Sticking Together

September 9, 2016

Sticking Together

Matthew 19:5-6

and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’]? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” 

Remember when we first met?

When we spent that time together falling in love?

I knew you were the woman that I needed to get.

You were that woman I had been dreaming of. 

Remember when I nervously proposed?

You smiled and said yes,

We had no idea of the future I suppose,

All that I knew was that I was happy and blessed.

When we think back of all we’ve been through,

We both know the grace of God has kept us together,

The blessings were many, but there were trials, more than a few.

Times I didn’t know if we would survive the stormy weather.

Have I always loved you, yes.

Have we always felt in love, no.

There are times when we don’t feel blessed,

There are times we want to pack our bags and go.

Yet, we both knew that God had set us as one,

We’ve often questioned,  “What was God thinking?”

We are so different and life together isn’t always fun.

But one of us has lifted the other in the times one was sinking.

The storms of life and marriage have many casualties.

But it is the bond of God’s love alone that can see us through.

Many times we may have given up, becoming another marriage fatality.

God’s love and grace was greater than what we were able to do.

I thank God that you are still by my side.

I thank God for a woman that has loved me like you.

We both thank the Lord that He has been our guide

We both would be in the ditch of life had He not been true.

We are still conforming to one another’s ways.

We don’t always feel love or act the way we should.

We still struggle, fuss and have our off days.

But God’s love is the glue that sticks together these two pieces of wood.

As we grow older I see we need each other even more,

We have to be the strength in one another’s needs.

You are still that young girl that my heart longs for.

You are my garden and the precious fruit upon which I feed.

Blessings,

#kent

Forgiveness

May 2, 2016

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness

I would dare say that all of us have had experiences in life where others have wronged or hurt us and in some cases quite severely and repeatedly. It is often these experiences, wounds and hurts that we can not seem to release. They are a trauma upon our lives. It is in these adverse life experiences that we are confronted with a choice to forgive and release an offense or to hold on to it and maintain the unforgiveness. When we are hurt it is our natural inclination to want to hurt back.
In the natural we often are wounded through life and most are superficial. In most cases they require a little attention and then they heal and we go on. There are those times when we are wounded more deeply and without cleansing the wound and putting something on to disinfect, we can get it infected. When infection sets in the wound festers and will not heal. In fact, untreated, it will become worse and more compromising to our health. It can actually be the infection that comes into us through the wound that could end up killing us rather than the wound itself. That is what unforgiveness is like. With emotional hurts and wounds there is a natural healing process and with the right heart and attitude those wounds will heal. They may leave some scars, but life goes on. Unfortunately, for some of us, there are places and ways that we have been hurt where we let the infection of unforgiveness come in. It is a form of hate and it can even be toward ourselves as well as others. It is the love of God that is the antibiotic that heals the infection of unforgiveness. It is when we see Jesus, unjustly accused, mocked, ridiculed, beaten to the point of being unrecognizable and then nailed to cross who can, before he breathes his last breath, say,” Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” that we see what forgiveness really looks like. It is only as we are willing to apply that same forgiveness of love toward our offenders that we can receive the forgiveness of our offenses. Before God, we stand no less guilty of sin and offense than those who have wounded us. What we ask of God, we must be willing to extend to others.
It is the love released through making the decision to forgive, not just the feelings, that is the antibiotic that will bring healing and restoration. First it restores our relationship back to Father and then it works to restore our human relationships.
You may be saying, “yeah, but you don’t how many times this person has hurt me.” Peter addresses this question unto the Lord in Matthew 18:21-22, ” Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” You see sin kills, but God’s love is the multiplication of forgiveness that triumphs even over the depth and death of sin. It is the grace of God’s forgiveness that brought each one of us into a place where can know the restored fellowship and relationship with the Father. We receive that only through His forgiveness for us, because we all deserve condemnation and death. Luke 6:37 exhorts us, ” Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
For some of us it is time that we examine our hearts and lay down this cross of unforgiveness that we have been carrying. We must realize that the unforgiveness is doing far greater damage to us than even the offense. It is keeping us from our own forgiveness and right relationship with the Father. Ask the Father for His love in you to release the unforgiveness you have been carrying, no matter how awful the offense. As He forgave us, we ought also to forgive others. How can we have Christ come forth in us if the very prominent part of His nature is forgiveness?
First come and release it to the Father and then release the individual or individuals. When you release you will be released from the judgement that unforgiveness can hold over us. ” If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)” Isn’t time to come into the freedom and the release of His Love?

Blessings,
#kent

How Great is Your Vision

October 22, 2015

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.

How Great is Your Vision

Our natural circumstances and surroundings often dictate what we can see and believe for. If our circumstances are less than perfect it can affect the way we feel and then our feelings dictate what we perceive our world to be. Before long we may find ourselves murmuring, complaining and doubting. We can become despondent, cynical and critical. Through these we open the door to fear, because fear is the absence of faith. For many of us, it is time that we get our head out of the sand and look up. If your perspective is always looking down or just seeing what you don’t have then you will always see life from a negative point of view. The one thing that God has given mankind is hope. It is faith to believe in the things that we don’t yet see. This is a day to increase your vision beyond what you can see. You can’t have what you can’t see, but if you can see it, then all things are possible to him that believes. These are the words of Jesus, not me. There is a vision of the natural man that sees only through natural eyes, in real time, the world around him. We also have another set of eyes. It is our mind’s eye. It is what we can see beyond ourselves and the current state of affairs. This is why it is so important to be constant in reading and studying God’s Word, because it gives us the mind of Christ and gives to us a heavenly hope and vision. Romans 10: 17 says, “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I would be in the greatest place of despair if I really believed that all I had to hope in was myself. I know my frailties and how weak I am, but my hope is not in me, it is in the One that I have placed my faith and trust in. I marvel at where He has brought me, what He has done for me and given me. I really can’t glory in that, because I know in my heart where it came from. The glory can only go to God. Our pastor shared that once when he had prayed to God and asked if he could have something or if it was possible, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Can you see it? If you can see it you can have it.” Most often our greatest limitation is our natural mind and thinking. God’s Word shows us that with the life of the Spirit in us we have the energy and the dynamite of God to carry out His will and purpose. The Word says in Romans 8:31-32, “…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?” You see it doesn’t matter what we go through or what circumstances that we find ourselves in, our hope is not in ourselves, it is in Him. Even in those darkest of hours, His presence is with you rather you can feel it or not. You know that because His promises say so and God is not a man that He should lie. So the question today is how great is your vision? How far can you see with the eyes of faith? Start embracing that vision through your praise and worship to God. Give thanks for what you have yet to see with your natural eyes. We always speak of great men as being men of vision. Obviously their vision was not limited to the natural realm. They could see something beyond what was currently present and they set themselves on the course to achieve and walk into it. They didn’t let the naysayers or doubt, unbelief or failures dissuade them, but they kept pressing into that vision till they realized faith becoming substance. How great is your vision? “If you can see it, then you can have it.”

Blessings,

#kent

Attitude

September 28, 2015

Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Attitude

Our attitude, the condition and state of your mind, can be our greatest attribute and strength or our greatest detriment and weakness. Our attitude is one of the most important things that we possess and can have control over. Far too often we allow circumstances and feelings to dictate our attitude. We allow our attitude to be a thermometer, indicating the temperature of our life at any given moment, instead of a thermostat where we set the temperature we want to maintain regardless of the circumstances and feelings in our life. Our attitude, our state of mind, more than perhaps any other thing, determines our success and our failure in life and in relationships. We tend to attract what our attitude is conveying. If we are in a foul mood and our attitude is ugly and cantankerous, then we aren’t going to tend to attract a lot of smiling faces and sweet dispositions toward us. We tend produce strife and negative responses from others. On the other hand if we are bright, cheery, full of a positive and bright outlook on life, that tends to draw that response out of those we are around and it may serve to inspire them to a more positive outlook and attitude.
Our attitude is largely governed by the state of our mind. We all have days and times in our lives when everything coming at us is negative and bad news. If our attitude is a thermometer we will respond to that with a mental attitude that is defeated and depressed. If we are the thermostats we will set the temperature of our heart and attitude by the Word of God.
David was a good example of a man that had learned how to choose his attitude rather than letting his attitude choose him. In Psalms 42:5 David cries out, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance.” Psalm 35:9-10 says, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation. All my bones shall say, LORD, who [is] like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him? Psalms 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him.” All through the Psalms David speaks often of those that pursued his life unto death. He struggled with fear, despair, disappointment, failure and rejection. So many times he had to give himself attitude adjustments and remind himself of whom His God was rather than what the circumstances indicated. Right and positive attitudes don’t just always happen. The sun usually isn’t shining upon our life everyday and some of us are going through some pretty dark valleys and deep pits. Isn’t it wonderful that God gave us men like David that could show us how to sit ourselves down and talk to the attitude of our soul from the Spirit man within us. If everything was turning up roses why would we need faith? We need faith to trust God for the things that we cannot see and feel. It is faith that can rectify our negative and wrong attitudes. It is faith that can cause us to hope in our salvation and deliverance that only comes from the Lord.
If there is one thing that determines the direction, the success or failure of a man’s life, attitude is the key factor. While two men may meet with the same defeat or failure, one will give up and say, “It can’t be done, I am just a failure,” and the other will say, “I will not be denied, I will find a way to overcome.” Attitude, more than aptitude or ability determines our success or failure in life. This is why it is so imperative that we seek to put on the mind of Christ. It is that attitude that was in Him that changed the world and the lives of so many. It changed us and we want it to continue changing us as we meet the challenges we face every day of our lives.
It is time for you to rule and set your attitude by the Spirit of Christ within you. Don’t allow your circumstances and feelings to dictate what your attitude will be. It is time for our soul to subject it’s self to our spirit. God’s has called us to overcome and to be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We shall be what He has called us to be by the strength and power of His life in us. Have this mind and attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.
Blessings,
#kent

Colossians 3:18-19
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them.

The Road back to Love and Intimacy

Remember when your romance was as sweet as honey and the love of your life could do no wrong. You adored them, idolized them and wanted to spend every moment together. Many of us, looking back at those younger years, ask ourselves, “what happened to that first love?” We still may love each other, but many couples struggle with the “feelings of love” that are missing. The romance has died way down and now you may find that instead of really loving and cherishing that wonderful man or woman you are struggling to get along with them. The man may feel like the wife is always nagging him, he can never do enough or anything right, she doesn’t respect and honor him. The woman may feel like the husband has become an insensitive jerk that never communicates or works through the problems, he doesn’t meet her needs. Over the years and the cycles of good and bad times, we can accumulate a lot of baggage. If I ask you if you love your husband or your wife, you would quite likely reply, “will of course I do,” but neither one of you may be experiencing the love from one another that you feel and know should be there. We may say we hold no unforgiveness toward one another, but in reality both parties bear scars, wounds, unresolved conflicts and issues that linger in the subconscious ready to rear their ugly heads at the right moment, opportunity or provocation. We find that we fail to often treat each other with the love, dignity and respect that both parties are due in a marriage.
Fifty percent of our marriages fail due to these kind of issues, but how many more are struggling and hurting? We need to return to that place of intimacy and closeness that we once shared, but we can’t until we are able let down the walls we’ve built up and are willing to let go of all the offenses, hurts and bitterness that we carry.
When the Word says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” that submission might be just creating a safe place where your husband can share with you. It needs to be a place where you aren’t venting your anger, frustration, criticism and unhappiness, no matter how justified you may feel with those feelings. If you want your husband to communicate and be sensitive to your needs, you have to create an atmosphere of submission where you really want to see, feel and understand his heart. That can be a hard place for a man. He may not be in touch with his feelings the way you are, so be gentle and be patient and above all, be kind.
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Husbands can be very confrontational, critical and harsh, but many repress their feelings and emotions. They retreat into that shell of seeming insensitivity and non-communication. Many times it is a response of self-preservation. Often the harder the wife tries to break through that seeming insensitivity with harsh or critical words the more the husband withdrawals. If you want the turtle to stick his head out of the shell you have to stop beating on the shell and make him feel that when he sticks his head out it won’t get bit off. Husbands can hold a lot of things in their hearts that they may not even be fully aware of. Their means of retaliation may be more passive or subtle, but it may be coming from a bitterness that has built up in their hearts against their wives. They, on the other hand, need to really listen to the heart of their wives and make those needs their goals to fulfill. They need to make them feel secure in your love for them and remember them often in the little gifts, the things you do and say. Marriage is a teaching ground for unconditional love and service. It is where we should both be learning to lay down our lives for the other. Love is not always about feeling, but about commitment, covenant and a decision to love your spouse unconditionally even when they don’t derserve it.
Maybe we need to come together as a couple where we can agree that the love of Christ is going to rule and dictate our behavior and response to one another. We need to hold one another, not sexually, but intimately, while we confess our sins, our hurts and failures to one another. We need to truly commit to a willingness to really forgive and hear the other person’s heart. We need an uninterrupted time of reconciliation where we can write down and commit to one another some realistic goals where we will begin to address some of our deepest issues. Keep it simple and not more than we can realistically deal with at one time. Start with just three things each. Then let’s make a date for our next intimate time we can meet with the same right heart and attitude, in the love of Christ to see how we are doing. Again, we need to keep it safe and non-confrontational. This is a team project and we can’t succeed if we only have our own agenda and interest at heart. We can’t expect to mend and restore a broken down barn in a day or even a week, it will take time to restore, just as it took time to deteriorate. We can change the cycle and the direction of our marriages if we will both commit to it and stay with it. We will begin to see our true intimacy and love begin to come alive in our feelings and the way we treat one another. God wants to see our marriages strong and alive with His love. There is a lot of truth to the addage that ‘the family that prays together, stays together’. It is hard to be right with each other when we are not right with God. If we are committed to Christ, then we must also be committed to one another, for we are one flesh. Together let’s build the road back to true love and intimacy like we had in our first love.

Blessings,
#kent

Real Love and Beauty

August 24, 2015

1 Peter 3:1-7
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Real Love and Beauty

On the subject of beauty:
So many derive their value from outward perception and how they view themselves through the mirror of others. Thus many have believed a distorted view of who they are.
God says we were ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.
Our truest beauty comes from within, not without. See yourself through the beauty
that God has created you to be. The greatest beauty is seen in the one who aligns their heart
with God’s purpose and design to best express Him.

On the subject of love:
Young love is sexy and beautiful. It is fresh, passionate, sensual,
but its roots are young and it thrives more on the feelings of the outward man.
Old love is not always as passionate. It is not as sexually driven or motivated,
but it stills sees the beauty that it first saw. Its roots are now deep, as are the scars and life experiences that have knit and grown these two souls together. What was once expressed
outwardly is now the inward sharing of two hearts that beat as one. They have learned
that it is not always feelings that keep you together, but the decision to love one another even when you don’t feel it. Love is not just an emotion, but a decision of will.

Blessings,
#kent

2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Garments of Righteousness

When you came to Christ, you made an exchange. He took your old filthy garments of sin, which He died for on the cross and exchanged, through faith and by His grace, the garment of your sin for the garment of His righteousness. What we could never do or earn to bring us into right standing with God the Father, Christ has done for us through the cross.
There are days when you are going to feel so condemned, so unworthy and so unrighteous. There are days when you feel only failure, defeat and discouragement. Remember it is not about your self-worth, but about your God-worth and what God has called righteous, who are we to call it unrighteous. Our defeat comes when we relinquish to the feelings of self. We are not who the accuser says we are. We are what God says we are “the righteousness of God in Him.” If we want victory, we must get our eyes off of self and on to Him. We must stop living in the cemetery of the old dead man and start living in the sanctuary of the Life-giver. When we set our eyes upon Him, we see what we are and what we are becoming. It is Christ that is now our value and our worth. There is none that can devalue Him. His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness and maintains our right standing in Him.
Here is what the Lord would say to you who are discouraged. Isaiah 61 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. 8 “ForI, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”

Blessings,
#kent

The Darkness of Hate

March 10, 2015

The Darkness of Hate

1 John 2: 9-11
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Matthew 5: 43-44 says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
There are some of us that have been offended, hurt, defrauded, cheated and taken advantage of. There are some of us who have hate in our hearts and who feel so strongly about it that Christianity or no Christianity, it is our right to hate this person or persons and no one is going to take that away from us. “If they had done to you what they did to me you would hate them too.” We are convinced we are justified and in the right, but somewhere deep down has to be the realization that hate is now your master and you are its slave. Maybe you are determined to get revenge and right the wrong, pay back evil for evil and hurt for hurt. When that is all done will your spirit be healed, will a relationship be reconciled and will you feel good about yourself again?
Hate is darkness when it possesses us. It often overrides rational and clear thinking because it is only fixed on one thing, revenge. Forgiveness isn’t even in our vocabulary at that point in time. It is ironic that nothing can destroy hate like forgiveness and nothing can bring a greater retribution than love. While hate will shut us down to the Spirit of God and allow us to be driven by the passion of our emotions, if love and forgiveness are given place, it changes the dynamic from destruction to construction. Hate perpetuates itself and only serves to destroy all who take it into their soul and hold on to it. It is like a cancer and infection that only breeds more sickness and disease.
What if Jesus just happened to know what He was talking about when He said, ‘love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. ‘
The Father is telling us that when others offend and hurt us, then they are answerable and accountable to Him for hurting His kids. He is telling us, “ you don’t have to hate and get justice; you let Me take care of that”. Romans 12:17-21 says, “17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If you want to get to your enemy then do the opposite of what they expect, love them and forgive them. Even go so far as to do them good and bless them.
Hate destroys and damages the hater far more than it hurts the object of the hate. Our hate and unforgiveness puts a wall up that holds back God’s forgiveness for us. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” When you fall into hate you further allow that person you hate to damage you more by hurting your relationship with the Father.
You may be saying, “I can’t help the way I feel and this person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.” You and I didn’t deserve the Father’s forgiveness, but it says that, ‘while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.’ We were the enemies of God. Our sin had a part in putting to death Jesus upon that cross. We as much as nailed His hands and feet to the cross. As Jesus hung their dying and having all of the reason and excuse in the world to hate His enemies and what they had done to Him, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If Jesus could forgive you and I, do we have a right to not forgive one another?
When you are able to go beyond your emotions and feelings, and despite your feelings pray in faith for forgiveness for those that have hurt you, it will begin to set you free. It may well take time for your emotions and feelings to catch up with your act of faith and obedience to God’s word, but you have opened the door for Him to begin to heal the hurts and offenses you have held in your heart. It is not saying that the person you have hated was at all justified in their actions toward you, it is saying that in spite of that you choose love and forgiveness. Release whatever hate and unforgiveness you have been harboring in your heart and give it to the Lord. Allow Him to be your judge and vindicator. Allow the light and love of God’s forgiveness to once again release your soul from the darkness that hate has held you in. Come into the light and love of His forgiveness as you release yours.

blessings,
#Kent

In Our Darkest Hour

January 16, 2015

Acts 16:16-29
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

In Our Darkest Hour

As we endeavor to walk the walk of faith we come to experience and realize that God doesn’t just rescue us out of every bad circumstance and trial. The experience Paul and Silas have here is a case and point. God had something more far reaching than an immediate rescue or even the avoidance of a very unpleasant experience for His servants. Like them, there are times when our reasoning might be “God, I am doing your will and I am in your service, why are you allowing these things to happen to me? Why didn’t you come through when I called upon You?”
Remember the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” If Jesus, the Son of God, had to endure the cross, despising the shame, then know that there can and will be dark and difficult times when we follow in His footsteps. The question then isn’t really are we going to experience trials and tribulations, those are almost a given. The question is how do we respond when we are in the midst of these dark times? Will we blame God for failing us? Will we give up and forsake the faith or will we do what Paul and Silas did in there greatest and darkest hour of despair. They were praying, praising and singing hymns unto the Lord. If you want to talk about a time when they might have had zero incentive to praise God this could have been it. They have been wrongfully accused, convicted, beaten within an inch of their lives, thrown into the inner, darkest dungeon and put into chains. Everything in the natural declared that they were defeated and God hadn’t saved them. Just stick a fork in them cause they are done.
These are men that no longer walk by their feelings and emotions. These are men that have entrusted themselves into the hands of God whether for life or for death. Their faith and commitment have superseded their circumstances. This is where we have to be in our walk and in our faith in this hour. In our darkest hour we cannot be murmuring and complaining about how God failed us. God is God and does all things according to His time and purpose which may be in direct contradiction to ours. So what do we do in these times? We worship Him. It doesn’t matter what happens upon the earth or how bad it gets, God is still on the throne. He is still sovereign over the affairs of men. Evil men may prevail for a time, but in the end they must answer to the Almighty.
Job 13: 15 says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” This must become the motto and battle cry of God’s people. We are His in life and in death. We are His in health and in sickness. We are His in prosperity and poverty. We are His in freedom and in prison. We are His in justice and injustice. In all our ways and with all of our hearts we must be His.
We see God showing up in the darkest hour in the midst of praise and worship. He shows Himself strong and sovereign even in a naturally impossible situation. Through this travail and sorrow, salvation and life are brought forth to the glory of God. We are pregnant with His life and often the bringing forth of that life comes with much travail and sorrow, but joy comes in the morning. Light triumphs over the darkness and life over death. There is no greater honor we can have than to lay down our lives for Christ’s sake. Many saints have not been rescued as Paul and Silas were this night and eventually they, also, came to a time when they gave their lives for the gospel. The martyrs are the color guard of heaven. They carry the standard of His righteousness and the banner of His love. They are His elite elect and faithful ones, because they loved not their lives even unto death.
Many of us are in dark times or will be in the near future. They may or may not be life threatening, but they won’t be easy. In these times we must enter into His rest. We must resign to the truth that our greatest victory is found not in self-effort, but through prayer, praise and worship. In Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol they faced sure death for not complying, but this was their response, “16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” This is the abandonment of faith into the hands of God. This is something that everything in the natural cries out against, but for the ones who know their God this is the place of our peace.

Blessinsg,
#kent

Troubles that Confront Us

November 12, 2014

Philippians 1:19-24
…for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.d 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Troubles that Confront Us

Throughout life, those near us or ourselves personally, are touched by tragedy, disappointments, hardship, setbacks, hurts, sickness and trials of various kinds. If we don’t have a revelation of what our life purpose is we can become discouraged, bitter, unforgiving and even blame God for what touches our life or the lives of those around us. Paul gives us a perspective here of a life that is lived and dedicated to Christ. No matter what adversity befalls him, Paul has one goal and purpose. His life, he does not consider his own, but Christ’s and the life he now lives, he lives by faith, not for himself, but for Christ who died and gave Himself for Paul. Whether in life or death, Paul’s life is about living for Christ and fulfilling his purpose in Him. We all need to get a greater revelation of how Paul lived his life. Most of us still see our lives as being mostly about us. In that place of giving life to self there will always be things that we are struggling with that will touch us through our emotions, feelings, mind and will. Things that we struggle with because we are rationalizing them with the natural mind and understanding. For the person that is truly dead in Christ all that really matters is that Christ is fully living through them. Rather good or bad, it His will and destiny that directs their lives and gives them the purpose for living and being. The body and earthly life are but a tool in the hand of God to work His greater work and will through. We are the callused hands of His working in the earth to make a difference in the lives of those He touches through us. We are also the gentle touch of compassion and grace that leads others to repentance. We are His precious hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God into the earth and we do that as He lives and has expression through us. The more of self that is in the way, the more of that purpose is hindered and His true nature is polluted.
Bad things do happen to good people, Bad things happened to Jesus, the Son of God and bad things can happen to us. It is not the bad things that happen that define our life, but rather the goodness of the God that lives within us. We don’t always see the ultimate and long-term purposes of God. The disciples couldn’t see the purpose and goodness of God when Jesus was crucified. When, we, like Jesus are willing to pour out our lives for others then we can have assurance that God will take the seed of sacrifice that we planted and bring forth a harvest. Let us not be so concerned about this current life, but rather living out of the eternal life that inhabits us. Fear God and not the things you may suffer, for as Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” All of this is the preparation for the revelation of the sons of God who will set creation free. Our rest is in our death and His life, so when this life is spent it only gives place to a greater place of glory. It is not the physical death that we must fear, it is the spiritual life or death with which we must be concerned. The purpose of our life is to perpetuate that spiritual life. No matter what confronts us we live out of His life and not our physical strength and being or natural understanding.

Blessings,
#kent

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