Joy Cometh in the Morning

September 13, 2019

 

Joy Cometh in the Morning

 

Psalms 30:5

For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

 

Where is your life spiritually today?  Would you characterize it as nighttime or daytime?  Most all of us, who have been walking in Christ for a time, know that we go through seasons in a spiritual sense.  There are times we go through such close intimate times with our Lord and sense His presence and love in such a wonderful way and then there are those nighttime experiences.  It may come as a result of allowing sin to come into our lives.  It may be the result of God’s chastening or dealings in our lives.  It may be through persecution or tribulation.   Whatever the reason it is nighttime experience, one in which we fail to sense God’s presence in our soul.  Our prayers may seem hollow and of none effect.  These are times when spiritually we cry out for God, perhaps it is in these times we really begin to seek God’s help, His presence, His deliverance through a trial or tribulation we are facing.  There are times our lives can feel pretty bleak.  Our circumstances are overtaking us.  Where is God?

King David experienced this nighttime ordeal before He became King.  Psalm 30:7-9 says, ”

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”  Perhaps you and I have prayed prayers similar to this.  One thing that is so admirable about David and I think a spiritual key to us overcoming in these dark times is that David, no matter how low, remembered the goodness and the faithfulness of GodHe continually brought God’s promises and His benefits before the Lord in his prayers and psalms.   And he never ceased to praise and thank God even in those dark times.  He was quite honest with God about what he was going through and the emotions that wanted to overtake him, but he always brought his thoughts and focus back to a place of faith in the faithfulness of God.  We may go through some long nights that may go for years, but learn those principles that David learned.  They will sustain you in those times. David even says an interesting thing in this passage, he says, ” by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face.”  Have you ever thought of your mountain as favor from God?  Remember that what God is allowing in your life is designed to press you into Him.  He wants us to learn and trust Him for who He is, not what He can do for us.  This is the place of maturing faith where the rubber meets the road.  God has to become very real to us or we give up and turn away.  God is processing us through the hardships of our life.   “The trial of your faith is much more precious than Gold” (1 Peter 1:7a)

In this scripture David says “joy does come in the morning”, our trials, darkness and seeming separation from God won’t last forever.  He is faithful to bring us through if we faithfully hold fast to Him.  David’s next expression after talking of how severe the trial says, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

If you are in your night season, don’t be discouraged, have hope, God has not forsaken you.  He is proving you and bringing you into whom you really are in Him.  Stand the test, stay the course, for joy comes in the morning

Blessings,

#kent

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The Place of Loss

September 9, 2019

Job 1:20-22

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

 

 

The Place of Loss

 

 

A very real and painful part of life is sometimes losing the things we have most loved.   Loss has many faces.  It can be a loved one, a marriage, a child, a job, a dream, health, possessions or a loss of an identity in who we thought we were or what we thought we had.  Loss has many faces, but when it touches those areas in our heart that are most dear, it is most painful.

As Christians we are certainly not immune from the experience of loss.  We know how we view loss, but how does God view lose and why does He allow it to touch our lives. Often the losses in our lives, though painful, are necessary to make way for the new chapters that are yet to be written and the purposes that are yet to be fulfilled.

We are line of sight people operating primarily out of what we can see immediately before us.  We don’t have the wisdom and council of God to see the end from the beginning and know why things had to happen as they did.  In our shallow minds and the infancy of our understanding we often become angry and disillusioned with God.  We begin to believe the enemy’s lies that He is against us and not for us.  We begin to believe that perhaps our faith is a sham and we have just become the laughing stock of all who look upon our lives.  Perhaps all we can see is failure, disappointment and loss.

What do you think Job saw when all that he loved and cared for was taken from him in a day and then even his own body was brought into immense suffering.  Here is a man that didn’t have the Word of God to go too or the revelation of Christ to lean on and yet when he lost everything he fell to the ground and worshipped.  “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”  Can we and have we done the same in our loss?  Is our loss of greater value to us than our relationship with Father?

No, we don’t understand.  Job didn’t understand, but understanding isn’t essential to maintaining our faith.  In fact, it is in the times that we least understand that we must have the greatest faith.

Joseph didn’t understand when he was given dreams and visions of God of greatness and then his own brothers sold him into slavery where things went from bad to worse and he ultimately ends up in prison through false accusations.  Now if someone had a right to be bitter, it was probably him.  All he had tried to do is be a man of integrity and faithful to His God and look where it got him.  Yet when we get to end of the story we see how God turned what was intended for evil into what was good; fulfilling a divine purpose through Joseph’s loss.  Often in our lives our losses are not what they seem and they are not about God being against us, punishing us or forsaking us.  It is often our losses that are the preparation for what God wants to bring us into.  Before He can reveal the greater He often must take away a lesser.

This is to encourage you today if you are in that place of loss and disappointment.  Your plans and dreams may be shattered, but the dreams and purposes that God has for you are not.  If you trust Him, lean upon and give your losses to Him; He can take your losses and make them the place of your ministry. your victory and your purpose in God’s kingdom.  Pain often paves the road for a path that we would have never traveled on our own and a vision that we could have never fulfilled without it.  No matter what your loss, never lose your faith and confidence in God.  He is for you and not against you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”  Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings,

#kent

God of All Comfort

June 12, 2019

 

God of All Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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

 

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

 

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

Comfort One Another

May 9, 2019

 

Comfort One Another

 

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

There is such a power in the body of Christ to come along side of those who are weak, suffering and hurting.  Even as the natural body addresses all its attention to a deep wound or injury to itself and then subsequently there are agents of the body that continue to attend and bring healing to a wound or injury, so it is in the body of Christ.

We recently attended a funeral in which one of our relatives’ only son had been tragically shot and killed by police.  As we set through the service of this young man’s funeral there must have been three or four hundred people in attendance.  This young man, while he had been in trouble with the law, apparently had “a real heart of gold” as those that knew him described him.  He cared about people and their souls.  He was active in His church and loved God’s Word.  Somewhere things went wrong, either through wrong associations or other influences and it led to his death.  I was impressed that through the circumstances, people could have judged him or his parents, but they didn’t.  They saw who he was in his heart and saw him through the eyes of Jesus.  There were numerous testimonies to the special qualities that this young man possessed as well genuine compassion and shared grief for the loss of the parents.  Even in all this, the focus wasn’t on the death, but it was upon the life of Christ and throughout that service, the Lord was magnified.  I thought, “what a strong expression of comfort and support this church has given along with the attending relatives and friends.”  Throughout the day people were continually expressing their support and love through hugs and encouraging words.  I was impressed that this should be what we see operating in the body of Christ all the time, not just at funerals, but whenever and for whatever reason another member is suffering and hurting.  We are the instruments of His comfort because we possess the words of life and the Holy Spirit of Life to communicate them.

When we have this same love for one another and are being like-minded, unselfishly serving the another’s best interest, then we are going to feel one another’s joys and sufferings.  We are going to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice, because we are of one body and one mind in Christ.  It is important that we stay in tune and sensitive to the needs, the trials and the sufferings of those around us.  We want to be the heart and hands of Jesus to those who are hurting or in need.  Jesus says to us, “they will know you by your love.”  It is a sacrifice many times for us to give ourselves to others through our time, our finances and emotions.   Sometimes I forget that the reason I exist is to express the Christ that lives in me, not to fulfill my own agenda or just to be concerned about what is best or easiest for me.  Our selfishness can rob us and others of ministry and of being the instruments of comfort that God has called us to be.  Our living for Christ is seen in how we live for one another and how we express that love to the humanity that lives around us.

“God help us to be the instruments of your peace, of your comfort and of your great, genuine love and salvation.  Help us to be Your hands of ministry and healing and allow our words to bring comfort, hope and encouragement.  Please allow others to see You living through us in word and deed.”

Blessings,

#Kent

Cinderella

March 13, 2019

 

Cinderella

 

Romans 10:19

But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by [them that are] no people, [and] by a foolish nation I will anger you.

 

The story of Cinderella has long been a favorite among the fairytale classics.  Through the years we have seen many movies and takes upon this theme of the poor beautiful girl held captive and slave to the tyrant stepmother and stepsisters.  She represents for us the underdog, the one that doesn’t have a chance in life, the one that, by the world’s standards, will never amount to anything in this life.  She is trapped in an environment that affords her no opportunities for success or hope to shine in a world where she is clothed in rags, covered by the dirt and cinders she is forced to clean.  She represents for us a “rags to riches” story where our heroine is finally set free from her evil captors and oppressors and is clothed with the beauty for which she was created.  We see her being sought out by the prince who is in love with her, desires to marry her and have her reign beside him in his kingdom.

While this is but a fairytale story, it is interesting to think how in many ways it parallels our hope in Christ.   Look for instance at how the Lord chose Israel.  Deuteronomy 4:20 says, “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, [even] out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as [ye are] this day.” In Deuteronomy 7:7-God speaks His heart for His people, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.”  Even the apostle Paul brings forth this point with those who are called unto Christ.   Did the Lord look for the wisest, the most noble, the most beautiful and the most successful people in the world?  1Corinthians 1:26-31 tells us, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  God has chosen those Cinderellas which 1 Peter 2:10 says, “Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  The King of Kings has sought us out and redeemed us out of our state of poverty and sin to betroth us to Himself that we should rule and reign in His righteousness, by His almighty power.  He has cleansed us with His blood, clothed us with righteousness and given us His own name.  That is why we Cinderellas have reason to sing and praise our King.  “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelations 5:9).”  Even as Cinderella was found, rescued and was married by her prince and they lived happily ever after, we also can have that happy ending.  “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Revelations 21:3-7).” Cinderella, be lifted up in your countenance and put your hope in the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

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

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

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 29, 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 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

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