Tragedy to Triumph

January 11, 2018

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50:20

 

Tragedy to Triumph

 

In the process of life many of us will go through tragedies that will be “life changing events”.  These events are something we would never have chosen to experience or go through if given the choice.  They can be incredibly painful and they will forever stain our life.  While they are often horrific, they are a part of the fallen world that we live in.

Could God stop these things?

Yes, but then it would only be His choice and no longer the free will to make our own.  While God can’t remove all the tragedy in the world without violating our free will, He can and often does, take those things that satan meant for evil and turn them for good if we will allow Him to have His perfect work and way.  On the other hand we can circumvent God’s highest when in our pain, we choose to blame Him, others or even ourselves. We hold on to that pain in the form of bitterness, resentment and unwillingness to forgive our perceived offenders.  We hold those offenses in our heart to our own detriment and hindrance to experiencing God’s greater working of grace and good.

We often feel like God could have prevented this if He wanted too.  Yes, and He could have prevented His Son from going to the cross when Jesus cried out to Him to remove that cup of suffering from Him, but He was relinquished to the greater will and purpose of  Father.  Sin took Jesus through the intense suffering and crucifixion, and through His willingness to forgive His enemies and murderers He showed us a higher way of laying hold of God’s redemptive work even through our own tragedies in life.

Through the deep pain that we experience and the suffering we endure we often later find it to be the catalyst that brought us into a greater experience of grace and God’s working through our lives than what we ever would have known without that experience. We have been changed in such a way that it has given us a greater compassion, empathy and passion to change those things that often caused our pain or is causing that pain in others. We can relate with others in ways we never could before and often we find our life purpose out of such tragedies. God can take that which was meant for evil and turn it for good if we are willing to give it to Him, trusting Him to heal us and in the process transform us into someone better and more like Him through things we’ve suffered.

Jesus loves you and He totally relates with you in your suffering. Ultimately He wants to take your tragedy and turn it into triumph, even as the tragedy of the cross was turned into the redemptive triumph for all of mankind.

Blessings,

#kent

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Hear the Spirit

January 10, 2018

Hear the Spirit

 

Hebrews 3:15

While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

 

One of the most difficult things in our walk with God is hearing His voice and hearing what He wants to say to us.  I’m trusting that even as I am writing this God is going to give us all a little deeper understanding of what it is to hear Him.  One of the problems I see right off with me is that I have selective hearing.  Maybe some of you have that.  Someone can be talking right to me and if my mind is on something else or I don’t to want deal with their issue I just tend not to hear them.  The problem isn’t with their communication; the problem is with my hearing.  Do you suppose we do that a lot with God?  The scripture above tells us that one of the prerequisites to our hearing God’s voice is not hardening our hearts.  Judging myself in this circumstance, I think I often do not hear God: number one because I’m not really listening, number two I have my own agenda and my life is not centered in His will, but mine and number three is I’m not willing to spend the time and enter into the relationship where I really begin to know His mind and His heart.  When I am able to do those things then my heart becomes tender before Him and eventually my hearing begins to improve.  God begins to reveal His will more plainly and His voice becomes clearer.  When I spend time exclusively with my wife, with no other distractions and we just begin to share our hearts, I hear her so much better than when I am busy with other things.  I don’t just hear her voice in those times, but I begin to hear her heart.  Don’t you think that is what God wants us to hear is His heart?  We want God to hear and answer our prayers and concerns, but do we want to take the time to really hear what the concern of God’s heart is.  Yes, He is God and He can do whatever concerns Him, but the deal is we are a part of that plan to carry out His concerns and His will.  How can we do that if we aren’t listening?

In the book of Revelations seven times the Spirit of the Lord speaks to the churches and at the end of each one He says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Do we have an ear to hear what He is saying to the churches?  And more directly do we have an ear to hear what He is saying to us at this time in our lives?  God is constantly speaking, through His word, through His ministers, life’s circumstances, by His Spirit, even in little messages like this.  Is our spiritual ear tuned to hear what He wants to say to us?   Think about how perhaps your heart has become hardened, how you have developed selective hearing and how your heart may not be set to really hear and know the heart of God.  He loves us and He has a plan for us.  How sad if we go through our lives and miss His best for us because we never learned to listen and find His highest will for us.  Think of how we may be robbing ourselves and others, because we are not willing to listen and as a result are not able to be used in the ways God could use us to bless the body of Christ and the world around us.

Revelation 13:9  “If any man have an ear, let him hear.”

Blessings,

#kent

Despair of Life

January 8, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 

Despair of Life

 

There are times in our life when we can come to the place that we just don’t want to live any more.  Untreated depression is one of the major causes of suicide.  The pressure and trials of life can sometimes become overwhelming.  It can come through illness, divorce, loss, abuse, low self-esteem, the feeling of failure, chronic pain, even genetics, along with many other factors which can all bring despair, despondency, depression and hopelessness.  Even the apostle Paul describes a situation in his life where things became so hard that it seemed beyond his ability to endure.  He says that the pressure was so great that they even despaired of life.  He says that in their own hearts they felt the sentence of death.   I believe there are some of us that have been in this place and the Spirit of the Lord is wanting to minister to some that may be in it right now.  God sees your pain and feels your heartbreak.  He has heard your cry and He is here to tell you and show you like He did Paul that your reliance is not upon yourself, but upon God, who raises the dead.  Even though you have felt the sentence of death upon you, God is going to raise you up.  He is able to deliver you from such deadly peril and He will deliver you.  Continue to set your hope upon God even in the midst or your desperation and despair.  He is your deliver and He will bring you through the valley of the shadow of death.  Gather other believers around that can pray for you and minister to you.  You don’t have to be alone, God has provided someone that can help you, but you must reach out to them.

The Father, who is the author of life, is the one to decide when our life is done and as long as we have life He is able to give us the grace to endure it’s hardships and abuses.  Let faith arise in your heart and confidence that you are not alone, but the hosts of heaven surround you and His angels will minister to you.

There is someone today that needs this encouraging word so that you can go on and not give up.  God knows who you are.  He so loves and cares for you.  When you don’t have the ability to endure He becomes your ability.  In this place you are going to come to know, like the apostle Paul, that your reliance is upon God and not upon yourself.  Place your life in His hands, trust Him and hold fast.  He will see you through your dark hour and bring you again into the sunshine of His love and presence.  He is able to supply all of your need according to His riches in glory.  He is your life and you live for Him and not for yourself.  God is able to take seemingly hopeless and negative situations and turn them for good.  He does it all of the time.  As long as you have breath He is not through working in your life and as long as there is breath, there is hope.

The enemy has such a way of clouding and distorting the truth.  He can fill your head with every thought of why we should not live, but then he came to rob, steal and destroy.  Christ came that you might have life and that more abundantly.  Choose life.  Choose Christ to be your life.  He is with you even in the darkest hour and He sticks closer to you than a brother.

Father, help us in those times in our life when things look so bleak, so hopeless and so unbearable.  Help us in those times to enter into You and into Your hiding place where You would cover us with Your wings of mercy and protection.  Lord surround us in those times with Your power and love.   Encourage us and lift us up.  Set our eyes back upon You and restore the hope that we have lost.  You are our Hope, oh Lord, our Redeemer and our Deliver.  Just as David found consolation and strength as he reminded himself through the Psalms of Your greatness and Your faithfulness, even as he gave praise and worship back to You, he was strengthened in his inner man and given the courage to continue on.  Let all that are troubled and in despair find that in You today.  Amen.

Blessings,

#kent

Every Day

December 18, 2017

 

Every Day

 

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.

 

It occurs to me as I sit and write that all of us are composing and writing our lives upon God’s books.  Each of us has a life’s novel that tells the story of our lives and what we did with them.  Though the memories of us may fade and we are forgotten in the earth, there is a record that stands, a book that we wrote.

What are we writing in our book?  How will it read back to us as we stand before God and give an account for our lives and what we did with them?  If we feel we have nothing else, our life is our talent, to use for God’s glory and purpose or for our own.  The sad part is, none of us can ever go back and erase what we did the day before or the years before.  The ink is already dry upon the page.  The good news is that today is still to be written and our tomorrows after that.  What are we writing upon the pages of our life?  Will it be a story that pleases the Father or one in which we stand ashamed at a life wasted and that brought forth no lasting value in its life’s pursuits?

All of us have our regrets, our failures and our pages we wish that we could write over.  The important thing for us not to forget is that we are still writing this book.  Ecclesiastes says that as long as there is life there is hope.  Will your book be a story of transformation from death to life?  Will it be a story of how your life was a blessing; not only to God, but also to the lives you touched?  What are we going to write in our book today and through the coming weeks and years?

Psalms 118: 4 says, “This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  There is a Latin phrase, “Carpe diem”, simply, “seize the day”, make the most of every moment that we have breath and life.

Solomon was a man that had and could have all that his heart desired. He set out to find the meaning and purpose of life.  At the end, this is what he had to say and we will conclude with his words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 12.  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”

The Conclusion of the Matter

13 Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

May we consider carefully every day how we write each page of our book.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread

 

Exodus 16:15-20

And when the children of Israel saw [it], they said one to another, It [is] manna: for they wist not what it [was]. And Moses said unto them, This [is] the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. This [is] the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, [according to] the number of your persons; take ye every man for [them] which [are] in his tents And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less And when they did mete [it] with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.

And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

 

 

The manna that God supplied in the wilderness for Moses and the children of God was for a time when, had He not supplied, they would have died.  But it teaches some spiritual principles of dependence upon God.  Let’s look at few other examples as well.  In Matthew 6:9-11 Jesus is giving the example of how to pray and He starts out, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.”

Let’s look at one more passage of scripture in Luke 12:16-23, “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.  The life is more than meat, and the body [is more] than raiment.”

Here are three different passages that are pointing us to trust One source for our daily needs.  We have said before that we live in a materialistic society where success is often measured in dollars and cents.  This isn’t our measuring stick in the kingdom of God.   Our measure is our dependence and trust in our God.  That by no means is suggesting that we go sit in the corner till God rains down manna from heaven on us.  Even the children of Israel had to go out and gather it.  What the Lord is saying is that life isn’t all about finances, success, riches and money in the bank.  We are kingdom people that need a kingdom mentality.  Jesus is telling us in His parable in Luke 12 not to place your trust and confidence in the uncertainty of earthly riches because they could be here today and gone tomorrow and so could you.  It is not a bad thing to have financial riches and blessings, but it is not where our heart is to be.  Our hearts we want to be rich toward God and always looking to Him and not our bank account for security.  If we are truly seeking first the kingdom of God, then Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of.  Philippians 4:6 exhorts us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  No worries mate, God is at the wheel.  Quit trying to tell God how to drive and sit back and enjoy the ride.  Let Him take us where He wants us to go.  If God is financially blessing your life that is wonderful and use that blessing to be a blessing, giving God the glory.  Maybe we are not experiencing great abundance financially, but God is rich to us in other ways.  Praise God, let’s use whatever He is blessing us with to glorify Him.  Our treasure is in heaven; it is not on earth.  There aren’t any ATM machines in heaven where you make withdrawals from your earthly bank.  Let’s be rich toward God, because there is no way that we can out give Him.  In Luke 12:31 Jesus says, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Today’s ministries focus a lot on prosperity and being blessed financially.  I am as willing to receive all that God has for me in that area as the next person, but I don’t want it to be my focus.  When it becomes my focus then my eyes get off of the Lord and on to material and corruptible things.  That is when I get out of the will of God.  As I have started a business and experience the financial challenges involved with that, it is often difficult not to get anxious about all the expenses involved with it.  If it is God’s business then it is God’s worry not mine.  He says I am just to lift up my needs with thanksgiving, knowing He is faithful.  It is the exaltation of all that He is that builds faith in my heart and calms the fears of doubt and unbelief.  He may bring an end to something, so that He may bring us to a new beginning in something else of His choosing.  As long as He is in control, it is all right.

The Lord will provide our daily bread, His kingdom will come and His will, will be done in this earth and in our lives, as we fix our eyes upon Him.  Let our thanksgiving, praise, worship and the confession of our mouths; reflect the faith and confidence that is in our hearts.  “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Ears to Hear

October 27, 2017

Ears to Hear

Matthew 11:15

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear

There are not a lot of people around that don’t have physical hearing ears.  So why did Jesus so often quote this phrase?  The eyes, the ears and the hearts that he sought in men were not their natural ones, but their spiritual ones.  A lot of people have rejected Jesus for generations, because He didn’t make sense to them intellectually.  They didn’t have spiritual ears. 

God spoke through Ezekiel to the people of Israel in Ezekiel 12:2, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of the house of the rebellious, who have eyes to see and see not, who have ears to hear and hear not, for they are a rebellious house. Spiritual senses have to be attuned to hear spiritual things.  Our spiritual sight and hearing are directly connected to the condition of our spiritual heart.  If we are hardened in matters of the heart, our spiritual hearing and sight will be impaired as well.  Many of us know how to listen with our ears, but we don’t know how to listen with our hearts.  Often words sound like one thing, but that is not the heart.  We often may wonder why we don’t hear from God when in fact He may be speaking to us all of the time.  It is a rare thing to hear God’s audible voice from heaven, but He can speak to us in so many other ways.  He speaks through His Word, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, through circumstances, through others, through examples that we have and a number of ways.  Yet often we don’t hear the Lord speaking, because we are listening with our intellect rather than our heart.  That doesn’t mean that we only hear God through our emotions, because they are from the soul and can deceive us.  We have to get in touch with our spirits, our inner man, that inner voice that is speaking the mind, will and heart of God.   In John 8:47 Jesus  says,  “He that is of God will hear the words of God.”

I remember times when the kids were growing up and they were constantly asking questions, “Can we do this or can we do that and so and so did this.”  As parents you know how emotionally draining children can be.  There were a lot of times that I just zoned them out.  I basically just shut them off.  They could be standing there saying, dad, dad, dad!  I had just shut them off mentally.  That was my way of coping, but at the same time I had shut off my involvement in their lives, as obnoxious as that could sometimes be.  I quit hearing them; my heart was hardened in that area.  We do the same thing to God.  Many times, like my children, we don’t really want to hear God.  He is speaking things to us that we don’t want to deal with.  Quite honestly, we like our way.  We like to do what we enjoy and when we enjoy it.  If that is not lining up with God’s plan, guess who we tend to ignore?  We end up shutting God out of our hearts.  When we close our hearts to God, we don’t just shut out a person, we shut out the love of God to our hearts and consequently the flow of His Spirit and love through us.  That ends up impacting not only our spiritual relationship, but our natural ones as well.  Many of us have done this same thing with our marriages and we are wondering why we don’t feel in love with that person anymore? Our heart connection is the key to our hearing and seeing.  If you want to really hear your wife, stop listening to just her words and listen to her heart.  Sometimes what we hear as just nagging is a plea from their heart, saying “help me, appreciate me, care about me, communicate with me, love me.  I have needs that are desperately needing to be met.”

If we want to hear again what God is speaking through His Spirit we have to open our hearts to Him.  We may be going through all of the right religious protocol and yet totally missing Him.  Our relationship first has to be a matter of the heart, before it has meaning though our works.  Our works must be the outflow of our heart relationship with Father; so many times we have gotten it backwards and try to use our works to find relationship. 

If we ever want to come out of the wilderness and inherit the promises of God, we have to reconnect our hearts with Father.  Deuteronomy 29:4 says, “Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.”  A rebellious heart will keep us the prisoners of our circumstances, it will keep us in the rut of failure and it will leave our hearts lean and malnourished.   

When the Holy Spirit spoke through John in Revelation 3 He repeatedly said at the end of each exhortation, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Let us have the spiritual ears to hear what He is speaking to our hearts in this day, this hour and this minute.  Let us listen and obey.  Let us reestablish that heart connection that has become callused and cold.  In order to hear Him in this hour we have to have that right heart condition.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Green Pastures

October 26, 2017

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest.  It is the green pastures of His rest.  There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth.  There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye. 

Some of us are still searching for this green pasture.  It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life.   Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.   

It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt.  Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them.  When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain.  Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful.  ‘He has led us out here to let us die.  We should have never trusted Him.  We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’  Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts.   In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah.  The waters were bitter and the people could not drink.  Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us?  Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed.  Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts.  Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing?  Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives?  Do we get anxious and panic?   Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need.  Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest.   Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again.  Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Those green pastures speak of His life.  Whatis the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth? 

When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it?  We are testing it for integrity and service.  We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency.  God often proves our faith the same way.  He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts.  He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts.  Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him.  It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test.  When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision.  It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances.  No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful. 

Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness.  Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us.   Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

We are Right in Our Own Eyes

Proverbs 21:2-3

Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Isn’t it a fact that most of us are justified in our eyes for our behavior; the words we speak and the attitude and actions we carry out?  Most likely, if others are offended or hurt it must be their problem, not ours.  That is because we have that wonderful rational mind that is so skillful at justifying what we do, the words and attitudes we communicate and how we live.  Even if we do see and acknowledge some of our faults we may well try and offer a little sacrifice to compensate for it.  We want to give token gifts that cover over our offenses and sins.  We can rationalize “it is okay if I do this and this and the other, if over here I do this and this and the other. “  They will balance each other out and I will be okay.  The mind is a funny creature; it rarely really likes accountability for it’s own actions.  Are you ever amazed with all the excuses we can come up with when things go wrong?

The truth is these games don’t fly with most people very long let alone God.  He is looking into the true motivation and attitude of our heart.  He sees right past all our little diversionary tactics to justify us.   Like the prophet Samuel ask King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:14, ” What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”   The command of God was to utterly destroy the Amelekites and all that belonged to them, but here we find compromise because King Saul had allowed the Amalekite king and the best of the flock to be spared on the pretense of sacrificing them to God.  When I read this I think how many times have I compromised God’s Word, by rationalizing in my own mind why it would be okay or if I did it just a little different.  If you read or are familiar with the rest of this account and exchange you know that Samuel makes the important point to Saul in 1Samuel 15:22-23:

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.”  The lesson is, it can cost you everything to have a heart that is set on compromise and disobedience.   The Lord simply requires of us obedience to His Word.  We must be willing to look honestly at ourselves and our motives in the light of God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to honestly reveal them to us in the light of His truth.  There we must deal with them with the blood of Jesus through repentance,  submission and uncompromised obedience to the will of God. 

“Lord, help us today to have right motives in all that we do and please reveal it to us if we be otherwise minded.  Help us to yield all of our ways and allow You to have your complete way in us through our uncompromised obedience to You.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “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.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Clothed and Walking

August 31, 2017

Deuteronomy 8:1-6

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Clothed and Walking

If we truly want to know God’s provision in every circumstance in our lives then we must experience what it is not to have.  We have to experience the night before we truly appreciate what it is to have the light of day.  Often we don’t always understand the things we must go through, the losses that we must endure and why sometimes God doesn’t seem there for us.  We all have our own wilderness journey in one form or another.  Through it all we have been tested to see what was in our hearts.  Would we continue to trust God, even when He didn’t seem to show up, meet our need or answer our prayer?  When things didn’t go our way, did we blame Him?  Many of life’s heartaches and hardships have really tested us to see when we couldn’t understand His hand would we trust His heart.  Yet in those times as we look back, we see the subtle grace of God at work helping us, comforting us and giving us strength when we had no more of our own. 

Some of us are at this place in our walk right now.  We are struggling with finances, with health, with relationships or job issues.  Sometimes we reach that point where we want to just rebel, get mad or give up.  Your heart is being tested.  It is not out of meanness or lack of caring, but when a muscle is stretched and pushed beyond limits, it must continue to grow in order to meet the demands placed upon it.  It is not easy.  It is painful.  What we forget is that we are not just an ordinary people, we are an extraordinary people.  We are becoming that because God is taking us the extra mile and stretching us beyond our human limitations.  He is preparing us for extraordinary times. Yet as we will respond to Him in faith and obedience, we see His grace at work in supernatural ways in other areas of our life. 

God is separating us from our reliance upon our flesh and our dependence upon this world.  He is stretching us to know supernatural provision and strength.  We don’t find that when we are in pursuit of worldly goods or earthly fame and significance.  We find it in the humility of walking in His discipline and discipleship.  We will never fully appreciate the bread that is our provision until we first pursue and find the bread that feeds our spirit and our soul.   We could say, “seek ye first the bread of life, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Jesus tells the followers that pursued Him after He fed the multitude in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that manna which came out of heaven, the king and the kingdom of God.   It is not in the attainment of physical needs and wants that we are filled and completed, it is in our partaking of Him in personal relationship, faith and obedience that we find the true bread of life.  When you have truly found Him, then all of your superficial needs are met as well.   That need that we have is not always seen and met in the present tense, but it is met in faith as we embrace Him.

God is our loving heavenly Father who disciplines us as His sons.  He is often willing that our flesh would suffer so that our spirits may grow.  Most of us are, a here and now kind of people.  We are most concerned with what we are facing right here and right now.  Be not concerned with the cares of the moment, God is seeing you in a much greater role, one in which you must be tested, tried and proven.  That is just as He was doing in Joseph when through years of suffering and hardship, God was all the time preparing Him for leadership and government.  Could Joseph have faithfully and adequately done what he did for Egypt, if God had not prepared and raised Him in His purpose through strong discipline and adversity?  Like he told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  You may think the devil is out to destroy you, but what he would mean for evil, God will use for good.  Romans 12:12 exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”  If you are enduring the discipline of the Lord, then rejoice, because God has marked you for better things.  What He has called you too, He will prepare you for. 

We are no longer walking in this worldly economy as kingdom people are; we are walking in a kingdom economy and for a kingdom purpose.  In this journey God will clothe you with His righteousness that will not wear thin and He will put the strength in your feet to walk the walk of the cross as He shods them with the preparation of the gospel.  We are people that are rich beyond measure, but our riches are not measured by earthly standards.  God is our standard and in Him there is no lack or weakness.  Let us pursue Him who is our bread of life, provision and godliness.  In Him we will know no lack.  Even in our correction He will sustain us. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

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