Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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The Path of Faith

November 14, 2018

 

The Path of Faith

 

Isaiah 30:21

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

 

Imagine the Lord placing you at the entrance of a single lane road.  It is early morning and a fog is encompassing the area.  The lane is lined on both sides by large trees.  The sunlight is soft as it penetrates the fog and filters softly through the leaves of the trees.  As you look up the lane your visibility is limited by the misty atmosphere and you can only see down the lane a short distance.  You have no idea what lies further down the road or what you will encounter as you walk down that lane.  All you have is a Word that the Lord gave you, “”I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me (John 14:6).  Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 31:21).” All that you have is the Word of the Lord and the faith that if you follow this way it will lead you to the Father and His eternal life.

On your side is a pouch filled with seed.  In you right hand is jar of water.  With these you have been given the instruction that as you travel down this road, sow seed along the wayside and when you see seed that is struggling to grow, water it.

And so you begin your journey down the path.   At times it is pleasant and uneventful. There are often many distractions and desirable things that are wooing you away from the path.  Then there are times when the fog moves in even thicker.  The air so damp and heavy and cold it almost pushes you to the ground as you struggle to feel your way along the path that you can no longer see with your eyes.  At times the hardship seems too much and you want quit, get off of that path and turn into some nice warm and comfortable shelter.  But behind you, you hear that still small voice in your spirit that continues to say, “This is the way, walk in it.”  As you persevere, eventually the fog lifts and sun shines and your heart rejoices that you have come through and back into the light.  You suddenly grasp the revelation that the sun never stopped shinning, it had never gone away, the only thing that changed was your perception, it was simply obscured by the clouds of your circumstance and natural surroundings.   There were times the path became very steep, rocky and treacherous.  One slip and you could plummet over the cliff to a sure death.  Somehow you weren’t afraid, your heart was confident and sure, because you knew you were still walking in the “way”, up the path of life.

During your journey you were faithful to scatter and plant the seed that was in your pouch, along the wayside.  You were frustrated as you saw that the birds feeding along the path consumed much of it.  You were disappointed that much of it fell on hardened and rocky soil and while it soon sprang up, it quickly withered, because it had no root and lacked moisture.  Some that you scattered among the weeds and thorns came up but was quickly choked out, but your heart rejoiced when some that you planted fell on good ground and they came up to bear fruit in varying degrees.  You were also blessed when you came to those seeds that were thirsting and withering for lack of moisture.  As you watered them, you saw them regain their strength.  You saw those bowed over in discouragement, encouraged and renewed in hope and in life.  You were blessed that in your journey you could be a part in sowing and watering.   Though your way was often difficult and not without many struggles, you found your greatest joy was what you could impart of the life that had so freely and graciously been imparted to you.

At long last your journey comes to an end as you emerge through the mist and fog to behold the great city to where this path had led you.  As you marvel in awe of its magnificent splendor, you enter through the gate where the Lord, who had first set you on this path, greets you.  There, He lovingly embraces you and says, “…Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).” As you stand there with joy flooding your heart, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2);” you are so thankful that His grace sustained you and that you continued in the path of faith that led you into eternal Life and the arms of Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

 

Today is the Day to Hear His Voice

 

Hebrews 3:7-11

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Our Destiny

October 17, 2018

Ecclesiates 6:10 (NLT)

Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be.

So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

 

Our Destiny

 

Our destiny is not free of hurt and pain,

nor is the goal only in earthly gain.

Our destiny is to find the purpose of God’s will,

to expose the lie and live out the real.

 

Our destiny is in what we were created for,

for the good works of God and so much more.

Our destiny is our choice to walk God’s way,

saying yes to His will day by day.

 

Our destiny was set from the foundation of the earth,

it began to be revealed at the moment of our birth.

Our destiny knows which god we choose,

whether we’ll walk in LIFE, or our life lose.

 

Our destiny is only known fully by God,

its eternal potential revealed as we walk this sod.

Our destiny will carry us through this life’s course,

but all that it holds depends on the source.

 

The destiny of the wicked is destruction,

refusing God, they are the product of their function.

The destiny of the believer, the fullness of God’s delight.

He brings them through the darkness to manifest His light.

Blessings,

#kent

Presumptuous Sin

October 16, 2018

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

 

 

 

Presumptuous Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

In Times of Discouragement

October 11, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

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

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

 

In Times of Discouragement

 

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

How did he make it through?

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

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

“We can,” they answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

 

How Will You Weather the Storm?

 

Psalms 94:22 declares, “But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”

Psalms 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalms 20:7 resounds, ” Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

Where then is our place of safety and assurance in this day and age?  It is the same place that David found it when he fled Saul who pursued him to take his life.  David went from hero to number one most wanted in his country.  He was alone. The only ones that would associate with him were criminals, debtors, malcontents and the outcast of society.

What made David so exceptional was that he personally knew God and he knew who he was in God. His faith and trust were not in his strength; neither his abilities or any other natural resource.  His faith and trust were only in God.  Many people are scrambling today, because they see a bleak future.  Some are storing guns, food, water and gold.  Some are building underground bunkers to live in.  Is that where our true protection and security is?

It is not the godly that trust in their strength, their power, riches and arrogance.  It is the wicked.  Psalms 52:5-9 declares their outcome. “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.       Selah

6The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying, 7“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

8But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

9I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.

I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

If you are looking for protection, security and provision then look at God’s Word and you will see it is only complete in Him.  Earthly gold may be a good thing to have, but listen to how Revelations 3:17-19 exhorts us as His body, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Today Christ is at our door, not just wanting to bring us salvation, but intimacy and relationship where we don’t just know about Him, but we know Him.  The more we know Him the more all around us becomes about Him.

Jesus spoke a parable in Matthew 7:24-27 that is a kingdom principle.   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  The key is not in just what we know, but in what we put into practice.

Revelation without realization, is like intent without action; it is like the knowing without the doing.  It is like faith without works.  Many of us know a great deal of the Word, many of us have a set under its teaching a great deal of our lives.  The wise man is the one who implants it into His life and actions.  The foolish man is the one who listens and hears, but doesn’t make it substance.  Which house remained in the day of the storm?  For God to be your fortress He has to be the reality and the realization of your life, without the reality of that truth how will you weather the storm?

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

September 28, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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