Practical Worship

June 14, 2019

Matthew 25:27-30

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

 

Practical Worship

 

I woke up this morning to an interview on the radio of a young man who purposely became a homeless person for five months as an experiment to see how the church responded to their needs.  I was convicted in my heart as I heard examples that were shared.  In one example there were men who came to the park and handed out sack lunches to the homeless and invited them to hang out with them as they shared the love of Christ. They invited him to church.  When he came, they afterwards gave him a couple of bags of groceries and some money to help him to get to Phoenix.  In another example he hadn’t eaten in about a day and a half.  He had a festering sore on his foot, but was unable to afford the medical attention he needed to treat it.  He went to a church where the people were raising their hands and worshiping the Lord. When he was sharing with some of the people in the church his need, he was told that this was a place to worship the Lord, it was not about meeting his needs.  None of these people knew his true identity and purpose, but he expressed that a part of our worship to God is in how we relate and minister to others.

I began to think about how much of my life is centered around my wants and needs.  I am always praying about how I want the Lord to meet this need and that need in my life, but how much of my energy is spent, how much sensitivity is given to the needs of those that the Lord brings through my life?  Like so many of us, we become hardened and callused at all of the requests we get from the multiple channels of people and organizations calling upon us for financial needs.  The question is, have we become cold and indifferent to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the needy, the sick and the imprisoned?  Have we become so vertical in our worship that there is no more room for a horizontal expression of what that vertical worship should be all about?  If I expect the Lord to meet my needs, what is He expecting of me in ministering to the needs of others?  Am I there and as sensitive to those needs in as much as I can be?  Do I see others as my responsibility or only as a burden and inconvenience?  I became painfully aware of how selfish and self-centered our lives can become.  Why are we so quick to forget it is not about me, but it is all about Him?  Him includes those hungry, thirsty, sick, orphaned, widowed, imprisoned and lost individuals who all need the expression of God’s love and kindness in a very real and practical way.  If I have been created and purposed to be the expression of Him, how is it that I mostly only seem concerned about me?

Perhaps some of you share this same conviction that I feel.  No, we can’t be everything to everyone, but we can be something to those individuals that God brings through our lives.  We can be sensitive to respond to His Spirit’s leading in giving to worthy causes or meeting other’s needs.  After all, this is our purpose and calling in Christ Jesus.

One day we also will stand before the Lord and what will be His response to us for our deeds?

Blessings,

#kent

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Vessels unto Honor

June 11, 2019

 

Vessels unto Honor

 

2 Timothy 2:20-21

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

 

We who are in Christ are the articles and the vessels of the Lord’s house.  The question before us today is what kind of vessel are we, and what is our function? Am I the toilet brush or the golden vase upon the mantle?   The Word is making it clear to us that we have a say in the kind of instrument and vessel we are by how we present ourselves before the Lord.

Let’s get real again, we all live around each other.  We have our game face, the one we put on when we are in a spiritual or religious environment.  Is it the same face that we have on when we are out socializing, or at work, or in dealing with our family, the issues of life and the agitations that go on there?  Who are we, what are we?  Many of us have had a real experience with Christ, but we haven’t had a real experience with the transformation of our lives from what we used to be.  If a person is around us for short period of time, do they recognize that there is anything different in me than in any other person that is in the world?  Is my language different, are my attitudes and demeanor different or are my goals and purposes different from that of the world?  If the Lord took us into His house today and assigned us a position to function, what would it be?

Psalms 84:10 says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”   If we are functioning and living in a life of righteousness then that is a reflection of the kind of vessel that we are, because even now we make up the house of the Lord.  On the other hand if I am not dealing with the areas of unrighteousness and worldliness in my life then I am not positioning myself for the Lord’s highest purpose.  What is life’s purpose?  Is it not to love and honor God with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength, then to love my neighbor as myself?  If you and I are missing that then we are missing being the vessels of honor.  Our honor is in honoring the King of Kings.  Our status as a vessel of God is seen in how we honor and live our lives for Him.  Are you and I a vessel and an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do 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.”  This is an exhortation for us to become vessels of honor, by the presentation of ourselves and our wills to God and the turning of our hearts from evil. The Lord’s economy is the Lord working in us to empower and help us.  We, in turn, come to Him, yield to Him and obey Him.  The Lord goes no further than our will permits Him.  If we maintain a self will we in turn hinder and disqualify ourselves from the position of God’s honor.  Honor Him through a life of obedience and submission and He will in turn honor you as a vessel of noble purpose.  It is not God who disqualifies us from becoming that, it is ourselves alone.  What is your position going to be in eternity and what is your function in the kingdom of God?  This little dash between the date we were born and the date our body is no longer living, will mark our position and place in eternity.  We don’t want to miss the importance of that little dash.

Blessings,

#kent

The Book of Life

June 4, 2019

The Book of Life

Revelations 20:12

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 

The winds of time blow life quickly by,

Like rustling, turning pages of an open book outside.

Those bright crisp, white pages of the beginning verse,

Gradually yellow, curl and fade beneath the Adamic curse.

 

With weathered covers and many verses written,

We are all by years of age so smitten.

But what is this that goes beyond the page?

Beyond the written words thus laid?

 

Is it not the spirit of the book and verse?

Is it something that cannot be touched by the curse?

It is the eternal life inspired in those who read it,

It is the candle in other lives this verse has lit.

 

Who has inspired these hope-giving pages of life?

Is it not He who turned our day from night?

Who wrote upon our hearts of stone, the Word made flesh?

Who took the darkness of our book and made its story fresh?

 

It matters not what men may outward see,

In this book that they now call me.

There is a story that will live on and on,

Beyond weathered pages with an eternal song.

 

For the Spirit of this book is not just in the words thus pinned,

It is in the One who wrote the book, the Spirit of life, the Christ within.

Its words have been united with His eternal Word,

Thus, I pray it is these words men have read and heard.

 

The old book, by its looks, few may discover,

But you can’t always judge a book by its worn old cover.

The content that inspires the life and hope in its readers,

Is the life that lives on and inspires tomorrow’s leaders.

 

I know the pages of this old weathered book,

Are transcribed into the great Almighty’s Book,

They are written to one day testify for me or against me plead,

But it is the blood of the Lamb, that has sealed this book of me.

 

Kent Stuck

by the Grace of God

Blessings,

#kent

Spoiled Leftovers

May 28, 2019

 

Spoiled Leftovers

 

Colossians 3:5-11

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 

When we were saved and came into Christ we may have experienced a wonderful salvation and deliverance experience.  While we by faith stepped into Christ and heavenly places not all of our old baggage fell by the wayside at that moment.  While we were forgiven and all of our sins were washed away, it didn’t mean we never sinned or fell short again.  The reality is that God didn’t just take all of the responsibility away from us and say now you are all pure, holy and you are just like me.  In our spirits He did.  In that inner man there is one in the likeness of Christ.  But for that “Christ in us” to possess all of us it is a life-long process and one only fully consummated at His presence or coming.

Meanwhile we are caught up in the battleground of the mind and soul.  Our inner man is intent on holiness, righteous and conformity to Christ, but sin still wants to work in our outward members.  Did you ever have a beautiful refrigerator with great food in it, but you keep smelling this stench and wonder where is that odor coming from?  You keep digging and digging and finally you find a baggy with an old rotten onion, so you throw that out, but it still stinks.  You look some more and you open up this yogurt container that has more hairy mold than you’ve got whiskers.  You grimace and wrinkle your nose as you throw it out.  Still there is this smell, but what you find is that some of the foods you really like are the culprits.  Oh man, you don’t want to throw those out, because you really like them, even if they aren’t good for you, so you tuck them away so they will be less noticeable, but you can still munch on them when you get the urge.  Likely it is not the spirit man that wants to hold on to them, it is the flesh.  We have ways of justifying our flesh and our little stashes where we make provision for those things we outwardly love, crave or don’t want to let go of.

What we deal with is that if we are maintaining a relationship with Christ and seeking to please Him in all of our ways we run into conflict.  The Holy Spirit only allows us to indulge in our little hidden treasures for a time until He begins to put His finger on them.  Now it comes down to our will or His.  The truth is, that to His nose, these things are spoiled leftovers of our past nature and they are a stench to Him, but will we let go of them?  The Cross takes no prisoners in its process of holiness.  It exercises extreme prejudice on those things our flesh holds dear, because they represent idolatry to the Lord.  They are the place where our affections, commitments and loyalties often diverge from the Spirit as we make provisions for the flesh.

Most all of us deal with strongholds, these giants in our land, in one area or another that keep defying the living God.  Only as the Spirit of God rises up in us with dominion and authority will we conquer and overcome the strong will of rebellion that still abides in us.  It must to be our will in union with His.  Only as we relinquish everthing, every emotion, and every desire, can Christ be fully Lord of the land.  Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  What are we going to do with our spoiled leftovers?

Blessings,

#kent

New Hope

May 24, 2019

New Hope

Psalms 31:24

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

 

Spring snowmelt trickles down through mountain streams

Blue skies compliment the budding green,

The hawk soars as the sentinel of the sky,

The earth awakens from her sleep and comes alive.

 

Hard winter’s trials are melting from your heart,

God’s mercies are bringing a brand-new start.

He is lifting you up on promises of love,

Alive in Him you will walk in the things above.

 

So lift your face unto the sky,

Rejoice today in the Lord on high.

His Son has broken through the clouds of adversity and trial,

This is the day to rejoice, be glad and smile.

 

New Hope has risen in your land,

What appeared dead, is alive again,

Resurrection life has entered in to bring alive the lost,

Your prayers are answered, because Christ paid the cost.

 

His promises are sure and true,

But there is often a battle to press them through.

Continue to stand your ground in faith,

Your time in His presence is never a waste.

 

Today is the day of your breakthrough,

Today is the day that I will deliver you.

Set your eyes and heart steadfast on Me.

For this day your deliverance you will see

Blessings,

#kent

Growing Up

May 22, 2019

 

Growing Up

 

Galatians 4:1-2

Now I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

 

Is it time that God wants us to lay hold of a spiritually adult mentality and grow up out of our childhood and immaturity?   So often our thinking and our vision is earth bound.  We see only in terms of the law, tradition and religion.  What is God trying to tell us?  If we want to remain children then we will not experience anything more than a servant.  God desires sons that can step into His nature and likeness.  Romans 8: 14-21 tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  The Lord is exhorting us to grow up in all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  In order to walk in the maturity of full-grown sons, the Word says we must be led by the Spirit of God.  Galatians 4:6-7 goes on to tell us much the same thing, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  We are told we have an inheritance in Christ, that we are joint-heirs with Him and that we have received the Spirit of Adoption.  The nature and Spirit of the Father has come in us, but not unlike the Galatians many of us are still living in the weak and beggarly elements of this world of the law, tradition and religion.  We are still striving in our immaturity to live up to outward forms and standards of righteousness.  We are not coming into and laying hold of the awareness that the Law Giver is within us.  He is writing His law upon the tables our heart. It is not in the outward forms that we lay hold of our inheritance.  In fact, it this mentality that is holding us back.  Paul was genuinely grieved with the Galatians; because they had taken the freedom He had imparted to them in Christ and traded it again for bondage.  In Galatians 4:19 he says, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you;” in other words “My little immature children.”  God is calling us to GROW UP!  It is no longer to the outward forms you are looking to bring you into maturity; it is the Christ within you.  It is that Spiritual impartation of divine life within you that will transform and conform you to the nature and likeness of your Father.  In order for that to happen we must make it our priority and purpose to be led by the Spirit of Christ within us.  Even as the Son of God walked not in His will, but in the will of the Father, we must become so attuned.  If we want to enter into the fullness of our inheritance then we must grow up into Him in all things, in every aspect of our lives; both religious and otherwise.  We are not separate from Him, we are one with Him.  Only in the unity of that oneness can we be the full expression of who He is.  It will never happen through any efforts or abilities of ours, but only as He is the fullness within us.

God is exhorting us to maturity and full Sonship.  We are pressing into our full inheritance as we give place to Him being the all in all within us.  In that inheritance there is not only freedom and deliverance for us, but for all of creation as well.  Let us grow up even as Ephesians 4:13-15 tells us, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ.”

Blessings,

#kent

Time in His Presence

May 20, 2019

Time in His Presence

1 Chronicles 16:27

Glory and honour [are] in his presence; strength and gladness [are] in his place.

Psalms 16:11

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

The world has little to offer in comparison to those times we come into the presence of our God.  There is nothing else that can be so humbling and yet so edifying as His presence.  It is a privilege we far too often forsake because it requires time, waiting and attending unto the Lord, praise, worship and adoration of His most worthy and holy Name.  The Lord doesn’t want us to take Him lightly or just address Him in passing.  The rich times are most often found as we approach Him with the right attitude of heart, with honesty, with true reverence and appreciation for all that we can comprehend Him to be. Think about the intimacy in our human relationships and how real bonding and closeness requires our time and attention to that other person, so that they know that our heart is set totally on them and they are the complete object of our affection and love.  Unfortunately we treat our relationship with God much like our human relationships where we pay lip service for a few minutes and give an outward show of affection, but our real motive is our own gratification and the fulfillment of our wants and desires.  The reality is it is centered on us not the person of our God we say we want to be in relationship with.  God knows our hearts and our motives.  We may fool people, but we won’t fool Him. 

When we truly come into God’s presence it is all about Him.  It is about loving and ministering to Him strictly based on who He is and because He is so worthy of our highest praise and love.  It is about losing ourselves in worship and as much as is possible forgetting the time constraints that so often rob us of what we could have.  God is certainly not insensitive to our need, but the fact is He has already provided for it.  Isn’t it time that we spent more time appreciating and thanking Him for what He has already provided whether we see it manifested in this world or not.  Hebrews 11:6 says, ” But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  Notice God is a rewarder of those who “diligently” seek Him.  That means we are seeking with earnest and determination.  When He rewards us with His presence, when His glory even rains lightly upon us, there is no greater reward we could ask.  It is the wellspring of joy; the peace that passes understanding and the unspeakable love that fills our hearts.  It is so worth the time we spent seeking Him.  The precious thing is that we have touched His heart as well as Him having touched ours.  We have met the Lord’s desire for intimate fellowship and relationship.  This is what He is calling His bride into in this hour, that place of intimate relationship with Him.  Eventually God wants to bring us to the place that these times are not just an occasional happening, but they become a lifestyle of living in the presence of our God; where we practice His presence everyday, in every activity, from the most mundane to the most glorious.  He is always there in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our continual expression of worship through the continual prayer and praise we breathe and through our daily routine of work and life.  No greater reward can this life hold than God’s presence.  When He is there we are walking in heavenly places.  We have “come up hither” as the Lord speaks to John in the book of Revelation.  We find there a new dimension of life and purpose this present life can not offer.  We will find there strength, power and provision to carry out the calling God has for each one of our lives.  Take the time to find His presence.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Forgiveness

May 16, 2019

 

Forgiveness

 

Ephesians 1:7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

 

Forgiveness is a word that we use a lot and often fail to really consider the depth of what it implies and what it accomplishes.  Forgiveness is a necessary ingredient before any true restoration and reconciliation can take place in a relationship where an offence has occurred on the part of one or both parties.  Where an offence remains not forgiven, it may be pushed down or ignored by the offended one, but when forgiveness is not released it is like getting a splinter under the skin.  Even a small splinter that is not released will begin to fester and be a constant source of agitation until it is removed.

God, in His great wisdom, saw all the offences we committed toward Him as human beings.   While we might have good intentions, we have come to realize that God’s standards of holiness and righteousness are not obtainable in our fallen state and so we are a constant source of offense to Him.  We have come to realize that under God’s mandate and law we are all destined for judgement and the eternal consequences for our sins.  This was not God’s plan.  His plan was to provide for us forgiveness.  Through the sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of His perfect Son, He could extend release and pardon to us for our offences and sin.  God’s heart is to reconcile, redeem and restore His creation back to Himself and He paid the ultimate price to do so.  We all know what we deserve, but the mercy and grace of God said, “no”.  He has extended to us the olive branch of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation through the blood of His own precious Son.  God, in Christ, has done all the hard part for us and all we have to do is extend the hands of faith and receive this great and precious gift of forgiveness and pardon.

Imagine that you have murdered someone in the heat of passion, and you have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Nothing you can do can undo the consequences of your sin.  Then one day the son of the president comes to you and says, “You know that you have committed a crime and the debt and punishment for that crime has to be paid.  I am here to take your place; pay for the crime and let you go free.  It will be just as if you had never committed that crime.  It will be erased from your record.”  If you accept this exchange, then the doors to the prison open and you are free to go.  As if that were not great enough, the president’s son tells you that now that you are free, he wants you to assume the position of the president’s son with all of its rights, powers and privileges.  Wouldn’t we be a fool not to accept such an offer?  Obviously, in turn we would owe the president and his son our lives for that exchange.  Obviously, what he is offering is far better than what we were facing.  We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The point is that if we never accept the pardon and we hold on to our offence then it can never be pardoned or released.  With every gift given there is an exchange, but for the exchange to be complete it must be received.  The gift isn’t mine till I accept it from you, and I can never open it and experience its contents until I am willing to reach out, take it and open it.

In our human relationships forgiveness is an important part of our interactions with one another.  We offend and hurt one another rather intentionally or unintentionally all the time and we need to ask and extend to one another forgiveness.  As Christians we are commanded of God to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and gave Himself for you.  Many of us are struggling with our relationship with both God and man because we have been unwilling to release forgiveness.  It doesn’t mean that we extend forgiveness and are expected to continue in a hurtful or destructive situation given a choice, but we need to forgive to set ourselves free.  It is the only way we can get those splinters of offense out of us.  When we withhold forgiveness, we create a dam that withholds the love of God from flowing through us.  We close our heart and emotionally detach ourselves.

Many of us need the restoration and the reconciliation that can only come, as we are willing to release forgiveness.  We can’t always be responsible for the other party accepting it, but we can release it and thereby release ourselves.  Often pride, on both sides, is the greatest hindrance to our reconciliation.  You can see why God loves humility in us, because it is not too proud to say when it is wrong and it is not to proud to forgive someone, even when they don’t deserve our forgiveness.

Unfortunately, our unwillingness to forgive can become for us a puddle of self –pity that we continue to wallow in and feel sorry for ourselves.   We can do the same thing with our unwillingness to receive forgiveness.  We remain in the bondage of our offenses.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful instruments of love that the Lord has ever given to us.  We all need to take it, use it and exercise it often.  Nothing can set us free and restore right relationships like forgiveness.  It can unlock the many prison doors of our hearts and sets us free to love and be loved with the love of God.

Search your heart and if you find their a hurt, a wound and offense that someone has committed either intentionally or unintentionally, exercise the gift of Father’s love and forgive them.  You are right.  They may not deserve it, but then neither did we.  When we set others free, we free ourselves and become again, an instrument and a heart that God’s love can flow through.

Blessings,

#kent

Peace of God

May 15, 2019

Phl 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Peace of God

 

The peace of God is like the eye in the midst of the hurricane.  It is an amazing place where the storm often rages viciously all around, but in God there is peace.  Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and as such comes to us as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  It comes to us out of that faith and confidence in us that knows that God is in control.  It knows that even if we don’t understand God’s hand, we can trust His heart.   It is that place where we are no longer fretful, worrisome, anxious, stressed out or fearful.  Our posture is one of prayer, giving our need and concern to God and thanking Him for His faithfulness even before we have seen it manifested in the natural.  It is that place that the natural mind cannot understand where we just relax in Father’s arm and let Him have control.  This is not a quality we can produce, but only comes as our eyes are set on Him. We, like a child learning to walk, forget about our lack of abilities and set our eyes on our Father when He holds out His           arms and say, “come to me, walk, you can do it.”   Even if we fall, He is there to catch us and restore us again.

Today relax, let go of the stress and concern and relax in the arms of Jesus.  He is your peace and rest.  He has your life under control if you let Him.  Just as a little child has total confidence in their parent’s care, let us trust Father to teach us His ways and keep us safe when those storms are there.

Blessings,

Kent

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  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.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

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