The Joy of Fools

May 29, 2018

 

The Joy of Fools

 

Proverbs 15:21

Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

 

 

What is folly but a fountain of foolish acts lived and acted out by one who lacks the practice of sound judgment and fails to embrace truth?  Many of us have had those times of foolishness in our lives.  Most of us look back and shudder at some of things we did and realize the consequences that could have followed those actions.  For many of us, God gave us grace to see the error of those ways and to see where they were taking us.  Was it fun?  Oh sure it was fun to party and to act out of the lust and impulses of the flesh.  It was fun to be wild and unrestrained, but it had no future and it didn’t produce what most of us desired out of life.

I can remember my college years.  It was a time of making the transition from my parent’s values to my own values.  I was becoming my own person and could now choose what I thought was right and wrong for me.  I remember some of the partying and the wild things that we did.  It was fun at the time, but then when you were alone the question would come, “Is this all there is to life?  What is my purpose?  What are my goals?  What happens when we leave this life and all that we have done is live for selfish pleasure?  Is there no more consciousness and we cease to exist or do we indeed have to give an account of our ways before an Almighty God?

I began to realize early on that foolishness is a dead end street.  Oh yeah, it may be like Bourbon Street in New Orleans and life can be like Madrigal, but where does it lead us and what is our end?  What I experienced was emptiness and lack of true fulfillment and joy.  My happiness was only temporal, but it never really satisfied and gave meaning to life.  Perhaps some of us are still trying to hold on to our areas of folly.  Perhaps those areas of folly and foolishness have become strongholds in our life that we don’t want to give up or let go of.  Fools and misery love company.  You will become like the people that you associate with.  You can never really come out of your foolishness until you are willing to depart company with the foolish and seek out the company of the wise.

The wise are not necessarily smarter than everyone else is, but they have come to the realization that wisdom and life is in seeking out the Lord and following in His ways.  He is the author of wisdom and His paths are straight, but they lead us unto life.  Proverbs 16:16-17 says, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver! 17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.”  Folly will only delight a man who lacks understanding, because when we understands the high ways of the Lord, we will no longer delight in the lower road.  That road will only lead us to hell and destruction.

Have you given up those areas of foolishness that may be destroying your life and the lives of the ones that you say you love?  A truly wise man heeds counsel, he receives correction and departs from evil, but one who is truly a fool will not listen and he will not learn.  Proverbs 9:8 says, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.“  Is the delight of our folly worth the consequences that it brings if you continue it?  Do we have enough wisdom to say, “enough, no more!”?

Blessings,

#kenta

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The Gift

May 14, 2018

 

The Gift

 

1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

 

 

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. “  The greatest gift we can give one another is ourselves, our life, our time and our love.  Often we equate love with what monetary gifts we can give.  Those gifts are good and loving expressions, but they should be in addition too and not in place of the others.  Many of us don’t realize that we are a gift to someone else that loves and needs what we have to give.  Far too often we end up withholding our gift or using it on the demands that life puts on us, rather than on those who really need and would appreciate it.  Our quality time can be of more value than we can realize.  Our personal love and attention are often the only things that can meet the needs in others.  Especially in our society, we tend try and use a lot of substitutes, but there are hurting and lonely people for whom the greatest gift is our personal time, attention and love.

I know I have often been guilty of being so involved in my work or interested in other things, that I have neglected the greater needs in my family.  Many of us realize that we have done this.  When we come to the end of our lives it will be the relationships that we have built through the investment of our time and our lives that will matter most.  We all seem to think there will always be tomorrow, but tomorrows will run out and we will have never lived and loved for today.

The greatest reward we have in life is the satisfaction we have in giving, in making another’s life a little better, a little richer and ministering to those little personal needs that we all have.   Jesus gave us the most precious and priceless gift that anyone has ever given, His life.  That gift has perpetuated life now through millenniums of time.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.   God has placed a gift in us that we must be faithful in giving.  The more that we give it, the greater the increase.  Someone needs the love and personal attention that only you can give.  Let us not deny those needs wherein we rob not only them, but ourselves as well.  Give out the love that Christ has placed in your heart.  It is not for keeping, but for giving.

 

 

This an attachment with this writing that a friend had sent and I thought it so illustrated this point:

 

I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying

groceries. I wasn’t hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 57 years

was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories.

 

He often came with me and almost every time he’d pretend to go off and

look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I’d always spot

him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands.

 

He knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only

wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was

different since he had passed on.

 

Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two.

 

 

 

Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and

remembered how he had loved his steak.

 

Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blonde, slim and lovely in a

soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large package of

T-bones, dropped them in her basket, hesitated and then put them back.

She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks.

 

She saw me watching her and she smiled. “My husband loves T-bones, but

honestly, at these prices, I don’t know.”

 

I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes.

 

“My husband passed away eight days ago,” I told her. Glancing at the

package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. “Buy

him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.”

 

She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the

package in her basket and wheeled away.

 

I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy

products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy.

A Quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream. If nothing

else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone.

 

I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the

front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady

coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package. On her face was

the brightest smile I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled

her blonde hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine.

 

As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my

eyes. “These are for you,” she said and placed three beautiful long

stemmed yellow roses in my arms. “When you go through the line, they

will know these are paid for.” She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss

on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she’d done,

what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked

away as tears clouded my vision.

 

I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue

wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know? Suddenly the

answer seemed so clear. I wasn’t alone.

 

Oh, you haven’t forgotten me, have you? I whispered, with tears in my

eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.

 

Every day be thankful for what you have and who you are.

(Please read all of this, it is really nice)

 

This is a simple request. If you appreciate life, send this to your

friends, including the person that sent it to you.

 

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings. Thank

you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.

 

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as

possible. Thank you, Lord , that I can see. Many are blind.

 

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising. Thank you, Lord, that

I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.

 

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost,

toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud.

 

Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

 

Even though our breakfast table never looks like the picture in

magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced.

 

Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.

 

Even though the routine of my job often is monotonous. Thank you, Lord,

for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.

 

Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my

circumstances were not so modest.

 

Thank you, Lord, for life.

 

Pass this on to the friends you know. It might help a bit to make this

world a better place to live, right? A friend is someone we turn to when

our spirits need a lift. A friend is someone to treasure.

 

For friendship is a gift. A friend is someone who fills our lives with

Beauty, Joy and Grace and makes the world we live in a better and

happier place.

 

YOU ARE MY FRIEND!

 

God bless you and yours.

Blessings,

#kent

The Kidron Brook

May 8, 2018

 

The Kidron Brook

 

2 Chronicles 30:14

And they arose and took away the altars that [were] in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast [them] into the brook Kidron.

 

 

There is a valley and stream that runs east of Jerusalem called the Kidron brook.  As the Lord began to unfold some things it is interesting that Kidron means “dark”.  What was interesting also was that I was seeing that when there was a purging of idolatry, idols and altars of incense, it was the Kidron brook they brought them too and disposed of them.  The scripture we read above is from Hezekiah’s reign when he was restoring the Passover in Jerusalem.  During King Josiah’s reign we read in 2 Kings 23:4-6, “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped [it] small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.”  Again in 2 Chronicles 15:16 King Asa deals with his idolatrous mother, “And also [concerning] Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from [being] queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped [it], and burnt [it] at the brook Kidron.”

We can see here from several examples that when a righteous king came upon the throne in Israel that there was a purging of idolatry and those idolatrous things were disposed of in the brook Kidron.  As interesting as that is, what does that have to do with you and me?  We know that it is the bride of Christ that is the New Jerusalem.  Revelations 21:2 says, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  We know that it is the “true church” that is the bride of Christ.  When I say ”true church”, we do not speak with regards to Protestants, Catholics or any denominations thereof.  We speak of those who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, who have received Him as their Savoir and abide in relationship with Him.  Jesus is the King of righteousness that has come to reign upon the throne of our hearts and lives.  What kind of groves, idols and altars of incense might He find within our hearts and lives?  The edict has gone forth and the Holy Spirit is carrying it out in our lives.  He is cleansing His house.  He is cleansing us individually and corporately.  He wants to smash our idols to dust and cast them back into the dark places that they came from.  That Kidron Brook in our lives is in that valley of our will, it is on the East where the Son of God arises in our hearts.  He is shedding His divine light upon the areas of darkness, rebellion and idolatry in us.  This is the day of His purification.  If we are not willing, as many in those days weren’t, to come and relinquish our idols, then instead of the baptism of fire, we will experience that baptism of judgement.  Our idols, those things that we covet and hold so dear will not be able to save and deliver us in that day.  Many of them scoffed and said, “Oh they have been talking about this for years and nothing has happened.”  2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  God is calling His people to repentance in this hour.  As we are willing to tear down the strongholds that we have permitted to exist in our lives and grind them to powder, casting them into that Kidron brook it is the act of relinquishment of our will to His.  It is where we cast the sins of our separation into the dark waters that carry them forever away from us.  Today is our day to sanctify and purify our temples.  What idols and strongholds am I not willing to let go of?  What is hindering me in my relationship and fellowship with my Savior King?  What is it I need to throw into the Kidron brook?

blessings,
#kent

Stepping Up

April 6, 2018

 

Stepping Up

 

Ephesians 4:15

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

 

Our walk in Christ is a progressive one; it is a journey that each day should bring us a little more into His character and likeness.  If we charted it on a graph I doubt that for very many of us it would look like this smooth sloped line starting at zero and going up.  The truth is we would probably see dips and rises.  Sometimes it is like we go two steps back to take one forward.  Some days we can be so discouraged with life or ourselves that we just want to give up and sometimes we may even do that for a time.  Life is a series of ups and downs and we all know that on the surface it is easier live a sweet Christian life when things are going well. When we are caught up in the Spirit and we are feeling and experiencing the Lord’s presence and blessing in our lives it can be like we have heaven on earth.  The reality is, we know that we can experience hell on earth well.  There can be those times in life when all that we know and held dear is pulled out from under us.  Our world can be turned upside down in a heartbeat.  One thing you can count on in life is that nothing stays the same.  It is these experiences in our lives that are the testing and proving grounds of our faith.  The adversities in life are what exercise our muscles of faith and sound the depths of our character and integrity.  Often it is when we feel the least spiritual, that we grow the most.  Our Father always sees the big picture where we can only see the next hundred feet.  The one thing we have to be committed too is that come heaven or hell, our lives are wholly His.  We are His garden, to prune, to dig around, to water or however He decides to deal with us individually.  What we can hold fast too are the facts and truths that ‘He loves us with an everlasting love’, ‘He is able to complete the good work He began in us’, ‘He will never leave us of forsake us’ and ‘all things work together for the good of them that are called according to His purpose.’ 

            The important thing for all of us in Christ is that we maintain a focus and vision of continual faithfulness toward the Lord.  The enemy of our souls has continual roadblocks, diversions, disasters, and snares to discourage, get us off track and get us back into that mindset of the flesh and the world.  We must maintain a continual vigilance of our souls and we need one another to help us see the things that we often don’t see in ourselves.  Our spiritual transformation and progression is not something we accomplish in and of ourselves.  Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  That is why our walking in the Spirit is so important.  Walking in the Spirit is where we experience His righteousness, His freedom, His strength and power through us to overcome sin and temptation and deliverance from evil.  It is where we walk in the company of the Strong One, the Wise One, and the Faithful One.  It is in Him and our continual union and fellowship with Him that we experience growth from glory to glory as 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

            Every day should be a progressive walk in the Spirit, regardless of what life circumstances are.  Each day should be a stepping stone of faith and trust that brings us up higher and transforms us into His likeness.  Keep your eyes upon Him and your walk in the Spirit.  Let each day be another step up into the glory that is before us.

Blessings,

#kent

 

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

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

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

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