The Pothole of Self Pity

February 28, 2014

 

The Pothole of Self Pity


Jonah 4:1-4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.  Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 


In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity.  He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see.  He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter.  So he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.

While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either.  

I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated.  That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way.  What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes.  

The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently.  Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs.  Now the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems.  So finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”.  The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did.  Afterwards I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into.  Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me.  Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is.  I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others.  I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me.  The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine.  How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others.  This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization.  That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others.  The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself.  

We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do.  Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives?  In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at.  Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition.  We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.”  Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart.  It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values.  Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature that God wants to work in us.  It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it.  There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy.  If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of.  Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ.  If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves.  

Watch out for that pothole of self-pity.  It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk.  Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”

 
Blessings,
kent
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Alert and Watching

February 27, 2014

 

Alert and Watching


Judges 7:5-7

So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 

7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. 


As I watched a sparrow feeding out of the bird-feeder this morning I was impressed at how it did not just casually eat with no other thought or worry in the world.  It was continually eating and watching, turning its head from side to side and aware of what was going on around it.  It didn’t take its safety and well being for granted, but was ready to fly at a moment’s notice.  I was reminded of the story of Gideon and how that out of thirty-two thousand whom volunteered to fight for Israel, God brought it down to three hundred.  The first thing God did to disqualify the excess numbers was to let all that were fearful or afraid go home.   God is raising up a people for His glory and one of the first things they must have is faith and confidence to believe and trust in their God.  A lack of faith and trust is the first thing to disqualify us.  Out of the thirty-two thousand that started twenty-two thousand went home.  Ten thousand were still too many people.  A battle won with that many men could be construed as man’s ability, rather than God’s.  God must receive the glory for the deliverance and if we think we have any strength or ability then we tend to dismiss God and take the glory for ourselves.  The second thing God did was to narrow the field  by having them drink water.  If they were down on their knees drinking with their head down and unaware of their surroundings they were disqualified.  Only three hundred lapped the water from their hands like dogs, because that way they were alert and ready, their physical needs were not turning their attention from their first duty as soldiers in readiness.  

Where are most of us as the body of Christ?  Where would we fit in among these thirty-two thousand that came to fight in the Lord’s army?  Have we become fearful and afraid? Has our faith and confidence in the Lord become weak?  Has our attention has been diverted by our blessings, by our affections for life and by all the other distractions that take our eyes off of the Lord. Have we ceased to really watch and be concerned about the things of God and the timing of God?  I don’t believe the Lord is looking for us to be fearful or paranoid, but He is looking for those like the three hundred that fought with Gideon, who are alert and watching in their spirit.  They are attuned to when the enemy is around, where he is at and what he is doing.  They are not allowing themselves to become vulnerable by becoming lethargic and complacent.  They are sensitive to the hour and the timing of the Lord, watching to move at His command and His coming.

This aspect of watchfulness is addressed a number of times and especially in the New Testament, but in Psalm 130:6 David says, “My soul [waiteth] for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: [I say, more than] they that watch for the morning.”  

Jesus teaches us this throughout the gospels such as in Matthew 24, 4“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many…13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…” 42″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 

45″Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise and the five foolish.  When the Lord did come the foolish missed out, because they were unprepared and not watching.  When they came back it was too late and the door was shut to them.  Verse 13 says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Mark 13:37 says, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”  1 Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  1 Thessalonians 5:6 tells us, “Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.”  Paul exhorts Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

The Lord is speaking to all of us today to rise up off of our haunches of complacency and spiritual dullness.  Now is the day to really get our ears in tune with the Spirit of God and our hearts ready to meet Him.  He is exhorting us not to neglect the day of His visitation, but as good soldiers, to prepare ourselves and be watching for Him.  When the Lord comes will He find most of us at the water hole, drinking our fill and oblivious to the spiritual time, hour and condition of our hearts?  

When the Spirit addresses the churches in Revelation 3, the first concern that He addresses is one of watchfulness.  Revelations 3:3-6 says, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Isn’t this what He is speaking to our hearts today?

 
Blessings,
kent

The Cream

February 26, 2014

Exodus 22:29

Thou shalt not delay [to offer] the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. 


The Cream


During the depression my grandfather had a farm and in order to make ends meet they used to sell cream.  I never really saw it work, but I remember on the farm was a shed we called the milk house.  In that shed was a machine called a separator that would separate the milk from the cream.  The cream was the richest and most valuable part of the milk.  The cream was never really discerned or seen when it first came from the cow.  It was the process of separation that brought it to the top.  

I believe God is looking for the cream of His crop.  Our world is like a separator that spins us, tries us, and test us.  God is looking for those individuals that are laying hold of the fabric of His life through the midst of our life’s tests.   

Has it ever struck you that in Revelations 2 and 3 where the Spirit is speaking to the churches, at the end of each exhortation to each church there is a promise to the overcomer?  The Spirit is saying to him that gives heed to my correction and exhortation in obedience and faithfulness  I have a special promise.  Now the promise doesn’t come without a condition and requirement.  The Lord is talking about more than just salvation here.  He is talking to those who stand the test of separation and who rise to the top.  

Paul speaks in Philippians 3 about running the race.  He forsook all else in pursuit of the prize, the prize of the high calling that in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”  The “perfect” used in this scripture refers to maturity in spiritual matters.  God has a higher calling that He is calling those who are mature into.  There are promises to Him who overcomes.  This is a different calling than just a salvation experience, this is a calling into the first fruits, the first ripe of Christ, that will come into His image and likeness.  

How great is your vision?  Are we content in our spirits with just our salvation or do we hear a trumpet that is calling us to come up higher?  The overcomer hears that trumpet and responds to it.  Do you hear a higher calling in your life today?  It will come through the Separator.

 
Blessings,
kent

The Story of a Cripple

February 25, 2014

The Story of a Cripple


Isaiah 30:20-21

And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 


A little girl sits staring out her window.  Her thoughts and dreams take her on journeys that her legs never can.  Struck by a drunken driver while riding her bicycle she no longer knows the pleasures of running and playing with her friends the way she used too.  At first, it didn’t seem real and she thought that surely she would get better and be able to walk again, but she never has. Then she became very angry with this person who had hit her on her bike, she hated them and wanted them to die.  This person had robbed her of a normal life, of friendships and had forever handicapped her from being like everyone else.  

Elsa was just eight years old when it happened.  After her body had recovered as much as it was going too, she would spend hours looking out her large second story bedroom window.  Below in the street and yards she would watch the kids play.  Often she would be saddened and angry as she set there, a captive of her circumstances.  Eventually she began to look beyond the neighborhood into the nearby fields and forest that surrounded the area.  She began to observe nature, the seasons, the birds and the little animals.  She began to see that just like humans, animals, birds and even the trees sometimes experienced tragedies, but adjustments were made and life went on.  

One day when she looked out, the field was on fire and it was quickly moving toward the forest.  She hurriedly dialed 911 and reported the fire.  She observed as the fire fighters arrived quickly upon the scene and as they battled the blaze, doing all that they could to contain its damage.  It went on for some time and the fire had reached the forest, burning a good area of it, before they finally got it under control and put it out.  Elsa was saddened as the landscape had been forever changed and she felt it would never be as beautiful or the same again as she looked out over the charred trees and burnt ground.  As the seasons changed she was amazed the next spring when the grass was actually greener in the burnt area than any place else.  Elsa observed that over time the burnt area filled back in with growth and animals started coming back into the new growth and shrubs.  In many ways it was even more beautiful and lush than before.  The Lord began to speak to her heart and she began to make the connection that bitterness and unforgiveness only will leave your heart barren and unproductive.  It poisons the ground.  Elsa began to here the voice of God telling her and showing her that she was like that burnt ground.  Wonderful things could still happen in her life.  Yes, it might be different than most, but perhaps even more beautiful in some ways because she had a perspective that others didn’t have.  She began to pray and release the anger, bitterness and offense she had so long held inside.  She prayed for the person that crippled her and asked God to make them whole as well.  Elsa came out of her room and began to become involved with life and people again.  She accepted that circumstances beyond her control had forever changed her, but perhaps it could be for the better and not for the worse.  As she began to embrace life, relationships and people again, she felt her life enriched somehow.  She missed being normal; walking and running like others, but she saw opportunities to help people in ways she never had before.  She realized that, like that that burnt field, God was restoring her to be an even better person than she had been before.  She realized her right attitude and God perspective made her grass a little greener than a lot of those around her.  She found herself walking no longer with the natural legs that she was born with, but with legs of faith, trust and dependency upon God to now direct her life in the way and the plan that He had for her.  Now instead of feeling robbed of life, she felt enriched with new meaning and purpose that her new life had found.  Instead of the burnt field of bitterness, hate and unforgiveness she found herself flourishing in the greenery and new life of her relationship with the Lord and with people.  She was learning what it is to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, that even in adversity there is blessing and holding on to offenses is more crippling than physical handicaps.  

 

Blessings,

kent

1 Samuel 3:1-14

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. 

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 

6 Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 

8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 

10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” 

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 

11 And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ” 


Hearing, Listening and Responding


Today, as in the days of Samuel, the Lord is teaching His anointed to once again hear and discern the voice of the Lord.   The Lord is here to reveal Himself to us and through us in word and in power.  Often we can miss the voice of God to us because the intents of our flesh are so loud that they make us dull in our hearing.  Our hearing is increased as we listen and obey.  Our quick obedience and responsiveness to God’s word to us increases our sensitivity to hear Him and to know His ways.  The Lord is not someone we rush.  He doesn’t operate on our timetable; He operates upon His.  It is not for God to wait upon us; it is for us to wait upon Him.  If we are too busy and occupied to wait, then it is likely we won’t hear a lot from the Lord.  

One of the first principles that Samuel learned when he discerned from Eli that He was hearing the voice of God was to make Himself available.    When Samuel finally discerned the Lord’s voice Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Do we know God’s voice when He is trying to speak to us?   Do we make ourselves available to listen and obey?   Sometimes the word that God gives us is a weighty word.  It can have serious implications toward the ones that it is directed toward.

We are not responsible for the words, other than to accurately communicate them the way that God gives them to us, but we are responsible to be available and obedient to what He does speak and direct us to do.  Samuel was reluctant to speak the word of judgement to Eli and his household that the Lord had given him, but he was obligated to do so.  When we become God’s mouth piece and His instrument, then it is not about what we say, or what we think, it is about being true to the sound that God is blowing through your instrument in whatever capacity that is. The soul must step down and give place to the spirit man to release and obey the Spirit within Him.  

Most all of us that have been in the church world for sometime have often seen a mixture of flesh and Spirit in operation.  What we have observed to a great extent has been a polluted anointing.  Whenever our flesh is mixed with Spirit it taints it.  

God wants to do something, in this hour, through each one of us.  He is looking for holy vessels that will be true to His Spirit.  He is looking for a people that have His interest at heart and not their own.  Before God can release through us the fullness of His power and anointing there must be first developed within us the character that is in the likeness of His own.  If our character isn’t true to the Lord then what He would attempt to produce through us will fall to the earth.  There are small things in our integrity and character that God wants us to start paying attention too. We have all justified a lot of things.  We all have our little indiscretion, little lies or dishonesties, but God is calling us now to integrity and accountability to Him.  He has a holy calling before us and it will take a holy character to walk in that calling.  Begin to be extremely sensitive to the voice of the Spirit and conscience in your daily lives.  Become much more disciplined in your listening and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.  He can lead us into all truth, but only we can be willing to partake of it.  

The Lord will begin speaking to us more and more in that still small voice of His Spirit.   We, like Samuel, must learn to discern that voice and respond in obedience to it in every area of our lives.  God is purposing great things through His people, but He is looking for a church without spot or wrinkle.  That means that He must wash us and with His fuller’s soap and press us with His refiner’s fire till we come forth purified for His purpose and His calling.  Listen for Him, trust Him and obey Him. 

 

Blessings,

kent

God Offenses

February 21, 2014

Genesis 4:2-6

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”


God Offenses


How many of us, if we are being totally honest, have had times and maybe still are, when we were angry or offended at God?  God didn’t answer in the way or time that we thought he should have.  Maybe someone we loved dearly was taken from us or someone we had been praying for to be healed died anyway.  Maybe that spouse never came back as we believed God to heal our marriage.  Somewhere along the way most all of us have had the opportunity to take up an offense with God, because He didn’t meet our expectations.  I know there has been times I have struggled with that and maybe we say, “We’ll God, what is the use of praying and believing if you’re not going to answer.”  The fact is, He did answer, it just wasn’t the answer we were looking for or that we wanted to hear.  One thing about God is that He is far too great and big to fit in the box of our finite thinking.  

When we come to these places in our life we find ourselves in the place where Cain was.  God didn’t reject Cain.  He simply told him to do what was right and he would be accepted, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 

What was Cain doing wrong?  There is a principle in the Word of God that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).  Cain was a man of the soil, which speaks to him being man that operated out of the works of his hands.  What he brought God was the product of the works of his hand.  Our works are not an acceptable sacrifice.  It is not that good works can’t result out of faith, but neither can they be the substitute for faith.   The fat portions of the lamb that Abel offered spoke of the blood that covers sin and the sacrifice of that offers up our flesh to Him as a living sacrifice (Roman 12:1).  

When we pray and believe God that is a good thing, but He doesn’t act according to our will unless it is in alignment with His will and purpose. 

Let’s take a New Testament example of offense.  This one that the Lord showed to Sharon, my wife, but a lot of us don’t really see it.  It deals with John the Baptist when he is imprisoned by Herod.  

Does he know who Jesus is?  

John 1:29-34 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”  So, yes, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  

Matthew 11:2-15 reveals John the Baptist’s offense with Jesus. “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

We just read in John 1 where John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Christ.  So if He is the Christ why hasn’t He done a miracle or something to rescue John the Baptist?  Do you suppose John the Baptist was praying to God to take him out of that prison?  If Jesus can work miracles and He is the Son of God, then surely He can get his servant, John the Baptist, this great man of God out of prison.  

John was in a test.  The enemy was no doubt bringing everything about God and his ministry into question as he remained there in that dark dingy cell.  He was even beginning to question if this Jesus really was the Son of God. Sin was crouching at the door and only an unrelenting faith would conquer it, but he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the Christ.  Have we ever been in a test like that?  

“4Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

Jesus rehearses the greatness and the calling of God on the life of John the Baptist, that there was none greater and yet what does He say?  “yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Why?  Because John the Baptist had taken up an offense with God. 

11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear.

What forcefully advances the kingdom of God is those who refuse to be offended when things don’t work out their way.  They will speak as Job did in Job 1:18-22, “While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job didn’t take up an offense, even though God contradicted every principle he knew,  he would not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.  It was this kind of faith and faithfulness in Job that would eventually promote him into a priestly ministry  of intercession and bring a double portion increase of all that had been taken from him.

We may need to repent today if there has been a offense in our heart against God.  We aren’t always going to understand the ways of God and it is not necessary that we do.  What is necessary is that we maintain our faith and our faithfulness.   ‘He gives and He takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.’  ‘When we can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.’

 

Blessings,

kent

Ecclesiastes 9:11

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 


The Way of the Lord Leads Home


The way of the Lord leads home.  His ways are just and true.  He lifts up the brokenhearted and releases the captive from their captors.  Freedom is found in the Lord and in His presence. Joy is found in His fellowship and wisdom comes with understanding, which the Spirit imparts to man.  

Rescue the perishing, provide and have mercy toward the poor, the fatherless and widows.  Your mercy shall not go unnoticed, but will in due time reap its just reward.  

The expected gives place to the unexpected and wealth gives place to poverty.  The just shall live by faith, but the upright shall possess all things.  The man who is high in his own eyes shall be brought low and the humble before the Lord will be placed in their stead.  

Seek the Lord while He may be found, before the day of indignation and tribulation.  Know Him as the oil of your lamp and the life of your vessel.  As long as you are steadfast in your hope of Him, none will quench the light from your lamp, for the Lord Himself shall sustain you.   It is not by the will of man, nor his determination that establishes a soul, it is by the steadfast faithfulness of a broken and contrite heart that a man is lifted up and set in the high places.  Whom the Lord establishes and exalts, none shall remove.  Their place continues to abide.  Their eyes and heart are never set upon themselves, but in the might of the Lord they abide and their light shall not fail.

Watchmen, sound the alarm in Zion, sound the trumpets of battle.  The day of battle is at hand. The mighty Prince of Peace, the King of King mounts His horse and the sword of truth proceeds from His mouth.  Behold your King comes with His host of righteous ones.  Prepare for the day of battle that you may be among His noble ones.

 
Blessings,
kent

 

When God is Silent and Understanding Fails

(Part 1) 


Job 23:8-17

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. 13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. 14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store. 15 That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.”

 

I ask God’s wisdom and counsel today in what we share.  There are times in our lives when we know and trust God with our heart, but we question Him with our mind, intellect and understanding.  We try and reason how God is, who God is and how He should act and work in our lives.  Life’s circumstances and trials can sometimes be very crushing and cruel.  They leave us in the wake of disasters that our natural reasoning struggles to understand and comprehend in the light of what we know about God.  The question is often asked and disputed, “If you are a loving and just God, how could you let this happen?”  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Many depart from their faith through the course of life, because God has disappointed them and failed to live up their expectations.  Sometimes when we are desperate for answers or a Word, God is silent.   

The book of Job has long been a source of comfort and strength to those of us who find ourselves in these places in life.  It is not uncommon for any of us at times in our lives to have these hard questions, because God does not always respond to us the way we think that He should.  About the time we think we have God all figured out and put in the box of our finite understanding, He blows the lid off of our box and defies our understanding.  God has defined Himself by certain characteristics and attributes, but His thoughts and ways are so beyond ours that they are unable to be corralled by human or conventional wisdom.  Some of you who are reading this now have struggled in your faith and perhaps have faltered because you couldn’t grasp why something happened as it did.  You prayed and you felt God didn’t answer.  You tried to walk in faith and you didn’t feel that God came through.  You may have trusted God and you felt He let you down or cried out to Him and it seemed He wasn’t there.  We may have said in our hearts, God, are you really real?  If You are who You say you are, then where are You, why have You abandoned me in my hour of need?  In times past we were so sure of His reality and we had experienced His presence, the joy of salvation and the precious power of the Holy Spirit.  Now our world has turned upside down and God seems nowhere to be found.  In the discourse of Job 29:1-6, “Job continued his discourse: 2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.”  Has that ever been the cry of our heart from the hardship and trials we have experienced?  Many of us, like Job, have searched for the answers that could bring comfort, consolation and satisfy our dejected soul.  In these times and through these monumental trials, what is our heart attitude toward God?  Can we still maintain our trust in God’s integrity and righteousness, or will we forsake and curse our God and turn away from our faith?  When the fires of hell are brought to bear upon our faith, when we can no longer with the natural eye behold the evidence of God, but only see the devastation of the enemy in our midst through death, sickness, poverty or affliction can we maintain our integrity and faith toward God?  Sometimes the fire of God will try and test our hearts in the ways that blessings and answered prayers never will.  It is easy to love and serve God when all is well, when we are prospering, healthy, wealthy and wise.  It is easy when we worship and sense God’s presence, favor and blessing, but what about when all of that is withdrawn?  Can you still trust Him and hold fast to Him?

 

Blessings,

kent

How Profound is His Love?

February 17, 2014

Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


How Profound is His Love?



Meditate on this simple truth that we often so quickly read past.  Nothing you, I or anyone did or could do could provide for us what only God the Father could provide for us through the love of His Son Jesus Christ.  It speaks to a principle of God, that out of utter weakness, helplessness and depravity the power of God is revealed toward us.  Most of us know that we could never get good enough on our own to deserve God’s love and salvation.  He is not wanting us to come to Him only after we have cleaned up our lives, that is like trying to take a bath without water or soap. He is the only way that we can get clean. Faith in His blood and in the washing of the water and the Word is our cleansing.  It is by nothing we can do or earn, but by simple faith that embraces God’s Son who took our sins upon Himself, suffered the incomprehensible pain and shame that  should have been ours and then died the death of sin that we deserve.  

Who is this Jesus that He should die for me?  He was the divine expression of God’s insurmountable love for all of humanity.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”  This is a very simple elementary truth of the Christian faith, but one we never want to loose sight of. It is the simple faith we placed in Jesus that has brought us into one body and one hope of our calling.  Nothing else exists without this foundational truth and reality.  Even the faith that we have to embrace Christ was the gift of His grace, lest any of us should boast (Ephesians 2:8).  

Do we fully understand that it is not our power that is at work here in our Christian walk and faith?  It is religion and a religious mindset that doesn’t comprehend this mystery of God and tries to establish a godliness out its own works, strength, knowledge and goodness, but God operates best out of weakness and total dependence upon Him.  Just as we couldn’t save ourselves, we can’t produce our own righteousness.  He alone is our righteousness.  It is in that daily exchange by faith of “who we were for who He is”, that we embrace that divine nature.  There is no amount of knowledge or gifting that can bring you into the likeness of the Son, only He can do that by the power of His Spirit working in you.  It doesn’t matter your status, your fame, your perception in the eyes of this world, Father knows and wants us to know that it is only His power working out of our weakness that makes us strong.  

Notice that there was an appointed time, just the right time, when we were still powerless , that Christ died for the ungodly.  There is another time, just the right time, when as 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”  You and I are the incubator and womb of this manchild that is growing inside the true Church.  There is a right time, the fullness of time when Christ shall be revealed in glory, within and without of His body, which we are.  

It is this simple truth that we first embraced that now grows within our womb.  This seed of life, deliverance, salvation and glory.  In your weakness He is working His strength.  Let your dependence and your hope be in none other, but Him.  He is the author and the finisher of your faith.  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”

 
Blessings,
kent
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