Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Three Things that God Requires

We, like the children of Israel before us, often carry a mindset that says we can live and operate on one set of values in the market place or our social lives and then another set of values when we want to approach God in church or worship. How many people that consider themselves Christians think that they can appease God by having a religion, offering their tithes or offerings, performing a few rituals and then it is back to business as usual. How many seek to put on a holy face before God on Sunday only to defraud their neighbor on Monday. How many times have those who wear the name Christian been less than ethical in their dealings with others and especially with other Christians. We try to live out of two different value systems as we compartmentalize our life into business, pleasure and religion.
God is saying that if you are truly a Christian then Christianity is your business. He is not appeased by what we try to do for Him and with our token efforts to please Him. He is interested in where our heart is. He tells us that there are three things that He requires of us. The first is to act justly. A just person is one who is upright in all of their ways. They act out of justice, fairness, without prejudice and favoritism. It is basically the act making right judgements. Every day we have to make decisions of right and wrong, of what benefits just us or what can do to benefit others and what is selfish and what is unselfish. When we act and live out of the mind of Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to direct our ways then we will act justly, because of Him who is the righteous judge within us.
The second thing the Lord requires is that we love mercy. When we live in this mercy we are living out of goodness, kindness and faithfulness not only toward God, but also toward our fellow man. In our society many of us are very big on our rights and our privileges. Many will not hesitate to take you to court or sue you if they think that you have violated their rights in some manner or you are in some way responsible for some misfortune. There may be times when that is necessary, but if we had more mercy, so many times it wouldn’t be. Mercy is the act of love that is longsuffering, slow to be offended, hasty to forgive and patient in tribulation. Often we as Christians are quick to judge the world and those of the world, especially when they don’t fit within the paradigm of what we think is proper and good. The mercy of Jesus was not shown favoring the arrogance and self-righteousness of the religious near as much as it was shown toward the outcast and the sinner. ‘Jesus came not to judge the world, but that world through Him might have life.’ He was a life-giver and life-imparter. The apostle Paul reminds us of God’s mercy toward us in Ephesians 2:3-5, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” God’s mercy working through us is to bring others into His mercy for them.
Finally, God says I require that you ‘walk humbly with your God’. Nothing can make us more humble than just reflecting upon the love and mercy of God toward us. When we walk in the fear of the Lord there will be that humility that expresses our submission and dependency upon Him. Many of us have forgotten that and with our wealth and prosperity we boast in what our hands have done. We tend to think we don’t really need God so much in our lives, at least not till things fall apart or we get into a major crisis. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and walking humbly with your God.
Paul sums these principles up so beautifully in Romans 12:3-21so let us conclude meditating upon this passage. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Blessings,
#kent

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Deuteronomy 4:5-8
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

The Nation who Fears the Lord is a Wise and Understanding People

God took this nation, the United States, and birthed it out of a persecuted people that sought to love and worship Him in spirit and in truth. He took this infant nation and protected and preserved it from the enemy that sought to destroy it. From its conception and foundation it was built upon the principles of faith in Him and His Law fashioned our laws. When we look back at the fathers of our constitution who framed and structured our government, we see in them such a spirit of wisdom. It wasn’t natural wisdom, but it was wisdom from above, because they came together and asked God to help them in this great endeavor that would impact the generations to follow. Everything in that document was formed, not to force religion upon anyone, but to preserve everyone’s right to pursue his faith and hold it in freedom of worship and expression. The other nations of the world surely couldn’t help but see the wisdom and understanding that formed this nation. Many others since have followed this model of democracy. As a result, this nation has become the most powerful and prosperous of nations in the earth. That didn’t happen because of us as a people. We are like any other people, but it happened because we made our motto, “In God We Trust.” If we depart from the secular history books and really follow the history and the documents that substantiate it we will find a rich history of God fearing men, who put their trust and reliance upon God as they lead this nation. It was because of God’s law that was set before this nation, that we have had God’s favor and blessing.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 goes on to say, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”” Unfortunately, we, like the nation of Israel, have forgotten to a great extent where we came from and what is the source of our wealth, blessing and prosperity. We have grown wise in our own eyes, full of ourselves and our vain philosophies so that many think that God no longer has a place in our government, our schools or even our nation. Each generation seems to stray further from the truth. The advocates of darkness have perpetuated the lie through every medium that touches our lives and many of us have failed in taking our stand for righteousness and speaking out against this lie.
We, as a nation, now sit upon the precipice of ruin. First it will happen within and then it will happen without. We see the decay of moral values all around us. We watch them daily on the TV and read about it in the newspaper. Many of us are even the victims of it as we try to walk in the truth. These are perilous times and a time when all of us need to be fervent in prayer and in action. Soon the governments of men will end the governments will become spiritual strongholds. The battle that we fight is not one of the flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. The people of God are all that stands between this nation and its judgement. We must lift up a standard of righteousness again and no longer be a silent majority. We are soon becoming a silent minority. The greater the cloud of darkness and deception that covers our nation the brighter we must shine forth as the people of God. We must not lose our conscience, but be the conscience of our nation. Instead of our children being taught the precepts and principles of God’s Word they are now indoctrinated with humanism and every false thing. If we, the people who bear the name of the Lord, don’t make a difference, then who will?

Blessings,
#kent

Hypocrisy

April 16, 2014

Hypocrisy

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The definition of a hypocrite is, one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, pretender, one who is feigned, disguised or is insincere. It is one who wears a mask or false identity. It is a fact of human nature that what you see is not always what you get. From the time we are children we grow up learning to play the game of human interaction. We learn to put forward what others or society expects of us which often is not who we really are. We want to be people pleasers and accepted of others. Sometimes we have so many identities we don’t even know who we are.
Then, when we become Christians we are introduced to the religious system and we learn how to wear that mask. We learn the right phrases, how to act and put forward what is “acceptable Christian behavior.” Never mind the arguing, fighting and ugliness we showed toward our spouse and children as we were getting ready for church and on the way. As we step out of the car and walk into the church suddenly this transformation takes place. Suddenly we put on this godly smile and countenance and to those we encounter all is right with the world. If we are honest all of us have experienced this kind of behavior in our lives and probably still do. There is this duality in our lives that keeps us from being who we really are for fear that that is unacceptable. Many of us spend our lives living a lie and fashion ourselves around the dictates of others. We are so afraid of being seen in the nakedness of who we really are. It is true that many of us have some pretty hideous deformities and abnormalities in our lives, but are they ever dealt with and healed by masking them over. Our lives become one big game of pretending to be something or someone we really aren’t. What is worse, we then judge others out of our pretentious hypocrisy, because they don’t live up to the standard. The truth is they just don’t play the game as good as we do.
Is this what God wants us to be? If ever Jesus railed on anyone, it wasn’t the outright sinner it was the hypocrite. The one who liked to condemn and point the finger when inside he was no different than the ones he condemned. ” For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:2-5).”
We have been talking a lot about light and darkness. It is time we all come out into the light and be real with who we are. The truth is that most all of our lives are a mess in one area or another. We know that God sees us for who we really are. We know that it is only His power and grace that can transform us. How can this take place if we can’t even face up to who and what we are? It starts with us being honest with ourselves and with God. His love and mercy has already been extended to us in that, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He loves us no matter how ugly the sin our lives has been, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. His desire is bring us out of darkness into the light so that there it is exposed and we can repent, receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ and begin a path in the opposite direction of our sin, dependent upon the Lord to help us walk that way. We are all in this walk together and we are going from glory to glory, but we are at different stages in our maturity and walk with God. Our purpose as a body is to help each other along the way. We have to deal with these sin issues with honesty if we are going to be set free of them. If we want to continue to hold on to them then the dealings must become more severe, because these are stumbling blocks and hindrances to who we really are in Christ and what He has called us to be. Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It is time that we quit playing games with God and with others and be real. Let’s deal with who we really are, because only then can we come into what God wants us to be. It is time we stop living the lie of hypocrisy and become the forgiven vessels of His mercy and grace no matter how humble that may be. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22).”

blessings,
#kent

Faithfulness in Marriage

August 21, 2013

Faithfulness in Marriage

Malachai 2:14-16
You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows.
Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.”
Our hearts are not different than those that have gone before us. They are still deceitfully wicked and perverse. Unless guarded and kept under the Lordship of Christ and led by the Spirit they will lead us in the ways contrary to His will. We live in a day when the divorce rate is somewhere around fifty percent. One out of two marriages end in divorce. What is even more sad is that it isn’t a whole lot better even among the Christian community. What is this telling us about the condition of our hearts? In Matthew 19:8 Jesus says, “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”
From today’s passage we can readily see that this isn’t the will of God and what His attitude about divorce is. The enemy is doing a masterful job of destroying our homes, families and marriages. The moral fabric of our society is deteriorating before our very eyes, as we become more complacent and accepting of it. So many of us end up playing right into this destruction and we wonder why God isn’t blessing us and answering our prayers. Could it be that we have become too self-centered rather than God centered? Probably the only ones who will continue reading this if it is an issue in their lives are those who really care more about God’s will than their own. None of us like to be confronted with our sins. We, like the world, want to run from the light. The difference is that we are children of the light and if we are really Christ’s then our spirit won’t let us run away even when we are in error. We have a conviction to return to what is right and repent of what is wrong.
Our biggest temptation today is self-isolation. We become too absorbed in what we want to do, what is important to us and what meets our needs and wants. As a result we isolate ourselves from the demands and needs of those around us, especially our spouses. Life begins to slowly and subtly take us in different directions and begins to place a wedge in our relationships. I can be perfectly content going my own way and doing my own thing, but when I got married and committed to that woman my life, love and loyalty, I gave up being just about myself. It is the two of us that make up one person and while we are individuals with differences we are one flesh both of us living for the good and well being of the other and not just ourselves. I know how oblivious I can become to the needs of my wife because I get so caught up in what I need to do and what is important to me. I have to remember that my top priority next to God is my wife. When I forget that I begin to unwittingly open myself up to a breakdown in our relationship. Just as I must cultivate and spend quality time in my relationship with the Lord, I can do no less with my spouse.
What I am learning is that our spiritual relationship is directly related to our natural relationship with our spouse. When there is disharmony and dissension in the natural, it hinders the spiritual dimension of our relationship with the Lord. As 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” We have to remember that we are not in this by ourselves, we are together in union with Christ. We need that unity to maintain right relationship spiritually. This is another reason we as husbands and wives must commit to keeping our hearts in an attitude of submission before the Lord and to one another, willing to pray together and share our hearts together without fear of reprisals. We will all have our difficult times, but if our hearts and attitudes remain right we can resolve them.
If we are finding ourselves in the place in our lives where the storms of divorce are brewing, start by submitting your hearts to the Lord and His will. It is only in being right with Him that we can be right with each other. Love has to be the conquering force to all obstacles and we know that His love is greater than ourselves. Let His love reign in your hearts and relationships always and let us submit ourselves to one another in the spirit of that love.

Blessings,
kent

Marriage Defiled

August 2, 2013

Marriage Defiled

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

We have touched on this subject before, but this is what that Holy Spirit seems to be impressing upon my heart today. Not unlike times past our society and the moral fabric that holds it together is being compromised. We stand upon the precipice of ruin because so much of our society has lost the value and the sanctity of marriage. Over and over again when we watch a movies or TV or read a magazine the acceptance of a homosexual agenda is being presented as an acceptable lifestyle and alternative to marriage between one man and one woman. Now it is being pressed upon our society through the acceptance and legalization of same sex marriages.
Since the early 60’s the acceptance of cohabitation between unmarried couples has gained greater and greater acceptance, even now this comprises a great many of our households today. Then there are the many households where the lack of commitment has left children without fathers and many times with little or no support except from the government. Likewise, it is rare we watch movies, television and soap operas that fornication and adultery aren’t prevalent scenes and themes. What has all of this done to us as a society but make us hardened and callused to the fact that this is sin and an abomination to the heart of God? We have placed ourselves as a society and as individuals into a place of judgement because we have ignored and blatantly disobeyed God’s Word. If that isn’t bad enough we kill our unborn that result from much of this lifestyle. When we have not done these things literally we have entertained them and engaged them with our minds through impurity and pornography and vain imaginations. We have become a diseased society; infected with immorality and sin to such an extent that our hearts have become hardened and insensitive to the affects of the decay it is having on our families, our society and nation as a whole. There are hardly any of us that can say we haven’t been personally affected by this sin in our society, because it is touching each one of us either directly or indirectly. We have to come to the place and do all that we can to bring our society to the place where we really reverence the sanctity of marriage, the home and the family. God has been infinitely longsuffering and gracious towards us, but we must realize what a stench our sin is to His nostrils and He will not withhold his judgement indefinitely. By our own hand our nation will fall into perversion and ruin.
We have to again begin to really value and reinforce the importance of the institution of marriage between one man and one woman as God ordained it from the beginning. We have to reinforce the value of commitment and covenant in this relationship to where divorce isn’t found in one out of every two marriages. We have to again lay hold of the revelation of what it means to be one flesh with the man or woman we enter into covenant with, for better of for worse.
God doesn’t hate us because we have engaged in homosexuality, fornication, adultery or numerous other perversions and sexual sins, but He hates the sin. We have made ourselves His enemies in as much as we have engaged in it. If we are unwilling to repent, turn away from it and ask the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from these sins, then we will be judged in them. The Word says that the people who engage in such things have no part in the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” God puts His finger on it and tells us how it is going to be. We, as the people of God, must first purify our own hearts and get free from the strongholds and struggles we face in these areas. How can we help others until we have addressed our own issues? To our shame we have embraced many of the world’s values in regards to sexual purity and the institution of marriage. Marriage is the only acceptable area we can enjoy and share our sexuality in God’s eyes. He has given us this precious gift for a reason, but we have grossly perverted it and exploited it. We have to continually bring our hearts before Him and allow the Holy Spirit to examine us and show us our sin and folly, so that we can repent and return to a pure and right state in our minds and our hearts. We have to bear the torch and the standard of purity before our society. As long as we are in a state of hypocrisy and compromise we only reinforce this state of sin.
“God help us to purify our hearts and turn from our wicked ways so that we can be a light of righteousness to all around us. May they see the standard and the law of God written upon the tablets of our hearts through lives that glorify and honor you in word and deed. Help us to hold to the sanctity of marriage in our own lives and continue to keep covenant with the husband or wife of our youth through the power of the love you are working in our hearts. Amen”

Blessings,
kent

Life and Godliness

June 3, 2013

1 Timothy 6:6-12
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Life and Godliness

This scripture kind of flies in the face of all that we are taught in our present day society. It teaches us that it is all about education, working your way up, success and getting ahead. All of these can be good in the right balance, but in all of our pursuit of life’s “success” we often miss the most important and needful things, life and godliness. It takes a paradigm shift in our natural thinking to not be so earthly minded and material oriented that we rob our soul to satisfy our flesh. How many upon finally reaching their goals of success, wealth, fame and riches find that happiness, satisfaction, contentment and peace are not in the pot of gold they thought to find at the end of their rainbow?
We all need to work and support ourselves and families. That is a godly principle. In the process of that we often find ourselves getting out of balance, because the world and work place begins to demand more and more from us at the expense of robbing God, our family and even our own souls.
Many times this may be because we are trying to find our identity in our career rather than our relationship with Christ. What we are and how we are seen in world’s eyes supercedes who we are and our life’s purpose in Christ. Many of us have fallen in this snare and may be there right now.
This is not to condemn, but cause us to take an honest look at our true motives, affections and life’s pursuits. If we are not first and foremost focused on our identity in Christ and how He wants to live through us day by day, then we are missing our calling. We all have to be so careful that we don’t get caught up in the materialism of the world and society we live in, that we miss our higher and foremost calling. “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
If our basic needs are met, then let us pursue what God apprehended foremost for, Himself. Our primary function is the expression of His nature in and through our lives which grows out of an ever increasing relationship and intimacy with Him. The enemy will bring every distraction and temptation to rob us of that identity and purpose we all have in Christ Jesus.
Let us check our priorities today. Are we aligning our lives with this scripture? If not, what steps do we need to take to bring our lives back on course with our true identity and purpose?

Blessings,
kent

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