Finding the Beauty

September 28, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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If I have to live this way, just shoot me!

1 Kings 19:4

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I [am] not better than my fathers.

 

Have you ever felt that way?  You came to a point in life, maybe more than once, where life was just too painful, too hopeless and a dark cloud of depression and despondency covered your soul. Maybe it was from physical pain, emotional heartbreak or pressures around you that were just too much to bear. Thoughts of suicide were contemplated and maybe even attempted.  Voices were in your head telling you, “just to end it, get it over with.  Once you’re dead your pain is over.  Besides, who really cares?  Everybody will probably be better off without you.”  Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?  If they do then you have wrestled the enemy of depression and despair.  If you have been in this place, don’t feel condemned or weak, even the most spiritual of men have had there bouts with these demons.  Our scripture today is speaking of Elijah, the mighty prophet of God and it came just after one of the greatest spiritual victories of that time.  He should have felt invincible, but here we find him weak, frightened, fearful, despondent and despairing of his own life.  Isn’t it wonderful how God shows us the great spiritual men of the Bible in their weakness as well as their strength?  That, in itself, gives us hope.  If they are so spiritual and yet they went through these things, then maybe there is hope for me and you. 

            Beloved, some of you have endured great pain, suffering, persecution and affliction, beyond what one should have to bear.  Even if you have tried to fight the good fight and be faithful, you can grow weary in the battle.  Mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion can overcome you until thoughts and reasonings can come in that have no place being in your head.  These are like the testing experiences of Christ in the wilderness when He was at His weakest point.  The enemy tries to come in for the kill.  He would tell us, “God is a lie, that He is not faithful, He has forsaken you, He doesn’t care about you, and there probably isn’t even a God.” 

            His strategy is to disconnect us from our unity, oneness and identification in Christ, who is our strength and our life, because that is our power.  If He can rob Christ from us then what do we have?  What strength can we stand in? 

            Some of you are thinking, “yeah, but if God loves me so much, why would He allow me to have to go through so much pain?”  Sometimes it is the deep inner working of pain and suffering in our lives that brings us to terms with areas that we would just as soon keep buried forever.  There may be root causes for these pains and afflictions in our lives that can’t be healed and delivered until they are brought into the light and dealt with.  If Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered as it tells us in Hebrews 5:8, are we then greater than He? 

            It is not God’s will that we are in continual suffering and pain, but these are often the tools brought to bear upon us by the enemy, but God turns and uses them to do an inner surgery upon our character and our heart.  One thing we have to come to terms with is, “God is faithful all the time”, but you won’t always outwardly see that faithfulness.  Quite the contrary, everything in the natural can be speaking and demonstrating against the faithfulness of God.  2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us a secret, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”  What does Hebrews 11:1 tell us about faith?  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  As hard as it is, our trust can not be placed in the outward circumstances that surround us. 

            God loves you and is with you even in your weakest, darkest moments.  He has not abandoned or forsaken you.  What you are living with or going through may be the valley of the shadow of death, but David says, I will not fear, for thou art with meThy rod (authority of the Word) and thy staff (salvation) they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” While the enemy is doing everything in its power to defeat and destroy you God is setting the table of blessing and mercy right in the face of the enemy.  You are the anointed of God.  He is pouring the anointing of His Spirit and power over you that you may be more than a conqueror through Christ who has loved you and gave Himself for you.  See with your spiritual eyes, embrace with all the faith of your spiritual man the love and goodness God has for you, even in the midst of such darkness and despair.  Don’t give up, keeping on trusting Him.  The race isn’t to the swift and strong, but to the faithful.

Blessings,

#kent

Losing my Head

September 25, 2018

Losing my Head

 

Philippians 4:12-13

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 

 

               As I was praying this morning my thoughts went back to my childhood where I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents on their farm in Oklahoma.  I remember times when my grandmother would get a chicken that she was going to prepare for a meal.  She would put its head under a metal bar, step on it and pull its head off.  I’m sorry if that is a little gruesome and graphic for some.  The thing that was coming to me is that after the chicken’s head was removed I saw them do things that I never saw them do in everyday life.  They might just flop around, but I saw some of them fly distances that I had never seen a chicken fly before.  How could they do that without a head?  I know, involuntary reflexes and such.   The thing that struck me is that if they could do that in death, why did they never do it in life?  The only time a chicken would leave the ground normally is if it was being pursued and took flight out of fear. 

               I believe what the Lord was showing me is that our greatest limitation is between our two ears.  We grow up saying, doing and being what everyone else around us does.  Think of the disciples.  Here were twelve very ordinary men.  I imagine not all of them were the sharpest pencils in the drawer, but they all did one thing, they left all to follow this man Jesus.  As they followed, communed and lived with this man, they observed someone who was not like all of the other chickens in the hen house.  They observed someone who thought differently, acted differently and did things they had never imagined anyone could do.  It was a process over time where the normal way they used to view their world changed.  They begin to see and understand their world from a heavenly and kingdom perspective rather than an earthly one.  After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus they received power from on High when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost.  Now Jesus was physically gone.  They had lost their earthly head and a new mentality had to kick in.  The mind of Christ had now come within them for them to carry on the work of the Kingdom with power and authority.  They began to speak under the anointing of the Spirit and would see thousands respond and come to Christ.  They had miracles happening as they extended their wings in faith.  In some cases people were even raised from the dead.  These ordinary men were doing exploits that rattled the religious order of the barnyard.  The religious leadership thought that they had rid the hen house of this One that upset the natural order of things.  He was obviously out of the pecking order.  Now there were more of these people doing the same kind of things while proclaiming this Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah, not only in word, but also with signs and wonders. 

               What we have to realize is that when we accepted Christ as our Savior we became identified with His death on that cross.  In effect, our head got pulled off.  We are no longer like every other chicken in the barnyard.  The great news is that we didn’t just lose our head, we put on the headship of Christ in the process.  We lost our mind that we might have His.  Like the disciples before us we have began a process of changed thinking.  Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  It goes on to say ‘don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought.’  It is never this earthen vessel that is great; it is what fills it. 

What fills you my friend is what gives you the power and abilities to do what you have never done before.  It gives you the ability to rise to heights that in the natural mind you never thought possible.               

               There are wings of faith in God’s Word that must be stretched and exercised.  We have had them all along; we just have never really used them.  God has given us the ability to be extraordinary people and maybe not in the way the world views as extraordinary.  We have the power within us now to be different, something more.  That more may not be as the world views greatness, but it will be seen in the power of an obedient life yielded to Christ and available for His power to manifest through in the ways that please Him and further His Kingdom.  Have you lost your head and put on His?

Blessings,

#kent

Dealing with Pain

September 24, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

 

Dealing with Pain

 

Pain forces us to pay attention to the members that hurt.  Without it they would be ignored and instead of healing we would have loss.   Pain often causes us to slow down and focus on areas that we have taken for granted before.   It is pain that reminds of us of our weakness and causes us to look to God for strength.  Pain is something that none of us really want, but all of us need to balance and care for those areas that are weak and hurting.

As you go your way be aware of the pain around you and know that you may be God’s instrument and medication to bring comfort and help to that person that is hurting.

Perhaps you are the one that is in pain today, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  Don’t miss what God sends you in the simple things.  Allow your pain to move you into Him.  It is in our place of weakness that we find our greatest strength and it is not in us; it is in the Lord.  Don’t murmur or complain, but begin to rejoice and praise God in the midst of that pain.  Often it is this smith that is firing us and shaping us for our destiny and purpose.  Trust the Lord through those times of tribulation, pain and affliction.  Allow the pains of life to shape you in a right direction and attitude.  Allow it to make you stronger and not weaker.  It is often your pain that makes you most sensitive and responsive to the pain in others.   Pain is sometimes our prison, but praise is our liberator.  If satan would bruise God’s people, then let it release the precious incense and perfume of praise and worship.  Pain often causes us to reach deep within for strength and grace that only God can give us.  Pain and suffering often do a work that perfect health, prosperity and blessing could never do.  The preparation to rule and reign is often through the pain and suffering.

Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  Don’t receive the enemy’s condemnation or the thoughts that God is angry with you or doesn’t love you.  Whom He loves, He chastens that they might bear the precious fruits of righteousness.  Be encouraged if you are going through pain and suffering today.  The way up is through the way down and if you suffer in Christ, you shall also be glorified with Him.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”  Keep your eyes upon Jesus rather you are in much or little, health or sickness, heartache or joy.  Know that the Lord is sufficient, so find your contentment and grace in Him.  Keep an eternal perspective and not just a temporal one.  ‘Though the outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.’  Live out of the inward man.  Let that which works death in our outward members release the life inwardly and let us become the fragrance of Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

 

This is the One I’m looking for.

 

Isaiah 66:1-2

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

 

 

‘Where is the place of my rest’, says the Lord.  ‘I am the Lord of heaven and earth, what edifice or building could you possibly make that could even compare with what I have already?’  The Lord is not looking for what we can produce for Him out of the works of our hands; the dwelling place He desires and is looking for is a condition of the heart.  “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”  Is that the condition of my heart and yours today?  Are we what the Lord is looking for to be the place of His rest?

What is it to be poor?  Does it mean you have to be homeless, destitute, without wealth or is it a condition of the heart wherein nothing is regarded of true value outside of God?  The spiritually poor recognize that the world and all it’s riches are soon to pass away and that the only true treasures are those of heaven obtained through relationship and right standing with God.  Often it is the people of low social and economic status that best grasp this concept.

Jesus teaches the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and says, “Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”  If we desire to be the blessed of the Lord here is where our heart needs to be.  This is an expanded definition of Isaiah 66:2. These are the righteous who yearn and have a heart after God.

What does it mean to have a contrite heart?  It is interesting in looking up the meaning of this word in the Hebrew it literally means, “dust”.  It spiritually means that your heart is reduced to the base elements, there is no regard, no significance, nothing of value in your spirit outside of God and His working in you.  You are as dust before Him and the heart of the contrite is that God would somehow look upon the dust of our nothingness and fashion it into a vessel pleasing to Him.  Psalms 34:18 says, “The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”  Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Finally Isaiah 57:15 says, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”  Do we see here the place of His Holy dwelling?  Why do we weep and mourn in our spirits?  It is because we have become cognizant of how utterly destitute we are without His holy presence and we cry out for Him to fill us and reveal His presence within us.

Lastly, God looks for those who “tremble at His Word”.  This is simply the fear of the Lord.  It is those who regard God and His Word with such holy respect and reverence that they in no way wish to offend the Holy Spirit in action, word or deed.  It is an attitude that truly gives God His due honor and respect.

2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us what God is looking for, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him…” Are we what God is looking for?

“Without the Potter, our clay is just dust.”  ~ Beth Moore

Blessings,

#kent

The Richness of Praise

September 20, 2018

 

The Richness of Praise

 

Psalms 42:11 & Psalms 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 56:4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Psalm 63:3 Because thy lovingkindness [is] better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.

Psalm 106:12 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise

Psalms 107:8 Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!

Psalms 115:18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD

Psalms 146:2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being

 

Why so many verses?  A reference mentioned that in the book of Psalms from where these verses were taken there were 248 references to PRAISE in 216 verses.  This is but a small sprinkling of the many that are contained in the Word.  Something else that may be note worthy is the first place praise is used in the Word is in Genesis 29:35 when Leah gave birth to Judah who was the son of Jacob and one of the twelve tribes of Jacob.  His name means praise.  Isn’t it interesting that David who descended out of the Judah was the Bible’s chief proponent of Praise, the greatest King in Israel’s history, a man after God’s own heart and the line from which Jesus is born?  The list could go on, but the point is Praise is such an important component in our spiritual walk with the Lord and yet, is so often neglected.  Let’s define Praise here as incorporating rejoicing, thanksgiving and exaltation of God.  It has been my personal experience and I’m sure the experience of many of you that no one thing can bring us into relationship and closeness with the Lord like Praise can.   Over the past year and half as I have made Praise a more central and faithful part of my life, I am seeing the richness and change it is bringing to my spiritual walk and the closeness and greater sensitivity I have to the Holy Spirit.   What is sweeter to the nostrils of God than the sweet fragrance of the sacrifice and incense of praise and worship?  Psalms 22:3 says that God inhabits the praises of Israel or His people.  Our Praise should rise up out of our spirits as we reflect and meditate on God’s rich goodness, awesome greatness, love and grace.  Even more so as we reflect on our Lord Jesus and His great sacrifice of Love on our behalf that we may receive forgiveness from our sins, be reconciled to God the Father, be made a part of His family and be partakers of divine and everlasting life.  Some may say, I agree with that, but I don’t always feel like praising God.  Praise is first an act of our will, not our feelings.  It must have it’s origin in our spirits, not our souls.  Feelings often accompany our praise and worship, but they are not the source of it.  God wants our worship and praise to come from spirit and truth.  That means they originate in our spirit as it is yielded to the Holy Spirit.  Most likely it is when we least feel like praising that we need to the most.  Life, circumstances and especially condemnation can all enter in to rob our joy and desire to praise.  Praise is a dimension of faith where, before the results are seen, the thanksgiving and worship are going forth.  (Read 2Chronicles 20 for a great example of this.)  Perhaps we fail to see the victory, because we fail to praise, rejoice and give thanks for that which we say we believe for.  The eyes and heart of faith acts on what is unseen, not on what is seen.  Praise should come before not just after the answer to prayer is revealed and manifested.

Time would fail us to touch on the richness and fullness of this subject.  More may be shared as the Lord directs.

Begin to make PRAISE the first order of your daily encounter with the Lord.  It is the means by which we approach Him and enter into His presence.  I often think of it as climbing up on the lap of Father God and putting my arms around Him just to tell Him how much I love and appreciate Him.  It is not coming with my expectations or problems.  It is a time I want to come just for Him, to worship Him and love Him for who He is not what He can do for me or give me.  He is so worthy of our praise brethren, let us not deny Him.  When we deny Him Praise we also rob ourselves of the richest fellowship we can have with the Father.  Experience the richness of Praise.

Blessings,

#kent

Shadows of Blessing

September 19, 2018

 

Shadows of Blessing

 

Song of Songs 4:6

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

 

Shadows are cast by other objects or persons.  They are often not clearly distinct but can give some semblance of the real object they are cast from.  All through the Word of God, God has used types and shadows to signify and represent the reality which was yet to be revealed.  God uses natural things or shadows to show forth the image of the heavenly things which we haven’t been able to fully grasp and lay hold of.  Old Testament types and shadows symbolized in many ways, dimensions and facets of the life and salvation through Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is seen in His presence in three facets, what was, what is and what is to come.  The Old Testament represented “what was”, the sin, the law and righteousness of God and the sacrifice and atonement for sin.  As God’s plan of the ages unfolds in the fullness of Christ we see it in these stages.  The New Testament brought us Christ revealed in the flesh, “what is”, the New Covenant sealed in the blood of the Lamb of God. There we met God face to face in a human and natural sense.  There we saw the reality of many of the Old Testament prophesies, types and shadows fulfilled and revealed in the person of Christ and the birth of the Church, His Bride.  But still we are looking for “what is to come”; the final revelation of Christ in all of His majesty and glory.  We are looking for His “parousia”, presence or coming when we are fully caught up into Him and revealed with Him in His glory.  This is the day break when all the shadows will flee away and Christ shall be revealed in all of His fullness, splendor and glory.   2 Peter 1:19 exhorts us, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”  The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are our illumination and understanding in the shadow lands of our spiritual understanding.  It is what is pointing us forward, instilling hope and faith to look unto the fullness of the day when Christ arises as the morning star in our hearts and is manifest in His holy nature within our beings.  It will be as 2 Thessalonians 1:10 puts it, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”  Christ is not only revealed outwardly, but within us… His saints, His holy temple, His bride. 

            Meanwhile, where is this Christ that we await in His glory and splendor?  I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.”  The myrrh and frankincense were elements used in the holy anointing oil and in the incense.  They sought to give myrrh to Jesus on the cross and gold, frankincense and myrrh were the gifts the wise men brought Him in His youth.  Here again we see in shadow that Jesus is dwelling in the heavenlies of our spirit man.  He inhabits that place where we are filling up the sufferings of Jesus through a life poured out in living sacrifice to Him.  It is in the place of spiritual praise where we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and He inhabits the praises of His people.  It is in the place where we operate out of His life and anointing in our daily lives and ministry. 

            Men, in the Old Testament, like Joseph and David, were men destined for rulership and spiritual leadership. They were men of outstanding blessing and anointed of the Lord.  Through much of their lives they lived only in the shadow of that blessing; through faithfulness, obedience and a vision that wouldn’t fail, there came a day when they entered into the fullness of their calling and inheritance as we will enter into ours if we faint not in the shadow of our blessing.

Blessings

#kent

The Wounded and Broken

September 18, 2018

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, the church, 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 ministry 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

How do I Know that I Know Him?

September 17, 2018

 

How do I Know that I Know Him?

 

1 John 2:1-6

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

 

Have you ever been around someone, who says they go to church and they claim to be a Christian, but their attitudes, their morals, their integrity and their language all testify against them?  Now the truth is we all fall short of the glory of God and we know that if we sin, Jesus has paid the price and offers us forgiveness when we confess our sins and ask for it.  When we behold Jesus, when we see His life and listen to His Words, is He what you really want to be like? Now our church mentality wants to say, “Oh yes, that’s what I want.  I want to be like Jesus.”  What does your heart say?  What is more important is, what are our lives saying?

Have you ever noticed in life that you tend to excel at what your passion is?  When you are passionate about something it is not work, or a burden to you, it is your desire and it is what fulfills you.  If we are trying to serve God out of obligation and duty then we probably won’t do exceptionally well at it, because it is not in our heart.  On the other hand, if Christ is our passion, our love and our desire, then keeping His commandments isn’t that hard.  That’s who we are and what we want to be.  It is our passion and our love, so to do the contrary to that grieves us and steals our joy.  That is why Christ is all about relationship; when we love Him and when we are intimately connected to Him then He is who we desire to please.  His commands aren’t grievous to us, but joyous, because our obedience to them reflect our love for Him and desire to be well pleasing in His sight.  Our obedience is our expression of love back to the Lord.

Remember your first love?  We could not do enough to try and please that significant other.  They were in our hearts, our thoughts and our conversation; we would doodle their name, we talked to our friends about them, they were the passion and joy of our life.  That is what many of us have had with Jesus, but like that first love, the more familiar it became, the more common it became until it wasn’t so special anymore, it was just another part of life.  Many of us have seen this happen in our marriages and we have seen it happen with our relationship with the Lord.  We still love, but we’ve slipped into a routine of mediocrity.  We are faithful, but our hearts aren’t in it like before.  This condition can and does happen to many of us both in the natural and in the spirit.  In Revelation 2 the Holy Spirit is addressing the seven churches.  When He comes to the Church of Ephesus, He says this, “3I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary. 4But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. 5Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.”  How many of our marriages have had their lampstand removed for this very reason, we forsook our first love?  We lost our passion for love and relationship?  What we have done in the natural, we are doing in the Spirit.  The joy of obedience and service is in love.  When we loose that love, the joy goes with it.  We have to recapture that first love we had for Christ.  Can you remember when He filled your spirit with His Spirit till your joy was too overflowing?

While we may be faithful with our bodies or our spirits, our minds and hearts have wandered off to pursue other lovers, but all they are really doing is robbing us of our first love and joy, and they never offer us any long-term fulfillment or faithfulness.  They destroy what we did have to give and leave us nothing but heartache and sorrow.  We are like Israel of old and like Homer, the harlot wife of Hosea.  Hosea writes in Hosea 2:7, “And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.”  Beloved we need to lay hold of her revelation.  We need to return to our first husband, our first love and our first passion.  This can be said to us both naturally and spiritually.  We have to rekindle those fires of friendship and relationship, both with Christ and with our spouses.  Who can measure how much richer our lives will become if we set our hearts to do that.  I know that my wife would say amen to that, how about yours?

How do you know that you Know Christ?  The knowing is in the intimacy of relationship that stems out of love and commitment.  It is a dynamic that cannot become stagnant or static or it will wither and die.  Complacency and mediocrity will kill it.  We love Him, because He first loved us.  His passion and His love for us hasn’t changed, if something has changed in our relationship then the problem is with us and not with Him.  Let’s return to our first love.  God’s love is made complete in us through our obedience.

Blessings,

#kent

Joy Cometh in the Morning

September 14, 2018

 

Joy Cometh in the Morning

 

Psalms 30:5

For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

 

Where is your life spiritually today?  Would you characterize it as nighttime or daytime?  Most all of us, who have been walking in Christ for a time, know that we go through seasons in a spiritual sense.  There are times we go through such close intimate times with our Lord and sense His presence and love in such a wonderful way and then there are those nighttime experiences.  It may come as a result of allowing sin to come into our lives.  It may be the result of God’s chastening or dealings in our lives.  It may be through persecution or tribulation.   Whatever the reason it is nighttime experience, one in which we fail to sense God’s presence in our soul.  Our prayers may seem hollow and of none effect.  These are times when spiritually we cry out for God, perhaps it is in these times we really begin to seek God’s help, His presence, His deliverance through a trial or tribulation we are facing.  There are times our lives can feel pretty bleak.  Our circumstances are overtaking us.  Where is God?

King David experienced this nighttime ordeal before He became King.  Psalm 30:7-9 says, ”

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”  Perhaps you and I have prayed prayers similar to this.  One thing that is so admirable about David and I think a spiritual key to us overcoming in these dark times is that David, no matter how low, remembered the goodness and the faithfulness of GodHe continually brought God’s promises and His benefits before the Lord in his prayers and psalms.   And he never ceased to praise and thank God even in those dark times.  He was quite honest with God about what he was going through and the emotions that wanted to overtake him, but he always brought his thoughts and focus back to a place of faith in the faithfulness of God.  We may go through some long nights that may go for years, but learn those principles that David learned.  They will sustain you in those times. David even says an interesting thing in this passage, he says, ” by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face.”  Have you ever thought of your mountain as favor from God?  Remember that what God is allowing in your life is designed to press you into Him.  He wants us to learn and trust Him for who He is, not what He can do for us.  This is the place of maturing faith where the rubber meets the road.  God has to become very real to us or we give up and turn away.  God is processing us through the hardships of our life.   “The trial of your faith is much more precious than Gold” (1 Peter 1:7a)

In this scripture David says “joy does come in the morning”, our trials, darkness and seeming separation from God won’t last forever.  He is faithful to bring us through if we faithfully hold fast to Him.  David’s next expression after talking of how severe the trial says, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

If you are in your night season, don’t be discouraged, have hope, God has not forsaken you.  He is proving you and bringing you into whom you really are in Him.  Stand the test, stay the course, for joy comes in the morning.

Blessings,

#kent

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