Hebrews 10:35-36
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Hold Fast to Your Relationship

Have you ever exercised, ran a race or just lived life and you came to the place where you thought you couldn’t or didn’t want to go any further. You were tired, exhausted, maybe even discouraged and felt defeated. There are times as we walk through life trying to hold fast the faith that we get tired. We just want to let ourselves drift back into the flesh and quit the daily effort of living a life of faith and righteousness. Perhaps we have a friend or loved one who is always pressuring us to go out and have fun with them or do the things we know would be displeasing to the Lord. There are times we get weak, we get discouraged and we want to give up trying and fighting the good fight of our faith. “After all, God still loves me and maybe He is not all that interested in what I do and don’t do.”
I can tell you from experience that when we step through that door, we step out of our place of fellowship and relationship with the Lord that we have cultivated through our walk and prayer time with Him. Often we don’t even realize what we do have and what His fellowship means to us until we lose it. When we walk away from it, that ground is so much harder to gain back the second time. The Lord knows our heart and our feelings, but we must be careful not to allow the enemy to come in and rob us of that confidence and relationship we have in Him. It is often so subtle and many times perpetrated through the ones we like and love.
The Lord says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The pressures and the trials of life often weigh heavy upon us and we sometimes want to give up, but the Word says, “don’t throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Stay the course, don’t give up and don’t give in. Find your rest and your strength day by day in the Good Shepherds arms. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Blessings,
#kent

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In God’s Time

April 13, 2015

Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

In God’s Time

Many a young person has been caught up in the zeal of the Lord and desired to go into ministry. One thing that many don’t realize at first is that to be a true minister of God is it is not man or education that truly prepares you. Certainly God can and does us these in the process, but what any of us who desire to be in the service of the Lord must realize is God’s order and not man’s. It is really God who raises up a man or woman for His work. It is He who trains them through most often humble beginnings. It is He that anoints them for their calling and it is He that test their hearts before He sets them in a place of authority and ministry. For many of you who are excited to serve God, we are not always ready when we think we are. Such is the case with John Mark.
John Mark was the son of Mary and we first hear about him when Peter is locked in jail in Jerusalem. Herod had pretty much chalked Peter in to be the next martyr after having put to death James. We read the account of the angel coming into the prison and setting Peter free. Peter then goes to the house of Mary. Acts 12:12 says, “And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” We gather from this introduction that Mark had some strong Christian influences and roots. He gets his first shot at getting on the big name ministry team of Paul and Barnabas, and so we see him embarking on his first missionary trip in Acts 12: 25. Then over in Acts 13:5 it affirms that John is there with them as an apprentice and helper, but by verse 13 we see John leaving them and returning to Jerusalem. What happened? The word doesn’t give us much in the way of details, but it becomes obvious in Acts 15:37-40 that Paul was not impressed by Mark and wanted no more part in his going with them again. Apparently Mark wasn’t as ready and able as He thought. Maybe he couldn’t take it and went home, but Barnabas was one that did see the potential and continued to believe in Mark even after he apparently failed the first journey. Later we see that Paul has softened his position concerning Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he remarks, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
The message we can learn from Mark’s life is that ministry and service to God comes through a preparation of God. Sometimes we may fail to meet our own expectations or the expectation of those we are working with. Fortunately Mark didn’t just quit and fortunately he had men who still believed in Him and helped him to come into his place of ministry and service. Mark was also known to be Mark the Evangelist and later wrote one of the first gospels, the gospel of Mark, thought to have been largely narrated and influenced by Peter.
When we look over the lives of many of God’s great people we see them coming up against times of apparent failure, shortcoming, trials and tribulation. What we come to realize is that this is really God’s school of preparation. We may know that God has anointed us and given us a passion in some area of ministry, but what we have to be careful of is that we allow Him to establish and place us in that ministry in His time and His way. That often means that we may feel passed over, put aside or not really valued. All of the time it is searching our true heart and motives, to see if there would be any unclean, impure or selfish motive on our part. When we can truly be okay with whatever and whenever the Lord wants to use us, then we are getting much closer to being where He wants us. Love always wants God’s best first and our best last.
Moses was 80 when he started his ministry. David was anointed as young teen, but didn’t become king until he was 30. The word tells us not to despise the day of small things. It is in those days that our hearts and lives are being prepared for greater ministry. We must first prove ourselves faithful in the little before we can be faithful over much. Don’t be discouraged if your life and ministry isn’t where you want it to be. Remember God is in control, not you and not man.

Blessings,
#kent

Psalms 48:1-3,14
Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Our God Forever and Forever

You know there are times that I look at myself probably like many of you. I see all of my weaknesses, my frailties, failures, sins and faults. If I only had eyes to see myself, I could become very discouraged and depressed. Sometimes it is not only hard for others to live with us, it is hard for us to live with ourselves and still keep our hope. We can become very discouraged with life and want to give up. We can easily reason how the world would be so much better off without us. Maybe we feel all we ever do is screw up, make mistakes and fall so short of what we hoped we would be. There are times in our lives we can feel pretty beat up, battered and condemned. So why do we continue on? Why should we still have hope?
When I read passages like this one in Psalms it helps me realize that I am not an island, but I am part of a much greater plan. That faith I have in God and Jesus Christ rises up to show me that there is a mighty God that is so great and wonderful beyond my comprehension and that this God really loves me, even the way I am. He created me. He knows my heart, my thoughts and my intentions. He has not left me alone, but He has brought me into Himself to be a part of something so magnificent and glorious. He made me a part of His City and His Presence and Being indwells me. ‘This God is my God who is with me for ever and for ever and He will guide me even to the end.’
I realize that maybe He allowed me to have so many weaknesses and flaws for a reason. Maybe it was so that I could never boast in myself, but I could only boast in Him, in His grace and sufficiency for my life. What gives me courage and hope is that I know that my God is for me, that nothing can ever separate me from His love and that the reason that I am a conqueror and an overcomer is because of the Christ that indwells me.
I know that the purpose of the enemy and of satan is to destroy that life which you and I possess. Jesus tells us that in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” While the enemies’ purpose is to destroy us, Christ’s purpose it to build us up and to give us life abundantly. No, we may not feel worthy or deserving of that life, but He has given it to us just the same. Through Christ we can have eyes to see into Him and what we are in Him. We no longer have to focus on the mess that we have been and the inadequacies that we feel. I know that we are still struggling through so many of these issues. Our faith takes us where our present experiences have not yet been. It takes us to what God has to say about us, what His Word declares over us and promises to us. In these things we find hope, we find life and reason for being.
I love the scripture that Paul gives to us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Maybe that is why He chose me and that is why He chose you. In our weakness He is made strong and when people observe the marvelous things that can come forth from your life they will recognize that it is not you, but Christ in you. God knows how to take cracked pots and use them for His glory and praise. So before you and I give up and succumb to our discouragement, let us draw courage from the God of strength and life. I thank God for who I am because it makes me keep my eyes upon Him and my praise toward Him. I have to trust Him for every aspect of my life.
Yes, I see my faults, my failures and my weakness, but more importantly I see His life, His promises and His strength. These are what we are going to lay hold of. These are what will pull us out of the pit and set us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR STRENGTH, OUR LIFE AND OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. HE IS OUR FAITH, OUR FORTRESS AND OUR SALVATION. HE IS THE ONE THAT GIVES ME HOPE IN THE NIGHT AND JOY IN THE MORNING. HE IS OUR GOD FOREVER AND FOREVER, HALLELUJAH AND AMEN.

Blessings,
#kent

Diligence

October 9, 2014

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

Diligence

It is often astounding when we have observed a garden or a lawn that at one time was so beautiful and groomed and then to observe it’s state after a time when it has been abandoned or neglected. What we see are two totally different scenes, first one of beauty and then one of weeds, deterioration and ruin. Our soul can be much the same way. It can be that beautiful garden where we meet and fellowship with God consistently and frequently. It can be a sanctuary of light and truth, filled with joy and blessing. In this state people can look upon it and see the beauty that fills it. What happens when we become less than diligent to maintain that fellowship and groom that garden of our soul? Little by little it will deteriorate. It will dry out, weeds will sprout up and the good fruit and plants will whither and die. A good garden requires continual diligence and so it is with our souls. Many of us can look back over our lives and see times when we have had that wonderful relationship and fellowship with God and our soul has flourished in the sunshine of His love and presence, but then other things came in and captivated our time and attention. We began to neglect more and more our time of prayer and fellowship with the Lord until our garden was one in name only, but not in appearance and fruitfulness. Darkness began to fill the areas where there had once been so much light and life and truth. Weeds began to spring up and choke out the purity, the love and the joy that once abounded there. One day it dawns upon us as we see our life a mess, what happened to my garden? What happened to that relationship and fellowship I once had? The Lord doesn’t abandon us, we abandon Him. He is always there to help us to reestablish that garden and that fellowship again. The thing that I have observed in my life is that when we give ground to the enemy, it is harder taking it back the second time. Yet, the Lord is there for us if we will return to Him in love and repentance.
Diligence is often what we loose sight of. Our Christianity and faith weren’t a one time thing when we walked an isle and gave our heart to Jesus, it is a day by day relationship that rejoices in the good times, but hangs tough and continues to trust even in the difficult and trying times. It is like a marriage, it needs our constant attention or we will grow apart. We want a relationship where every day with Jesus it sweeter than the day before.
Hebrew 6:10-12 exhorts us by saying, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Our faith is not a sprint it is a marathon. It is not about how fast we run in the beginning, but about our steady and steadfast run through life. It is not about starting the race, but about finishing it and that takes perseverance and all diligence. The Lord called each of us to be a partaker of His divine nature and He has given us great and precious promise through which we might enter in. 2 Peter 1:2-10 speaks to this diligence in obtaining all that God has called us too. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The Lord has given us all that we need, but we need the diligence to keep pressing into Him and maintaining that garden relationship with Him. Perhaps for some of us our relationship and fellowship with the Lord has been slipping away and we are loosing that closeness and intimacy with Him. Be diligent to turn back your heart to Him and draw near again. He loves you and delights in your visitation and your fellowship. Be diligent and don’t give up or turn away.

Blessings,
#kent

Qualifying

September 24, 2014

1 Peter 1:6-9
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

James 1:2-4
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Qualifying

How many of us have endeavored to do something in life that required us to qualify to participate. If we ever went through basic training in the military, or went out for sports or any number of other events, there was a difficult period we went through of preparation and trials. Many of us can probably remember times in our life when physically and maybe even mentally and emotionally we were pushed to our limits. We may have hurt so bad or been so discouraged we thought we couldn’t go on, we couldn’t make it. Something didn’t just magically happen that suddenly made us qualified and we were taken out of the testing. If we qualified we had to stay the course, we had to persevere and endure. Maybe some of us didn’t make it when all was said done, but the one sure way we were disqualified is if we gave up and quit.
Our life in Christ is often like that qualifying period when God is working in us a greater thing of His nature and character. Sometimes we are pushed to our limits and we want to give up and quit. The old ways of life were so much easier for us. Many do give up when trials come and forsake their faith. They allow the precious seed to be robbed from them and they fall by the way side.
James says that faith produces patience and it is that patience that must have its perfect work in us. We are like a raw sacrifice until we are cooked over the fires of tribulation and trials. It is that faithfulness and steadfastness in the trials that make us to be a sweet smelling savor unto the Lord. It is then that He can say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” It is faithfully keeping our eyes and heart on Him that is the demonstration of our faith and overcoming. Only faith can count as substance that which it cannot see and physically experience. It is that faith that pleases God. It is faith that sees beyond the natural realm and counts God faithful even in the thick of our trials and testing; that is the faith that is more precious than gold.
Today, if you are discouraged, if you are broken, if you are hurting, if you’re feeling bankrupt and destitute, hold fast to your faith. Don’t give up, don’t give in, just keep your heart steadfast in Him. Jesus will carry you through. He will become in you what you cannot be in yourself. It is only as we lose ourselves that He can be. Place it all on the altar. Reckon yourself dead unto sin and the world and alive unto Christ. He will qualify you as you hold fast your faith.

Blessings
#kent

 

The Righteous are not Forsaken


Psalms 37:5

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

 

Psalms 37:4 says, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”  As a people in general and as Christians I doubt that there are very many of us who don’t face times of real trial and struggle in our lives and many of us more than we would care to talk about.  For many of us, life is often a continual struggle, especially as we attempt to walk out our faith with faithfulness and obedience.  When we do really try and walk closely with the Lord we may find all of hell seems to be unleashed against us or we make some mistakes and then we are overwhelmed with guilt and condemnation because we blew it.  There may be those times we fall, stumble and falter in our walk with the Lord, but remember there is someone stronger than you walking with you.  Praise God we don’t have to rely upon our own strength and righteousness to get us to heaven.  Jesus is our High Priest and Intercessor who is always standing in the gap for us and pleading our cause.  

2 Timothy 2:11-13 tells us, “The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him. 12If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us. 13If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”   The desire of the Father’s heart is that we grow up in the fullness and likeness of Christ.  He has given us the Holy Sprit to help us in that process.  It has been said that the Holy Spirit is a perfect gentleman and doesn’t violate or force our will if we make choices other than Him.  In fact, we often don’t realize how we can offend and hurt the Holy Spirit by our attitudes and actions.  Many of us need to reconcile that relationship with Him.  The thing about God is that if most of us received what we deserved we would have been cast off a long time ago, but God’s heart is always to draw you back to His righteousness and to Christ.  The enemy would like you to think that you have burned your bridges and there is no way back, but the grace and love of God is so high and so wide and so deep that it can span the greatest chasms of sin.  He just wants us to repent and give our lives, without reservation, back to Him.  Even when we fall and fail, the Lord is there for us to pick us up again if we will let Him.  

Life holds many tests and trials for us, some we pass and others we don’t.  We are all in the process of maturing and growing, all too often we poop in our pants and make messes along the way.  We must remember that our past failures can be our future stepping-stones to victory and overcoming.  God will let us fall down.  He will let us make our mistakes and we often have to suffer the consequences, whatever those may be, but He hasn’t turned His back on us.  If we will cry out to Him, if we will repent and begin seeking Him with our whole heart we can find that place of forgiveness, fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit again. 

If some of us, or others that you know, are struggling today; God hasn’t abandoned you. He has finished the reconciliation upon the cross and now He lovingly waits for us to respond back to Him.  Many people perceive God in unfair and unrealistic ways because of how they have been treated or how they have been impressed and perceived God by the example of those claiming Christianity.  They are turned off to God because of us.  We, like Paul, must remember that our whole mission in life is to suffer whatever is necessary so that others may come into the kingdom. In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul says, “Therefore I [am ready to] persevere and stand my ground with patience and endure everything for the sake of the elect [God’s chosen], so that they too may obtain [the] salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with [the reward of] eternal glory.”  May God’s love likewise be extended through us so that we are willing to love even the unlovely for whom Christ died.  Let us continue to encourage and exhort one another to faithfulness.  God loves us and will not forsake us, even in our weaknesses and times of greatest trials.  He may not miraculously save us out of our circumstances in the way we might like to see, but He is there with us, walking it out and giving us grace. 

Don’t give up, don’t give in, but always fix your eyes upon Him.  He will carry you through and He will provide the way and the means.

 
Blessings,
kent

In His Image

November 5, 2012

In His Image

John 3:2-3
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

With the natural mind and vision it seems impossible to come into the likeness of all that Christ is. Yet, this is what we live for, this is what we endure affliction, hardship, persecution and trials for. We are so often focused and filled with the concerns of the outward perishing man with all it weaknesses and shortcomings, but inwardly we behold Jesus, the pattern son, the first born of many sons that are coming into glory. There are those of us who haven’t endured that much adversity in our life, but there are others of us who are tired from a hard road of suffering and trials that they have traveled and it is only the grace of God that they are holding on today. Some of you have said, “ Just take me home Lord, I don’t want to continue on as I have been.” Why some of our roads are so much harder than others I can not say, but this I know, what you have suffered and endured is not in vain. God sees your faithfulness as you have endured, and though you may not see it, you have been walking the way of the Overcomer. You may laugh and say, “What have I overcome, look at the mess my life is in and the pain, suffering and heartache I am still enduring?” Abraham was given promises of God that seemed impossible and did he receive them immediately? Some of those promises are still being fulfilled.
Jesus prays for all that believe on Him in John 17:10-16, “”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”” Have we seen all that Jesus prayed for fulfilled? We are a people who live by faith and the greatest testimony of our faith is when we can walk in the hope of the promises that are set before us, even when we do not see the manifestation of them. Some of our promises we carry into glory with us. Does that mean that God is not faithful to His word? God is not limited by our natural lifetime.
For those of us that are discouraged and tired of life let me encourage you not to give up in the battle. Your faithfulness and perseverance have not gone unnoticed by the Lord. You have not suffered in vain. The enemy is always there to tell you to give up and that God has failed you. No, God has entrusted you with a walk that most of us couldn’t endure and would fail at, but by His grace you will carry on in faith and you will overcome by your faithfulness and trust, regardless of whether you see the manifestation of the promise or not. I believe God is a great rewarder of those who are faithful to Him, especially through the fire and trials. Allow that place you are in to have its perfect work in you. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.” Psalm 34:9 says, “Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Come and rest your head upon the breast of Jesus. Let Him be your comfort and your confidence. He will give you grace to see you through if you will hold fast to Him and not let go.
Hebrews 11:10 says of Abraham, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:13-16 goes on to remind us that this time, this place this life is not the fulfillment of all of our promises. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
We have the promise of coming into the image of Christ if we persevere and hold fast the confession our faith. Let us not become discouraged, but let us remain faithful holding fast the promises as we journey into the place that God has prepared for us, both in this sanctuary and that which is to come.

Blessings,
kent

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