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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All of our need is met in Jesus

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

It is interesting to note that this scripture follows Paul commending the Philippians for their faithfulness in communicating and supporting his needs. In Philippians 4:15-18 Paul has just remarked to the Philippians, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” We can see from these passages that the Philippians weren’t just out seeking the blessings of God, their focus and endeavor was to be a blessing. So often we take the promises of God out of context to meet our particular needs or desires. What is as important as the promises are the conditions of the promise and the foundation it is based on. There are some that have the idea that God exist in order just to bless them. It is God’s heart that we be blessed and that our needs are met, but our heart should not be that of seeking the gift, but the Giver. What we find in the economy of the kingdom of God is that in blessing we are blessed, in giving our needs are met. The Lord increases us for the purpose of being a greater blessing, as well as being blessed.
What we must ask ourselves is what is at the core of our heart when we approach God for our needs or wants. Is it covetousness, the strong desire for what we don’t have, or is it the desire to be a blessing? Is our heart just to get or is it to give. Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-34, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.” Jesus is telling us here that it isn’t the natural commodities of this world we need to be focused on, it is the kingdom of God. When we get in the flow of God’s economy we don’t have to worry about the natural, those needs will be met in the course of our living. Certainly we must still work, the Word exhorts “let him who will not work, not eat.” What we fail to see is that even our work can be a spiritual exercise and function of the kingdom. It is a means for providing not only our needs, but also the needs of others, which is a spiritual principle. Ephesians 4:28 says, ” Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” It is in the meeting of needs that our needs are met.
Paul says in this passage, ‘may God supply all of your need, singular, according to His riches in glory.’ What is your need today? Is it about all of the things in life that we need or is it about knowing that Christ is our greatest need and everything else is worked out as we pursue Him.
May we have the heart of the Father in our giving and being a blessing. In blessing we will find ourselves blessed and all of our need met according to His riches in glory.

Blessings,
#kent

Giving

June 18, 2013

Giving

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Around Christmas time we all think a lot more about sharing and gift giving. We have learned that it is not just the joy of getting, but that it is the joy of seeing someone else’s face light up when they receive something that blesses and pleases them, that is the greater blessing. I guess we tend to give more around Christmas time because it is the season, but we know that it should be an attitude that we carry with us throughout the year.
You know, God is an extravagant giver. He doesn’t just give to us what we deserve it and His gifts aren’t even based on how good we are, because His love is unconditional and it can not be bought or earned. It has been the prayer of my heart for some time now, “Lord, make me an extravagant giver like You are.” We don’t want the giving that is based on how much we have monetarily or in possessions, it is an attitude of God’s nature within us that says, “make me a blessing.”
When Jesus came into the earth as God’s most extravagant gift to mankind, He didn’t grow up to take what He could have rightly claimed as His own, He came to give His life day by day. He cared about people and He showed that love and caring in personal and real ways. His richest gifts weren’t money or wealth; it was himself. Oh, that I might give myself to bless others as He has blessed us.
Christmas often gets caught up in commercialism and gift giving and getting, but our most important asset is a giving heart. In all we give and do, I know that God looks at our hearts. Proverbs 21:2 says, “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” In Matthew 12:35 Jesus says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Our giving then is not about how much, but the attitude of our heart in what we give. One day Jesus was observing the people giving their offerings. Many of the rich were presenting their offerings with great pomp and show. It didn’t impress Jesus, but He saw a little widow that humbly put in her two mites or about the equivalent of a penny and he said, “truly she has given more than them all, because she gave all that she had.” The Lord is looking upon our motives that same way.
“God so loved the world.” It is His love that makes us extravagant givers. In as much as He enables and helps me, I want to learn to give like our Father gives and with the same motive of heart, how about you?

Blessings,
kent

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