Romans 14:1-5
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judgement on Disputable Matters

If we were all to gather around and talk our theology hopefully we would be in agreement concerning the basic tenants of our faith such as Jesus being the Son of God, His blood being the atonement for our sins, that we are saved through faith and not of works, the virgin birth and other foundational truths that define Christianity. Hopefully, what we do not do is what Paul and others warned us about and that is adding or taking away from the gospel. Many times men, doctrines and denominations want to put their addendum that it is not just by faith that we are saved. The Galatians had been deceived into thinking that it was Christ and the works of the Law that saved them, but Paul clarifies this all through the book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:16 it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” The Law is all about our doing and doing is never enough, therefore we find ourselves standing in condemnation because we can’t live up to the Law or we become judgmental and condescending because we think we are keeping it so much better than others around us. Christ came and died to deliver us out of the mentality and the separation from God that it brought. In Galatians 2:20 Paul puts our faith into perspective as to where our lives should be if we are a Spirit-led people. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is no longer about what I am or what I believe; it is about being the expression of the Christ that indwells me. “I” should no longer live, only Christ in me. The summary of our past, present and future in Christ is summed up in Ephesians 2: 1-10. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All 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. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Now if we agree on these basic tenants of our faith, then what is all of Romans 14 about? It is about all of little disputes about what we see, understand, are persuaded and comprehend the Word of God to say. I have found in myself, that over my lifetime many of my opinions and perceptions have changed and are still changing. We all walk in the light of what we know, see and understand, but 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The truth is, no matter how much we know, we all still just know in part, because we are limited through our natural mind and understanding. I read an illustration recently that helped me see this more clearly. If I held up a nickel between us and we were asked what was on the nickel, I would say an impression of Thomas Jefferson and you would disagree and say no, it is an impression of Monticello. The truth is that we would both be right depending on our perspective, paradigm and way of seeing it. Religious men, including us, have often been guilty of taking a particular truth and making a dogma out of it. The truths of God are like spokes in a wheel; they can only keep the wheel in round if they are balanced by all other truth. If I take any truth to an extreme it becomes out of balance. The truth is I need both Thomas Jefferson and Monticello to make that nickel work.
Let’s not get distracted by the minor points of truth that we loose sight of the bigger picture here. We are not in fellowship with one another to bicker over our differences, but to edify one another in who we are in Christ. Let us lay our petty differences aside and let us allow one another the freedom to walk in the light of what we know realizing that we are all growing in the light and knowledge of Him. God is our judge, not man, before Him alone do we stand or fall. The Lord told me once concerning trying to correct how someone else believes. Don’t argue and debate them. Speak the truth in love and the truth will set them free.

Blessings,
#kent

The Spirit of a Jackass

September 14, 2015

Jeremiah 14:6
“Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights and pant like jackals; their eyesight fails for lack of pasture.”

The Spirit of a Jackass

Oh that men would praise Him rather than sing mournful hymns and songs. Oh that men of the cloth would have restored to them spiritual vision and insight. The religious man perishes and is made like dry bones. He pursues God only with his mind and intellect while his heart is far from Him. He has not the faith to embrace and hold the things of God because he stands upon the barren heights of man’s religion and tradition. It is what he has been handed down from his fathers and it is what he has learned to embrace. Now, as a wild donkey, he stands upon the barren and desolate heights of religious intellect and the traditions of his fathers to find he like the jackal is looking for some dead thing to feed upon. His spiritual eyesight fails to see that God is so much more than the cathedrals of theology and learning. He is not only the God of the past, but of the here and now. He doesn’t know how to find and relate with God in his own present tense. His soul is lean though his head is full of knowledge. He dwells in the land of famine and feeds upon the fodder of human reasoning. He has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. Thus, he finds no pasture and rest for his soul, but wrestles with fears, doubts and unbelief. The product of this man is found across the landscape of religion. They have their structures, their forms, their incantation, ceremonies and holy words, but their lives are devoid of the life giving power of true relationship and fellowship with Father God. There God is kept in their holy box instead of being a living fire in their hearts.
Though the truth is spoken to them they can not hear. They will not receive for they are like the wild donkeys, stubborn and set in their ways. They, in fact, resent and despise those who live in and speak the truth, for they are the heretics of their religious box. The religion and their tradition have become their idol and indeed it is the religion and form that they worship and not God.
Jeremiah 14:10 says, “This is what the LORD says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the LORD does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” The strongholds of religion will fall. Their religious walls have only served to hide the hypocrisy and sin of those who inhabit them. The Lord Almighty has judged the form and tradition of religion, because like the law of Moses it has become an instrument of death and not life, it has only condemned with judgement and fear instead of giving life, liberty and freedom. God does not dwell in edifices and structures of men, but in the living stones of His peoples lives and hearts. “Unless the Lord build the house they that labor, labor in vain.” The Lord will establish His house. 1 Peter 2:4-10 speaks the mind of God concerning His house, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” 8and, “A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 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.” This is God’s temple and this is His house that He has built through the hands of His Son, Jesus Christ.
God is calling His true people out of the former traditions and forms of men into the relationship with Him whereby you may cry “Abba Father”, Papa God. Our God is a God of relationship not of form and dead letter. He is desiring to bring you into the fellowship of His family and communion with His Holy Spirit. That relationship is not one of ceremony but of knowing Him in the intimacy of your heart and life through Christ. Wild Donkeys will not hear this word for they are stubborn and stiff-necked, determined in their own way even when it leaves them in famine and desolation, but those who have spiritual ears will hear and come out from among her to find that true and living church which isn’t in an organization, but is a living, functioning organism of His life, love and fellowship. This is the word of the Lord to His people this day.
Blessings,
#kent

Our Greatest Possession is Love

1 John 3:1,11-19
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not…
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

There is no greater possession we can possess than the love of God. We in fact, as believers in Christ, possess that love, because we possess the Spirit of Christ in us. Christ, is in truth and in deed, the greatest definition of God’s love we could ever have before us. While we use the word love in many different contexts, most of us know that in the Greek there are several words that define different kinds of love which I am not going into. Agape is the form of God’s love with which we are concerned with here today. This is the manner of love that the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. We possess this love because we possess Him. What should define the sons of Gods should be the nature of the love they possess. As we truly possess and manifest this love we will fulfill the law of God. All of the law is fulfilled in His love. Galatians 5:14 says, ” For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Normally a person’s first instinct and concern is for themselves, their welfare, safety, needs, wants, desires and well being. The love of God takes this love we have for ourselves and channels it through us to others. We begin to empathize with others, identifying with them by how we would feel in their circumstances. Agape love is totally unselfish, self-sacrificing and treats the needs of others as it would it’s own.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 tells us, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, [and] is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” It does not matter how many gifts, abilities, works, words or knowledge we have, if we don’t possess the Agape love of God everything else is meaningless. There is nothing in the world or in what God has given us that will do more for conforming us and others to the nature and image of God than His love. That love has to be so much more than ideology or theology, it has to be expressed through us in deed and in truth through our actions and our words. 1 John 3:16 is the revelation of God’s love through us much like John 3:16 is the revelation of God’s love through Christ. It tells us, “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” Did you catch that we are to be the extension and continuation of John 3:16? If we are the sons of God should we be any different than the Son of God in our mission and purpose?
When I view my life, perhaps you, like myself, feel like we come up way short of the kind of love that God wants to express through us. We must remember that this is not the kind of love we can produce in the efforts of our flesh. Romans 5:5 tells us, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” So this love is a product that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. The way we have more of this love is to have less of us and more of Him. We are constantly maturing in our faith, or we should be, to where the Lord is filling and possessing every part our being. As we walk by the Spirit and have our focus in life fully on Him, His love will be the by-product of the relationship we have in Him. It is not in what we can produce; it is simply letting Him be God in us and through us. We will have His heart, His vision and will be the instruments and channels of His love and grace. We already possess the most precious possession of all. We must just release it and let its fragrance fill the earth.

Blessings,
#kent

What God does to us or for us?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD : 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How many of us have gone through times in our lives when we have experienced such pain, sorrow or disappointment at circumstances that have come upon us or happened to us? We question, “God where are you, where were you and why did you let this happen to me”? There are those of us who have gotten angry, offended and hurt because we felt that the Lord let us down and He didn’t meet our expectations in the ways that we thought He should have. Perhaps God would ask us, as He did Job, ‘Who is this that obscures council without knowledge?’ God is the Magnificent One that created the Universe, the earth and all of the mysteries and wonders contained therein. Would we be so bold as to compare our wisdom and understanding with His? If what God says in Romans 8:28 is true, “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. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” then we must believe that God is working for our good. Jesus never makes the promise to deliver us from tribulation. In fact, He says just the opposite, “…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To the natural mind, life often isn’t fair and it doesn’t always make sense. It is in these times that we must rely upon our faith to bridge the gap between our understanding and God’s plan. Often what we thought was the enemy coming against us, in retrospect, we see the hand of God was working through what seemed to be a negative circumstance to bring us into God’s plan and higher will for our lives. It serves to stretch us and takes us to places we would never go on our own.
Let us not be so foolish as to attempt to pass judgement upon God for allowing things to happen to us. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Job thought He had a pretty good handle on understanding God till His world and theology got turned upside down. The one thing that Job never lost was faith and trust in the Lord. I think that with many of us it will be as it was with Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” When we really come into the revelation and presence of God and all that He is we will repent that we ever questioned, doubted or spoke negative of Him.
God is not doing things to us; He is doing things for us. Our understanding may not comprehend it, but our trust has to receive it and know that God’s nature is to work in our behalf. Even when that means we are crushed in the process, it is because He does love us and sees the end from the beginning. We see in terms of time and earthly values. God sees in eternity and kingdom values. God values you. Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart. God is for you, trust Him and rest in His wisdom, love and council.

Blessings,
kent

God of All Comfort

November 26, 2012

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

God of All Comfort

Perhaps we have heard it said that what we endure and go through is not for just for ourselves, but it is to equip us to minister life, blessing and comfort to others in their distress and tribulation. It is one thing to preach and teach something out of head knowledge, but when you have already passed through the fires that someone else is currently in, then the weight of your ministry and comfort increases dramatically, because experience outweighs knowledge. It is from our experience that we have gained the knowledge of God’s comfort, strength and sufficiency that was there for us in our time of need.
If Jesus, the Son of God, was made perfect through the things that He suffered, then it tells me that a part of God’s working grace in and through me will come through suffering. There are many different kinds of suffering and each one of them is able to reveal and bring forth God’s grace in that situation. The comfort and strength we find in our tribulations is a supernatural one, because it is an attribute of Papa; that He is a God, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.
The apostle Paul makes the statement, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” Suffering is a topic that much of the Christian community likes to side-step, because it is much more positive to talk about blessings and prosperity, but we do an injustice to the body of Christ if we neglect this part of the Christian walk. Paul says that he shares in the sufferings of Christ. We know that Jesus suffered as much or more than any other man. What is suffering, but our weakest, most painful and vulnerable moments. It is when we are hurting and our weakness is most evident. Those are the times we can find our God to be our greatest comfort and strength. Those are the times we lean most heavily upon His mercies to give us the endurance to overcome, persevere and find our ultimate victory in Him. It is out of these desperate places that we glean the consolation we can minister to others as they face these same hardships. When I see what you have gone through and how God has been faithful to you, then my faith and hope are increased, for what He has done for others, He can do for me.
What is an overcomer, but one that has walked through tribulation and suffering, in the strength of the Lord. In that weakened dreadful state, we often feel like anything but an overcomer, but it is in that place that we reach the deepest to lay hold of the revelation of Christ in us, the hope of glory. We are brought to the painful awareness of how utterly weak and frail we are in the natural, but in that place we find a strength, a comfort and confidence that is not our own. It is birthed out of the divine life that resides within. It is God that gives us the ability and strength to continue on when everything within us wants to give up.
We may be crying out, “To what end Lord must I continue to suffer and endure?”
He replies, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in you, so your consolation also abounds by Christ toward others.” You are prepared to be the instrument of encouragement, hope, faith and salvation to those who follow in like manner of sufferings.”
Paul, like Jesus, was a man quite acquainted with tribulation and suffering, but he makes the statement in Romans 8:15-18, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Jesus said, “Now am I glorified.” What preceded that glorification was an immense and intense suffering.
1 Peter 4:12 bears witness in that it says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
We have often been made to feel condemned, less spiritual or worthy it we are going through trails and sufferings, like real Christians shouldn’t have to endure such things. If that be true, then I guess Christ and the early Christians weren’t very spiritual or we are neglecting a component that is inherent in our faith, that of suffering, tribulation and trials.
It is these very components that seals and solidifies our faith; that takes it from words and concepts to faith in action. Faith will never be proven real until it is tested. When we found God’s faithfulness in the midst of our testing then we likewise have the ministry of mercy, consolation and comfort to encourage other through their moments of tribulation and trials. It is in passing through the fire that we walk into the glory.

Blessings,
kent

God’s Working

November 12, 2012

Psalms 95:6
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker

God’s Working

Let us come, worship and bow down before the Lord, our God, our Maker.
In His presence is joy for evermore and the peace that passes all understanding. Come before Him with gladness, singing; making a joyful noise and melody in your hearts. The privilege of our eternity is to stand in the great hall of His presence, singing, “Holy, Holy , Holy to the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is and who is to come.”
Father paints the landscape of eternity with the beauty of His creation. Lavishly and wonderfully He creates from the mega to the miro and into universes we have yet to see or know. Only the mind of the Spirit in us can comprehend the height, depth and width of His love and the magnitude of His greatness. To the human mind, it is off the charts. How foolishly we so often try to fit God in the box of our understanding and limitations. Invariably He never fits the box or the formulas we try to equate Him too. Even His Word, we have pared and interpreted with the limitations of our insight and understanding. Father wants us to walk in the light of what we know and understand, but never be limited to that place, for to do so is to sentence one’s self to ignorance and dogma. God is the God of truth, but the light of that truth, burns so much brighter than our capacity to fully apprehend it. Even as God is bringing us from glory to glory in the light of understanding, revelation and transformation; God, Himself ever increases from glory to glory and we have the privilege of being His awesome children.
Let us never boast in ourselves or of ourselves, for any greatness in us is the reflection and outshining of our Father.
Oh, how we get our eyes upon the rudimentary elements of this world. Our fixed gaze is upon the temporal rather than the eternal. All that Christ is in us so transcends all that we covet and hold of value upon this earth.
The gold of God, are the souls of men. That gold He is always mining through us as we reach out and proclaim the good news of His reconciliation through Christ Jesus. As He mines from the earth, He begins in us the processing to refine our ore into pure fine gold. It is a lifelong process, of crushing, taking us through the fires of afflictions and removing the impurity that has been impregnated into our lives. He hammers us, shapes and molds and yet through all of this destructive-creative process He looks upon us with joy and longing. While the processing’s can be severe at times, He never allows our spirit to be crushed, but remains like the diamond in the center of us that withstands and shines more brightly through every level of processing. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Here is the principle of Eternal Perspective. The temporary is the place of preparation for the eternal. If we are only temporal or earthly minded then we will miss the greater picture of God’s plan and design for us. The earth is filled with the inhabitants that only know to live for the here and now, when they even know, in a moment is will all pass away. Such is not the case for we who have hope, for we see that is not the things of earth that matter, but again, like Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 says, ” Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We are a heavenly citizenship, called and set apart for heavenly purpose. Therefore our purpose is not in expressing our will, our desire or ambitions; it is in the expression of Father’s and those things which He has placed within each one of us for His glory. Jesus tells us, ‘don’t worry about these earthly things. Your Father already knows what you a have need of. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.’ You see when earthly wealth and allure are not our focus, but only the Father, His purpose and will; then Father is able to release into our stewardship the things of this world, because they no longer possess us, but we possess them and know how to steward them for Father’s glory and honor.
Father is our Treasure! He is what we live and breath each breath for. Let us get so caught up in Him that nothing of this world matters except that which pertains to His purpose and direction. ‘We are the light of the world and a city set upon the hill can not be hid. So let your lights so shine among men. ‘

Blessings,
kent

When Lose Equals Gain

November 1, 2012

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

When Lose Equals Gain

When we came to Christ we made a decision to invest our lives in what God had invested into us. What we come to realize in this investment is that I am willing to invest and lose me, that I might gain Him. My loss becomes my gain. It is a paradox. In saving my “self” and living only to my temporal life, I neglect the greater gain of not only an eternal life in God, but also the resources, promises and the power of a life lived out of Christ, rather than out my efforts and abilities.
When we come to Christ we are saying, “Your ways, I may not fully understand, but I am willing to believe in You and be a part of Your plan.” In doing so, I think most of us are optimistic in seeing that we have a great and awesome God who has given us a Bible full of great and wonderful promises and that we now belong to a God that is all powerful and can do anything we ask or anything that He wants. What about when what we ask and what He wants aren’t the same thing? What about when we summon all of our faith to believe and declare something and it doesn’t come to pass? What about when God says, “no”, when we thought He should say “yes”?
Then we are left to reconcile our faith, with His will. Even Jesus asked the Father,
“If it possible let this cup pass from Me.” But Father said, “No, it is not possible, it must be if you are going to do My will.” What was the condition Jesus put on that request? “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
As humans we operate out of finite minds and flawed natures. We have numerous limitations, faults and shortcomings and yet, somehow, we presume to know better than the infinite, all-powerful, all-wise, and omnipotent God what is right and wrong, what is just and fair, what should and shouldn’t happen. Does anybody see something wrong with that picture?
Life does not often operate on principles of fairness as we might define them. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. Innocent people shouldn’t be abused, hurt and killed. In our black and white world we only see and perceive through the light of our limited understanding.
God, I believe, often operates out the principle of loss for gain. It is as simple as a seed must die to produce the life of what is in its genetic code. Job endured the loss of all that he had and his health, to later gain back a double portion. Jesus, God’s own Son, died. God allowed the unlawful, unjust atrocity of His own Son being tortured, mutilated and crucified, because through that loss, through that death, through that seed, many sons would be brought into glory and through those sons, all of creation would be set free. A loss often equals a greater gain.
When we lost ourselves, we found the greater gain of Christ, but even in that we are told, ‘if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified with Him’. Still there is a loss to a greater gain.
In life we are going to experience some of these losses and they are not going to always seem just, fair or right in the light of our understanding. We have to see that in God’s economy, the willingness to lose is often the price to gain. So, like Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”

Blessings,
kent

A Stand Alone Nation

October 26, 2012

A Stand Alone Nation

Numbers 23:9
For from the top of the rocks I see Israel, and from the hills I behold him. Behold, the people [of Israel] shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned and esteemed among the nations.

God’s people are a set apart nation and people. It is His desire and commission that we be like no other nation in the earth. 1 Peter 2:9-17 explains our commission and calling this ways, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. 11Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. 12Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [ when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]. 13Be submissive to every human institution and authority for the sake of the Lord, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14Or to governors as sent by him to bring vengeance (punishment, justice) to those who do wrong and to encourage those who do good service. 15For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons.
16[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God. 17Show respect for all men [treat them honorably]. Love the brotherhood (the Christian fraternity of which Christ is the Head). Reverence God. Honor the emperor.”
This speaks strongly to us of God’s calling and His desired conduct for our lives. We are not like other people and we are not called to be like other people. We are a called out people, a separated people and a holy nation. Not only has God called us out of the world, but also He has called us out of the world that still exist in us. We exist for His glory, honor and praise. Our identification with sin weakens us and corrupts us. The Lord has called us that our lights might so shine before men that, though they would desire to curse us, they can’t help but bless us, because we are the blessed and the redeemed of the Lord. Our earthly lives are short and our purpose and calling are short-lived upon the earth. Let us hear the calling and the voice of the Lord, “Come out from among the rocks and stand in the mountain, in My holy place, Mount Zion. I have placed you as a mountain before the peoples of the earth that they should come unto this mountain to worship Me. They will come to the knowledge of the Lord as you stand as priests upon my holy hill. Come out and be separate for I have called you to come out from the rocks that you might stand as the mountain of the Lord.”

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

Luke 12:32-34
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Father has been Pleased to Give You the Kingdom

Our culture and focus has not been so different than that of Jesus’ day. Men have always been striving after earthly wealth, position, power, comfort and provision. People have always been concerned about the food they would eat, the clothes they would wear and the houses that they would live in. An earthly people are concerned for earthly things, but a kingdom people are concerned for kingdom things.
Where we are at now is the same place Jesus was speaking to the people on the Sermon on the Mount. He was sharing kingdom economy, vision, culture and living. He was telling us these aren’t just lofty ideas; He was telling us this is what kingdom living is all about. The truth of the matter is, very few of us really live in that kingdom culture.
The Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom, but to live in the kingdom you have to embrace kingdom culture. In our “Christian culture” we more or less have a mentality of an earthly culture cake with a spiritual icing. Outwardly we want to look spiritual, but inwardly it is pretty much like the rest of the world.
Jesus is telling us that there is a higher way that Father has been pleased to give us, but we have to let go of the one to embrace the other. Most of us are struggling with letting go. A lot of our prosperity messages appeal to us because we see that as a way of having the best of both worlds.
Earthly culture is all about us. It quite honestly is self-centered. Our first concern is our survival and our benefits. We are driven by how we can do better and have more, but are those God’s goals for us as believers. The real question is not how much you have, but what possesses and obsesses your heart? It is like Jesus says, Your Father knows what you have need of, so do we trust Him or do we trust us? Now Father’s ideas and yours may differ, but then who needs to make the adjustment?
Kingdom living is getting the heart of the Father and living into that with all of your being. If you want true treasure, heavenly treasure, then sow into what is in Father’s heart. Your reward may not be great on earth, but it will be eternal and rich in heaven. What we strive to attain here is but for a breath of time and then it is forever gone, but what we sow into kingdom living will prosper us always.
In this time of uncertainty many of us are asking where do we invest to protect our assets and all that we have worked for. We can foresee the economy tanking and much of what we have worked our whole lives for becoming worthless. God is telling us today the same thing that Jesus told those that he preached to on the Mount. Invest yourself in the kingdom of God, that is the only thing that is not going to be passing away. If you want to be rich, be willing to become poor, if you want to be strong, then be willing to become weak, if you want to be wise then be willing to become the fool. God is building a kingdom not out of the dust of the world, but out of lively stones that have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. What He is building is by His Spirit, not by might, nor by power or by the will of man.
How many of us really want the kingdom that the Father is pleased to give us? We must be willing to relinquish ours that we may fully embrace His. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Blessings,
kent

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