Jesus Wept

January 13, 2015

John 11:32-40
When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]
34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.
35Jesus wept.
36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?
38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it. 39Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days! 40Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

Jesus Wept

As the Lord dropped this scripture into my heart I came to it trying to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were no doubt some Jesus’ closest and dearest friends. They acknowledged and received Him for who He was as Lord and Christ, but now the revelation of that knowledge is tested through the sickness and death of Lazarus.
“Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the bible, but it can make a strong statement if we seek to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Jesus is not weeping because he is sad for Mary or Martha or because He is mourning the loss of Lazarus. Jesus saw the grief and sobbing in Mary and Martha. Then he hears from Mary in an almost mournful rebuke, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Perhaps Jesus is thinking, “What are you saying Mary, because I didn’t come in your time and in the way that you thought that I should that I failed you?” I believe it was these loved one’s disappointment in Him that grieved Him so. In their grief they were saying, “Jesus, you failed us. You didn’t come through. You didn’t show up in time.” This disappointment communicated through Martha, Mary and even the mourners that were with them greatly disturbed and disquieted the spirit of Jesus. I believe that this truly hurt the heart of the Lord that they had these scruples and doubts about His love and faithfulness to them. There was such a tremendous upheaval in the spirit of Jesus that He groaned and wept. This was a very disturbing moment of Jesus. He already knew that Lazarus, though he had been dead for four days, was a good as alive, but to see the disappointment and the feelings of His failure in the hearts of those who loved Him the most was tremendously hurtful and troubling.
What it shows us is that we have a box of our own human reasoning and understanding. We so often want to put Jesus in that same box. When He doesn’t fit within our boxes we can often become offended with Jesus and feel that He has somehow failed us. In our grief and disappointments we sometimes want to blame Him and hold Him responsible because we feel that He failed us. We often carry those hurts and they create a breach in our faith and trust in the Lord. Sometimes it causes us to turn from Him altogether. We can see here how this grieves the heart of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to trust Him and count Him faithful even in what we don’t know and fully understand. We must know that His love for us is so much greater. If Jesus had showed up sooner and healed Lazarus, He would have still been known as only the healer. This is a time and place where Jesus is going to manifest an even greater dimension of Himself as the resurrection and the life. There is a power in Christ that is even greater than death. Even death has to bow to His power and authority.
When Jesus commands the stone to be rolled away from the tomb, Martha speaks out of her natural thinking as she says, “But Lord, by this time he is decaying and stinking, for he has been dead for four days.” Natural reasoning often speaks out of doubt and unbelief. Jesus replies to her, “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God.” What a powerful statement this is, to her and to us. When we deny him through unbelief, we are denying ourselves of His manifest glory. The glory of God is beyond our comprehension and so far beyond our limitations.
The Lord would say to us, trust me even when you don’t understand me, even when I haven’t come through the way you thought I should. Do not murmur against me in unbelief and doubt. Trust me, for I will do what I have promised even in ways that you do not understand.

Blessings,
#kent

What God does to us or for us?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD : 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How many of us have gone through times in our lives when we have experienced such pain, sorrow or disappointment at circumstances that have come upon us or happened to us? We question, “God where are you, where were you and why did you let this happen to me”? There are those of us who have gotten angry, offended and hurt because we felt that the Lord let us down and He didn’t meet our expectations in the ways that we thought He should have. Perhaps God would ask us, as He did Job, ‘Who is this that obscures council without knowledge?’ God is the Magnificent One that created the Universe, the earth and all of the mysteries and wonders contained therein. Would we be so bold as to compare our wisdom and understanding with His? If what God says in Romans 8:28 is true, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” then we must believe that God is working for our good. Jesus never makes the promise to deliver us from tribulation. In fact, He says just the opposite, “…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To the natural mind, life often isn’t fair and it doesn’t always make sense. It is in these times that we must rely upon our faith to bridge the gap between our understanding and God’s plan. Often what we thought was the enemy coming against us, in retrospect, we see the hand of God was working through what seemed to be a negative circumstance to bring us into God’s plan and higher will for our lives. It serves to stretch us and takes us to places we would never go on our own.
Let us not be so foolish as to attempt to pass judgement upon God for allowing things to happen to us. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Job thought He had a pretty good handle on understanding God till His world and theology got turned upside down. The one thing that Job never lost was faith and trust in the Lord. I think that with many of us it will be as it was with Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” When we really come into the revelation and presence of God and all that He is we will repent that we ever questioned, doubted or spoke negative of Him.
God is not doing things to us; He is doing things for us. Our understanding may not comprehend it, but our trust has to receive it and know that God’s nature is to work in our behalf. Even when that means we are crushed in the process, it is because He does love us and sees the end from the beginning. We see in terms of time and earthly values. God sees in eternity and kingdom values. God values you. Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart. God is for you, trust Him and rest in His wisdom, love and council.

Blessings,
kent

Returning to Our First Love

December 9, 2013

Returning to Our First Love


Revelations 2:4-5

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.


Love is a many splendored thing, but it can also be a place of vulnerability, heartache and disappointment.  So much depends on the care, attentiveness and tenderness with which we handle the most precious of gifts, one another’s hearts and their love.  

That first found love between two lovers those years back, it seemed so rich.  You loved one another’s presence and you didn’t want to be apart.  Your desire for one another was so strong and you bathed in the love that you had for one another.  Oh, that first love, how rich and full and sweet it was.  

Little by little small offenses began to enter in.  Sometimes unkind remarks were made that wounded your spouse’s soul, neglect, lack of communication, demands of life; so many things can tear at the foundations of your love.  

We begin to take for granted that first love, as we become more familiar with the other.  Those little things that we didn’t notice or didn’t seem to bother us now become a source of irritation and conflict.  Our hearts that were so warm and open begin to close as we often, without even knowing why, transform from that loving unity, to opponents and foes.  Little by little we can shut down in our emotions and our love to the point we forgot why we even liked this person, let alone loved them.  

We can often wander and drift away from our first love for Christ the same way.  Instead of being continually awed and thankful for all that Christ has done and continues to do for us, He becomes common, just another element of our lives and not the substance of them.  How blind we all can become to the hardness that can come over our hearts with regards to the ones we love and what we have held so dear.  Many of us have lost that which we once cherished more than life itself.

What has changed?  Is it them or is it us?  Maybe it is like our environment.  We love the beauty of the water and streams, the woods and forest, the mountains, oceans and wildlife, but if we have them before us every day we may take them for granted and lessen in our once great appreciation of them.  Somewhere in there our motives for gain, for what benefits us and for what we think will better our lives out weighs our appreciation for the other.  At the environment’s expense, we begin to deplete our forest, tear up our mountains, pollute our waters and destroy what we once held so dear.  It is the same thing that we do to our marriages and our relationships.  

We lose sight that our spouse is our teammate that we are dependent upon one another to make life easier and sweeter.  Yet we are so blind at how the enemy of our soul comes into to kill, steal and destroy what was the most precious thing in our lives.  Our unity is destroyed and our marriages turn from bliss to ashes.  Isn’t it because we have bought into the lie?  When one of us in our marriage loses we both lose.  There are no winners and losers, because we are a team. A house divided against itself cannot stand.  

The older my wife and I grow together, the more dependent we are on each other to remember things, to help each other, and to be the strength in the other’s weakness.  On the other hand there is the temptation to find more fault with the other’s shortcomings, especially when they have chided you for yours.  We have to realize that we are a team. We need each other more than ever.  Love cannot become a selfish thing that only looks out for itself. If it has and is becoming that then it has left the boundaries and definition of love.  The nature of love is to serve, to give and bless another.  Love always exalts the other above itself.

Perhaps it is time for many of us to remember and to return to our first love both in our physical and spiritual relationships.  It is time to give the precious gifts of our humility, our forgiveness and our first love.  It is time to make a safe place where we can come together, not to find fault or blame, but to find reconciliation and healing for our hearts and our relationships. Isn’t this what God wants for us?  I believe He will help in this endeavor if we call upon Him and His love to fill our hearts.  Let us cherish and once again hold with such tenderness and sanctity the gift of one another’s hearts and love.  In the same way let us recommit to our first love for Christ and find the first passion that so consumed our soul.

 

Blessings,

kent

Inward Garments

November 1, 2013

Isaiah 61:3
…The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…

Inward Garments

You know our moods; our dispositions, our attitudes, our outlook on life and our demeanor are all clothing and garments of our soul and spirit. The inward man has a wardrobe just like the outward man. So what kind of garments are we wearing on the inside of us today?
When life is going well and things are prosperous and easy, it is not so hard to have a good disposition. What about those days, weeks or even years when we have endured heartache, disappointments, afflictions, hurts and the heaviness of life weighs down upon us, oppressing and depressing us? It is hard to have joy in the midst of sorrow and it is hard to rejoice in pain, but we will identify and outwardly take upon us the fashion of our inner clothing.
God has given us the ability in these times to be able to change our inner garments. It starts with the faith of who He is. It takes our eyes off of the natural circumstances, the very seemingly real feelings of despair that we have, and it looks upon the promises of our faithful God. Faith reaches out and grabs hold of God’s Word and life and then the exercise of that faith begins to change the fabric of our mournful state by declaring what God has said. It looks at those things that are not and speaks to them as though they are. Faith remembers 1Corinthians 1:28 that says, “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.” Faith looks and remembers what God says in Isaiah 46:8-11, “ Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ 11Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it”. Faith looks upon an ever-living and ever-faithful God and it begins to open its mouth in praise. It declares as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Faith fixes it’s eyes upon what God has said and promised and not upon the hard place that it is in. Praise begins to declare the majesty and the promises of the Almighty and of His Son, Jesus Christ. It looks up and sees the heavens open and joins chorus with the angelic host that worship before the throne. Praise puts upon us a royal and priestly garment that is the proper apparel for approaching the throne of God.
Praise and worship changes our demeanor and our spiritual garments. It gives us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning that the name of the Lord might be glorified. The world has to wonder at people that can demonstrate such joy in such a pitiful earthly state. It is because they have looked upon their Redeemer who lives. They see the heavens opened and the garment of praise has brought them before the King of Kings and into the joy of His presence.

Blessings,
kent

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God. We were under the impressions that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way. Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down. They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin. No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down. Isn’t God faithful?
We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer. We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding. We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well. Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus. It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want. He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours. Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us? Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally? Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us? Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment. “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.” Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways. Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.
Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes. He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed. That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life. Then God steps out of Job and his friends paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking. He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job. His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them. In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags. God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand. Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.
Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this. I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop. I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains. It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe that what we couldn’t do, God could. God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us. We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold. The rug just go pulled out from under our faith. Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers. Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone. Had God let us down?
Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she necessarily believed in the way it was being done. Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts. A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there. So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her. Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment. She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.
Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house. She did, and this house had everyone of those things. It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for. We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today. We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since. You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better. He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think. Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.
1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “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.”
It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith. It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold. Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations? Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning? Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supercedes any loss in the earthly realm. If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that. We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.” God is love and you are the object of that love. If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful. Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him. Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, continue to trust in Him!

Blessings,
kent

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