God’s People Feeders

March 11, 2019

 

God’s People Feeders

 

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

 

 

We have these bird feeders in our backyard and it is always interesting to see the habits of the birds as the different ones will come and feed out of them regularly.  You begin to recognize those ones who are there daily and it becomes a way of life and a daily supply that feeds them.  It occurred to me that we are like those feeders to the world and even the other saints around us.  The Master comes and fills us with His life and seed as we abide in our place in Him.  We become the sowers and the people feeders of God’s life to the world around us.  Some of us are mobile and travel carrying that seed to many places.  Some of us are stationary, but we are constant and reliable sources that the people, who God has placed in our lives, can come and feed from.

Have you ever been in that place where you thought you had a good relationship with God where you were blessed, you were trying to be faithful and then it happened?  That bird feeder had been constantly standing.  It has a heavy base and the feeders are suspended from the top of a pole with metal branch hooks extending out from the top.  We’ve never had a problem with it until the morning when apparently a strong gust of wind had blown it over.  It is kind of like what happens to us when we are cruising along life’s highway and suddenly we get waylaid.  Some trial or misfortune hits us out of no where like a Mac truck running a stop sign.  We suddenly find ourselves lying on the ground, the wind totally knocked out of our sails and wondering what happened?  Why did this happen to us?  We were trying to do what we were suppose too, we were trying to be faithful?  God this doesn’t seem fair.  It just doesn’t make sense.

When I went out to pick up the birdfeeder, in the fall, a great deal of the birdseed had spilled out on the ground.  I salvaged what I could, set the bird feeder upright again and refilled it.  What has been interesting is that lately the birds aren’t as prone to fly up to the birdfeeder as they are to feed off of the seed that was spilled out on the ground.  You know Jesus said in John 12:32,  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.”  The world is still feeding off of the spilled blood of Calvary.  It made me realize that what may seem devastating to us, sometimes is the unleashing of God’s life and power in a greater dimension and power than what we had known before, especially in our strength and good standing.  For us it is totally humbling, we are undone and we are spilled out.  Along with that pouring out and breaking in our lives, God’s Word and His life are spilled out as well and it becomes a feeding place that others can relate with and gain strength and nourishment from.  Perhaps we’ve been singing and praying, “let the fire fall,” but when that baptism of fire comes, we’re not sure we like what it is burning.  Sometimes when God breaks our pot we feel like life is over as we have known it and perhaps it is.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to turn and work in a new dimension and new way to bring forth something even more glorious and rewarding in your life than what you had known before.

The key is to always remain the people feeder.  Giving forth the life and blessing of God in whatever dimension He has given you to do it.  Like we always say, “it is not about us, it is all about Him.”  When the wind knocks us over, God will pick us up again.  Just stay faithful to His call and His purpose in your life, but know that He can change your direction at any given moment.  When we are poured out through the trials of life that is where people truly see the substance of what is in us.  Those are the times our lives become naked, our lives become an open book and the reality of who we really are will be seen.   We want to make sure that what they see is what we saw in Jesus on the Cross; a life fully consecrated to the Father and His glory.  We must become and remain in those places where others can come and feed upon the life of God in us, whether we are standing or have been blown over.

Blessings,

#kent

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Live unto Life

March 7, 2019

 

Live unto Life

 

1 Samuel 25:29

Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel,

 

There are basically two types of life, natural or soul life and spiritual life.  We know that the clock is ticking on the natural life and much sooner than we might like to think the sand will run out and this natural or soul life will expire.  For those of us who have had God’s grace shed abroad in our hearts and have come into a relationship with the ever living Father and His son Christ Jesus, we live for the spirit life that is eternal.  What we often struggle to keep focused on is that when we have come into this spirit life, we are living to higher principles and purpose.  We have grasped the concept that this present natural life is our stepping stone into the eternal.  What we accomplish and the decisions we make in this natural man, chart our course for eternity and the spirit life that we are stepping into.  But it is difficult to always keep our focus on the things above when we live and walk in the things beneath.

Our scripture today is from the story of when David was being pursued by Saul.  He was highly insulted by a man named Nabal and was on his way with a band of men to slay every male in Nabal’s household when he is intercepted by an intercessor.  Now the name Nabal means fool and this man lived up to his name, but he had a beautiful wife named Abigail who was also very wise.  She gathers up large quantities of food and wine and goes out to meet David and his men before they arrive.  When she meets him and in the discourse of the conversation she makes the statement out of 1 Samuel 25:29 and basically prophesies to him of who he is in relationship to the Lord and what God will do for him.  She reminds him that his life is’ bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  She reminds him that none can prevail against him because that is so with God’s anointing upon him, and she reminds him that even his enemies will be slung away from him as a rock in a sling.  You see, David, in his anger and in the heat of passion had determined to avenge himself against this man Nabal and all of the innocent men that may have been associated with his household.  He has lost his focus and is acting out of his flesh.  How often has that happen to us?  In the course of life an event or an occurrence will totally grab our attention away from who we are in Christ and we pursue it out of the flesh.  Even as God allowed or sent Abigail to check David and warn him, how often has God sent someone, or in some way tried to check our wrong actions by warning us, turning us away and trying to remind of us of who we are in Christ.  Sometimes God will even close doors or allow circumstances to try and turn our wrong course.  If we are wise we come to our senses and discern the warning and correct our wrong course of action.  Unfortunately, we are often prone to be headstrong and determined to go our own way or do our own thing.  Think about all of the men and women in prison.  At some point in their life they probably had warnings and indications that they were headed in a wrong way and to continue would result in consequences, but they chose to ignore those warnings and continued in a path that led to the consequences of their incarceration.  How have their wrong decisions and choices negatively impacted many people’s lives?  We hope that we can all learn to be quick to recognize and repent when we start down these dark trails.  We must always return to our focus, which is not this life, but the spirit life.  It is not just the life to come, it is the life we are entering into now as we live by faith and walk by the Spirit.  We want our lives to every day count toward eternity.  We want our lives, like David’s, to be ‘bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  We want to be bound unto the Lord in the fulfilling of His purpose and calling in our lives.  Are we walking and living in His higher purpose for us today?  The Lord did not create us simply to live unto ourselves.  We have a divine destiny and it can only be realized as we walk and pursue that spiritual life.  Even if we have made a mess of it up to this point, it is not too late for us to change our course.  God still wants to make something good, meaningful and beautiful out of our lives if we will let Him.  If we set our eyes and hearts upon the eternal, upon His Spirit life, then we will begin to walk in the dimension of the spirit even while we are living in the natural.

Let us summarize with 2 Peter 2:1-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Blessings,

#kent

Beauty

February 14, 2019

 

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 enamoured 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 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 a 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 “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

The Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But 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.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

My Rights

December 14, 2018

James 4:2-3

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

 

My Rights

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

The God of our Blessing

December 11, 2018

Romans 8:28

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

 

 

The God of our Blessing

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

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

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

Dealing with Pain

September 24, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

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.

 

Dealing with Pain

 

Pain forces us to pay attention to the members that hurt.  Without it they would be ignored and instead of healing we would have loss.   Pain often causes us to slow down and focus on areas that we have taken for granted before.   It is pain that reminds of us of our weakness and causes us to look to God for strength.  Pain is something that none of us really want, but all of us need to balance and care for those areas that are weak and hurting.

As you go your way be aware of the pain around you and know that you may be God’s instrument and medication to bring comfort and help to that person that is hurting.

Perhaps you are the one that is in pain today, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  Don’t miss what God sends you in the simple things.  Allow your pain to move you into Him.  It is in our place of weakness that we find our greatest strength and it is not in us; it is in the Lord.  Don’t murmur or complain, but begin to rejoice and praise God in the midst of that pain.  Often it is this smith that is firing us and shaping us for our destiny and purpose.  Trust the Lord through those times of tribulation, pain and affliction.  Allow the pains of life to shape you in a right direction and attitude.  Allow it to make you stronger and not weaker.  It is often your pain that makes you most sensitive and responsive to the pain in others.   Pain is sometimes our prison, but praise is our liberator.  If satan would bruise God’s people, then let it release the precious incense and perfume of praise and worship.  Pain often causes us to reach deep within for strength and grace that only God can give us.  Pain and suffering often do a work that perfect health, prosperity and blessing could never do.  The preparation to rule and reign is often through the pain and suffering.

Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  Don’t receive the enemy’s condemnation or the thoughts that God is angry with you or doesn’t love you.  Whom He loves, He chastens that they might bear the precious fruits of righteousness.  Be encouraged if you are going through pain and suffering today.  The way up is through the way down and if you suffer in Christ, you shall also be glorified with Him.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”  Keep your eyes upon Jesus rather you are in much or little, health or sickness, heartache or joy.  Know that the Lord is sufficient, so find your contentment and grace in Him.  Keep an eternal perspective and not just a temporal one.  ‘Though the outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.’  Live out of the inward man.  Let that which works death in our outward members release the life inwardly and let us become the fragrance of Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

LOVE

August 22, 2018

1 Corthinians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

LOVE

 

Love often walks a difficult path,

For it does not seek its will or own.

It empties itself of all it hath,

To richly furnish another’s home.

 

Love patiently endures trying times,

It is longsuffering with the difficult ones,

Even when pressed it is always kind.

It loves in spite of the offenses done.

 

Love does not covet another’s goods,

Or resent another for what it does not have.

It does not boast though it could,

Instead it chooses to be a healing salve.

 

Love is not rude though it is often wronged,

It is not easily angered by those who offend,

It chooses forgiveness as its daily song,

Grace and truth are the message it sends.

 

Love does not delight in another’s hurt.

It protects the weaker and gives to the poor.

For the downtrodden, truth and justice it asserts,

Upon their aggressors it shuts the door.

 

Love never loses faith, hope or trust,

It perseveres with wind in its sails,

It is not defamed by its impotent rival, lust.

Though all else passes away, love never fails.

 

Kent Stuck

Blessings,

#kent

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