My Destiny is the Pits

June 22, 2017

Genesis 37:13-24

[One day] Israel said to Joseph, Do not your brothers shepherd my flock at Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them. And he said, Here I am. 14And [Jacob] said to him, Go, I pray you, see whether everything is all right with your brothers and with the flock; then come back and bring me word. So he sent him out of the Hebron Valley, and he came to Shechem. 15And a certain man found him, and behold, he had lost his way and was wandering in the open country. The man asked him, What are you trying to find? 16And he said, I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, I pray you, where they are pasturing our flocks.

17But the man said, [They were here, but] they have gone. I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. 18And when they saw him far off, even before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19And they said one to another, See, here comes this dreamer and master of dreams. 20So come on now, let us kill him and throw his body into some pit; then we will say [to our father], Some wild and ferocious animal has devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams! 21Now Reuben heard it and he delivered him out of their hands by saying, Let us not kill him. 22And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit or well that is out here in the wilderness and lay no hand on him. He was trying to get Joseph out of their hands in order to rescue him and deliver him again to his father. 23When Joseph had come to his brothers, they stripped him of his [distinctive] long garment which he was wearing; 24Then they took him and cast him into the [well-like] pit which was empty; there was no water in it.

My Destiny is the Pits

Most of us know the story of Joseph who was the favored son of Jacob, but despised by his brothers.  God had his hand on Joseph in a special way and even gave Joseph some dreams that were glimpses into his destiny and calling.

Remember how great it was when we first came to know Christ and experienced the joy of salvation.  Then, as we grew we learned of His exceeding great and precious promises to us in Christ Jesus.  What perhaps wasn’t so real to us at the time was the truth that “if we suffer with Him we shall also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17)”.  Many of us walking this journey of faith and trust in Christ have found and are still finding ourselves in some very difficult places.  Maybe we have even pondered whether God really loves or cares about us.  I believe, like Joseph, the pit we often find ourselves in was really an appointment with destiny.  It may be satan’s attempt to destroy us, but then that was his attempt when he succeeded in crucifying Jesus.  The paradox of our faith is that often the way up is the way down and we often walk through hell in our journey to heaven. 

Joseph, just happened to run into a man that was in the fields where his brothers were suppose to be as he was searching for them and this man just happened to have overheard his brothers saying where they were going.  Joseph’s whole journey that day was the road that would lead him to rule and reign, but between here and there existed a dark and hard path to follow.  It was the road of preparation, the trying of his faith.  When Joseph did come to where his brother’s were camped they plotted against him and even planned to kill him.  Remember the scripture that says, ‘your enemies will be those of your own household?’  Many of us have experienced betrayal, hurt, rebellion and have been forsaken by those of our own family.  They seized Joseph and threw him into a dry well or pit.  Have we ever found ourselves in dry and waterless places, faced with adversity, trials and tribulations and it seems as if God and the Holy Spirit are no where around?  We may not think that we are even going to make it.  Surely this is the end of us; what hope is left? 

Imagine how Joseph felt and the thoughts that went through his head as his brothers spoke of killing him and refused to take him out of the pit?  The fear, the sorrow, the betrayal and the separation he felt not only from his brothers, but more importantly from his father who he may never see again.  His bright future is suddenly turned to darkness and despair. 

If you are finding yourself in the pit today, don’t be discouraged and don’t despair, you may just be finding your destiny.  If we learn one thing from Joseph’s life it is that matter how dark it gets and how far away from God it seems, don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t forsake your faith and trust in God.  God has not forsaken you, but He is there with you every step of the way.  James 1:3-4 exhorts us, “Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Patiently trust God even in the pits of your life because He is active in you performing the will and do of His good pleasure to bring you into your inheritance.  1 Peter 1:3-9 sums all of this up quite well, “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.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Future Spoken

June 20, 2017

John 14:28-30

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

      “Come now; let us leave.”

The Future Spoken

Jesus is speaking to His disciples and us as well a prophetic word.  So much is contained in those few words, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.”   The whole of our faith is summarized here: death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return of Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit to indwell us and the return of Christ in manifest glory.  Christ has told us all that would happen and for two thousand years we have been seeing the manifestation of what He has said. 

Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Jesus was Messiah, prophet, priest and king.  He operates fully in all of those offices, because is the source and progenitor of those offices.  Even today we can know the mind and will of God through what is being spoken in our spirits by His Spirit and Word, and what is being confirmed to us through His prophets in this hour.  Sometimes the body of Christ gets in fear because of all that they see coming upon the earth in this hour.  Let me tell you that you don’t have to fear the flames when you know the architect of the fire.  Satan may wreak havoc, but Father is still in control. especially where it concerns His saints.  While He may allow the flames to touch our lives, it will only be to burn the dross and the attachments we still have to the things of this world.  Father is moving us into a new economy, a kingdom economy, that doesn’t operate and look like what we have grown up in and formerly operated out of.  The world’s economy is passing away.  If you hold to that economy your provision will pass with it.  The kingdom economy is El Shaddai, God Almighty and Jehovah Jieh, “The Lord will Provide”.  Just as the Lord provided the ram for Abraham as he moved in faith and obedience to God, our God will provide for us as we cease from our labor and worry to rest in His loving care.  Will provisions always come in our designated deadlines and in the ways we imagine they should come? Probably not.  Don’t be surprised when God doesn’t fit into your box and paradigm.  His ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are His thoughts and ways higher than ours.  Sometimes the loss of the things we thought God should have provided for us may bring in us into a greater gain and trust.  God never takes something from us, but what He gives us something better in return. 

Many of God’s people are in a hard place in this hour.  While you think it is hard now it will be nothing compared to what is to come.   That is not to bring you into fear, but to cause you to rejoice that God loves you enough to prepare you in your faith so that in that hour you can stand and operate in His provision and not that of the world’s.  God is telling us to get our eyes off of the world as our provision.  If your provision and trust is in the world then you will perish with the world.  You are a kingdom people and are we not to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”  God’s people are the avenue of His kingdom entry into the world.  Just as judgement first comes to the house of God, so blessing and provision will then come through the house of God. 

Just as Jesus loved the Father and did exactly what He said, so we must come into kingdom alignment with all that the Word is speaking into us.  Until there is an alignment and shift of our paradigm to line up with His we will not know the obedience and faith of Abraham or the Lord as our Jehovah Jireh. 

We are hearing a trumpet that is telling us as Matthew 24:15-18 says, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.”  We will not be able to turn back to the resources we have formerly known in this world.  If we are not sitting under teaching that is growing us up into the maturity of who we are in Christ then it will be as Matthew 24:19-20 says, “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.”  Our failure to mature in Christ will be our downfall along with those in ministry who have not matured their children.  You don’t want to start this journey with a winter barrenness of faith  or a day when you are resting rather than in readiness. 

Hear the Word of the Lord to prepare your hearts.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).”  When we come into the ark of His safety and provision we need not fear the storm before us, but at the same time don’t be ignorant and complacent about what is coming.  Know Him and prepare your hearts in Him.  Know the secret place and the shadow of the Almighty.  Find your place under the covering of His wings.

Jesus finally said, ” Come now; let us leave.”  It is time to leave the world and our worldly thinking behind.  He is bringing us out of that old place of thinking and doing and bringing us into the new.  Are we ready to go with Him?

 

blessings,

#kent

 

The Spirit that Sets Men Free

Mark 5:1-20

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Here is the account of a man so possessed of unclean spirits that he was no longer his own.  It is obvious from the story that the man didn’t have the goods or the means to contain or control this unclean spirit.  They had tried to chain him and control him, but no man could control or tame Him.  He had become no more than a puppet controlled and tormented by the spirits that inhabited him.  How he must have longed for deliverance and no doubt cried out to God for it.  One day the prayers and the cries of that captive spirit were answered.  Jesus showed up at his front door among the tombs and the dead things.   This man lived in death and death surrounded him.  I believe it was the spirit in the man that ran to worship Jesus.  Here was the deliverer who could deliver him from his tormented state.  I believe the unclean spirits would have ran from Jesus, but here at last was the answer he had cried out for.  Does it not seem strange that Jesus just happened to pick this destination to go to this day?  Was it not the tormented cries of the man’s heart that brought Him there?  This man was the extreme case of demonic possession, a man filled with an army of demons.  One word spoken by Jesus brought these unclean spirits to their knees.  His presence brought them to cry out, for His very presence was their torment and caused them to quake with fear. 

Such is the One that abides in you and I.  When it is the Christ in us that speaks forth an anointed word, then hell and the devil are helpless to stop it.  Jesus showed even a measure of mercy to the unclean spirits by allowing them to go into the swine. 

Jesus brought hope, deliverance and salvation into a man’s life and situation where a moment before there had only been despair.  He is still doing that today and often times, those of us with surrendered hearts and the sensitivity to hear His voice might be the channels He would use to touch some life and bring the miracle that they so desperately need and are crying out for.  Where would He take your life today and how would He use you to bring the spirits of men together with the Spirit of God?  Jesus came to set the captive free.  It is His Spirit that He desires to unite us too and all others must be cast out.  He wants to give us back a right mind, even the mind of Christ.  He wants us to take the good news of what He has done for us and share it with others.  Go forth and bring to others the deliverance of His salvation and the good tidings of peace and joy.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Walk with Me

June 5, 2017

Philippians 3:14

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Walk with Me

Walk with me a little while

Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.

It is in your presence I experience love and grace.

I need your perspective as I run this race.

I covet your fellowship in the early dawn,

As I come to you in prayer and feel your holy bond.

It is your strength I covet in this challenging hour,

It is in identity with your life that I find my power.

The grade is getting steep as we travel on.

The way is more narrow and straight than where I’ve gone.

Those I once called friends now scorn my path.

Because I don’t hold the world’s views I incur their wrath.

So it must be as I look up and see the cross before,

I still believe that you alone are the only door,

That leads to life and the Father I seek.

You are the good shepherd that leads your sheep.

Help me Lord to be all that I must,

Forsaking the world, its vanity and lust.

Setting my eye on the prize that is before,

I press on to the high calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.

Walk with me a little while,

Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.

If so be that I suffer for You I will be glorified with You,

My peace and rest are in You, oh Lord, my faithful and true.

Kent Stuck

Blessings,

#kent

How much does Your Sin Cost Me?

James 4:1-6

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You 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.

    4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We know that Jesus paid the price for our sin and the spiritual, eternal consequences they reap.  We know that through faith and calling upon the name of Jesus we can partake of the free gift of His great salvation and goodness.  We know also that through the power of His life that comes to reside within us we can overcome the strongholds and the power of the sin that has operated in our lives.  We also know that even though Jesus paid the price, sin still operates in our world and unfortunately it still operates in us as believers where we give it place.  Sin has natural consequences as well as spiritual ones.  As we survey our world we have no trouble seeing the devastating effects of sin that touches every life on this planet.  While God is merciful to forgive our sins, that sin still produces consequences.  It produces its fruit of destruction and death.  The sad thing about sin, whether it is ours or someone else’s, it doesn’t just cost us, it cost all who are touched by it.  Sin is like a rock thrown into a pond, it produces a big splash where it lands, but it also produces ripples that go out in all directions.  This begs the question, how much will your sin cost me and how much will my sin cost you? 

People ask the question, “How could a loving God allow war, hunger, sickness, disease, poverty and crime?”  I guess it could be said, because He loved us enough to give humanity a free will to make choices whether they were for Him or against Him.  The state of our world is the fruit of many poor choices where man chose sin over God.  God has loved us so much, that in spite of all those wrong choices and in spite of the ones we continue to make we have a way back to Him; back to His righteousness and perfect plan.  Meanwhile, as long we continue in this present evil age of man’s doing the consequences of sin will follow us. 

What does that mean to us on a personal level?  What happens for instance when a person allows alcohol or drug addiction to get a hold of their lives.  The hook is often innocent enough, but the underlying consequences are horrific.  How many of our lives have been affected by these.  A person lusts so much after these strongholds that they will cheat, steal, lie, con and they will become all the things that they once hated and detested in others.  They will beat the wife they say they love, they will abuse their precious children, they rob from their family to feed and satisfy their addiction and even though they hate themselves for it they can’t stop their destructive course.  They go on to beg, borrow, steal, and con their friends, family and loved ones, because of their lack.  They will loose their jobs, their reputation, their self-respect, their dignity and integrity until they either get help or completely destroy all that they had loved and held dear.  They will cost those closest to them untold grief, heartache, pain in many ways: financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually and every other way.  That ripple will continue to radiate out and affect others even beyond their personal relationships.  How many thousands and millions of dollars does it cost a society because of crime and sin.  People are victimized and hurt continually because of someone else’s sin. 

How much does divorce, unfaithful and broken relationships cost, not only financially, but in terms of suffering, heartbreak, anger, unwillingness to forgive and shattered lives and hearts.  That is something nearly everyone has been touched by since it effects about half of our marriages today; all of it the result of our sin and selfishness.  How much will your sin cost me?  It doesn’t just cost you, it cost everyone around you.  If sin has a stronghold on you, get help!  As painful and humiliating as that may be, it is nothing compared to what your sin will reap.  Remember God loves you.  He is for you and not against you, but He will not make your choices for you.  Only you and I can make right choices.  Let us humble ourselves and return to Him, that we may receive His grace before it cost us all more that we want to pay.

Blessings,

#kent

Jeremiah 23:1-7

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2  Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

       “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,

       a King who will reign wisely

       and do what is just and right in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved

       and Israel will live in safety.

       This is the name by which he will be called:

       The LORD Our Righteousness.

7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

A Call to the Scattered

What we are reading in Jeremiah is a prophetic word that is coming to pass in this day.  Many of us may see this applying to natural Israel, but as things are seen in the natural so are they in  the spirit.  Spiritual Israel and her descendants are being gathered are being gathered out of captivity and displacement and put back into their place in Christ Jesus. 

Roman 2:28-29 says, ” A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”  Just as God speaks to the natural Jew, He speaks to the spiritual Jew.  Many of God’s Jews of the Spirit have been displaced by wicked and unscrupulous men who have sought their own gain at the expense of the God’s precious flock.  As a result these shepherds have destroyed and scattered God’s people throughout the land.  They have driven them away from the Lord because they have represented the Righteous One in their wickedness and selfishness.  Many are out in the fields of the world, wandering, lost, separated, wounded and hurt.  They have become fearful and avoid fellowship with the people of God because of the wounds and hurts that they bare. 

This is what the Lord would say to this people; these lost, wounded and scattered ones.  “I am raising up a Righteous Branch out of Zion who will rule and gather my people and my  flock.  I have never cast you off, nor have I abandoned you.  You are still the precious apple of my eye.  I send forth My love to capture your heart again, to dress your wounds and apply My healing salve.  You have been rejected, but not of Me.  You have been wounded, but only that I may bring forth your healing.  Now I would gather you and bring you back to My heart and My throne.  Be not fearful, but listen to the Spirit of My voice within you.  You are still My beloved and My redeemed.  My heart is for you and not against you.  Return unto me for I am bringing you back to the true Israel over which the King of Righteousness rules.  Come unto me and I will give you rest.  I will lead you beside the still waters and make you to lie down in green pastures.”

As surely as the Lord is bringing natural Israelites back to their land, so He is bringing the spiritual Israelites back to their place in Christ Jesus.    This is a day of restoration and healing for the people of God who have been wounded and hurt by those in the church.  Your true Shepherd is calling you back home.  He will heal you and restore you in righteousness and love for His namesake.  Come back now and dwell in the land of the righteous.

Blessings,

#kent

The Peace of God

April 17, 2017

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Peace of God

We can’t say that just because we are Christians we don’t have problems and struggles.  The Lord promises to always be with us, but He doesn’t promise that we won’t have many trials and hardships on our journey.  What we truly need we already have in Christ Jesus.  That is hard for us to reason when perhaps our physical circumstances are so dire.  

We have often used the analogy that gold ore is not gold in its purest state.  It is mixed with much dross and impurities.  It is the crushing, the fire and the smith that smelts the gold, brings it into purity, then shapes it into vessels of honor.  What suffers in the process is our flesh and too often we identify our flesh with our life when it no longer is.  

Such a key part of our faith is the confidence and the knowing of who we are in Christ Jesus.  If we don’t have a revelation of that we are always going to be panicking in the storm.  We can so quickly lose sight of who is in the boat with us, because of the raging torrents that surround us.  The peace of God comes in the security of knowing that your life is hid in Him.  It positions us as Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”  You see, we are in Christ in heavenly realms.  What we possess and will experience in Christ Jesus is beyond compare to anything this world can offer.  Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The peace we possess is the rest that God is in charge of our lives if we have surrendered and relinquished our will to Him.  

What is the first thing the Word tells us to do when we have a need?  “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”  Joy over and over and over again in your God and all that He is and that He has provided for you in Christ Jesus.  Your salvation is your peace, because it is the presence and manifestation of God in all aspects of your life.  One definition of the peace from the Greek word “eirene” says, “of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”  What God has given in us in times of unbearable hardship is His grace.  He is what we cannot be.  Our peace is in knowing that He is, whatever our need.  Whatever our circumstance our peace is in His will and purpose.  He says to make our needs known to Him through supplication and prayer.  Don’t become anxious or distraught about anything.  God is at work in ways that we can not see.  “Cast all of your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”  When you have prayed and made your request known, then begin to worship and thank Him for His answer.  It doesn’t matter that you haven’t seen it yet.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen.  Rest in that you know that God is working in your behalf.  Allow His peace to give tranquility to your soul.  Don’t allow your heart to be troubled about many things, but rather choose to sit at the feet of Jesus.  He will give you rest. 

Blessings,

#kent

Discouraged but not Forsaken

Deuteronomy 1:21

Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up [and] possess [it], as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged

How are you doing today as you run the race of faith?  Are you running with the wind in your sails or are you just floating like a sailboat without a breeze?  Are you encouraged and built up in your faith or are you tired, weary and feeling defeated?  Where are you at in your relationship with Christ today?   Perhaps you are where you want to be and growing daily in your faith and obedience to Christ.  That is where we would all like to be, but in reality you may be floundering, experiencing some failures and defeats or dealing with issues that you don’t have the answers for.  

Hopefully, what we have learned so far is that our relationship with the Father, along with His love and desire towards us, doesn’t ride on the coattails of our emotional ups and downs.  It isn’t our feelings that dictate our walk and relationship with the Father; it is our faith and confidence in His Word.  The Father is constant in His love for us, even when we fall flat on our face or back into sin.  The wonderful thing about the Lord is even though he loves us the way we are; He loves us too much to leave us that away.   There are times we hate ourselves; all we can see is the failure, the weakness, the sin and how helpless we feel to change it.  What we do know is that all of our self-pity and defeatism will never allow our life to change.  The enemy has us right where he wants us, in the throes of defeat.   Perhaps you have been experiencing the dealings of the Lord in your life and His discipline has been upon you.  That should be an encouragement to you, because you know He is dealing with you as His son or His daughter.  Don’t allow discouragement to come in and cause you to give up.  There will be times of discouragement where you are tempted to want to give up. 

God loves us, even in the mess we are in.  God has great things for us and great things He wants to accomplish through us.  Hebrews 12:12-15 says, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”  Our greatest failure is not that we have messed up it is when we give up.  Life is a series of battles and we aren’t going to win them all, but our victory is in keeping our eyes upon Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.  We have to keep coming back on our knees and pouring out our heart and soul to Him.  He is what we can’t be in ourselves.  Lest we forget who we are and what we are, we are a new creation that bears the name of Christ.  Let us quit looking at what we have been and where we have come from and start looking at what we are going to be and where we are headed too.  Our identification, our purpose and our reason for living must always be centered in Christ.  When we allow that to be robbed from us, we become the whipping boy for the devil and he will flat beat you up until you feel like a worthless nothing.  Let faith arise in our hearts. Let us believe what the Lord and His Word says about us, “that we are the righteousness of Christ”, that we are, “more than conquers through Christ that loved us” and that “He has raised us up together and made us to sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”  

If the enemy has you in the dungeon of despair and discouragement today, sucking rocks and the putrid filth of his accusations and condemnations, then it is time to lift up your head and look to where your salvation comes from.  It is time to get up and walk out of that prison cell.  Those bars can’t hold you.  Jesus has already unlocked the door.  He has never stopped loving you and all He is waiting for and desiring is for you to come back to Him.  Make the Lord your refuge, your mighty fortress and your strong deliverer.  He is and always will be your salvation, your hope and your strong tower.   “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

Blessings,

#kent

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28 

Tragedy Comes Knocking

      My oldest son just lost his wife.  She was still fairly young and what appeared to be in good health, when she died suddenly of a heart attack.  His wife was the love of his life and best friend. They had grown incredibly close over the past 6 months. Now, suddenly, with no warning, she’s gone.  

None of us are immune to the tragedies in life, but how we handle them and grow from them is tremendously important.  Usually, the first thing we try to do is blame ourselves for something we should or could have done to change the outcome.  Then many us want to blame God.  After all, He is sovereign.  Why did He let this happen.  Sometimes we are angry with God and we want to abandon whatever faith we had, because in our ignorance we believe it is His fault.  None of us have the wisdom or insight to always know and see how God moves and why things happen, but faith is really the definition of trusting what you don’t fully understand. 

When I arrived at my son’s the next morning he was totally broken, devastated and in shock. His heart was broken and his pain was deep.  As the day and time progressed on, he would go to his room, fall on his knees and say, “ God, I just need your strength.  Help me!”

        He would get up and every time after He leaned into God, God would meet him with a person or answer that met his need.  He would just shake his head and say, “Really God, did You just do that?”

God’s finger prints were all over this tragic time in the way He ministered personally to the needs. Healing and restoration of relationships that had been broken for years began to take place and in the midst of our darkness we saw God’s light, HIs love, His comfort and faithfulness. 

Later, in the week, we had a meeting with His pastor and my son shared his testimony of how God had prepared and given them time together before this tragic event.  It was truly powerful and moving.   Finally, the pastor leaned into Sean and asked him if he could pray for him.  I was amused by son’s answer.  He said, “You might want me to pray for you.  God and I are pretty tight right now.”  

Nothing can take away the pain, when we lose a loved one or tragedy strikes, but what a testimony to the power of leaning into God when these times and events touch our lives.  He is there to comfort and strengthen those who call upon Him, lean on Him and trust in His name. 

        God truly can work and bring good things out of bad situations, if we have the faith to continue to trust Him. 

Blessings,

#Kent

Psalms 22:24

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

The Despised and the Afflicted

Have you ever looked down on someone who was weaker than you, not as talented, not as good looking or not as good or righteous?  Have you ever despised another because they offended you in some way?  Have you ever regarded yourself above others in your station or position in life?  If we are really truthful and search our hearts I would imagine that we all have had these prejudices.  I am sure for all of us there are people we prefer to not be around or associate with for various reasons.  Maybe there are good reasons that we shouldn’t associate or be around them. 

What the Lord is speaking today is concerning the despised and the afflicted.  Many times we can’t really appreciate or identify with where others are at, because we have never been there or had to really walk in their place or we have forgotten where we have come from.  We judge and make assumption from afar and think that we judge rightly and fairly.  What is God’s heart concerning the afflicted and those whom others may despise?  He certainly doesn’t condone any of us in our sin or favor the unrighteous, but He feels and knows the heart of the afflicted.  He knows their pain and their torment.  He knows their rejection and their low esteem.  Without realizing it we can become like the Pharisees that dwelt in their sterile environment where they didn’t have to dirty their hand or touch the unclean things.  It is safe there and we don’t have to deal with all of the unpleasantness of the humanity that is sick and dying all around us.  We often despise the afflicted because they cause us to deal with unpleasant things; things we would rather ignore and not be concerned with.  Our religious, righteous and sanctimonious heart is not the heart of the Father, because he doesn’t despise or abhor the afflicted.  He doesn’t hide His face from them, but He loves them and cares about them.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘it is not the well who need the physician, it is the sick.’  Jesus has a heart for the despised and the afflicted, because He walked in their place.  Isaiah 53:3 speaks concerning Jesus, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Many of us have become quite comfortable with our religious trappings and comfortable surroundings.  We dress nice, we talk nice and we rub shoulder with like-minded people, but how do we view those who don’t fit within our circle and our standards?  Do we thank God that we are not like them?  Jesus addresses this in a parable that He gives in Luke 18:9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 

13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 

14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Some of us have forgotten who we were when the Lord called us unto Himself.  1 Corinthians 1:26-32 says, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

James 1:5-7 puts this question to us, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?”  Let us be careful whom we despise, reject and judge.   Our ministry and our outreach are to such a people.  Let us honestly search our hearts and our attitudes.  Many of us need to get over ourselves and get the heart of the Father for the despised and the afflicted.  If we are missing that, then we are missing Him. 

Blessings,

#kent

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