Instructions for Life

September 11, 2015

Proverbs 4:13
Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life.

Instructions for Life

Every day is a classroom of instruction, learning and experience. Much like school when we were children, many of us still don’t pay very close attention. God has something to teach us every day if we are tuned into the Spirit and we have spiritual ears tuned to hear what He is speaking. As we grow to know God’s Word we are learning instruction in spiritual, as well as practical life. God gives us the principles to live full, productive and satisfying lives, but are we listening, are we paying attention and are we applying these life principles to our lives? Often we nod, say an amen and acknowledge them with our minds, but have they gotten down into our hearts?
Just like in school there is a time of listening, studying and learning; then there is a time of testing to find out what we really know and remember. It is our testing that really tells us where we are. God already knows where we are, but most of the time we really don’t. It isn’t till we are put to the test of faith in certain areas that we see if we really have learned to trust God and apply the principles that He has taught us or if we resort back to acting out of the natural man and that way of thinking.
Often we can be going through life filled with joy and being blessed and then suddenly wham!!!!!!!!! We are hit with a punch that knocks our breath out. Tragedy may strike, we are treated unfairly, we are fired, our spouse wants to divorce us, we are faced with a life threatening disease in ourselves or one that we love and life no longer makes sense. Any number of things may assault us at any given time. How will we cope with these calamities? This is where the rubber meets the road and theory meets reality. Can we now make application in our lives of the things that we have learned and have knowledge of or are we sitting there stunned, shaking our heads and asking, “why me, God?” God says that it rains on the just and the unjust. Whether we are in Christ or in the world, tragedy and calamities are a very real part of life in this body. The life, the power and the grace that takes us through these times are found in the instruction that God has given us. Fortunately, it is an open book test and if we are struggling to make sense of all that is going on with us we can go back to the instruction of God’s Word. There we can find the answers that will help us to gain the perspective and even the faith that we need to prevail in difficult times
Jesus assures us that we will have tribulation in this world, but to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). What does that mean to us? If our life is hid with Christ, in God as Colossians 3:3 says, then you also have overcome the world. The Overcomer dwells within you to help you walk where He has walked and prevail in victory where He has prevailed. Yes, we will have tribulation, but we are promised that we don’t have to face it alone. Christ is always there with us and the last part of Romans 8 assures us that there is no calamity or being or even death itself that can separate us from the love of God.
How do we pass the test? It is first in listening and learning the instruction of the Lord. Proverbs 6:3 says, “For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life.” God in His love shows us, teaches and corrects us. If we are wise we will receive His correction and we will grow wiser still. Proverbs 9:7-12 teaches us, “”Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. 8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you. 9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. 10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”
Learning and putting into practice our instruction is what is maturing us into the image of Him that is our teacher. It is God’s purpose and plan that we are like our Teacher and Master. If we will humble ourselves before Him, He will give us the instructions to a godly life and He will help us in the tests to practice the principles that He has taught us. Pay attention to His instruction and humbly receive His correction, ‘for whom the Lord loves He chastens’. Hebrews 12:7-13 leaves us with this exhortation, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Blessings,
#kent

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The Art of Storytelling

January 14, 2015

Psalms 34:11
Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

The Art of Storytelling

Many of us experience the difficulty of relating with our children and grandchildren. They live in a high tech world of video games and fast paced television. To them we may seem pretty boring and out of touch. Even so, I think children still have the same need to be able to be taught and nurtured by us. Often we are perceived as just the yellers and disciplinarians. Yet part of the role of an adult parent or grandparent is the role of a teacher. God has given us a good number more years to experience life first hand through both success and failures. We tend to forget the wealth of experience that we possess. Used in the right way, this can be one of the greatest avenues for us to relate and teach our children the positive lessons of life. It is our way to make real to them the reality of God and how He personally works in our lives.
God exhorted the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is a parent’s responsibility to pass on the laws, principles and precepts of God’s Word to their children. Many of us have been very guilty of ignoring this responsibility or feel like we have met our obligation by giving our kids religious videos and taking them to Sunday school. That is all well and good, but God has given us the responsibility to instruct our children. Maybe we don’t feel qualified or we think that just entails us sitting them down while we read scripture to them. No, the Word of God has to become alive to them through us. We have to convey to them spiritual reality.
Our grandchildren love all the things that other kids love, but I find that they are fascinated to sit and listen as we tell them the stories of how God has worked in our lives. We can share with them our victories and our failures. When they understand how God has worked for us and in us then they can mentally handle God in the flesh. It becomes reality to them and it makes the stories of God’s Word more of a reality to them as well. It is amazing to see the hunger in our grandchildren as they ask to hear story after story. The neat thing is that as you are telling them the stories you can teach God’s Word to them in a meaningful and interesting way.
We may not think we have much to share, but maybe we need to take some time to really meditate back through our lives and think about all of the times God has been there for us. As we think about it, most all of us have experiences where we have seen God’s hand in our lives, His blessing, His protection and His provision. We may find that encourages and stirs up our faith as we remember and reflect on all of God’s goodness in our lives. Be faithful to teach your children and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. They need it because it is what gives them a sense of identity and purpose for their own lives. There is perhaps no more effective way than through the art of storytelling. It is the way that cultures have passed their values and their heritage on to the younger generations throughout history. We don’t want to lose this art in our high tech world. Take the time to share your stories and do it often. It is the way that we instill godly character, values and knowledge about who God is, what He is and what He wants to be to them.

Blessings,
#kent

Dead Man Walking

June 18, 2014

Dead Man Walking

Colossians 3:3
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Please take just a minute and try and absorb the impact and implication of this one verse. Sometimes I think I comprehend this truth mentally, but do I possess a real revelation of what it should mean in my life? This truth should continually revolutionize my world-view and perception of reality. The spiritual reality and implication to this is that this self-life is dead. That could seem pretty dreary and boring if it were not for what I traded it for. If I am dead to myself, that means that I am free to be fully alive in Christ. That means that God’s life inhabits me, fills me, expands and promotes beyond human limitation what I have the possibility of being “in Him”. Say your name and put Christ behind it. You are now that expression, uniquely and divinely His.
Now someone will be thinking, “what are you saying, that we should now have this god-complex?” If we are indeed dead to the flesh and alive unto Christ, the God in us is in reality Him and not us. We understand that whatever God does through us, great or small, it is by the power of in His in-working grace and Holy Spirit. We are simply the living organism of His expression, unified with Him and in full corporation with His intent and purpose.
Perhaps one of the most staggering handicaps in Christianity today is, “we don’t really know who we are” and if we do get a hold of that, we so quickly forget it as we are quickly caught up in the life and economy of the world that we walk in. The reality is that we are ‘dead men walking’ with regards to the flesh and our former soulish life, but we are resurrected men of the spirit who should be walking in the newness of life and hope in Christ Jesus. If you are dead to the world then you have nothing to fear from the world. The most the world could do is take your temporary existence in this world, but “your life is hid with Christ in God.” That means that for anything to truly touch your life, it has to go through God to do it. Will God allow things to touch you? God will allow what will make you stronger and continually work a greater measure of His grace and perfecting work in you. You are His family. When He corrects you, it is for your good, because of His exceeding great love for you. He wants kids that hold the family resemblance of holiness and purity and love. He wants kids after His nature and likeness. That is who you are! Every time we look in that mirror we should see no longer just an outward man that represents our soul, we should see an outward man that possesses and is the habitation of the Christ. Because that is who we are, we are focused not on the temporal and earthly life; we are focused on the things above. We are as it says in Hebrews 11:13, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” Peter picks up on this same thought in 1Peter 2:11, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”
The greatest victory for the enemy and the saddest defeat for the Christian is for the devil to steal your identity. You talk about identity theft; there is no greater case and point than when you go around believing the lie about who you really are and who you really are not. God’s Word tells us who we are. It is the mirror we must continually look into until it becomes so ingrained in us that we are no longer this former person in the world, we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Romans 12:2 exhorts us in the light of this reality, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We can never be the overcomers that God intended we should be while we still identify with these weak sin-laden bodies. Quit focusing on what you don’t think you are and start focusing on what God says you are. Because we experience some mistakes and setbacks, that doesn’t make us failures, it should only make us more determined to allow God to be our all in all. 1 John 4:17 tells us, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”

Blessings,
#kent

Religious Icons

October 25, 2012

1 Samuel 4:4-10
So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”
When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. 8Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert. 9Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
10So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Religious Icons

This scripture in 1 Samuel captures a truth that is prevalent for us today and needs to be considered by us as God’s people.
There was no greater representative symbol of God and His presence in that day than the Ark of the Covenant. To the Israelites it represented the presence of God in their midst. In past times the Ark of the Covenant had not been taken into battle.
Here is a principle that religion has failed to grasp. God gives us natural symbols to show us spiritual truths. It helps us to conceptualize spiritual realities that we have a hard time grasping with natural understanding. Religion tends to take the symbols of truth and make them icons of idolatry because it teaches us to put our faith in the symbol rather than the reality of the truth that it represents. Our symbols, outside of the context of the truth they represent, become no more than good luck charms we believe will wart off evil and give us God’s favor.
God gave the tabernacle and all of its furnishing as type and shadow of that truth that would be fulfilled in Christ Jesus. They were all symbols of the truth, but not the reality and substance of it.
In this passage in 1 Samuel 4 we see the two priests, Hophni and Phinnehas who were suppose to be the representatives of God, but were living godless and sinful lives. Maybe the underlying thought was that if we the Ark of the Covenant and bring into the battle we’ll be holding God hostage, because surely He won’t allow the ark to be captured and He will give us the victory. One thing we learn about God is that not even the temple that carries His name is sacred if the hearts of His people are wicked. He is jealous over our spirits, not our religious icons. He will destroy even the most sacred natural thing in order to restore the spiritual reality and truth of it.
Look even at the example in 1 Corinthians 5 where a man was in relations with his father’s wife. Paul passes a judgement that the lesser be destroyed that the greater might be preserved. “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” God will destroy the natural to preserve the spirit no matter how spiritual the natural may seem. He has done it with many great men of God that allowed sin to enter in.
How many times do we come naming and claiming in the “Name of Jesus”, but our lives are not aligning with His nature, character and purpose. Like the Israelites here, we may often suffer defeat because the spiritual reality of the truth is not in place and practice. If we want God to show up in our battles then we need to be carrying and practicing His presence. If we are relying on a symbol or icon to bring us victory then we have missed the greater truth. Truth is not in the icon, it is in what it represents and symbolizes. If the truth isn’t alive in us then the icon is not going to save us no matter how religious it is. You and I are the temples that carry and house His truth. If we want to see the victory in our battles then we must live out of the truth of the Christ that we carry, not in just the symbol of the cross, but in the reality of all that it represents.

Blessings,
kent

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