in God of ourselves. Jesus paid the price for our sin. He alone was righteous and worthy. When we become identified with Him and the cross He makes us worthy through His righteous blood. We must simply appropriate what He has already done by faith in the name of Jesus and the blood of the Lamb. “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”
If you are struggling with feelings of unworthiness or if you have strayed or perhaps have yet to find you way to the Father’s house. Jesus is still the way. He is the Restorer and the Redeemer of your soul. With a right attitude of heart return to Him and He will receive you again to Himself.

Blessings,
kent

The Groan Within

July 8, 2013

The Groan Within

Romans 8:18-24
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

As much as we can love the Lord and desire to be filled with the fullness and glory of His divine life we find that as long as we are still of this earth we are still tethered to our body of flesh. It is this body of flesh that poses our limitations; it is the dust to which we are bound and upon which the serpent feeds. This flesh is ever demanding our attention and our care as it provides the earthly housing for our spirit man. Yet it is the spirit man within us, redeemed and conformed to the image of Christ, that so groans to be set free from the limitations, the hindrances, the weakness, the sin and the failures that the flesh prompts and facilitates. Every day must be a recommitment to crucify this flesh, hold fast our faith in Christ and walk in a manner that glorifies Him. Yet every day it seems the enemy is at work in our lives to undermine, to seek some avenue of darkness that he might exploit in us. Everyday it is necessary to set ourselves in array with our spiritual armor to combat our spiritual foe. The battle is waged not so much without as it is waged within. We battle our thoughts that are impure or out of alignment with the Word of God. We war with our passions and our impulses to act out of our flesh rather than our spirit. We war with the individual weaknesses that are characteristic and inherent within us. “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin and death (Romans 7:24)?” Isn’t that our groan and cry to the Lord? We often hate what we are still manifesting in our flesh, but we seem so powerless to gain the victory and righteousness that we so desire to see. It is this reality that we continually face that causes us to know that we are the products of God’s grace and mercy alone and through no righteousness of our own. It is His righteousness and life with which we now relate and identify. The answer to our cry and groan for the deliverance from this body of death is still “Jesus Christ”.
We groan to see that full deliverance from the influence and power of our body of sin, but God in His infinite wisdom has chosen that even in salvation that we must walk in faith and trust for the in-working of righteousness and deliverance in us. God has structured it in such a way that it is only in a holy and sustained union with Him and identification with who we now are in Christ that we walk each day in faith, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our day to day victories are only accomplished as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has set me free from the law of sin and death. There are two laws operational in your life today. Whichever law you make the choice to serve that is whose servant you are. We know that, in ourselves, in this flesh, dwells no good thing. We know that the heart is deceitfully wicked and who can know it? This is why we need an ally to prevail over this body of sin.
Romans 8:12-13 tells us, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The key to a victorious life in Christ is living and walking in the Spirit and by the power of the Spirit putting to death the passion and misdeeds of the flesh.
It is not often an easy walk. Sometimes we grow weary or complacent. Sometime we allow the moldy corruption of our sinful desires to have place under a cloak of righteousness, but eventually the stink of our misdeeds will be revealed. Yes, we are often weak and we can all stumble. We need to pray for one another. We need the ability to be transparent with one another without judgement so that we can minister grace and encouragement to each other. We are the body and with the life of Christ within each of us we must minister and function to the good and health of the whole. As we hold fast our faith and hope, one-day that groan will be turned to the shout of victory, as we will triumph fully in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
kent

How We Perceive Others

March 7, 2013

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

How We Perceive Others

As I was spending time with Papa this morning this scripture came to mind and how it can pertain to how we see others, how we see and relate to one another as fellow believers and how we see those in the world around us.

As a Christian culture I think a lot of the world has an image of Christians as being the sin police, self-righteous, condemning, fault-finding, intolerant and often hypocritical. What they see so readily in others that don’t seem to see in themselves. They are quick to see the sin and faults in others while conveniently overlooking their own. Even among Christians I have seen how quickly brothers and sisters can take up an offense with one another and instead practicing forgiveness, long-suffering and forbearance, they hold grudges, speak evil of the other and only see them after the flesh or the fault that they perceive that defines that person in their mind.

2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” I believe what the Word is teaching us is that God doesn’t want us to be seeing and judging out or natural mind and thinking. He wants us to see Christ and others after the Spirit, even as He sees us. If God had only seen humanity from humanities’ point of view He would have destroyed us a long time ago, but even with all our sins and faults He saw something redeemable in us, because He saw past our faults and saw our need; so much so that He was willing give us His only Son to die for our sins and become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. If God was that willing to see beyond our sin, faults, failures and offences, don’t you think He wants us to do the same for others around us? Don’t you think He wants us, not to focus on their negatives and all the things we can find wrong with them, but to focus their spirit and who they can be in Christ. We do that by practicing this scripture: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. He didn’t come with a stick, but with a cross. He laid down His life so that others could succeed where once they had failed. He saw us for what we could be and how He could transform our lives as we gave them to Him, not as in the mess that He found us. He saw beyond our flesh into our spirit where His image and likeness resides and said, “I am going to bring that back to Myself no matter what the cost.” Do we have that heart for others? Do we even have it for one another? Are we so focused on the faults and shortcoming of others that we can’t see their good and potential or have we already written them off as not living up to our standard, a standard that we probably don’t even live up too.

Grace, which God has given us, doesn’t hold on to wrongs, offenses, disappointments and failures, it is willing to put those under the blood of Jesus and move on. When we are unwilling to do that with others then we are living under the law and not under grace. Unforgiveness puts us again under the law of condemnation and we are then judged by the same law that we judge others. That is why the Jesus says, ‘judge not lest you be judged and with the same judgment that you administer to others you will be judged by the same standard.’ You see, living under unforgiveness and judgment is no longer living under grace. Grace says, “even though you may not deserve it, I forgive you. Even though you disappointed me, I forgive you. Even though you didn’t live up to my standards and perceptions, I forgive you. Even though you failed me and offended me, I forgive you. When you free others through that kind of forgiveness, you not only set them free, you set yourself free.

God is wanting us to see the best in one another, not the worst. We all fail. We all have chinks in our armor. We are all cracked pots and broken vessels, but the love of God is the glue that fixes all of that. When we walk by Spirit in His love then we see others in the light of how He sees us, redeemable, forgivable and worth saving. It is not about our personal preferences, opinions or values. Those are different for every person and not everyone is going to fit in your box. That means your love has to be outside of the box. It has to be more than human love. It has to be His love. In His love we can give to others the same grace that He has so freely given to us. We can begin to see the good in others, rather than just their faults and all of the things we don’t care for. We can use the Word of God to heal rather than to just cut and maim. We can love even the unlovely, because that certainly is how God found us. All God asks of us is that we are willing to give to others what He has given to us. If He forgave our debts which were so many how can we not forgive others whose debts are so few?

When you look at others, in or out of the body of Christ then see them after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Even what they are now, might not be what they can be and are becoming. Only God has a right to set in the judgment seat and before Him alone we stand or fall. Look for the truth, the honorable thing, for what is right, what is pure, what is lovely and of good report. Look for the excellence and that which is praiseworthy. Any fault finder can find faults, but it takes one whose eyes are fixed on the positive to always see the good. Find the best in people and not the worst. It is far more edifying and reaps much greater benefits. Let us be that expression of Christ to one another and to those without the household of God.
Blessings,
kent

Worthy of this Calling

February 21, 2013

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 to 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 condemnation 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 Him. 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

Repeating Offenses and Failures

Romans 7:17-24
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. or I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

I don’t know that there are any of us that don’t struggle in our lives with our character flaws and weaknesses that seem to want to continue surfacing and have long been a source of consternation and dismay to us. We don’t like these flaws, habits, strongholds, weaknesses and shortcomings; we hate them. We know they don’t please God and yet we find ourselves again and again falling back into these snares. We may even wonder if we could still be saved, as many times as we have failed, repented and then failed again. This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us in our spiritual walk. The latter part of Romans 7 deals, I believe, with this very issue. It really boils down to a warring issue within our lives. There are two laws that war in our members and while we serve the law of God in our mind, we find the law of sin, still wanting and seeking place in our bodies. As we seek to ascend in our minds and spirits we have the flesh seeking to pull us back down, bringing condemnation and once again breaking and interrupting our spiritual fellowship with the Lord. We, like Paul, cry out, ” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he goes on to answer his own question, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” What is he saying, that we can be divided and our mind serves God and our flesh serves sin? No, he is saying that which ever one we give place to that is the one we will serve. Romans 8 really goes on to give the extension to the answer of our dilemma that he has addressed in Chapter 7. Romans 8:1-2, ” [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” It is in grasping and laying hold of the higher law that now governs our lives that we begin to walk and live in a new mindset. It is the mindset that is identified, not with our old man governed by the law of sin, but our new man which is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. One of the greatest reasons for our prayer life and spending time in the Word is so that we can renew our minds in who we are in Christ. We are no longer that old person, enslaved under the law of sin, subject to its bondage. We have been set free; the Lord has broken those shackles off of us. Does that mean that we will never be tempted or influenced by the former things? Not at all, we know that the flesh, and that former mindset that wants to regain its strongholds in our lives, constantly assault us. Our freedom is in Christ and in our walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:5-10, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” If we are the ones still trying to conquer our weaknesses in our own strength then we are doomed for the failure we’ve experienced in the past. It is the Spirit working in concert with our will and submission to Him that is our empowerment. Romans 8:13, ” For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Our lives in the Spirit are a continual overcoming of our flesh and the law of sin that wars against our members. Are we going to loose some battles, yes, we still fall short far too often, but we have set our course. Our eyes are fixed upon our Savior and “it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).” That old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, but daily we become a living sacrifice consecrated unto Him. He is our victory and in Him we are more than conquerors. Don’t be discouraged, for His blood washes and forgives our failures as we repent and turn back to Him. The more Christ fills our hearts and minds the less room and place there is for sin as the Holy Spirit is given full place to govern over our souls. Press on, identified with who you are in Christ. The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be the sons of God He has called us to be.

Blessings,
kent

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