Boys to Men

October 25, 2013

Ephesians 4: 14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Boys to Men

As I was meditating this morning an old John Wayne movie came into my thoughts called “The Cowboys”. Many of you may still remember it. It was about a rancher who had to drive his cattle to market, but he couldn’t get any men to help him so he had to take a group of boys to drive his cattle. Along the drive they are confronted with cattle rustlers who capture them. John Wayne never allows fear or intimidation to be seen on him. He stands up to these rustlers and demonstrates before these boys what a man of courage and integrity is all about. In the process the leader of the rustlers kills him and they go on to take the cattle. The only other adult is the old cook. After John Wayne’s death, these boys rise to the occasion and they no longer see themselves as boys, but as men. They plan their strategy and take the cattle back from the rustlers, defeating them in the process and killing their leader. They then take the cattle on to market and complete their mission.
What I felt the Lord was showing me through this is that we have a man who has walked before us and shown us the true nature and character of God. He has never shown fear or been intimidated by His enemies, but demonstrated before us the greatest degree of courage and self-sacrifice as He gave His life for us. We are like those boys, who have never seen ourselves really as men, but God is placing us in circumstances that we must gird up our loins as men and walk the walk of the Savior. There comes a time we put aside our childish ways and we come into manhood and I speak this figuratively for women as well as men. The Holy Spirit is there to give the wisdom and guidance to grow up into Him which is the head, even Christ. As we come into maturity, we put aside our petty bickering and differences and we function as one man, one team filled with the Holy Spirit, with power and authority. I believe that in this time the Lord is telling us to grow up and go from boys to men. We know the way; Jesus walked it before us, now it is time that we walk His walk, not going where we choose, but where He leads us. Many of us may be weak or of no special ability or strength, but God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to prevail over the strong. It is not because of who we are that we are anything, but it is because of who He is in us that we are everything and capable of anything. It is time we take our eyes off of our immaturity and childishness. It is time we place our eyes upon Him that we have been called to be conformed too and begin to walk in His image and likeness. Faith sees what is not evident and without faith it is impossible to please Him. It is that faith of who He is in us that is taking us from boys to men.

Blessings,
kent

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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

The Labor of Love

September 3, 2013

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her. Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring. Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth. Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth. The miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents. This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others. It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer. That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended. That was only the conception. The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them. Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith. No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her. Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood. You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them. All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them. You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours.
Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction. You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways.
This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others. Often it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you that now take on a different spirit. Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them. In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go. As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ. It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them.
We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us. Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us, or reject us. They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them. They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you. Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction. It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did. Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man. God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are. We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,
kent

From Such Turn Away

August 28, 2013

From Such Turn Away

2 Timothy 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
This scripture comes after Paul gives a description of a people you would think would be obvious that they were not Christians, for he writes in 2 Timothy 3:1-4, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Yet, these people, as ungodly as they are, are described as having a form of godliness, but their very nature denies the power of it. 2 Corinthians 11:14 describes a similar situation of how satan often appears to us, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” Does that mean he is an angel of light or simply masquerades or disguises himself as one? If we are gullible and take everything and everyone at face value, we are open to deception. Most likely many of us have been deceived at one time or another by someone, who having a form of godliness, came in with heresies or teachings that subtly distorted and manipulated God’s Word to appear to say and teach something different than what the Holy Spirit was conveying. There are those that would love nothing more than to draw us away unto themselves and through there teachings or influence shipwreck our faith. Obviously that is why Paul is telling Timothy “from such turn away.”
Jesus gives the same type of exhortation to his disciples in Matthew 7:14-23, “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: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the w!y, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; ” a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
The message here is plain, just because a tree looks like an apple tree doesn’t necessarily mean it is, but if it is, it will bear apples and not some other type of fruit. While none of us professes our lives to be manifesting perfection just yet, we are told that by observing the fruit, the behavior, the attitudes, the true nature of a person; we will be able to discern if they are really of Christ or not. One can only hide their true identity and nature for so long until it will show itself for what it is. Beware that not everyone professing Christ is of Christ. They may well be as deceived in as much as they are trying to deceive you. Don’t compromise the standard of God’s Word. It doesn’t change no matter how spiritual someone professes to be or how much Greek and Hebrew they say they know. Hold fast to the foundational principles of the faith. If God is showing you a deeper revelation of a truth in His word that does not follow conventional teaching He will confirm it for you if you seek him. It won’t have to just come through one person or one source, there will be other witnesses to it and it won’t go counter to God’s Word.
The exhortation is when we recognize these ones who only have a form of godliness, but lack the true Spirit of Christ in them, turn away from them and have no more fellowship with them. It doesn’t mean that you take up a judgmental spirit or that you don’t try to restore those who are in error, but if they are unwilling to see their error and turn from it, then have no more fellowship with them. If you continue to associate yourself with them you will be drawn away and corrupted by them. Be vigilant and discerning of those you have fellowship with, that they have true godliness and not just a mere pretense of it.

Blessings,
kent

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