Count it all Joy

December 8, 2014

James 1:2-4
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. 3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. 4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. (Amplified)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (Message)

Count it all Joy

I don’t know about you but I think most of us think about joy and gladness coming with blessing, prosperity, good health and divine favor. So when the Word comes and says count it all joy, a sheer gift, when trials and temptations come upon you, that goes against the grain of most our thinking and paradigms. Why should I be glad about that? That is exactly what I have been praying to get out of.
As much as we all love the good times and the blessings of this life most of us know by now that it isn’t in these places that we grow spiritually. In fact it is in these places that we usually grow complacent and our heart generally moves away from God and onto ourselves. It becomes about us and not Him. The joy of the trials, temptations and tribulations is that it exposes our weakness, but reveals His strength. It forces us into that place of dependence and trust in Him to do in us and through us what we could not produce in ourselves. The “sheer gift” of our trials is the working of the divine nature in us, because we are compelled into a place where we must walk by faith and not by sight.
Does it seem joyful at the time we are going through it? Probably not, until we see God show up. When he shows up in the midst of our weakness, our failures and our struggles then we so appreciate who He is in us and what we are not in ourselves. These trials and testing are the boot camp of our faith. They strengthen our resolve. They train us for war. They teach us how to endure with patience under pressure and hardship. They reveal to us our true nature and where we are at with our walk in Father. When we see where we truly are then we can see where we truly need to be. As we start moving in the direction of godliness and dependence we are being exercised and finding more and more that Father is our strength and provision in these difficult circumstances. The circumstances of life are not our enemy; they are simply the tools to exercise and increase our faith and maturity. The old saying goes we can never have a testimony unless we have first had a test. God wants to show His faithfulness to us. We will never experience His rest until we come to the place where we realize that our self-efforts and abilities can never measure up to produce what only God Himself can produce in us and through us as we yield fully and unconditionally to Him.
I am of the firm conviction that many of us in the body of Christ are going through great financial hardship in this time so that we may learn the rest and faithfulness of Father. It is pressing us into a place of maturing in areas where we may have always had plenty. We have grown up with our dependence upon the economy of this world and now God is weaning us off of that bottle and beginning to feed us the meat of a kingdom economy that operates out of faith and not works. Most of us are out here crying, “Give us back our bottle Father”. The earthly things are passing away and Father wouldn’t be showing us His love if He left us in that desolate place. Rejoice in Him, because He loves you so much He is teaching you a higher way and we have to relinquish the old to embrace the new. While we may be struggling now, we will be those who help others who are struggling when this world economy fails. Your struggles today are God’s answer to someone else’s struggles tomorrow. Because of your testimony to the faithfulness of God and the principles that He has taught you someone else is lifted up to where you are. God brings us into maturity not for our benefit. Maturity means you are moving from selfish to selfless. You are the giver and not the taker. You are the example and not the follower.
Precious people of God, get down and get happy because all of the various trials and temptations are here to perfect your faith, teach you endurance, mature and develop you into your destiny and purpose. Rejoice, for these are the tools that bring forth the Christ in you!

Blessings,
#kent

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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

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Romans 8:28-39

“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. 

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

We often struggle with why the people of God go through so much suffering and trials.  Some might say it is because they don’t have enough faith or they must have sin in their lives.  I tend to believe that it is often the sweetest and most precious grapes that make the best wine, but in order for them to offer up their vintage taste and sweet fragrance they must first be crushed.  Suffering and trials have been the plight and portion of many a saint.  It is not a new concept.  We struggle with that because we think in our hearts, even if we don’t outwardly say it, “God if you are sovereign then why don’t you deliver the afflicted and the suffering, especially those who are calling out to You?”  The victory of life in the natural and fleshly man is not always living in health, wealth and prosperity.  It is not about what we have in the good times of our life.  The true metal of a godly nature is tested in the fire.  All of our works will be tested in that fire at some point.  Some may be going through that fire right now.  Perhaps you are very weary; the enemy has assaulted your faith and your God.  Your friends may be like those that Job had, only content on you confessing your sins or shortcomings.  It takes a tremendously faithful person to go through the fires that God sometimes allows in our lives.  The real victory is not in whether or not we see our earthly deliverance; it is in how we live our lives in the midst of those trials.  God’s Word says in 1 Peter 1:7-9, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.”  It is not the suffering and trials that God rejoices in, it is the faithfulness of His saints in the midst of it.  That faithfulness and praise in the midst of suffering is the sweet aroma and incense that rises into the heavens.  It is a sweet smelling savor unto the Father’s nostrils.  Nothing can speak louder to God that we love Him for who He is and not just what He can do, than our faithfulness in the midst of our suffering and trials.   

We know in our hearts that God’s arm is not short that He can not save, but nothing torments and discredits satan more than a Christian who will only honor and praise His God even when satan is twisting his arm behind his back.  What focuses us more on God’s grace and strength than our trials and tribulations?  In those places where we have no further human resources or help in the flesh to lean on, we learn to take hold of the grace of God.  We learn the patience to enter into His rest and know that these earthly vessels of clay and the very life that they we breath are in His hands.   Deuteronomy 32:39 says, “See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand.” We have offered ourselves up into God’s hand to do as it pleases Him.  Our lives are for His glory and not for our own.  We struggle with the perspective of suffering and trials because we see it from a human standpoint.  Our view is the preservation of the natural life.  God’s view is not in the importance of the outward haul of the seed, but He is looking to the life within.  The threshing floor was a place of separation between wheat and chaff.  The outward man with this body is like the chaff.  The separation is really a claiming of the Christ nature and a revealing of it.  No one has the goods like the one has passed through the fire.   Their testimony is not one borne out of head knowledge; it is a witness of experience.  Before Job went through his trials he knew a lot about God and had a relationship with Him, but it didn’t compare with how he knew God when he went through the fire.  In the conclusion of what Job went through and after his discourse with the Almighty he says this in 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.””  Many of us know about God, but it is only as we have gone through the fire that we come into a place where we have seen Him.  When we have seen Him, all foolish doubts and questionings cease and we repent in dust and ashes.  

God loves us.  We have been called out and set aside for a purpose.  He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.  His Son learned obedience through the things that He suffered.  If you are in that place of suffering then God is only proving your faithfulness and your faithfulness is a mockery of the enemy.  He is raising you up in LIFE even when your body only seems to be experiencing death.  Lay hold of the resurrection and the Life within you and live out of Him.  His grace is sufficient and He will raise you up to the praise of His name.  Hold fast your faith, you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

 

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

Patience

August 15, 2013

Patience

Luke 21:19
In your patience possess ye your souls.

You may possess many attributes of the Spirit, but one we must develop and hold fast to is patience. Patience is something we deal with daily on a small scale. In the midst of life’s demands and our busy schedule we often find ourselves running out of patience. People with their different personalities and often seeming indifference to our time constraints stretch our patience.
These are the little areas that play into the larger picture of what God wants to develop in us concerning patience. Patience in the Word of God concerning our walk carries the meaning of steadfastness, constancy and endurance. It is often perseverance in the face adversity and trial that holds our faith constant and undeterred. The promises of God are often only possessed after much faith and patience. If we can’t wait on God, then we are going to have a hard time making it, because He moves in His time and season and not ours. It is the daily tribulations that work the higher patience in which we possess our souls. The waster and destroyer is ever scheming and undermining us, trying to get us to just give up. Sometimes we grow weary in our constant uphill battle to live faithfully to Christ. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” The race is often not to the swift, but to the one whom, with patience and endurance, finishes the race.
Let patience have her perfect work in us today, that we may endure and stay the course, for in it we possess our souls.

Blessings,
kent

Endure with Patience

April 15, 2013

James 5:7-9
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Endure with Patience

Have you ever gotten impatient waiting for someone, so you finally just gave up waiting and went on to do what you wanted to do? The word of the Lord today is to be patient. Be patient when you don’t see the Lord moving in your life. Be patient when instead of blessing you are going through tribulation. Be patient when there are irregular people around you that try your patience, irritate you or even are abusing you. Be patient as you await the Lord’s coming, because His presence is here now, but His manifest presence is yet to be revealed. The saints have been looking to the coming of the Lord for generations and while they have waited in faith for His manifest presence, His presence has been with each generation. Even now as the Lord encourages us through James, “Be patient”, He is reminding us that there is a fullness of time for every purpose under heaven. For everything there is a season.
Just as the farmer tills the ground and plants the crop, he must endure with patience until the crop is mature and ready for harvest. In the Father’s economy He has planted into the earth and there is time of fullness and maturity when it is time for harvest. Only the Father knows that exact time. Meanwhile, our greatest enemy is complacency and apathy. We begin to let down our readiness and become absorbed in our daily life. Know that we stand today at the threshold. God is giving us a call to readiness if we can hear it. It is a day to light our lamps and make sure that our vessels are filled with oil. The hour of His coming is upon us. Can you hear the trumpet sounding?
It is time to be filled with expectancy and prayer. It is not a time to grumbling, murmuring and complaining. We can’t be focused on the great deal of the negative around us if we are going to be focused on Him. The Judge is standing at the door. With love and patience endure all things. Trouble, conflict and affliction often come upon the righteous because of what they stand for, but Paul says this in 2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Some of you have been walking a long time and waiting upon the Lord a long time. It may seem time is running out and God hasn’t yet moved as you have been expecting Him to do. God says, ” I see it all and I have my hidden ones that no else or very few see, but I see says the Lord. Your faithfulness and patience hasn’t gone unnoticed and I am a rewarder of those who diligently seek me. Be encouraged, continue in your faithfulness and standfast for nothing is wasted in my economy of what you have invested of yourself. I am your sure reward.”
Our salvation is about to be made complete, so endure with faith and patience all that is before you. In the fullness of time He will be revealed and your patience will be rewarded.

Blessings,
kent

God’s Love

March 27, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

God’s Love

God’s love will take you further than you want to go,
Cost you more than you thought you could give.
It keeps you sometimes longer than you want to stay,
Causes you to live and act contrary to logic of man,
Contrary to what you may actually think or feel.
It causes you to love those who hate you,
Pray for those who selfishly use you,
Bless those who curse you and speak ill of you.
Forgive those who disappoint and hurt you,
Go the extra mile and give more than is required.
It will cause you to see the best in people, not the worst.
It will cause you to see past people’s faults to see their need.
It will cause you to endure with longsuffering and self-control.
It will cause you to live with abandon to random acts of kindness.
It will give you patience to endure the pain and stay the course.
It will cause you to die that you may truly live,
Because the love of “Christ in you” is the life you give.
Kent Stuck

Blessings,
kent

Attributes of a Holy People

January 11, 2013

Colossians 3:5-14
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Attributes of a Holy People

Just as oil and water don’t mix, righteousness and iniquity don’t mix and yet so many of us as believers are still trying to carry our two natures in one vessel. We can be all sweet and Christian until it doesn’t suit our need or our disposition. Just as quickly we can pick up that old nature that we supposedly reckoned dead upon the cross and live it out again. We’ve all been guilty of this.
Christ has given us a new identity with His nature, character and being, but each day is a decision on our part to pick up our cross and follow Him or to look back into the world and the death that He died to bring us out of. Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and it didn’t serve her well.
God doesn’t want us as Christians to just have a pretense of godliness; He wants us to have the in-working of a holy nature that manifests the attributes of who He is. Thus, Colossians exhorts all of us here to put death, whenever it pops up, crops up or arises in our hearts any of these former things we once practiced and were a part of our lives. God wants the fullness of what we are to be pressing into the fullness of what He is. He is now our nature and our identity. When I see these old nature attributes wanting to come up again I must repent and renounce them, because they are no longer who I am. As a holy people God wants us to see ourselves for who He has redeemed us to be, not a mixture of flesh and Spirit. Every day. just as we dress the outward man, He wants us to dress our inward man with the robes of the righteousness of Christ Jesus. He wants us to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” He wants us to bear with each other. That means we put with the weaknesses, the faults, the irritations, the offenses, the clashes of our personalities and all of the other things that make us wants to react in ungodly ways toward others. People are going to push our buttons, but they may be in our lives so that God can do a deeper work in us. His will is for us to suffer and endure them in love. Life isn’t going to always be about what we like or what pleases us. It is about what pleases the Father. Father isn’t a respecter of persons and He doesn’t want us to be either. Just because we can’t relate with another member of the body doesn’t mean they aren’t needful and just as essential as you or I. So it is important that we grow in our tolerance, forbearance and acceptance of others. It is important that we forgive and not hold on to grievances, offenses or disappointments we have with others.
The binding fiber of all of these Christ-like attributes is love. God wants us to love higher, deeper and wider than our natural love can go. That is why we are stretched by those that we don’t necessarily like or can relate with. God wants to take us into a love that exceeds our natural boundaries and dimensions. It is His love and because our identification is with Him, it has to become our love.
God is calling forth a mature people. A people that know who they are, where they live and are positioned and what their purpose is. When we really know that, then we know it is all about Him and not about us. It is not about our pleasure, but what pleases Father. When we truly start living that way then we will experience His good pleasure through us. People will truly see Christ in us, because we don’t carry prejudice, bigotry, sectarianism, judgement, favoritism and all of the things that cause schisms and separations among us.
As we saturate our life in God’s Spirit then those natures will separate and as that old nature comes to the surface. we will recognize it, repent of it and get it out of our life. We are a chosen, holy priesthood of God. We carry His name and we represent Him in the earth. We want what others see in us to be a true representation of who our Father is. Because He has been so misrepresented, many have turned away because they saw a form of godliness, but no real substance was being revealed. All they saw was a pretense. We want to be the real deal.

Blessings,
kent

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