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

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God of All Comfort

January 4, 2018

 

God of All Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

 

Isn’t it such irony that in the midst of tribulation and trouble we can have comfort and peace?  Has the Lord not given us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be our advocate, defender and to come along side us in our time of need?  The Lord never tells us there won’t be any hard places in life.  Much to the contrary, the way of the Lord is the way of the cross.  The cross crucifies our flesh it doesn’t pamper it.  Yet, in Christ, we see the High Way of Holiness, the road less traveled, the narrow way.  It is a way that we can only travel with the strength and grace of God.  While that road will have its tribulations, God has promised that He will also be our comfort.  This comfort can come in different forms.  It may come through exhortation, admonition or encouragement.  It may come through consolation, solace or that which affords comfort, strength and refreshment.  It is said the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter.  This is considered the Messianic salvation.  Indeed it is our salvation that is the source and well spring of our comfort.  The Holy Spirit is there to live in us, direct us and help us with our needs through life.  What’s more is He often allows us to go through trials and tribulations to experience His salvation, comfort and help.  As a result of what is worked in us through these times the Lord is then able to use us as a source of comfort, strength, exhortation and encouragement to others struggling in like areas.

Paul brings this out in the scriptures that follow our theme scripture: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you [is] steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so [shall ye be] also of the consolation (2 Corinthtians 1:5-7).” It is so often the way of the cross and the sufferings we share in Christ that works the inner life and character of Christ in us.  We are forged in the furnace of affliction to be an instrument of comfort and life.  Perhaps you have experienced times when you were really low, discouraged or in the midst of a hard trial and another believer was able to come alongside of you and share like experiences where the Lord was their strength and salvation.  Through them sharing the experience that they had passed through and the faithfulness of God for them, you became encouraged.  You began to fix your eyes in faith upon Jesus to see you through your trial and your were comforted and strengthened through their testimony.  This is the way the Lord brings comfort and strength to His body.  A word spoken through other saints of God may give us just what we need in that crucial hour of our trial to speak faith and hope into our hearts and bring comfort to our souls.  This is the function of the Holy Spirit expressing Himself through others for our benefit.  We can all have this function and service and we may all benefit from the gifts and ministries of other believers who are faithful to function in the gifts and abilities the Holy Spirit has given them.  By the same token, you may be robbing the body of Christ because you are not operating in your gift or ministry.

Our God is the source of all comfort and He manifests it in many different ways.  As the Lord brings you comfort in the difficult areas of your life, you in turn may well be the instrument of comfort to others as you experience His salvation and provision in your need.  As we receive His comfort, let us be faithful to minister it to others.

Blessings,

#kent

When People Let You Down

December 26, 2017

 

When People Let You Down

 

2 Timothy 4:14-18

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Without a doubt, most of us can think back in our lives when someone or some group let us down, has judged us, cast us out or otherwise hurt us.  There is a pretty good chance that in a lot of those cases these people may have been fellow believers, people we thought were our friends and people we trusted and put our confidence in.  There are many walking wounded out there who are still carrying the scares, the hurts and perhaps the unforgiveness for those times when we were hurt or forsaken.

There is a truth that we must always keep in mind; people will always disappoint you and let you down, but Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  The evidence of this truth is in the scripture today where Paul stood alone against accusations, judgements and insults.  Those around him left him standing alone; none stood in his defense except Christ.  That’s hard when you’ve had friends that you have been close too, brothers and sister that you’ve loved and fellowshipped with and something comes up where your character is brought into question. Maybe it is something from your past and suddenly you’re standing alone.  You are on the outside of fellowship looking in.  For some reason others won’t believe you, but they will take without question, the words of your accusers.  How many precious brothers and sisters have had their faith shipwrecked because of so called believers who have stood in the place of judgement and condemnation?  Didn’t the same thing happen to Jesus?  Where were his disciples when He was falsely judged and condemned?   “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50).

There are times in life when all we have is Jesus and the Word of God.  While it is very hurtful, our hearts will be tested as to whom we really put our faith and reliance in.    God wants us to retain that spirit of love and forgiveness in those times of hurt and disappointment.  Our natural man wants to lash out, defending and justifying its self.  We want to share with everyone the great injustice that is being done to us.  I have seen times in our lives when we kept thinking a situation couldn’t get any worse and it would get worse and worse and worse.  It was quite obvious that we were under great spiritual attack.  Often that is the time when God asks us to do the hardest thing,  “Shut up and be still.”  We can miss the great salvation that Christ wants to work in our lives, because we are too caught up in trying to save and justify ourselves.  What He wants us to do instead is, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:28)” The love of Christ alone, in us, is our only ability to be able to turn the other cheek, to render blessing for their cursing, to love our enemies and pray for them that despitefully use us and accuse us.  One of the most difficult things for us to do is to act out of the spirit of Christ, rather than to react out or our flesh and render evil for evil.  God has a higher way for us, but to experience the higher we must be willing to die to the lesser.

Through life we are going to encounter injustices and inequities.  How are we going to respond to these?  How are we responding to these now?  In these times, as painful as they are, hide yourself in Christ.  Put Him on as a garment and shield against the personal hurt and pain.  He is our vindicator and He will render righteous judgement in due time.  That may not be in our time, but we need to place it in God’s hands and trust ourselves to Him alone.

Today, if you have passed through this place, or you are in it now, or perhaps it is ahead of you, find your refuge, strength and peace in Christ.  Remember it is not about how you feel, it is about how you obey and respond out of faith and love according to God’s word and not your emotions.  Your feelings will probably be in total contradiction to what God is prompting us to do, but as we respond out of faith, obedience and prayer, he will help our feelings to line up with His will for us, but it may take some time.  People will always let you down, but the Lord will never leave you or forsake you.   “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.  (Colossians 3:13)”

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

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

Beauty

August 30, 2017

Beauty

Genesis 29:17

Leah [was] tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

Isn’t it amazing today as you see all of the television reality shows and what you hear in the attitudes of women?  So many are enamored with being beautiful and sexy.  Their whole focus is on the outward man.  If they can just have the right kind of looks then everything else will fall into place and happiness will ensue.  The Bible gives an example of two women who were sisters that became the wives of Jacob.  Obviously the natural eye is attracted to natural and outward beauty.  Jacob was no exception; it was Rachel’s beauty that caught his eye.  On the other hand we have Leah.  She was no doubt a nice quiet little gal with gentle eyes, but not in the exceptionally beautiful category. 

The story goes that Jacob worked seven years for Labon, the girls’ father, so that he could marry Rachel.  Come the wedding day, with the veil and all, Labon pulled a fast one and gave Jacob Leah, rather than Rachel.  Naturally Jacob protested, but Labon insisted that the custom was that the elder daughter should marry before the younger and that he could work another seven years and have Rachel as well.  So Jacob ends up with two wives, Rachel the one he loves and is drawn too and Leah, the less desirable one that he is now joined too or stuck with.  It is interesting how God enters into the picture in this marriage.  Genesis 29:31-32 it says, “And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.” 

There are some of you ladies out there that may feel you got the short end of the stick, rather perceived or real, you don’t feel beautiful.  You feel undesirable and unattractive.  The natural inclination for all of us is town to be good looking, well liked and popular with people.  God in His infinite wisdom didn’t make a good many of us to fall into this category.  What we must see is that often what we don’t have in one area God can, and does, make up in another.  Proverbs 31:30 tells the women, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”  In God’s eyes there is something far more beautiful and appealing to Him than outward beauty, it is the inward beauty of a godly heart.  Peter bears this out as well in 1 Peter 3:3-5, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”

Today this scripture might read,  “Whose adorning is not in a nose job, breast implants, calogen treatments, whitened teeth, liposuction, cosmetics, hot clothes or a tan and sculpted body.”  Women spend billions of dollars every year in the name of beauty and there is nothing wrong with looking nice within reason, but our focus and emphasis is all wrong.  How attractive do you want to be to your husband, Jesus?  He is not concerned or attracted to what you look like outwardly, He is looking at the condition of your heart and soul.  He is looking for that meek and quiet spirit that is living in submission to the Holy Spirit, led and guided by Him.  He is looking for women that are living in the fullness of the inward beauty.  If outwardly you are beautiful, but inwardly you are rebellious, arrogant, mean-spirited and controlling does that equate to a beautiful woman?  Regardless of what you have in the way of outward beauty, you do have say about the kind of person you can be inwardly.  Develop that beauty.  Cause people to be attracted to you, because of the Christ in you.  That beauty is not vain or selfish, it is in the likeness and nature of your husband, Christ.  If you feel like Leah, then be encouraged that God will make you fruitful, for it was out of Leah that the seed-line of Jesus came, not Rachel.  Let your adorning be of  “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.”  After all, in the end it is that beauty that appeals and attracts our Savior and that we truly desire to possess.  “A woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

August 7, 2017

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday.  Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten.  One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly. 

The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior.  That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible.  Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church?  Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions?  We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God. 

Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food.  I’m certainly no exception there.  We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end.  Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices.  And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us.  All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices.  They can be good or bad depending on what they produce.  One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.

Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life.  If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made.  We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come. 

Are you making healthy choices spiritually today?  Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily?  I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chose Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own.  “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).”   May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.

 

Blessings,

#Kent

The Treasures We have in Christ

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Oh the treasures and the riches that are ours in Christ.  How richly our Lord favors us with His love and blessing.  How often I take for granted how immeasurably rich I am in Him.  It is not because things always go right or because I am wealthy beyond measure or that I don’t have any trials, tribulations or troubles, it because He is, “I AM.”  “I AM” is with you always, through everything and in every need.  “I AM”, is not our magic wand or “get out of jail free” card, but He is always there for us.  His presence and grace are sufficient for every need and trial.   He is there for us, not always to deliver us in a miraculous ways, although that is certainly always within His power and discretion, but to empower us in spiritual flight. He is there to bear us up on eagle’s wings above our life’s storms and to give us vision to see beyond the storm into the peace of a new day. 

Even when I can’t love myself, He loves me.  When sin and shame would cause me to turn and run from Him; He is the glory and the lifter of my head.  He washes me in the water of His Word and cleanses my sin with His blood.  Oh, what a friend I have in Jesus, my Savior forever.  How blessed and highly favored we are in Christ, for He has separated us from the nations and made us a holy nation unto Himself.  He corrects us, patiently loves us and writes His precious ways upon the tablets of our hearts.  Oh the extravagant love of the Father towards us and the tender and extreme love of Jesus.  Who can comprehend the love of Christ, that would experience such suffering and death for us when we were but enemies and aliens to Him, yet with the sacrifice of His own life and shed blood He has reconciled us to Himself. 

God forbid that we should neglect or take for granted so great a salvation as this.  Oh, the riches of His love and the great things He has prepared for those who love Him and embrace Him.  This life’s afflictions and trials are but for a brief moment and should only serve to prepare us for the great things that He is bestowing upon those who love Him and keep His ways.  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” 

Take heart when life is difficult.  You are not alone.  In the storms, press into the inner sanctuaries of His presence.  Meet with Him in the temple of your spirit.  You are exceeding rich and well favored, but gold hidden in the earth is often not perceived by others and too often, not even by us.  Just know that His treasure is stored in earthen vessels and you are such a vessel.  You are a portion of the riches that are hidden in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Love that Binds

June 16, 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Love that Binds

Unity in a family, a marriage or in the body of Christ is found when we are all operating out of a communication of love.  People are unique and we will always have our differences from one another.  That is the way our good Lord created us to be.  In our differences He poured into us the bonding and the glue of His love so that we are able to patiently bear the irregularities of all those people that God didn’t make just like me.  Love is never really exercised and grown unless it is stretched and challenged.  People will certainly do that to you.  I personally found that just keeping to yourself and doing your own thing makes it easier to love people, but that is a long distance love.  God’s love is most often up close and personal.  It is often a decision rather than a feeling.  Whatever our relationships with people God knows we are going to have our differences.  Obviously, outside of Christ, we are much different than God.  In fact, He says before we were saved we were His enemies.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  What reconciled us to God was first His love for us, not our love for Him.  This is a key example that we forget in so many of our relationships.  We are most often reactionary, returning kind for kind and love for love or even hate for hate.  God does not just react to our rejection of His love.  If He did the human race would have been extinct long ago.  His love is deliberate and it has purpose.  His love is to gather you in His arms and impart Himself into you. 

That bring us to where God is bringing each of us in our expression of love.  If we are loving out of our human condition and our feelings of love, then our love will always be conditional and full of limitations.  God has called us to live out of His love which is unconditional and loves the unlovely as much as the lovely.   Living a life worthy of the calling is living life out of the foundation of love.  Who is love?  We know that God is love so if we are to love as He loved we can only do that as we submit to His love to reign in our hearts and find expression through our hands. 

The apostle Paul exhorts us here to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He is not saying it is always easy, but in order to do it you have to lose your importance and your impatience.  Humility has been defined as “strength under control”.  That strength and humility of love learns to prefer others above itself.  It becomes more aware, concerned and active in meeting another’s needs than it does its own.  Love makes every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  We soon learn through life’s experiences that even among other Christian not all are willing or wanting to reciprocate your love for them.  Most of us are aware that even in our own selves we often are acting out of our flesh or giving place to an ungodly spiritual influence or spirit.  When that is present we can be quite confrontational, unfriendly and irreconcilable.  When we encounter that reaction towards us from others, even if they are our brothers or sisters, we have to see it with spiritual eyes of love and discernment, not getting caught up in the spirit of division that is at work.  Often times we end up taking some punches we don’t deserve and in love we learn to turn the other check.  It is not about us being right or winning an argument.  It is about the love of God triumphing even in an ugly situation.  Many of us get caught up in our emotions and feelings and if that soulish part of us is not being tempered by the Spirit we will get off into the flesh and certainly will not be known by our love in those moments. 

The stream of God Spirit takes a lot of rough jagged rocks in the river bed and rubs them together until over time they become smooth stones.  That is what we are becoming those smooth stones, but the process is brought about by agitation, irritations, irregularities and confrontations.   It is  the Love of God that is the fluid that heals, blends, forgives and ultimately loves through us in the unity of one Spirit. Perfection takes a good deal of practice.  God has put us with one another to learn to practice His love.  God’s love should be what binds us together until we work out our differences and that may just be loving and accepting the other for where they are at.  God has us all on different rows and we at different places in our walk with Him.  Above all let the love of Christ prevail in our relationships.  If the world is ever to know us by our love, then they first have to see it in action in though our lives and behavior towards one another.

 

Blessings,

#kent

John 1:12-13

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 

Conformed to the Image of the Son

“Who I am is not what I am in the eyes of the world, but who I am is what I am in the eyes of the Father.  He sees me completed in Him and conformed to the likeness of His Son, because I also have been given the privilege of sonship and He has placed His DNA in me.  I am growing up into His name, His nature and His likeness.” 

Is this your statement of faith, your belief and your conviction?

You may be saying to yourself I would like it to be, but you don’t how I really am and how I struggle with some things.  Faith in Christ is not a statement of your circumstances and how things appear to be.  Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “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.”  What are you fixing your eyes upon today?  Is it your shortcomings, your sins, your failures, your inadequacies and all the reasons and condemnation as to why you don’t feel like a son or daughter of the Most High God?  The Father sees you in the righteousness of His Son, because He became sin for you so that you might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  If you can only see the negative things about yourself then you are only focusing on what the accuser is throwing up before you and not what God is saying and thinking about you.  Jesus Christ is the way past all that we can’t be in our old self.  His blood still stands to wash away all filth and shame, so that we might enter in and boldly come before our God in the righteousness of Jesus name.  A new creation man can make a statement like we began with, because he or she knows who they are in Christ and what their identity is.  Why do we still want to hold on to that which has been crucified with Christ when such a marvelous legacy and identity has been given to us.  Put on Christ and with the mind of Christ put away your former ways of thinking, especially about yourself. 

We are currently in concert with the Holy Spirit to live and bring our lives in alignment with the Christ within us.  Romans 8:12-13 says, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  It is no longer you or I trying to overcome sin in the strength of our flesh.  We now have an ally that makes possible what was not possible under the law.  The law only exposed our weakness and inability to save ourselves.  But now we have the Spirit of God within to enable us in the areas of our weakness and failure.  It becomes evident that this is a journey in which God isn’t going to do it all apart from you just because you made a statement of faith.  That statement and commitment of faith is a covenant.  The covenant is between you and Him.  He will do His part, but it is dependent upon your commitment to do your part.  It is this marriage of your soul with His Spirit that produces sonship as we faithfully abide in Him.

Do you know who you are now?  You need to know who you are in order to become what you are.  He has made you privy to His mystery as revealed in Colossians 1:26-27: “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This a basic revelation truth you must lay hold of if you want to come into the fullness of who you are in Christ.  He has given you His NAME.  Everything He is is contained in that NAME, His character, His nature, His power, His authority and His love.  He has given us the most precious and powerful gift that could be had in the entire universe.  He has given us Himself.  Now He is asking that in the acceptance of that gift you begin to identify and walk in all that is contained in who you now are IN HIM.  

RISE UP IN YOUR SONSHIP AND BECOME CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON!

Blessings,

#kent

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