A Series of Right Decisions

Proverbs 3:1-12
1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

The essence and sum of our lives can be measured and is made up of a series of decisions. There will be things in our lives that we have no control over other than how we respond to them and what we do with them. When we look back over our lives and to the point that we presently live, we can see that our lives are the result of a good number of smaller decisions and choices. Some of those have had more impact on our lives than others but even the little decisions have contributed to the larger whole. When we understand that each day is made up of a series of decision that can impact and guide the direction of our lives, we then understand the importance of making right decisions.
Proverbs 3 speaks to us out of the wisdom of a Father to his son. As we read this we insert ourselves into the object of this conversation. The Father is reminding the son that to live a prosperous and healthy life there are certain things you need to maintain, remember and exercise in your decision making. The foremost is that you keep the teachings and the commands of God’s Word in your heart. The continual meditation upon the Word of God will serve to keep your life focused and continually aware of what your life is about.
The way that we exercise the Word that we store up in our hearts is through love and faithfulness. These are the keys that allow us to partake of the treasures of God’s wisdom and grace and to put them into the vocabulary of our daily lives and actions. Love, trust and obedience, these are the essentials that need to be with us in every decision making process. When we have them and exercise them, and then they will assure a right motive to the decisions that we do make.
Even with these essentials we realize that we lack the insight, understanding and wisdom to really know what is best for our lives and if the decision we are making may be the best choice we could have made.
Again, the Lord reminds us to trust Him with all our whole heart and to lean not upon our own understanding. God knows so much more about our lives and the impact of our decisions than we do. It only makes sense to really trust Him to guide us and lead us. He says He will make our paths straight. Romans 8: 28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” These are those ones that are practicing Proverbs 3. If we acknowledge Him, trust Him and love Him with all of our heart, then He is able to take even the bad things in our life and work them for our good. There are going to be times in our life we won’t be able to grasp the whys and wherefores of how God operates and the reason He has allowed things to happen as they have. He never told us we had to understand Him, just acknowledge, love and trust Him.
We can never boast in ourselves, in our ability, our prosperity or our wisdom. We do acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from above. Sometimes we are tempted in our spiritual or natural successes to be lifted up to think we are something or somebody more than somebody else is. We have to always keep our feet on the ground while we keep our heart in heaven. Spiritual pride is a foolish man’s prize. We are all the products of God’s rich grace and mercy. None of us can boast in ourselves for it is God alone that gives us value and worth. If we fear God and turn away from evil then it will be health to our body and nourishment to our bones.
I heard a minister the other day who was sharing that the temple had five gates. There was a priest stationed over each one of those gates as a watchman to assure that no danger or that nothing unclean entered the gates. He went on to share that these five gate are like our five natural senses and God has set us as a priest to watch over them and insure that nothing harmful or unclean passes through them into the temple which we are. This is much like the principles of Proverbs 3. If we will do our part to love, acknowledge, trust and obey the Lord, He will do His part to direct and order our steps.
As He honors us, we must in turn honor Him with the firstfruits of our increase. We can’t bring the leftovers or the second best. We must honor Him with the firstfruits of our best. He assures us that we won’t lack because of it.
We are His children. He loves us and whom the Lord loves He chastens, disciplines and corrects. We can’t become discouraged when our lot in life is tough. It is not God’s anger and displeasure at work; it is His love. The trials and tribulations in our lives are what shape and mold our character and integrity. They are a part of the process of bringing us into conformity with Father’s nature and character. All that God is working in us is in preparation for a much more glorious life.
Just remember that it is the series of everyday decision that add up to the sum of your life. Allow God to be a part of every one of them.

Blessings,
#kent

The Seductress

April 24, 2015

The Seductress

Proverbs 7
1 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your kinsman; 5 they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words. 6 At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. 7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. 8 He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house 9 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. 10 Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. 11 (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) 13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said: 14 “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. 15 So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! 16 I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! 19 My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. 20 He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” 21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose 23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. 24 Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. 25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We, as human beings, are the sum of our strengths and our weaknesses. What truly makes our chain stronger is the power of the Spirit of Christ within us.
Proverbs 7 starts out by a father exhorting his son to keep the commandments, the Word of God within him. He emphasizes that by saying, don’t just listen to the Word, but make it part and substance of your being. Let that Word influence the works of your hands and write them on the tablets of your heart till they become who you are. Make God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding as your sister and near relative.
Why do I need to do that? “They will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words.”
This passage is not just about sexual seduction; it is more about spiritual seduction. Most all of us are familiar with the passage in 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” This is that same spirit that is at work to entice our souls away from Christ. It looks for our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, and those areas of foolishness that we have yet to fully submit and bring into the obedience of Christ. They may have been subdued, lurking in the darkness of our soul. We haven’t wanted others to be aware of them and many times we ourselves are in denial that they exist, but they are there, looking and craving for the opportunity of expression and release. We often wrestle and struggle with these areas in our lives, but there will be a time and place of weakness in our lives that we will give place to them. We may not even see the immediate consequences of our actions, but this seductive spirit feeds upon the dust, the humanity and the lust of our souls. Once we begin to give place to this spirit it is like a spark and flame, it is never satisfied, but rather desires and hungers for more. It will drive us into the deeper clutches of sin and darkness. As we give more and more place to this seduction and the passion of our soul it is as the story of this young man and the harlot. We have become the fool and foolishness leads us down the road to ruin and destruction.
Many of us know or have known someone who was walking with Christ and then, as an animal caught in a trap, they became caught up in sin and their life departed more and more away from the path of righteousness. This harlot and seductress had laid hold upon them, seduced them with the lie and began leading them down the pathway to hell, while all the time exciting the passions of the flesh and promising temporal, empty riches of this world’s goods and pleasures.
It is possible as we read this, that this foolish young man could be us. Many of us know that, except for the grace of God, it would be us. This is why God’s Word must be the standard and the anchor upon which we found our life, our morality and our principles for living. When we depart from God’s precepts we exit onto a road that departs from the High Way of Holiness. That exit leads us away from the pathway to Life.
We have this illustration to let us know that the only thing that stands between this foolish young man and us, is following God’s Word through a maintained and intimate relationship with Him. Any of us could follow in his footsteps at any time, if we fail to continually guard our heart and keep it in the way of God’s Word and righteousness. Worldly enticements are always before us and they will touch the areas of weakness in our lives. This is where Christ and His Word shore up and fortify the breeches in the wall of our city. We must stand with the armor of God, ready to defend the citadel of our heart from the intrusion of the enemy. That enemy will always entice us with peace and safety while a dagger is concealed beneath their coat.
Be wise in the Word; discern the craftiness and the deceitfulness of your enemy. Know that it is the spirit of death that is wooing you into its arms. This spirit may have a beautiful face and enticing breasts, but within her grasp is the bosom of spiritual death and destruction.
A brother emailed me a scripture yesterday that fits very well here, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)”

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 5:17-20
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Law: To Abolish or Fulfill

Often times many us think of the Old Testament as being a former dispensation of God that applied to the Jewish people, gave the Law, the history, the Psalms, Proverbs and a lot of good stories. Many might think that because we are a New Testament people that the Old Testament doesn’t have real application and promise to us. After all we are no longer under the Law. While there is truth to this we might be overlooking what Jesus is saying here. Jesus declares that His mission and purpose isn’t to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. The Old Testament and the Law provided the foundation and groundwork for the fulfillment of that Law through Christ. What has changed for us is that it is no longer the works of the Law that we are trying to keep through the efforts of the flesh, but it is the Spirit of that Law now written upon the tablets of our heart. The nature of God has not changed or His Laws, but He has taken them from the outward to the inward through the power of the Holy Spirit and His nature that now resides in us. Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Christ fulfilled what we could not in that He fulfilled all of the requirements of the Law, but more than that, He became the sin offering to take upon Himself all of the penalty of sin for us. His faith in us embraces and appropriates that finished work of Christ that fulfilled the Law. It is that faith in His finished work that is now reckoned unto us for righteousness. The Law is fulfilled in us only through Christ. As we now live in Christ it is His nature within us that fulfills and keeps the Law. As we walk by the Spirit we no longer fulfill the lusts of our flesh. Romans 8:10-11 declares this truth by saying, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” In Christ, in this New Testament man, we do not abolish the Old, but we become the fulfillment of it. We have the power, authority and life of Christ to walk into what the Old Testament saints dreamed about. They were our examples and mentors to help us walk into a greater dimension of faith and faithfulness to the Lord. We walk into it by the power of Christ in us and the identification that we have died to the weakness of the Law, which is our sinful flesh. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have the finished work of Christ behind us. We have a commission of Christ to bring Him into our entire world. The Law and the Prophets live on. They along with the apostles have become the foundation of our faith. What is it that God is building? Ephesians 2:19-22 declares, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We are God’s lively stones built upon this foundation to be the holy temple of the Lord. This is that place where God chooses to make His abode. Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them and we a part of that fulfillment as we abide in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

The Power of Our Words

Matthew 12:30-37
30“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Words are powerful utterances that have the power to work not only in the seen realm but in the unseen as well. This scripture here tells us that words are pretty important because by them we are judged and must give account. “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Why are words so important? Words are the expression of the heart and it’s condition. If our heart is evil, our words will reflect that and if our hearts are pure and just, our words will reflect that as well.
In the first part of this study let’s begin to look at the power of God’s Word. There is a creative power in words that cannot be denied. Perhaps the greatest and foremost of these is seen in John 1:1-5, “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.” All of creation is held together by “the Word”, which is Christ Jesus. He was the spoken Word of faith proceeding out of the Father’s mouth that set all of creation into being. That Word has expression through a person Christ Jesus who is the divine mouthpiece of God. Jesus even said in John 6:63, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.” What Jesus spoke in this earthly ministry was not idle chatter; they were the foundational building blocks, the DNA of eternal life. Our faith in those words and the God-man that spoke them is the essence of our faith and the hope we have in eternal life. It is the power of God’s Word that has the power to change and transform our hearts and lives. Again in John 14:10 Jesus says, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” Jesus again confirms that His presence and His expression are the extension of the Father and not His own as a separate entity. Through our unity in Christ Jesus and common faith in Him, He has joined us to Himself for us to, in turn, be the expression of His Word. Our unity and alliance with the Word is seen in our obedience to it. Because Christ was the Word, His life lined up with it in total obedience. Jesus tells us our lives must do the same if we are a part of that Word. In John 14:23-34, “23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.””
Jesus expresses His mission and what His Word is to accomplish in and through us in John 17:6-8, ““I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” Then in verses 14-19 Jesus prays, “14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” We should begin to grasp how central God’s Word and truth is to all that He is imparting into the believers. Words are a creative and dynamic power we will continue to expand on as the Lords leads. (Continued)

Blessings,
#kent

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