April 5, 2018

1 Peter 1:3-9

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

 

Scenario of Two Lives

 

There was once a man that lived up in the mountains at the top a steep spire that was very difficult to reach.  Up there he lived alone raising his gardens and small livestock, capturing his water from the frequent  rainfalls.  There he lived isolated from the world and separated unto God, studying his bible and praying daily.  There he endeavored to live his life without sin wholly unto God.

There lived another man who was part of a large family and had many children of his own.  He lived in a crowded city that was full people, commerce and neighbors pressing in on every side.  His means were meager as he struggled to feed and provide for his family.  There were many conflicts surrounding him.  There were many difficulties that beset him.  There were many people continually putting demands upon him and expecting from him.  He also was a godly man, given to God and spending time with the Father in the brief moments he had to himself.  In his life he wrestled with many trials, temptations, persecution and needs that never touched the first man.  Daily he would repent of his sins and failures of living for God, but he would also remind himself of all that Christ was to him, had done for him and was doing in him.  Daily he reminded himself that his righteousness was that of Christ and not his own, that the blood of Jesus covered Him and the Spirit of Christ indwelt Him.  Daily, amidst all of the trials and demands upon his life he endeavored to live in the love of Christ and to share that love with others.

In the end which man accomplished the greater holiness and was most effective for the kingdom of God?  Which man had been perfected more into his image and likeness?

Having that vertical relationship with God is undeniably important.  It is where we draw from the source and the well of His life and strength, but if we never have the horizontal stretching through our relationship with humanity then we can only selfishly accumulate to ourselves, but never give out that which the Holy Spirit is imparting into us.  We can never know the growth we gain through the stretching that we go through in our relationships and the trials of this world.

Through Jesus, we see both the vertical relationship of communion and oneness with the Father and the willingness to be poured out for others that He might release that love into humanity, eventually giving the ultimate sacrifice of His physical life, not for Himself, but for us.  It is all of the trials of our faith that make us much more precious than gold.  Don’t be discouraged by all of life’s problems, demands and woes; this is the place where your faith is exercised, matures and grows.  This is the place where you have the opportunity to live out the things you say that you believe.  If you have your failures, as we all do, know that you are not condemned, but you have an advocate and intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, The Righteous.  As we confess our sins and failures He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  That overcomer lives in you, because Christ is in you.  As we continue to daily identify with Him, we also learn to walk in an overcoming life.  We, like Jesus, learn obedience through the things that we suffer (Hebrews 5:8).

Count it all joy in the race that is set before you.  Run to win and win by faithfully walking in what the Father has called you to be, the continual expression of Him.  He has enabled us by the Spirit of His power and strength to be more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and gave His life for us.

Blessings,

#kent

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Failures that don’t end in Defeat

 

Micah 7:7-10

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.

 

 

We have all known times of failure in our life and most of us have experienced the Lord’s rod of correction.  There are times when we have stubbornly pursued our own interests and pleasures to only find bitterness and sorrow at the end of what we thought we had to have.  Our sin has consequences and many of us can testify of the great pain and suffering we have had to endure because of our foolish disobedience.

In those moments of failure, when the house that we have built upon the sand is washed away, we may stand in utter shame and humiliation that we have come to this point in our lives.  We may almost think the world and the ones that we loved would be better off without us.  We have had to fully confront our iniquity and the failure which has resulted from it.  How can we even face God or the ones who loved and respected us?   We see failure written all over us, what do we have to live for and have to offer now?

Our scripture today is one of hope and encouragement to the person who feels like a failure. In this scripture we have a nation of God that failed Him and had to suffer the reproach and the discipline of His correction.  The one thing we have to know about our God is though He will discipline us; He will never stop loving us.  He has a tender heart for the one who is truly repentant and will set their heart upon Him again.  After all, that is what discipline is for, to show us the error of our ways and bring us back to righteousness.  No matter how low we go, God never stops loving us, but a man without hope or faith is dead.  Without hope there is no way but down.  Hope causes us to look up into the loving eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father and say; “Can you still use this broken pot?”  It is our hope and faith in the Lord that believes that though we sit in darkness the Lord will be our light.  Christ will plead our cause and will be our advocate.  He will lift me again out of my place of darkness and bring me back into the light of His salvation.  All those who cursed me and judged me will be put to shame for though I was defeated I don’t have to fail.  The Lord is our victory and He is our good success.  When we were willing, through repentance, to relinquish the failure that we were; God begins to form a new man fashioned in the form of victory and uprightness.  He is a man that rises out of the ashes of failure to find victory and purpose again in His God.

Only God can take our failures and defeats and turn them for good.  When our enemies thought they had nailed our coffin shut, then God will raise us up to their shame.  You can trust that it won’t be in our time, it will be in His time.  No matter how bad we mess up and no matter how bad we fail God, our loved ones and even ourselves, all hope is not lost if we will put our eyes back on Jesus.  His love and forgiveness can reach into the deepest hell and depravity and set the captive free.    No one else and no other God can do that but Him.  Our failures don’t have to end in defeat, in fact they may be what bring us to our ultimate victory in Christ and our enemies will be put to shame before us. God can still brings us back into the light of His salvation and grace.  ‘As long as there is life, there is hope.’

Blessings,

#kent

Are there Any Who Understand?

Psalms 14:1-3

The fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

2The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand,

any who seek God.

3All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good,

not even one.

 

Are there Any Who Understand?

 

While God has made Himself known in so many ways, often men will not acknowledge and worship a God that they can not bring to their own level. So they make false gods after the imaginations of their own minds and thinking. They worship even their own corrupt ways and become a law unto themselves. The fact is, we all have been conceived in iniquity.

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” In Romans 3:23 Paul says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” In Ezekiel 22:30 God says, ““I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (Psalms 14:2).”

Do you suppose God ever feels like the rejected parents who have poured out their life, their love and their very best to their children only to be despised and rejected? The children rebel and that which you poured your heart and soul into now turns to rebel, despise and reject you. Parents that have experienced this from their children know the heartbreak experience of that person which was created in your image now turning their back on you and rejecting the love you have for them. How grievous and wounding it is.

The fact that the human race is still in existence today is a tribute to God’s unconditional love and grace toward mankind. Thank God, He had a Son that was willing to stand in gap for us and intercede on our behalf. He was not only willing to intercede for us, but to take His own Holy life and become sin for us that He, who alone was able, might receive upon Himself the just recompense of our sin and in turn impart unto us by faith His very own righteousness. Romans 5:6-11 declares, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Father is looking for those who will return to Him. He is looking for a heritage and a legacy of those who live by faith and obedience to His name. Those He can call His sons and daughters. Those who will honor, fear and revere the Mighty God of their salvation and redemption.

You who have embraced Christ with all of your hearts are such a people. 1 Peter 2:4-5 describes us, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” If we truly recognize the destiny unto which we have been called then we realize the high and holy calling that is upon our lives. By God’s grace let us live into the sons and daughters of the Most High that God has called and created us to be. We have the privilege of honoring and worshiping the Wondrous God that so many others have despised and rejected. Yet we know as parents that the heart of a father always longs for the return of his wayward children. We are Father’s instruments of love and reconciliation to that wayward world that we might extend again Father’s great love and forgiveness for them. His heart never stops beating for them, because His love is without condition. May we be the ones that stand in the gap today, ever making intercession and proclaiming God’s love and reconciliation to them that whosoever will may come in.

Blessings,

#kent

A Heavenly Perspective

March 1, 2018

A Heavenly Perspective

 

Colossians 3:15-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

 

Today is a day to be glad, rejoice in life and embrace your life with hope.  We are a blessed people.  Some would say, “if you saw my condition you wouldn’t think I was very blessed.”  I can certainly appreciate all that life throws at us sometimes.  Outward circumstances can get incredibly harsh, cruel and difficult to bear.  The apostle Paul says this, in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore 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.”  For most of us, our biggest stumbling block is that we are always focusing on what is seen, rather than what is not seen.  We tend to base our life, our success, our happiness and our worth on what we see as reality in the natural world around us.  What the Word is teaching us is, if that is the case, you are living out of a wrong perspective and viewpoint.  Colossians 3 gives us some perspective in where our mindset and viewpoint of life must now come from.   “1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  If we are living in discouragement and defeat it most likely has to do with the perspective of our minds and our hearts.  This present life can offer some crushing blows and some real discouragement, but when we begin to understand that if we are in Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, then nothing can really touch our life without first going through the Father.  If these things are allowed to touch our lives then it is our opportunity and privilege to know that as we keep our eyes upon Him, He is giving us the grace to walk through whatever it is.  Often times, we come to the point where there is really nothing more that we can do outwardly.  The Words tells, “Having done all, stand.”  Stand in the faith that the Lord is God and He is upon the throne of our lives working all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.   Perhaps the Lord allows us to go through some of these things so that we can begin to practice living out of the mind of Christ, rather than the mind of our flesh.  The mind of Christ will look with the eyes of faith, resting in the Lord to work all things out according to His will and purpose.  It will rejoice in hope and confidence in the God of its salvation.  The mind of the flesh will be agitated, fearful, and full of worry, anger, frustration and doubt and discouragement.

Many of the saints of old went through great times of trials and testing.  It was their faith and confidence in the Almighty that sustained them and brought them through.  Most of us would rather avoid and run away from our problems, but that is not where growth is or that which builds our faith. Like the song by Andre Crouch goes, “if I never had a problem, I would never know that God could solve them. I’d never know what faith in His Word can do.”

Don’t allow your countenance to fall today.  Look up and make the decision to have joy in your life in spite of any circumstances that may be pressing on you.  God will see you through.

Blessings,

#kent

The Loving Hand of Correction

February 26, 2018

The Loving Hand of Correction

Hebrew 12:5-8

 

5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.  6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  8 )  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

 

Most of us would rather run away from discipline and correction.  Especially when things are going well the last thing we want is someone to rock our boat, especially heavenly Father.  Every motive and action of God is birthed in love, for He is love.  For God to leave us to our own devices and ways would not be very loving on His part since we are His children and His responsibility is to raise us as such.  While many of us say we love God we can be just as stubborn and rebellious about spiritual things as we can about natural things.  Out of God’s great love for us, because we are His children, He corrects and disciplines us in many different ways.  Even though that goes against the grain of our flesh, what is the greatest hindrance to our spiritual walk if it is not the old natural ways of living and thinking?  The trials and tribulations that touch our lives are exercising our true faith, spiritual obedience and substance.  I find I can think I’m pretty a good egg until the Lord allows me to tested in an area and what comes out of me or how I respond is often a pretty good indicator that a definite work of grace and correction is needed in that area of my life.  Unfortunately for most of us God has to keep taking us around and around some of the mountains in our life, because we still can’t seem to get it right.  How often have we read about the Israelites of the Old Testament and shook our heads at the fact we saw a continual cycle of rebellion and disobedience to God, His warnings and exhortation to turn from sin, their continued path of disobedience, God’s rod of discipline and correction, the repentance and turning again to God.  Then it would start all over again.  1 Corinthians 10: 11 says, “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  Here we have 20/20 hindsight, but do we make any better choices and demonstrate a greater measure of obedience and submission to the Lord than our Israelite predecessors?

Those who have trusted God for their salvation are at the heart of God’s love.  Even Jesus is our example, for it says, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrew 5:8).” Let us not take the discipline of the Lord as a sign of His displeasure or anger toward us.  Though our discipline is not pleasant while we are going through it the Lord does it for our profit and good.  The end result is that it works the peaceable fruits of righteousness in us when we have been exercised by it.  Like the loving Father that He is, He is not allowing us to grow up spiritually being the self-willed, self- serving children we would be inclined to be, but the children that are being conformed to image of the Father by His loving hand and correction.

Let’s thank God He loves us the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Blessings,

#kent

The God of all Comfort

February 16, 2018

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  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.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

True Prosperity

January 30, 2018

Genesis 39:1-6

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

 

True Prosperity

 

Most all of us know the story of Joseph.  He was despised by his brothers who sold him into slavery and deceived their father into thinking that he was killed by wild animals.  Joseph is not just a person, but is representative of a company of people that God is raising up.  Now the Lord is with this people, even as He was with Joseph.  Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.”  Now if Joseph prospered, it is not the way most of us view prosperity.  Life was hard, he was now a slave and just when you don’t think life can’t get any worse than it already is, it does.  Next, he is falsely accused by his master’s wife of rape, because he refused to sleep with her, then he goes from slavery to prison.  So how can the Word say that Joseph prospered?

What we have is what Joseph had, the Lord.  When the Lord is with us He can cause us to prosper even in the most adverse circumstances.  Joseph wasn’t prosperous because his circumstances dictated it.  He was prosperous because the favor of the Lord was upon his life.  We might think, if the Lord favored him so highly why did he have to go through the hell that he did?

He learned a truth.  It is only as we walk through the low places that we develop the humility to rule in the high places.  It is in the low places of injustice, false accusation, imprisonment and rejection that we learn a place of prosperity that supersedes that of the world.  It is in those places that we find a friend that is closer than a brother, a relationship like no other.

Do we relish the pain and the suffering associated with this destiny that Joseph has before him?  No, but like him, we have a dream, a vision and a promise that the Lord has set before us and that He alone is able to bring to pass.  So, like Joseph, we live in the promise of what God has shown us and we count Him faithful who has promised to bring it to pass in its due season. Meanwhile our prosperity is in our daily walk and fellowship with Him.  In that relationship He gives us divine favor and the special grace to despise the shame and continue to walk the walk.  Like Joseph, by faith we hold fast to the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The world around us may have forgotten us, despised us and rejected us.  To them we are hidden, except to those whose lives we touch with the grace and favor that is upon us.  Even they often quickly forget the unique encounter they had with us.  It is like God is marinating us and tenderizing us, so that through the fire we might emerge as the vessels of gold He has prepared us to be.

Don’t be discouraged by your circumstances, because they don’t dictate your prosperity.  Your prosperity comes from the favor of the Lord that rests upon you and orders your step.  Just be faithful wherever He leads and whatever you must go through.  The way up is often through the way down.  Jesus went to hell, before He went to heaven.  It was the sacrifice of death that brought the resurrection of life.  We also may have to lose our life that we may truly find it.  What God is working in you is for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory.  Be like Joseph, be faithful in all that you must endure.  Stay the course and know that your prosperity is not without, but within.

Blessings,

#kent

Tragedy to Triumph

January 11, 2018

 

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

 

Tragedy to Triumph

 

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

Could God stop these things?

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Despair of Life

January 8, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

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

 

Despair of Life

 

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

The Backside of Love

January 5, 2018

Hebrews 12:14-11

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 

The Backside of Love

 

When we speak of love it often the warm fuzzy feelings that come rushing to the forefront of our minds and emotions.  Certainly God’s love can be there to warm us with provision, blessing, intimacy with Him and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  What we don’t so often recognize or care to acknowledge is the backside of God’s love.  Love’s desire is to bless, but often in order to bless it has to correct, instruct, discipline and train.  Such is God’s love for us as sons.  We love all of the glory and power that is associated with being sons, but to get us to the nature and character of sons there has to be the Father’s discipline and correction.  God tells us if we don’t go through this then we aren’t really sons; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines and corrects.  This is no less a part of His love than the warm and fuzzy part.

Sometimes it is hard to comprehend with the natural mind how pain, discipline and suffering could be associated with love and yet it is.  These are the tools of our perfecting and instruction.  It is in this humbling place of discipline that we lose ourselves and begin to take on Him.  We learn to identify with the pain and suffering of others and out of that place develop hearts of compassion to minister the love and life of God to a hurting and dying world.  It is not in the high places of recognition, worldly honor, power and position that we carry the image of Christ.  It is in the low places of people’s needs, their hurts, their wounding and brokenness.  There, in these low places, do we learn how to administrate justice, healing, deliverance and restoration to the identity that God has for His humanity.  It says, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.”  His holiness is to be wholly like Him in our being.

Let’s face it, our flesh is self-serving, self-preserving and self edifying.  It is all about me, what I like, what I want, what feels good and what looks good.  The Cross is our instrument of discipline that brings us to the end ourselves and begins shaping us in the image and the nature of Christ.  In order to come into His likeness, my likeness has to be done away with.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Job 5:17-22 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects;

so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

18For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

19From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you.

20In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword.

21You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.

22You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth.”

God disciplines us to take our confidence out of ourselves and put it into Him.  Hebrews 2:10-11 it says,  “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  If the author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, are we better than He?

Let us bear up under our discipline manfully, acknowledging and praising God in whatever we are called upon to endure.  The closer we are drawn to the bosom of the Father the hotter the flames of His holiness burn, but they will only burn away in us what is corruptible, temporal and what must perish anyway.  For what is burned is only the ropes that have bound us as it was for the three Hebrew children in the Bablylonish furnace in the book of Daniel.

1 Peter 4:12-14 exhorts us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

The backside of Father’s love is not always pleasant, but it is needful for us to come into the sons He has called us to be.  Endure patiently and faithfully, for in due season it will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

Blessings,

#kent

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