Greater Love

January 9, 2019

Greater Love

 

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

 

The major nervous system of God’s nature is Love.  Everything that God is and all that He does is birthed out of Love.  No other one thing so expresses the nature and heart of God as Love.

At the heart of all that God commands us to do is Love.  If you love God with all your heart and mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself you have fulfilled God’s law.  It is all summed up in Love.  Jesus says if you love me, you will keep my commandments.  His commandments are rooted in love.  “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Love is an entity that is greater than physical life.  A parent, without thought of personal safety, will often risk or sacrifice their life for that of their child’s if it is in danger of death.  That willingness comes out of the love that the parent has for the child.  That child is the expression of their love and is to be preserved at any cost.  As God matures us in His Love, our focus, our heart, our passion will not be about our life, but it will become the passion of God’s heart for others.  They are lost and dying in spiritual ignorance and sin that is leading them to spiritual death and separation from God.  God’s heart is for His creation, for His people.  What Jesus was willing to do on the Cross for all of us was motivated by the greatest expression of Love ever given and demonstrated.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).   If Christ has loved me to the point of laying down His life for me, to what extent does He want me to love others?

His heart is that we, His children become, the extension and continuation of His Love, even to the point of laying down our lives for others.  This is the heart of the King and Love is the essence and substance of His Kingdom.

Blessings,

#kent

Walking as Jesus Did

January 7, 2019

1 John 2:1-6

My 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.

 

Walking as Jesus Did

 

Our purpose as a Christian believers is not what a lot of us made it or thought it to be.  Our purpose as Christians and believers is to “walk as Jesus did.”  As believers, Christ has delivered us out of the law of sin and death with its ordinances and commandments.  When He brought us into the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus He gave us but one law, the law of LOVE.  He taught us that when you truly walk in that law, all the others will be fulfilled.

Love honors its object whether it is God or man.  Honor holds in highest regard.  Obedience to the Word of God is the love and honor to Jesus and the Father.  When we honor Jesus, we honor Father.  When we obey the Word of God, then we walk in the love of God.

Meditate carefully on this previous paragraph, because it is the meat of our Christian faith.  Now, John lets us know this so that we won’t make sin any more a choice or a lifestyle.  But “if” we sin we have our Jesus who stands in the gap for us and atones for our sin.  Sin is the object of God’s wrath,  we are the objects of His mercy and grace.  If we choose to allow sin to abide in us we harbor that which is at enmity with God and that is not love, it is selfishness. Jesus paid everything and suffered everything to separate God’s wrath from our sin.  He became that sin for us and took that wrath for us, upon His own person.  What manner of love and honor do we have for our Jesus if after knowing and receiving this we would continue in sin?

Our objective as believers is no longer about sin and self, it is about honoring the Father by obedience to the Word and living as Jesus did.   Some of us are of the opinion that this isn’t possible.  All things are possible to him that believes and walks no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Holy Spirit is your guide to walk as Jesus walked and even to do the things that Jesus did.  Even as we endeavor to walk this way we stumble and we hit pitfalls.  God is never there to bring us again under condemnation, but always the blood of Jesus is there to wash away our sins through repentance and keep us in a place of restored fellowship and relationship.

Jesus never asked us to earn His goodness or favor.  He freely gave that to us.  He simply asked us to believe in Him who is the Word and obey the things He taught us.  Jesus says in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  Our relationship with God is built on faith in Christ and the Word and our obedience to it.  Through this we demonstrate our love and honor to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is the very one that enables us to do this as we trust and rely wholly upon Him.  If we are not in this place of trust and obedience then we can’t say that we really know Him.  To know Him is to become like Him in all of our ways.  When we are in this place then it should be easy for others to recognize the Christ in us, because our life will be about Him, no matter what our occupation or what we are doing.  He is the object of our love as we are the object of His.  In that place we honor Him by our obedience and by walking as Jesus did.  This is the love and calling of God concerning us.

Blessings,

#kent

The Inner Workings of Peace

December 17, 2018

The Inner Workings of Peace

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

One of the attributes that so characterizes God is the attribute of peace.  We think of God as being many things, but I don’t know if I personally stop to dwell on the fact that He is the God of peace.  In the tumultuous world that we live in, peace is a commodity that is often a fleeting thing.  One of the things we as a people need and desire for our happiness and fulfillment is this attribute of peace.

Peace is more than a feeling or an emotion.  It is a Person.  The Holy Spirit within us is the Person of Peace that abides within the believer.  Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Jesus made it clear that the peace that He left with us was not the world’s peace that was a feeling or a condition one minute and gone the next.  God’s peace isn’t fleeting, it is eternal, and it is a part of who He is.  Outwardly we are often troubled about many things.  All of hell may be breaking loose around us and we ask how can we have peace?  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.” One of the things Jesus suffered and died for was our peace.  Without peace we will never be content, happy or fulfilled.  One of the basic needs a man has is for peace and security.

The question many of us are asking ourselves is, if I have Jesus why aren’t I experiencing His peace.  It is the same reason you are not experiencing the fullness of your salvation.  Godliness and peace can only fill us to the extent that we are allowing God to fill our lives with Himself as we are in relationship and intimacy with Him.  As we see here in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, peace, which is a portion of our salvation, is seen in the three dimensions that make up man, spirit, soul and body.  When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into abide, possess and fill the spirit.  While we possess that inner peace and assurance of our salvation we know that our soul is that battleground where we fight the spiritual and emotional battles in the turmoil of everyday life.  Our body is then often directly affected by how the battle is going within the soul.  There will most likely be days when all of us get rattled, frazzled, shook up, stirred up and feel our life is upside down.  The place of peace is still there.  It hasn’t left us, but we must enter into it.  It is synonymous with the rest of God.  We often get caught up in fighting battles and struggling with issues that God alone can resolve.  Our hiding place, our refuge is in that sanctuary of His peace.  When everything is falling apart around us our victory is turning into Him that is our peace, declaring and exalting His Lordship over our circumstances and building our faith and confidence through the promises of His Word.  God sees the world in the light of eternity; we see the world in the light of the moment.  Circumstances, like the weather, change.  His peace will fill us more and more as we live out of that inner sanctuary of the spirit.  As we find that place of intimacy with Him we will also find the security of knowing that He is in our boat and it doesn’t matter how great the storm, how strong the gale or how much it appears that we will perish.  What happens to us must first go through the Master.  Even if it appears He is asleep in the bottom of the boat, He is still in control of all that touches our lives and is working ‘all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).’

Today, if you are struggling with a lack of peace, bring a peace offering before the Lord.  Repent of your fears, unbelief, wrong feelings and attitudes.  Just come and place it all at His feet.  Lay your head on the lap of Jesus and let Him fill you with His rest and peace.  It is only in living out of the Spirit of God that we can have the peace and rest of God.  Allow the God of Peace to fill and possess you, spirit, soul and body.

Blessings,

#kent

My Rights

December 14, 2018

James 4:2-3

You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

My Rights

 

Isn’t it interesting that James would be writing this, not to the people in the world, but to God’s people?  James isn’t mincing any words.  He is speaking to attitudes that can be found today in the heart of believers.  How do we approach our world?  Is it about getting our way whatever means that it takes or is it about each day kneeling in surrender before the throne of Jesus and saying, “Lord have Your way, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Many of us, especially as Americans, are really big on “our rights”.  If we think we have a right, God help the person that tramples or violates it.  We’ll be all up in their face big time.  After all, you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t fight for it.  So we will do whatever that takes, we’ll slander and kill with our words, we’ll gossip and turn others against those who oppose us.  We’ll even often reject those who won’t pick up our offense and take our side.  After all, that is our “right”.

We do exactly what James is talking about here.  “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  You can go to a lot of churches and see the division and the dissention, because someone isn’t getting their way.

Do you think we might have missed something when we read what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount?  ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)”.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)”

What do you think should come first, “our rights” or God’s righteousness.  When we wonder why our prayers are so impotent and God doesn’t seem to hear us or be close to us perhaps we should examine more closely the spirit and the attitude we are living out of.

I believe God has given us some rights that are precious and worth fighting for, but it is not just about our self-rights.  Jesus had rights as well, far more than we do, but what did He do?  He willingly laid down those rights.  Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!”  Was Jesus more concerned about preserving His rights or in imparting His righteousness to us?  Our attitude, it says, should be the same as His.

Before we get on our high horse and go to battle for our rights, perhaps we should ask the question of God, “Father what is going to best work your righteousness?”

Don’t allow the lack of character in others cause you to lose yours.

Forgive them and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s not always about being right, but about being righteous.

Blessings,

#kent

Our Dark Places

December 13, 2018

Our Dark Places

Who are we willing to allow into our place of undress;

That secret place in our heart where we hide our mess?

Who are we willing to allow to speak to the things amiss;

Those habits, behaviors and places we dwell in darkness?

Allow the Lord to come in and speak to our places of shame;

Not with condemnation, but with the love, blood and power of His name.

He wants to set us free, cleanse our sins and change our hearts;

Invite the Holy Spirit in for the light and transformation He can impart.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The God of our Blessing

December 11, 2018

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

 

The God of our Blessing

 

As I look back and survey the Old Testament and follow it up, into and through the New Testament I see a God working on behalf of the good of His people and His elect.  Through all of the examples that have gone before us I can’t think of any that were just storybook happy ever-after tales.  Each life faced triumph and tragedy, victories and trials.  When God says He is working for our good, does that mean that life will not be without its difficulties?  How can God raise up a people that are overcomers unless there is something they must overcome?  Even God teaches in these very passages that, in order to partake of His glory we must be willing to endure the suffering.  We live in a world that still abides under the curse of sin and death.  We, the people of God have come into the liberty of the Sons of God in our spirits.  We are partakers of the life and promises in Christ Jesus, but in the midst of our soul these two worlds and economies clash.  On this front there are storms going on, both natural and spiritual.  Here is where the kingdom of God meets the kingdoms of this world.  Here is where we pray that God will be at work within us, both to will and to do His good pleasure.

Romans 8:1-2 teaches us that we are no longer of this world cast down under the wheels of its condemnation, but ‘the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’.  “The righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)” He removed the curse and the burden of the law over us which we tried to accomplish in our efforts.  He is now writing His laws upon our hearts so that in our love, desire and spiritual relationship with Him we would abide in lawfulness and righteousness by the Spirit and no longer through the strength or rather the weakness of our flesh.  Our hearts are now set in Him to walk by the Spirit so that we no longer fulfill the lust of our flesh.

While we know this in our spirits and we endeavor to walk in it, we still experience the economy of the world we still must live in, along with it influences of sin and death.  Each day we are faced with the personal challenge and decision to take up our cross and follow Him.  There is a continual death and circumcision that God is working in our hearts as we walk in obedience to Him.  It would be great if we had no more desires or temptations from this world, but in reality we do.  Herein the conflict of flesh and spirit are at odds.

Each of us is different, but in reality we have times of victory and we have those times of defeat in the midst of this battle.  Sometimes we can even bite the dirt pretty hard and we wonder, “Can God still forgive me”?  Can He still use me?  Look at the mess I have made and the wrong choices that have caught up with me.

The amazing thing about our God and the thing I am in such awe of, is His amazing patience, love, grace and kindness toward me, even when I fail.  I know that He doesn’t condone my sin, but like the woman caught in adultery, He doesn’t just give me over to condemnation.  He still loves me no matter what I have done or what sin that I have committed.  His love is unconditional towards me.  Make no mistake, sin has its consequences and it will exact its price, but God’s love and amazing grace can still forgive my sin and restore my fellowship with Him if I will humble myself, repent and call upon His name.  His blood is still sufficient to wash and cleanse my unrighteousness.   Though I may endure the hardship and the consequence of my actions, God is able to still work all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  That hard fall I just took may have brought me to a place where I can encounter an even greater victory.  God is at work within us both to will and work His good pleasure.

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST.  The world and the enemy are always trying to rob that identity away from you.  It is identity theft and if you let him he will strip you of your power, your faith, your authority and your worth.  In place of it he will plant fear, doubt and unbelief wrapped up in condemnation and guilt, overshadowed by death.  Know who you are people and never let the enemy steal your identity.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  We are righteousness in Christ Jesus.  Seal yourself in the blood and identity of all that Christ is and all that He suffered and died to provide for you.  The last thing we want to do is to make His suffering and death for us of none effect.  1 John 4:17 says,  “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”  That is His identity in you.  Finally Romans 8: 31-38 Paul concludes by giving us this wonderful reassurance of God’s love and keeping, knowing that we are more than conquerors through Him that has loved us. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The God of all blessing is working for your good.

Blessings,

#kent

Believing into Relationship

December 5, 2018

John 14:1

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 

Believing into Relationship

 

Many people will say they believe in God and they approach Him in different ways with different beliefs and religions.  They may be very fervent in their belief or have a generic belief that, “yes, I believe there is a God.”  They may even believe in Jesus in a religious or generic sense, but what distinguishes, “The Believer” from a believer?  In as much as many of them know, all is good and they have all that they need.  Who is the believer?  Certainly there are many devout Jews who believe in God.  They are very careful to observe the law, days, traditions and to be Kosher in all that they eat.  There are many “Christians” who piously and faithfully go to church every Sunday.  If works are the criteria then surely they must qualify.

Jesus made a simple statement here in John 14:1 and goes on to better qualify what that means in the following verses, but the Holy Spirit put His focus on this one verse for a reason.  If you want real peace from a troubled heart then know that it is not just about believing in God, but also believing in His only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus isn’t saying here that He is separate from God, because they are one. What He is saying is that the interface of a relationship with God the Father is through the Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus has been the expression of the Father in the flesh.  He has not lived His life in accordance with His own will or desires.  Luke 10:22 says, “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and [he] to whom the Son will reveal [him].”  If you want a real revelation of who God the Father is, it is only revealed through the Son.  Jesus only did and spoke those things that He heard from the Father and that is where He is desiring to bring His disciples.

When Jesus was crucified, resurrected and had ascended to the Father He sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who is the third part of the Godhead, to indwell us as believers, so that we might have a channel to hear and do as Jesus did.  He is our channel through whom Christ is revealing Himself through us.  When Jesus says, “believe also in me”, He becomes the head and the husband under which all the true church is gathered and united.  It doesn’t carry a denominational label.  It isn’t attained to by religion or the good works of man.  It starts with that act of faith that embraces Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, but it doesn’t stop there.  It is a progressive salvation.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul prays, ” And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Salvation begins in our spirit man, but its work is to permeate and sanctify our whole man, spirit, soul and body.  Jesus walked blameless in all three of these dimensions.  As we yield wholly and completely to the in-working of the Holy Spirit, this is where He is leading us, out of self and into Him.  That is why He is now our identity and no longer the old man of sin we identified with prior to a revelation of Christ in us.

If we want a revelation of the Father God then we must believe in the Son.  That believing and continual work of faith, trust and obedience is what is what is bringing us into our sonship.  John 1:12 says, ” But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on His name.”  Romans 8:14 says, ” For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Through this Christ believing, Spirit filled relationship, we are being directed into our destiny and calling of relationship and sonship with Abba Father, because we are in the Son and He is in us and we are one, even as They are One (John 17:20-26).  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2).”

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 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

Know Him

October 31, 2018

Habakkuk 3:6

He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble.The ancient mountains crumbled

and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal.

 

Know Him

 

Let us come together and pray. Let us lift up holy hands before the Lord. We are His congregation and the assembly of His people.  Sobering things are before us, but the Rock of our salvation stands with us.  We can not take for granted that what is here today will be with us tomorrow.  The times and seasons are upon us.  We have been called to come into the secret place of the Most High.  Have you entered in?  Know the Lord, not just about Him, that when the day of evil is upon you, you may have hope and confidence.  Today, buy your oil and fill your vessel so that your lamp does not fail you in the day of darkness.  Learn the voice of the Holy One that you may follow where He leads you.  Your salvation is only found in Him.  Set your heart to know Him for He alone is your safekeeping and provision.  The true people of God are not fearful, but confident.  Their confidence is in the Lord Almighty.  If God be for us, who can be against us? Hold fast your confidence and allow your faith to arise to the occasion.  Lights will shine much brighter in the darkness and you are the light of the world.

Blessings,

#kent

In Times of Discouragement

October 29, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

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.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

In Times of Discouragement

 

As believers we all face those times of discouragement, testing and trial where in the natural we would want to give up, give in and walk away from our faith.  Perhaps none faced more assault in the spiritual arena than did Paul.

How did he make it through?

It was because he knew his identity in Christ that he was able to endure all the assaults of darkness and the daily trials of life.  He knew the “all surpassing power” that didn’t come from self, but from “Christ in him.”  He had a revelation that being identified with Christ is not just about the blessing, but drinking from the same cup that He drank from.  The cup of suffering.

I had a glimpse of revelation the other day as I was listening to the passage of James and John’s mother asking if her sons could set upon each side of the throne of Jesus. Jesus replied in Matthew 20:22-23 with this statement, “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Jesus’ disciples, like most of us, have the perception that serving Christ is all about the glory.

When Jesus said, “now am I a glorified” in between where he stood and the glory was the cross.  Romans 8:17-18 Paul declares, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The suffering, the death and the cross are all elements that precede the glory.

Jesus finishes this passage in Matthew by saying, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Our faith in Christ is not first about getting, but about giving.  It is not about us being served, but about us becoming the servants of Christ in serving others.  It is in the death of our carnal and mortal man that the life of Christ is released, which we carry.  Paul realized that the troubles, the trials, the distress, the hardship, the death to self are merely the bridge that leads to the surpassing glory of our inheritance in Christ.

When we read this passage in Corinthians most of us have no idea or comprehension of that kind of suffering and sacrifice.  We are so easily discouraged by someone who has offended us or some trial that we pass through.  Men like Paul virtually lived in the place of trial and hardship and they did so because of who they were in Christ and who Christ was in them.  They did so because in the pouring out of their life, others were able to receive the gospel and live.  They truly were living sacrifices poured out to the glory of Jesus.  They didn’t live for the momentary blessings  and substance of this world like so many of us do. They were willing to be totally spent in life and  substance for the kingdom of God because they saw a greater eternal weight of glory before them that so outweighs these momentary earthly afflictions.

Paul says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

If Paul heard what our complaints are and where our discouragement comes from he would probably laugh and tell us we need to suck it up.  We need to get over ourselves and realize it is not about us, it is about Christ in us and the kingdom that we serve.  We have been so pampered in our faith and theology that we know very little about what it is to drink from the cup of suffering and yet this is a very real part of our faith.

When we are going through our momentary trials and feeling a little discouraged, let’s just look back at Jesus, Paul, the apostles and saints and what they endured and gave up.  Let us remember who we are in Christ and who He is in us that we  may be willing to face whatever is before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Let us be encouraged by the lives of the saints that went before us and willingly gave so much at such a great price.  They did not lose heart, how much less should we?

Blessings,

#kent

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