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

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Forgiveness is in the Forgiving

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a subject we have talked about before and while we accept the words of Jesus here in theory, how are we at practical application? When someone really wrongs you, hurts, betrays, cheats or deceives you, how quick are we to release forgiveness. Most all of us go through those times in our lives when we have every justification to really hate someone and not forgive them in the natural way of thinking.
Allow me to use myself as an example here that may not be so different from something you have experienced and quite possibly you have experienced worse. Recently I met a lady and did some work for her. She is a professing believer, her dad she has told me, is a preacher and her mom a missionary. She is a businesswoman running several companies. She hires me last minute to do some work for her the same day and then the next day. Each time she keeps me waiting three or four hours before her and her people are ready to go. Both days we work quite late. Now I have asked for a $500 retainer up front which she has her assistant pay me with a check. Making a long story as short as possible she owes me over $1500 dollars for the work I have done for her. While she has made many promises to pay she hasn’t. What is worse is, I have since found out that a number of other people, including other photographers are owed money they haven’t been paid. What is even worse is the check for the $500 came back after about two weeks with insufficient funds. This is about the time I reached the end of my patience, put in a call to lawyers, and let the lady in a stern and blunt way know that I was ready to take action if she didn’t get this resolved. Her promise was to pay me half in cash the next day and then the other half a few days later. Well, again she didn’t follow through. Do I have every right to be angry and sue her? You bet, in the world I do, but what is God’s way? If I pursue a legal course of action and do all that I can to expose her fraudulent behavior, have I really forgiven her? Here is the practical place where our faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word has to override our natural feelings, emotions, anger and lack of forgiveness. Does she deserve for me to forgive her? Did I deserve for Christ to forgive me? If I harbor that unforgiveness who is the one that is damaged most by it, her or me? The Word says if I don’t forgive others, neither can God forgive me. My personal forgiveness from God is dependent upon my forgiving others who have offended and wronged me.
There are areas where some of you have been deeply wounded and hurt, far more than I was. Perhaps, you may feel it is impossible for you to forgive that person or persons. We often have to leave the judgement and the vengeance to God, that is His and not ours. The key to our emotional and spiritual healing in these times begins with us simply confessing and giving it over to the Lord. Our emotions and feelings may not be there yet, but if we can begin to take the step of faith to release those who have offended us, then we have taken a step toward our own emotional healing and recovery.
Matthew 5 is full of principles that are utterly contrary to natural thinking and reasoning. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have shared this today so that in a practical way we all might see that God is wanting us to conform to the higher standard of His Word. These kind of experiences are where the rubber meets the road and we have to live what we say we believe, otherwise how are we any different than those who have offended us?

Blessings,
#kent

Let God be the Judge

April 19, 2013

Romans 2:1
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Let God be the Judge

Each one of us has a past, a history and record of sin for which God has every right to condemn and judge us for. When most all of us look back over the history of our lives we see things we did that were terribly wrong. In many cases some of those things were never found out or exposed and we escaped what could have been very severe consequences. Now if we had continued down that path, our sin would have eventually caught up with us and we would have paid the price, but somehow, God in His mercy, gave us grace. He is still giving us grace, not because we deserve it, but because He is a God of mercy and grace. Even in those we would write off as reprobate and hopeless, God can still do a miracle of His grace. Who would have thought Saul of Tarsus would have been one of the greatest Christian evangelist and apostles of all time. Before his conversion, most Christians of that day would have never thought it possible, but God is a God of the impossible.
At best, we judge out of our limited understanding and conditional love. We all have our prejudices and imperfect views of the world. We are not qualified to be the judge and jury of others sins or wrong-doings because we ourselves are just as guilty of our own sins. Even if they were done against us or the ones we love, those acts, heinous as they may be, must be relinquished, by our hearts, back to God who judges righteously. He sees it all and knows the hearts and motives of each of us. He alone is qualified to be our judge. He doesn’t justify our sins, but often gives us far more mercy than we deserve. That is why He wants us to have the heart of His Son towards sinners. He wants us to learn to extend to the same mercy and forgiveness that He extended to us. He tells us that vengeance is His and He will repay. The heart of a son of God is to see the lost saved and the sinful restored to right relationship with the Father. “It is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4).”
Trust God to be the judge of all those who have hurt you or done you wrong. If you carry those offences in your heart you will never have peace. Hate, anger, revenge, unforgiveness, no matter how we justify it, will not only tear you apart, but all those around you, as well. That spirit is a destroyer and a divider. Why should you pay that price for another’s sin when you can place it back in the hands of the Righteous Judge and know that He will take care of it, rather its the way you want it or not. When we carry unforgiveness, we are saying we don’t trust you Father. We are unwilling to allow Jesus to provide the same forgiveness for another that He so mercifully extended to us.
Regain your peace and lay all your unforgiveness and feelings that you have been carrying at the altar. In exchange pick up the gift of His love, grace and forgiveness so that you might be set free of all of that bondage. Free to love even your enemies, even as God in Christ, has loved you.

Blessings,
kent

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