Taking Up an Offense

October 15, 2015

Proverbs 18:19
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.

Taking Up an Offense

How many of us today are carrying offenses in our heart towards another. They said something to us, they did something to us, they wronged us in some way and now they are on the black list of our heart to stay. We have all been offended, hurt, disappointed, emotionally wounded and wronged in some way. I guess that is pretty normal behavior in the world, but what about in the identity that God has given us in Christ. In our identity with Him, are we still justified in holding on to these offenses, no matter how justified we reason within ourselves to do so?
Colossians 3: 13 says, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” That is not a request, but a command. Have we never offended or hurt anyone? Are we so unwilling to forgive what we ourselves have been guilty of?
One revelation we all need to get is that we are not of this world and yet we keep thinking like it and acting like it. That is not a renewed mind in Christ, it is being conformed to the world which is an offense to God. When we are unwilling to forgive then we spit in the face of Him who forgave us. That is strong and it should be, because that is how the Lord takes it. He forgave us so much, shouldn’t we be willing to forgive little. Jesus spoke parables about forgiveness and He taught a word concerning it that very few of us are walking in.
Now someone might be thinking, “Will you don’t know what they did to me, I can’t ever forgive them for that.”
Jesus said, ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46)
Somehow we can all become self-righteous about things. We can see all of the faults in others. We may be carrying an offense against someone that isn’t even our own. We have taken it up for someone else because they were wronged. We tend to somehow feel that we have been given the right to judge others for their wrongs and are justified in condemning them and holding it against them.
Jesus said, ” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Romans 2:1-4 also addressed this issue, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” It goes on to say that because of this stubbornness we store up wrath for ourselves, because we are going to be judged by the same standards that we judged others and if we showed no mercy, then we can’t expect to receive mercy.
How can we fully walk in who we are in Christ when we hold offense against a brother or another. God is love. His love and forgiveness has been shed abroad in our hearts as believers. Are we now going to annul what He died for? Listen to what 1 John 2:9-11 has to say about this. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
Are people, and even brothers and sisters, going to hurt, disappoint and offend us? You can count on it, but what you do with that offense speaks volumes to how real your identity is in Christ. If you really know Him, you will keep His commands. If you really love Him, you will allow His love to dominate and guide your heart. Your mercy will triumph over judgement and you will be the hot coals of love poured over the offenders head.
I would just like to end this with the exhortation given from Roman12:9-21 about how we are to walk in love toward one another. May the Holy Spirit help us acknowledge, to release and forgive any and all offenses that we have been carrying.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Blessings,
#kent

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The Wounded and Broken

September 23, 2015

Deuteronomy 32:39
See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand. 
 
 
The Wounded and Broken
 
In the Garden of Eden were two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  Choices were given to man as to which way he would come to know God and walk with Him.  When wrong choices were made, consequences ensued that brought darkness, sin and death into our world and all of creation.  We must know that this came as no surprise to God and that His plan was before the foundation of this world.  Life and death have become the cycles of life that have carried down since the beginning.   In between that cycle of life and death many things touch our lives.  Life can bring much joy and blessing, but it can also bring us much heartache and pain.  Many of us today bear in our lives the marks of pain and suffering.  That can take many forms, mental, physical, psychological and even spiritual.  Pain has many avenues.  Many times it comes as consequences of what we sow knowingly or unknowingly into our lives, bodies and minds.  Sometimes our pain comes from the consequences and actions of others.  Sometimes it comes as part of the fallen world that we live in.  However it comes, we are left to endure.  
Now as unpleasant as pain is, it is not all bad.  It often works in us what no amount of blessings could.  It is much like our enemies, as unpleasant as they are; they can touch areas in our lives that friends never will.  Often we wonder, “God why all of the unpleasantness?  Why all of this pain and suffering?  Why do our enemies persecute us?  God why must I suffer?”  Joseph, in the book of Genesis 50:20 reveals it so well, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.”  We have an enemy of our soul that perpetrates evil upon us, but what he has thought for evil, God has meant for good. How can this be good?
Romans 8:18-25 helps us to see into the eternal and far reaching purposes of God. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  The Word says that God is the one that subjected creation to this frustration, but in hope, hope of what?  “That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage and decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children or the sons of God.”  
Jesus Christ was the prototype and firstfruits of this glorious liberation.  What did He say His purpose was?  It says of Jesus in Luke 4:14-20, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18″The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.””  The people were murmuring, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”  This was a proclamation that Jesus had stepped out of the earthly paradigm of humanity into His divine purpose of eternity.  What was begun in the headship of Jesus, He will complete in and through His body which Ephesians 1:23 declares is, “…the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”  
Pain and suffering can rend our hearts and bodies like few things can.  They are processing tools that bring us into the purposes of God if we catch that revelation.  They are areas we can see God work supernaturally in, both in the areas of healing and deliverance, but also in the areas of tribulation, patience and longsuffering.  Job certainly wanted to be free from his pain that he felt unjustly afflicted with, but it was a process that brought him into a double portion anointing and priesthood that he would have never experienced without it.  David would certainly have not chosen to be fleeing his enemies that sought for years His life, but it was preparation for kingship.  Joseph wouldn’t have chosen captivity, slavery and prison, but it prepared him to rule and reign.  Even of Jesus it says in Hebrews 5:7-9, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”  We, like our Savior have been called to a royal priest hood.  We also will pass through our seasons of suffering.  When we pass through these valleys, for however long we must endure them, let them have their perfect work in us.  Allow them not to discourage you, but to encourage you that, “whom the Lord loves He chastens.”  He doesn’t discipline bastards or illegitimate ones, he disciplines His sons that in due time it might work the peaceable fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12).   God is preparing us for greatness and what the evil one has meant for evil, God has meant for good. 
 
Blessings,
#kent

God’s Toolbox

May 27, 2015

God’s Toolbox

Romans 12:4-8
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

We have often heard the analogies of how we are members of one another in the body of Christ and how as such we serve one another. Perhaps another way of looking at the body of Christ and its members in particular is that we are God’s toolbox. He has a world of broken people down here, and many Christians are among them. They are broken, hurting and in need of attention and fixing. We know that God is a Master Craftsman concerning His creation, but He has chosen to work with and through His tools. Think today that you are a unique and special tool of God. God has given you characteristics, gifts and abilities He didn’t give to everyone else. There are ways and areas you can operate in that others can’t. Those gifts and abilities He has placed in you, some naturally and some divinely, are so that He can use you as His tool to do a work that perhaps no other tool can do quite as effectively. What’s more, He will put you in circumstances and with people that need the ministry of those gifts and abilities. Obviously, you are most effective as your life is yielded to the Holy Spirit so that He can direct and use you to fix, mend and encourage the broken, damaged and discouraged. Sometimes we often take for granted what our lives can mean to the well being and spiritual health of others if we are truly yielded and available to the Holy Spirit to use. How often we miss it because of our self-will. We take ourselves out of God’s hand to pursue our agenda and our priorities. We often rob others of God’s ministering, healing touch through us. We rob God from doing a divine work of grace in some broken person’s life and last but not least, we rob ourselves of being that tool in God’s hand that could have made the difference, that could have brought the healing and the restoration. We didn’t have the time, or the energy or our own agenda was more important. Haven’t we all been guilty of that?
God wants each of us to realize how important and vital each one of us are to His Kingdom coming forth in the earth. Isn’t that what we pray? “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; in earth as it is in heaven.” If God’s kingdom isn’t fully come in us, possessing us and living through us, then how can it come in the earth? Jesus says the “Kingdom of God is within you.” We are the vessels and the conduits through which His kingdom flows out to the earth and waters the dry ground. The kingdom must first come and be revealed in us. Christ must have expression and license through us and through our will to perform His. That means to be effective tools, we must be yielded to the Master’s hand. As readily as He will use someone else to work grace in your life, He wants to use you to work the work of grace in another’s. We are created for a purpose and that purpose is to fulfill what God has fashioned us for. Everyone is different, but everyone is just as important to the whole.
Take time to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Be careful that we don’t blow past those divine appointments we have in life and the opportunities to minister the love, grace and gospel of Christ. A tool that is not used eventually becomes rusty, stiff and of no use. Be that tool at the top of God’s toolbox that He can lay hold of and use often in His work of grace in the lives of others. Be that yielded vessel that God can perform the will and do of His good pleasure in and through. We are God’s toolbox and He deserves only the best tools.

Blessings,
#kent

Activate

May 4, 2015

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Activate

As we commit and devote our hearts to the Lord we are going to see activation. The Holy Spirit is wanting to activate his body even as the early church was activated after Pentecost and even greater. This is the day to take our Sunday Christianity and make it an active part of our every day life and encounters with the world around us. We need so much of Jesus spilling out of us that there is no way we can contain or hide the life that is living inside of us. This is the day to let Christ shine through our lives in word and deed.
For years we have set under the Word of God. Today is the day to become the Word of God in the flesh as we live by the Spirit in the love of God toward all men. We are carriers of His divine life and we want to infect every part of our world with His love and great salvation. It is not just about getting someone to pray a prayer and make a confession of faith, it is about being so much the reality of what we profess that others want what we have and they will seek us out to receive it.
The world’s general perception of Christianity looks very little like Christ. As the world has looked upon the Church as a whole, they have seen hypocrisy, materialism, ungodliness, judgementalism and self-righteousness. No wonder so many disdain Christianity. This is the time when they need to begin to see the reality of the true Church, the bride of Christ and His power and love manifested through her. For this love and power to flow through us, He must possess us body, soul and spirit. Our lives must be so focused and set upon the Father’s business. It can no longer be about life as usual; eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. This is the year to see and step into a radical transformation in the body of Christ, at least the first fruits of it. I believe God has prepared a people to champion His cause and bring a transformation in the paradigm of what the church of God is and what it should look like.
It is a day for us to graduate out of the school of learning and knowing and step into the world of being and doing. What is our faith if it is not activated to bring us forth in who we have been called to be as sons and daughter’s of the MOST HIGH GOD!
“Holy Spirit, arise in the hearts of your people and activate us to extreme godliness, holy living and love impacting lives. Emancipate us from all sin and every love and affection we have had for it. Help your people to rock the former image of your church and be the example of what the people of God are to truly look like. Help us to loose ourselves as we take up our cross and follow you whithersoever you would lead and direct us. Give us ears to hear your precious voice and hearts tender to quickly obey whatever you instruct us to do. Help us to walk the walk of faith and step boldly into who you have created us and called us to be. You are our God and in You we will be strong and do exploits. The world will come to know us by our love and unity and no longer by our division and condemnation. We will exemplify the love and nature of Christ in the earth, because we dare to allow that Christ to come forth in us. We dare to step into our Sonship and the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus. Our eyes, our hearts, our minds and desires are set upon You Holy Father. Activate Your people in righteousness, power and divine authority to have dominion over every darkness and every perverted thing that we may bring the hearts of a lost world into alignment with the restoration of the identity you want to give back to them. Help us to come into the image of what the true Church and body of Christ is suppose to look like in this hour that you might be glorified and magnified among men. Amen!”
Today is our day to be transformed from the introverts of self-centered lives to become the extroverts of Christ expressed lives. Let us be that standard of Christ activated for all to see and aspire too. Let our lives be the light that transcends the darkness and the love that brings healing, hope and salvation to every lost and wounded soul.

blessings,
#kent

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

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

Unity in the Body

April 8, 2015

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Unity in the Body

I was just thinking about if my right thumb got offended with my index finger and decided to leave my right hand go over to my left. Now I’ve got two left thumbs. Then my left big toe has falling out with my left foot and decides to go join up with my nose. Now I’ve got my former big left toe trying to function as a nose. Do we get the picture of how dissension and disunity in the body can quickly bring dysfunction and misalignment? It doesn’t take long before we no longer have a functioning body, but a freakish mess. Does that resemble how we see a lot of the body of Christ trying to operate in today?
Why, because we are all so easily offended and willing to move out of the place where God has set us. It is important that you truly seek God to place you in a body and that when He does you are not moved except by Him. Most of us know that when you start rubbing a lot of different personalities together you may well create a blister or a sore spot. Our first tendency is get up and just move to a different seat or a different church. Just because our brothers and sisters are Christians doesn’t mean everything in our relationship with them is going to be rosy. What we may overlook is there is always an enemy at work to kill, steal and destroy and while he may well be at work to cause disunity and division, there is also God that is at work to mature us in our love and tolerance of one another.
I see people come and go out of our particular body of Christ all of the time. Most of them are precious men and women of God. I observe that so many times it is personal dislike, disagreements or offenses with others that make them move on. Maybe it was in God’s time to move them on, but a lot of times I think it is because we won’t allow ourselves to be perfected in love. Our love is still mostly about our personal preferences, opinions and how we think things should be. Because we took up a grievance and moved out of position of where God placed us, how do you think that ends up impacting your ministry for yourself and for others. Now you move someplace else until you are offended or in disagreement again and so the cycle goes. Thus so many play the game of musical churches.
What we are missing is some of the spiritual clothing that we are suppose to have put on. Instead of our suit and tie or our going to Sunday dress let’s put the clothing that the Word exhorts us to be clothed with. Compassion, having more of a heart for others than we do for ourselves. Kindness, which extends itself to looking after the interest of others and not just self. Humility, which is strength under control, so that despite who and what you may be in the Spirit, you are always coming under and lifting others up. Gentleness, it is not harsh, or brash, but handles others with the love of Jesus. Patience, last but not least, it is the patience of God that helps us to endure the offenses, misdeeds and issues of others. Remember that, unless you’ve started walking on water, you have some issues of your own that others have to tolerate in you. The bottom line is we have to grasp and lay hold of what true agape’ love is, if we are going to start seeing unity at work in the body. As long the body is always upset and fighting among itself it can never come into the focus of its purpose. The first revelation we all have to get is that body ministry and functionality is not first about us; it is about Him! We come together to first worship and serve Him, not just to get our ego stroked and our preferences met.
We have entered into an hour and season where love and unity in the body is paramount to what God is doing at this time. He is calling us to be a healthy, living breathing organism ruled and compelled by love, not a misfit organization trying to play church. We’ve come to treat our relationship with the body of Christ like we do many of our marriages, when it gets to messy we bail out of it. As long we keep running away and moving on, we can’t come into the fullness of unity, love and purpose God has for us.
I am not going to tell you that everything leadership or somebody else in the body did to you was right or justified. It probably wasn’t, but what does the Word say? “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Have we all truly done that? It would be great if we were all perfect in our love and didn’t have to deal with these issues, but the truth is that it takes dealing with these issues if we are going to mature in the love of Christ. You don’t think there were days Jesus might have felt like kicking his disciples to the curb and saying, “I don’t have to put up with this.” It was because He clothed himself with these very attributes that He not only put with them, but endured the cross for them, as well as us. If it is our desire to be identified with His nature and character, then we are going to have to endure some of the work of the cross in us. Be where God places you and stay there until He moves you. If you are going through some things it is because you need to grow through some of these things. Remember it is the lowest valleys that prepare you for the highest mountains.
The body must truly put on the love and humility of Christ if we are to walk in unity to accomplish the purpose of the Father. He said we would be a bride without spot or wrinkle. Well, obviously there is a whole lot of cleaning and ironing that needs to go on to get us there. Allow His love to have its perfect work in you.

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

November 25, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

Set your eyes on none other than Jesus Christ, the high priest of your confession, for He alone is the author and the finisher of your faith. Many eyes are upon men, but no man can save you or transform you. There is one new man of which all the saints are a part. It operates out of the Spirit and anointing of Christ. It moves in accordance as the head directs it and energizes it with His power and life.
“It is not man that you are to be mindful of says the Lord, it is Me. Set your eyes upon Me for I will not disappoint you.”
Man will always disappoint. Follow after the example of Christ you see in others, but know that they are subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as you.
Jesus says there is only One good, God the Father. Our goodness is only in the measure that the Father expresses His righteousness through us by faith. Christ in you, that is your righteousness. The spirit of a man may be willing, but his flesh is sometimes weak. In all your ways, set your eyes upon Jesus. He is your Savior and Messiah.
Many are hurt and wounded in the body of Christ, because they have lifted up the man of God, rather than the Christ in him. When the man falls down, often the faith of the those looking to him falls with him. We do want to respect and hold in honor those who are spiritual leaders. While they may guide us and teach us, they can not save us. Never transfer upon them what only Christ can do for you. Our faith should never be moved by what happens to man. They walk by the same grace that holds you and I. Pray for them that they would not fall, for they are often under great attack and pressure. It is not our criticisms that will stay them, it is our prayers and intercessions for them. They bear the same infirmities and weaknesses as we do, but the burden of responsibility is so much greater upon them.
We are a body that under-girds one another, upholds one another, ministers and serves one another. What we give to leadership in prayer and support is every bit as important as what they can impart back spiritually. A true leader is not a lord, they are a servant. Their burden and responsibility are the ones they serve. Likewise the ones they serve have the responsibility to encourage, support and pray for them that serve in this office. None of us are above another, but some do carry greater responsibility. We all have the responsibility to help them to stand, not alone, but with the strength of our gifts (spiritually and monetarily) and our prayers.
Call no man Father, for you have but one Father, but know that there are those that father you in the faith and help you to grow in the likeness of Him. Respect and honor them, but do not set your faith and trust in them, but in the Christ they have led you to know and believe in.
This is no longer a day of big names and men of renown. It is a day when the kingdom is at work in the body of Christ teaching each of us to function in our gifts and callings. Each of us needs one another, for together, with Christ who is our head, we make up the whole new man in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, love one another, care for one another and pray for one another. Honor and pray for those that labor over you. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us, ” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is time for the body to grow up into the fullness of what God has called us to be in Christ. Ephesians 4:4 reminds us, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Let us all flow in the unity of that one Lord who has loved us and gave Himself for us. Ephesians 4:25-32 goes on to exhort us in our behavior toward one another. ” Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We are one another’s keepers. Lift each one up in the faith, in love and prayer He has called us too. In Him we are one man and one body.

Blessings,
#kent

The Refiner’s Fire

November 5, 2014

Hosea 6:1-7
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears. 5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. 7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant— they were unfaithful to me there.
The Refiner’s Fire
Today is the day of preparation of the people of God. There is judgement, sifting, exposure and revealing of the inner thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He is sifting out our flesh, the religious junk that has a profession of godliness, but is full of defilement and hypocrisy. God is judging His house, not out of anger, but out of love. If He has torn us apart, it is so that He might heal us. If He has injured us it is so that He may bind up our wounds. For whom the Lord loves He chastens. He disciplines us for our own good that we may share in His glory (Hebrews 12). A prerequisite for glory is most often suffering. Romans 8:17 tells us, “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.” Suffering is like the antiseptic that boils out and disinfects the wounded areas of our lives that have become contaminated with the bacteria of the world. It is what brings our focus upon the healer and the restorer of our souls. Is it pleasant? No, but it brings about an inward working of righteousness, because our dependencies and focus are no longer upon ourselves, but upon the Lord in the midst of our need.
Using the principle from 2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” we can see a truth unfolded. In verse 2 of Hosea 6 it says, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” The last two thousand years the Church has grown and functioned actively in the earth, but our sights have not been on the joy of our everyday struggles, but upon the coming day of the Lord. Chronologically we have entered into that third day. It is as Jesus was in the earth for two days, but on the third day He was restored and resurrected. This is the day of our restoration and resurrection that we may live in His presence. The Lord also says Ephesians 5:27 that there is a quality that He is looking for in His bride. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” I don’t know that any of us would argue that the Church has been without spot or wrinkle in physical appearance. The Lord see us pure and spotless through the blood of Jesus, but the in-working of that righteousness is like it was for Jesus, “through the things we suffer.” Through that process He is bringing us through the fire and into the blessing. “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” We still hold fast to the promise of His presence.
Today I believe we stand in the place of John the Baptist declaring the kingdom of God, giving a call to repentance and saying “Make straight the way of the Lord.” It is as Malicai 3:1-5 declares, “”See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.”
The Lord is preparing a royal priesthood, no longer offering up the blood of goats and bullocks, but the offering of righteousness. It will no longer be the sacrifices of works and religion, but it will be the mercy, love and compassion of the Lord. The imprint of the name of Jesus will be upon us and the fragrance of His nature will emanate from us.
Endure the time of hardship and suffering. Allow it to have its perfect work in you that you may be transformed and purified by its fire. For you are being brought forth as pure gold and refined silver. There shall be no more dross in you.

Blessings,
#kent

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