Lord of the Storm

December 7, 2018

Matthew 8:23-27

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

 

Lord of the Storm

 

Waves are crashing, wind, lightning, thunder,

At any time it looks like we will all go under,

Desperate measures to save our ship,

As the storm blows, tosses, tears and rips.

 

One sleeps peacefully in the hull,

Nothing seems to bother Him at all,

“Lord don’t you care that we all can perish,”

We are about to lose all that we value and cherish.

 

“Why are you fearful, oh ye of little faith?”

“When will you come to know your place?”

He rebuked the winds and there came a calm,

Mighty is He that rights the wrongs.

 

“What manner of man is this within our hull?”

“In Him there are no limitations at all.”

“He speaks and the winds obey,

What will He do if we believe and pray?”

 

The storms of life are tossing us to and fro.

Evil reports are found wherever we go.

Will we not believe the Lord’s report?

In time of need will we find the Lord’s support?

 

Know Him who calms the seas!

Know Him who has the power to make you free!

Know Him who hears you when you call!

Know Him within you, who is your all!

Kent Stuck

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Foolishness

December 3, 2018

 

Foolishness

 

Ecclesiastes 7:25

25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

          Folly and foolishness is bound up in the heart of all of us. What motivates one man to pursue wisdom and another to pursue folly and foolishness?  What is folly and foolishness?  In this scripture it is defined as the “stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.”   Stupidity isn’t just ignorance or not knowing.  It is knowing what the right choice is and still choosing the wrong one.  None of us have ever been stupid or foolish have we; knowing what is right and choosing to do the wrong thing anyway?  We do it far more than we would like to admit.  What motivates us to sin?  It is foolishness.  Now why are we so stupid?  I guess it is what our stubborn flesh wants to do and the desire to satisfy it is stronger than the desire to be obedient to the mind and will of God. 

          The book of Proverbs spends quite a bit of its content addressing the contrast between wisdom and foolishness.  Wisdom is the pursuit of life and the knowledge and understanding of it.  It opposes foolishness, because wisdom’s direction is grounded in the principles that lead us to understanding and embracing the mind, will and purpose of God.  Proverbs says that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  As God’s children and even as adults we want to hold on to a lot of our foolishness.  We can be wise in some areas, but there are other areas we don’t want to let go of folly.  As a result we see the fruit of it in our lives.  It affects our relationships, our finances and taints so much of our life.  Why are we so stupid we won’t let go of it?  Usually it has become a stronghold in us that now rules over us instead of us over it.  These strongholds of foolishness can destroy us if we let them.  We know what is right, but seem helpless to be obedient to the truth in certain areas.  Here again the wisdom of the Lord is our deliverance.  The first act of wisdom is when we acknowledge that these areas are wrong and we no longer want to be a slave to them.  In our repentance we must seek God’s help; for it will not be conquered in our own power.  It is wisdom to seek the help of trusted brothers or sisters who will pray with us, stand with us and hold us accountable.  Our deliverance is when we come out of the darkness and into the light.  In the light, satan is powerless and all his deceitfulness is exposed.  It is in the darkness of our minds and the privacy our own thoughts he works to deceive and entice us to sin and folly. 

          Wisdom is known, not by her knowledge, but by her works.  Many are ever learning, but never able to come to knowledge of the truth.  Wisdom is spiritual and practical application of godly principles.  Foolishness is poor judgment and wrong choices motivated by selfishness.  All of us have a certain amount of foolishness left in us, but what are we pursuing today?  Are we hungry and passionate about laying hold of the mind of Christ which is wisdom in circumstances of life or are we given to folly and just going with the flow?  1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us; For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  Our foolishness is bound up in the heart of our selfishness, only the cross at work in us will deliver us into the wisdom of the life and mind of God.  Are we willing to release the stupidity of our folly and pursue wisdom at all cost to us? 

            Paul exhorts the Colossians, as well as us in Colossians 2: 1-4, For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and [for] them at Laodicea, and [for] as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  Christ is our wisdom and the standard against our folly.  He is the deliverance from our foolish ways as we apply the principles of wisdom He is teaching us daily through our obedience.   Remember, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise. (Proverbs 12:15)”  Will you seek wisdom today as you pursue to know and do the will of God in every area of your life?

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

Under the Shadow of His Wing

November 15, 2018

 

Under the Shadow of His Wing

 

Matthew 23:37

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!

 

Is this not a commentary on our nation today as we have little by little removed God from our schools, our government, our homes and our hearts?  The Lord spoke to Israel back in Deuteronomy 8 among other places.  He made promises to them of His provision and protection if they were faithful to not forsake and turn away from Him.  It grieves many of us as Christians to see the state our nation is in and where it is heading.  I can only think that it is because there are still many who do cry out against the abominations we see in our country and that we know grieves the heart of God, that God has mercifully withheld His judgement thus far .  The events of 9/11 and other nation impacting event are a wake-up call to us to bring us to that place of repentance and call us to return to the Lord with our whole hearts.  Thank God He has mercifully given us a godly leader at this time that is bold to hold up a standard of righteousness in strength.  One who promotes justice and truth and the right to life.  God forbid that we continue on as Israel did to their own destruction.  There is a place of protection in God and we have forsaken it.

Under the hierarchy of God there is an order of authority and leadership.  When each one is in submission to their respective head and leadership there is a divine order of protection and blessing.  When that order is forsaken through disobedience, rebellion, self-will and sin, the umbrella of God’s blessing and protection has been stepped out of.  The shield of faith has been dropped and we have made ourselves vulnerable to the mortal wounds of our adversary.  We see this breakdown in God’s order all around us from the individual, to family, to church, to government, to God Himself.  God founded this nation to be a type of New Israel.  He divinely fashioned and established it.  He has blessed it to become the greatest nation on the earth, but we are going the way of our forefathers, natural Israel.  God, through the Holy Spirit is speaking to His Church and to His nation to be gathered in the unity of the faith under the shadow and protection of the wings of our God.  In that place of obedience nothing touches us but what it first has to go through our God, but in our state of rebellion and disobedience we remove the hedge of His protection.

I remember a precious friend and saint of God many years ago was given a vision when her children were still young and in the household.  She saw a horrible and hideous beast around her house checking every door and window, looking for some way in to get to her children.  The Lord showed her that as long as her children remained in submission and obedience to their parents they were protected, but if they refused and chose to go out from the house they removed themselves from the hedge and umbrella of protection and were prey for that beast.   What we sometimes forget and take for granted is that when we get out of order and remove ourselves from God’s protection, then we not only make ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, but also those that are under our authority and responsibility.

The Lord is calling us back to His heart today, to repent and come quickly back under the shadow of His wing.  Let us return to Him with our whole hearts and stand in the place of intercession for the hearts of so many that have grown cold and callused against the Lord.  We can only expect that in the last days the division and the line between light and darkness will become more pronounced and distinct.  This is a day for spiritual battle and we must prepare our hearts and spirits for it.

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

Many of us struggle with approaching God and establishing the relationship with Him that our spirit man longs for.  We want to hear the Lord speak to us, we want His direction for our lives, at least we think we do, and we want a relationship where we have a continual abiding fellowship and dialogue with the Lord.

We keep thinking, “what am I missing”?  Why aren’t I feeling closer to God?  Why don’t I hear His voice and get His direction more?  Our answers could lie in these verses and in this chapter.  For many of us we are loosing the battle to the flesh in too many areas of our lives.  We are back and forth between spirit and flesh.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and so we struggle with living consistent lives in the Spirit.

The first thing God tells us here, that we need to do, is submit.  Literally it means to be subordinate and be yielded to another’s control.  This is the same context of submission as Ephesians 5:22 requires when it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Men we are not really different from our wives. We really want to be in the driver’s seat concerning our lives.  One of the reasons we are missing God is we aren’t fully resigned in obedience to Him.  Wives, if you aren’t really submitted to your husbands, then you aren’t really fully submitted to Christ.  We all have to follow the order of authority that God has laid down for us in our lives.

The second area is “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Many of us are hit and miss at this as well.  We have good intentions, we mean well, but too many times we miss the mark.  Our resistance must be in direct proportion to our insistence that Christ is Lord.  When Jesus encountered the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, He insisted on the authority of the Word lining up in obedience to God.  Many, like the devil, take the Word and pervert it to try and say what justifies their particular lust and desires.  Resist the devil with the Spirit and the Word.  We are weak, but He is strong.  Our strength is in our abiding, obedient relationship with Christ.  He is the overcomer in us. We have to see ourselves through the lens of who we are in Christ.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  Are we continually approaching God in an attitude of true humility, contriteness and repentance?  Are His praises continually in our mouth, His meditation in our heart and is our purpose to find His will and plan for us personally?  What must we do to draw near?  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  The first and foremost thing is that we have to be totally serious in our intent to find God’s presence.   God sees right through our heart, our intents and motives.  James 1:4-8 tells us, “4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If we want God to take us seriously, then we have to be totally serious with Him.  Isn’t it interesting that again in this passage of James 5 he uses this terminology of “double-minded”?  This is where most of us find ourselves, divided between heaven and earth.  We look up at God and say, ” yes, I want you Father,” and then we look back at earth and think, “yeah, but I don’t really want to give that up, lay that down or turn away from that area in my life.”  We are double-minded, torn in two directions, but the Word calls us adulteresses, those of us who break our vows with our friendship with the world. It is this attitude and state of mind that we must grieve, mourn and wail over.  We must hate it so much that it becomes a stench to us.  We must be so grieved at any attitude or behavior that is contrary to the nature and character of Christ in us. He must forever be our all in all.  There must be so much of a humility and brokenness in our hearts that God will lift us up and know that we mean business with Him.  The lower we are willing to go the higher He can lift us up.  The more we are willing to die, the more of the resurrection life of Christ we are able to lay hold of.  How is our approach as we seek to find God’s presence today?

Blessings,

#kent

 

Today is the Day to Hear His Voice

 

Hebrews 3:7-11

7So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

 

Perhaps the greatest purpose God has for what is written here is to stir us to pursue His highest and to know that we are on the threshold of His hour of visitation.  A situation and event like 9/11 might have been prevented had certain people not have become complacent or more worried about being politically correct than about responding to the warnings and indications of this impending attack.  Today the Lord is giving us warnings to prepare our hearts as never before.

Satan is ever at work to dull down our spiritual nerve center.  We, like our Jewish predecessors have become hardened of heart and dull of spiritual hearing.  Our minds tell us that things will go on as they have been.  Tomorrow we will buy and sell, marry and give in marriage and life will go on as it always has.  Doesn’t Jesus warn us that He will come as a thief in the night?  The people that fell in the wilderness and failed to enter in are the same ones that Moses led out of Egypt with mighty deliverance.  Many of us have experienced salvation, but our hearts have become hardened and we are testing God through our rebellion and disobedience.

“ THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, “TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS…”  The Holy Spirit is blowing a trumpet in our ear, but some of us have become too deaf to hear it.  If this were our last week to live before you died, how would you live it?  Would your priorities change?  Would things suddenly become important that you typically took for granted?  How would our life and outlook change?  Would we be preparing and getting in a state of readiness in the areas of both our spiritual and natural relationships?

The Lord is continually warning us and exhorting us to move our lives into the place of faith and obedience.  He wants us to move into the place of His rest.  That is a place is where we cease with the activities of the flesh and our efforts and we begin to rest our lives in who He is, what He is and what we are in Him.  We all tend to identify and define ourselves by who we are and what we do in this world, but Christ wants us identified with who we are in Him.  The deceitfulness of sin will harden our hearts and prevent us from entering into the rest that God has for us.  Perhaps today is the day you and I need to bow before the Almighty with a heart of repentance and brokenness for where and how we have strayed from Him.  Today is the day to open up our spiritual ears and hear what the Spirit would say to the churches.  The “rest” of God is found in our faithfulness, trust and obedience to Him.  God is calling forth and preparing His overcomers to inherit and possess the riches of His glory, but they have to have ears to hear and a heart that is tender and compliant to obey.

We have entered a new day in the Spirit.  It is a Sabbath day, a Holy day, and a day for the people of God to come and bow before their Maker.  Today is the DAY to begin to hear the voice of the Spirit of God and harden not your hearts

Blessings,

#kent

Please Stay

November 6, 2018

Mark 8:18

Having eyes, do you not see [with them], and having ears, do you not hear and perceive and understand the sense of what is said? And do you not remember?

What do we need to do to tune in to our spouse before we run our marriage into the ground?

               Please Stay

Stay, while I talk with you awhile.

We’ll talk of yesterday and things that make you smile.

I know you’ve told me there’s nothing more to be said,

But now it’s your silence that I dread.

My heart is aching that you are walking out that door.

I know everything has been said a thousand times before.

I know you’ve said I never listen or change,

But I’m willing for my life to now be rearranged.

Why now am I willing to try something new,

When what you asked before I was unwilling to do?

As long as life could carry on in the status quo,

I was unwilling to change and disrupt its even flow.

I became complacent, selfish and unthoughtful at best,

Why couldn’t I focus on how I could make your life more blessed?

If I have one more chance, “Lord, help me change that now I pray”,

“Make me the expression of Your Love that would make them want to stay.”

Kent Stuck

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

 

Aren’t we so often presumptuous to think we have the right or the ability to judge or to speak ill of one another?  Most of us have been guilty of passing judgements at one time or another and then some us make a career of it.  The word teaches us that if we want to judge someone we need to judge ourselves, not to condemn ourselves, but to discern our own hearts and motives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”  There is one Lawgiver and Judge.  His judgements are just and true because He sees the end from the beginning and sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. He sees all that surrounds a person and why they are like they are.  We see through very finite, limited vision and understanding into a person and yet we so often presume we are justified in passing judgements on them.

In Matthew 7: 1-7 Jesus teaches us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “  Jesus is reminding us that each one of us have our own issues we need to deal with.  How can we justify casting stones at others when we ourselves are not without sin?  Oh, I’m sure we are not near as bad as the person that we are judging is, at least not so in our own eyes.

Romans 2:1-4 reiterates the dangers of placing ourselves in the place of a lawgiver and judge, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Our own standards and perceptions often dictate our judgements.  As another man of God pointed out, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is made up of our perceptions and values of right and wrong.  When we judge others we are not judging from the tree of Life, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know that this tree results in death.

When we operate out of the tree of Life then our purpose is to give life in place of death, to offer strength and help where there is weakness, to rescue and restore one another, not to condemn and judge.   We are all experts when it comes to finding fault, but are we as proficient at finding solutions.  Some us  think we are and try and play the role of the Holy Spirit as we try to change and conform others into the image that we think that they ought to be.

Think through your life.  Are you the same person you were when you were eight, or eighteen or twenty-eight and so on.  Think about how your thinking has changed, your maturity, your views, values and understanding of things.  Think about how your walk and relationship with God has changed.  We can easily see that we are always changing, even though many things about us seem to remain the same.  Did others have a right to pass judgements on us as we passed through those changes and stages of life?

Every one of us is a unique individual.  God created us that way.  We are all different and we all have our unique and individual quirks that may rub someone else the wrong way.  That is why love, longsuffering, patience and self-control are all attributes of the Spirit.  They are something we all need in us to get along and tolerate and even love each other.

Perhaps we need to instill more compassion in place of our judgement, words of faith, kindness and encouragement in place of our slander and criticisms.  Give others the same grace and mercy that you would want God to extend to you.

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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