2 Corinthians 2:10
For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds

Through the Heat of Battle

In the trenches of spiritual warfare you are not often going to look your best. In the daily battles and encounters we have we are often sweaty, dirty, tired and even bloody, bruised and wounded. Those who are walking out their faith are not dressed for ceremony they are dressed for battle. In the battle you most likely will not feel like a good warrior or hero. You may be scared, discouraged, fatigued, hurting and just trying to survive. While you may feel inside to be anything but an overcomer, that is who you are as you endure the battle and stand faithful to the banner of your faith. The survivors and heroes of war weren’t wearing their medals on their chest in the midst of the battle, those medals were the result of their fortitude, their faithfulness, their courage in the midst of the battle when all they were seeing around them was pain, suffering and death. Yet there was something in their character and in their hearts that brought them through the battle. Those men and women weren’t decorated with medals because they conducted themselves well, when everything was going good and they were at peace. Most medals are won in the midst of battle where if we get through it, it is not without loss and pain physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Many of you are on the spiritual battlegrounds today. It may not have been your choice, but you are there in the midst of the battle none the less. Most of us would like to just speak a word and have those battles resolved and go away, but we find that we are in a war that often rages on day after day. Some days we are not sure we can make it through another one, but somehow, by the grace of God, we do. God wants you to know that this is not a sign of your weakness or your defeat, it is the proving ground of your victory and your triumph. The enemy is fighting to take your life, but by your faithfulness and the fortitude of your faith, God is forming in you the heart of courage and the qualities of heroes. By your continued faithfulness you are prevailing and you are conquering, even though in your heart you may feel very discouraged and defeated. It is in these places that we learn to crawl out of the weakness of our flesh and put on Christ who is our strength and our life. We may have to endure the battle while in these weak and frail bodies, but in our spirits and in our hearts we have put off the flesh and put on Christ who is our strength. Through Him we are more than conquerors and can do all things. If He leads us into battle then we must trust that He can sustain us through it.
Whatever your battle and whatever front your are fighting on, whether it be health, finances, job, emotional, family problems, persecution, or whatever, He is there for you. In these places of battle the enemy tries to strip us of our dignity, our faith, our confidence and assurance. He rails upon us with condemnation, throwing before us our weakness and defeats. We can not take his bait. Sometimes he causes hurts so severe that we will harbor, hate, anger and unforgiveness. He assaults us on many fronts, but we must be wise and discerning of His tactics, holding fast the Word of God as our standard of truth and reality. We are what the Word of God says we are. 1 Peter 2:9-11 says of us, “9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
Be encouraged today; strengthen yourself in His faithfulness. Stay the course, endure the battle and finish the race. “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. (1 John 4:17)”

Blessings,
#kent

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Romans 5:6-8
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God Loves Us Even when We are Ugly

Isn’t it wonderful that God didn’t just limit His love and grace to the few us humans that are cute and cuddly? He didn’t just love us when we loved Him and didn’t withhold His greatest expression of love toward us even when we least deserved or merited it.
Have you ever been around someone that was hard to love and get along with? On in any given day that could probably apply to any one of us. We can all have our ugly times and our ugly ways. Then there are some with which it has become a way of life. You know the ironic thing is that it is usually with the people that we love the most that we are often the most ugly. We can be ripping our spouse or children up all-day and then come to a stranger and be perfectly nice and polite.
Why is that? Perhaps it is because we feel safe venting our anger, frustration and anxieties upon the ones that we love because we feel we are safe doing it with them. Maybe it is because the ones we “love” aren’t meeting our expectations or living up to our standards. Perhaps we feel those loved ones will still love me even when my raw side is showing. Unfortunately, what was maybe a once-in-a-while bad hair day, can become a habitual bad hair life. We can become abusive on a continual basis to the ones we should love and respect the most. It may be our husband, our wife, our children, parents, family or friends.
There is a great lesson here as we look at God’s love. We see His love is unconditional and that He did love us in spite of our inward ugliness. He teaches us to be the same in our love for others. We see it coming through in the attributes of His Holy Spirit, love, joy, longsuffering, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, meekness, faith and gentleness. As His people these attributes should be an ever-increasing part of our lives. When others are ugly toward us we have to look with the eyes of the Spirit into their hearts and ask why is this person hurting so bad that they treat others this way? Is there anything I can do in Christ to minister and help to heal those inner hurts, wounds and scars?
In our closer personal relationships perhaps we may be reaping in our loved one seeds of discontent and strife that we have sown by our own actions or insensitivity. Perhaps we have played a big part in why this loved one has become that not so lovely person. What do we need to do out of the love of Christ and the love we have for them to change our dynamics toward them to relieve these angry and resentful feelings that they may be expressing? So often anger and emotion keep us from coming to a resolution of our issues. Sometimes the expression of our anger and emotion only serve to drive those we love further away from us and cause them to withdrawal. You will never bring the head of a turtle out of his shell when he knows he is going to get clubbed as soon as He shows it. We need a truce, a cease-fire and to lay our emotions aside. We need to reconcile ourselves through the love of God to really hear and respond to the issues of the heart. Most all of us are creatures of habits and it may be those habits that are a constant source of irritation and dysfunction. Let us love one another enough to change those habits and behaviors for their sake and to help them become that lovely person again that we once knew.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Let us love one another as God in Christ has so loved us.

Blessings,
#kent

The Long and Winding Path

January 29, 2015

The Long and Winding Path

Proverbs 4:14
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men].

Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” How blessed so many of us are that our loving Lord has shown us the strait gate of salvation and life. As we travel this road of life together in the light and truth of God’s Word how prone we are to still want to wander off the paths of truth and righteousness. Seldom do we want to take the shortcut to follow the straight and narrow. We so often want to take the windy path that wants to kind of weave in and out of the God’s way and His path. We always think we are missing something more exciting or more enjoyable if we stay directly on the path and so we run over here and over there. We are like little children, undisciplined to color within the lines of our drawing. Our life pictures are often distorted and not as pretty as they ought to be, because we choose to color outside the lines of God’s will and purpose for our lives. We love the Lord, we know His ways are right and just, but it is so hard for us to let the cross have its way concerning our old nature and desires.
There are those times when we perhaps cross God’s path long enough to truly experience His presence and experience the reality of Psalms 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.” What our foolish hearts blind us to see is that our God is the author of joy and pleasure. The world can only hold up a weak counterfeit to all that we can have in Christ. We don’t always see that right away and being the impetuous and impatient people that we are, we want our candy now. How easily we are often lured away. Proverbs 5 is a story of warning to the wandering and unstable son. “1My son, listen to my wisdom. Turn your ear to my understanding. 2So you may know what is good thinking, and your lips may keep much learning. 3For the lips of a strange woman are as sweet as honey. Her talk is as smooth as oil. 4But in the end she is as bitter tasting as wormwood, and as sharp as a sword that cuts both ways. 5Her feet go down to death. Her steps take hold of hell. 6She does not think about the path of life. Her ways go this way and that, and she does not know it. 7Now then, my sons, listen to me. Do not turn away from the words of my mouth. 8Keep far away from her. Do not go near the door of her house . 9If you do, you would give your strength to others, and your years to those without lovingness. 10Strangers would be filled with your strength, and the fruits of your work would go to a strange house. 11You would cry inside yourself when your end comes, when your flesh and body are wasted away. 12You would say, ‘How I have hated teaching! My heart hated strong words! 13I have not listened to the voice of my teachers. I have not turned my ear to those who would teach me. 14Now I have a bad name in the meeting place of the people.'”
Whether we wander the path of fleshly impurity or spiritual idolatry, we are unfaithful to the lover and redeemer of our souls. Who of us wants to find that at the end of our lives, or even before, our careless actions and wanton ways have brought destruction and heartache to ourselves and those around us? It is because we chose the long and windy path that allowed us to wander out of the path of life into the fields of sin and destruction. This path will have an impact on our lives in a negative way. While God, in His great love and mercy, will seek to correct us and bring us back, our foolishness is often not without its consequences and repercussions.
What is God’s path for us today? Who are we associating with that is leading us out of the will and purpose of God back into error and sin? Proverbs 1:15-16 instructs us, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” God does not want us to be yoked with unbelievers but to be their signpost to the way of life. Proverbs 4:18 instructs us,” But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Our paths must be made straight, for our eye must not be fixed on the temporal, but upon the eternal purposes of God and our part in them. With the vision that we are walking into the perfect day we will set our hearts to follow directly and passionately after Him and not the windy paths that lead in and out of His will. We must grow up into Him in all things concerning this life and that which is to come.

Blessings,
#kent

Defining Love

December 22, 2014

1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Defining Love

How do we define love? 1 John 4:16 says, “…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” We know that, in and of ourselves, our love is limited and conditional, but in Christ it knows no such boundaries, ‘for while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ The secret to loving as God has commanded us too is in the abiding in Him. That abiding love is not static, it is dynamic in its expression toward all that surrounds it. The eyes of that love are always looking to the real needs in each individual that it encounters. Outwardly men say that they need a lot of things that aren’t really even relevant to the deeper need of their heart. They might not even understand what there need is, but God does. As we walk in the love of God, we become the expression of God by the Spirit at work in and through us. We want to ask God to help us see each individual, from those in our own family to those who are strangers, through His eyes and His heart. Operating and living out of the love of God is in seeing your life as a ministry and service to those around you. Love is an open door of giving. It is often returned with ungratefulness and abuse, but it stays open because it is the avenue of God’s love to our fellow man. When we suffer reproach, abuse and ungratefulness from others then we are, in a sense, filling up the sufferings of Christ. We are experiencing and feeling what He felt. We understand the sadness and heartache for those who reject Him, while at the same time we share in the joy of those who embrace Him.
We have become a very self-contained society wanting our own space and our own things. God blesses us to be a blessing. Abiding in the love of God will often take us out of our comfort zone, as it requires that we often lay down our wants and desires so that we might meet the needs in others. For us to intimately know God we must truly respond to the love of God and become the expression of His love to others. If we are a closed channel, then we have effectively cut off the life to God to someone who needs it. God says, “that is not my love. My love extends it’s arms open to all who will receive Christ and come into Me.”
Do we really know God? For us to really know Him means that we have to be the expression of that same love wherewith He has loved and gave His life for us. Are we willing to give our life for others?
Ask God to give you the eyes to see the world and the individuals around you through His eyes and His love. Then ask Him to help you to respond accordingly. The world is starving for genuine love. You are that love because God abides in you.

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

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