Joy is a Spiritual fruit, Happiness is a Choice

 

1 Timothy 6:6

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

              

               Isaiah 12:3 says, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”  The thing I have experienced through my life is that when I am walking the closest in fellowship and relationship with the Lord is when I experience the greatest joy in life.  Since joy is a spiritual attribute and fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, it only makes sense that as we walk in the Spirit and feed off of the fullness and goodness of God we are going to experience the joy and contentment of the Lord.  The thing about the joy of the Lord is that it isn’t dependent up the circumstances around us.  There can be great storms raging in our lives, but yet joy and peace can remain in our hearts when our eyes are fixed on Christ and upon the promises of His Word.  When we walk in the Spirit we see things and life from a God perspective.  If it pleases the Lord, it pleases us.  It is no longer about all of my needs and my wants being fulfilled.  This is where a lot of people confuse joy and happiness.  If happiness is reliant upon our feelings then it is going to be an elusive experience.  It will be here one minute and gone the next.  Why, because our feelings are up and down.  It rides the roller coaster of our emotions.  The feelings of happiness are circumstantial.  They are based again a lot on self: self-contentment, self-fulfillment, self-gratification, but not on self-control. 

               Here is an example many of us can relate with: Why do I have an unhappy marriage?  He or she doesn’t meet my needs.  They only think about themselves.  They don’t care if I am happy or fulfilled.  They don’t provide enough.  They don’t give enough.  They don’t do enough.  What is the central theme you hear in all of these phrases?  You don’t make me happy and what makes you happy for a short time is going to change to feelings of unhappiness and discontentment the moment your expectations aren’t met.  Happiness has to be a choice that you make that isn’t dependent upon what someone else does or doesn’t do.  I read this morning where marriages are more successful with people who go into marriage as already happy people rather than those who go into marriage looking for happiness.  Don’t put the responsibility for your happiness upon someone else.  That is your responsibility.  Otherwise you are always going to be disappointed and hurt.  People can never give you what only God can give you and that is joy and contentment. 

               Our verse today is so powerful because it is short but it says so much, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  It simply says we have made a decision that God is enough.  What ever He supplies and provides in my life is enough.  That may be much or that may be little, but as long as I have God that is enough.  The apostle Paul made the statement in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Paul didn’t have his eyes on people to meet his needs.  Many of the churches didn’t help him financially or support him.  He could have gotten bitter or angry or upset with them, but he didn’t.  They weren’t his source and his supply, God was.  He had learned to be content with whatever God brought into his life because he had this revelation; “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Who is your strength today?  Who is your supply?  Who is your joy and contentment?  Maybe anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness have come in to make you so miserable because you have been looking to others to meet your needs and they have disappointed you. Let us learn what Paul did, that the Lord is enough.  We can make the decision that we are going to be happy because God is enough rather in much or little, rather we are abased or abound, rather we are full or we are hungry.   In order to experience the fullness of joy in our salvation we must take our eyes off of us and let Christ become the focus of why we live.  We live to serve not to be served.  We live to give and not to take.  We live that in all things we may please Him who has given us life.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).”  Experience the joy of your salvation by walking in the Spirit and make the choice to be happy because of the One that resides within you.

Blessings,

#kent

God at Arm’s Distance

July 18, 2013

God at Arm’s Distance

Revelations 3:15-20
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Did you ever have a relationship with a person where you really liked them, but you wanted to keep a little space with them, you really wanted the relationship on the terms of your comfort level? Many of us have those kinds of relationships in our marriage where we love our husband or wife, but we want our own space to live our own life and do our own thing. We want a relationship, but we want it at arm’s length, a place we can either pull away or be close, but not feel too confined. Isn’t that very much like the relationship many of us have or have had with the Lord? We believe in Christ, we love God, but we are afraid to get to close to Him. We’re afraid He might let us down, or we’re afraid He might require too much of us, or we’re afraid we’ll have to give up the things we love and want to do. Fear is the counterpart of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Herein is contained a promise of God that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. For a lot of us there is truth we would rather stay ignorant of or things we would rather not hear, because it requires of us accountability and we rather like things the way they are. I know these things because I see so many of them in me. I don’t always like it when somebody speaks the truth to me in areas where I am comfortable and don’t really want to change, yet I know that if I refuse to hear the truth and harden my heart, I am shutting out the Holy Spirit. I am holding out my arm and saying to God, “don’t come any closer Lord, you are infringing upon my territory, my self will.” Then I am reminded that I am not my own, He bought me with a price and my life belongs to Him completely and without reservation.
So many of us, especially here in America, have been so blessed and we have enjoyed so many things and privileges that we have become fat and satisfied. We are the Laodicean Church it speaks about hear in Revelation 3. “We are rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing.” In the natural that is true, but in the spirit it has left us “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” We can’t serve two masters and when we choose to be rich in the things of the world we suffer spiritually.
Most of you who read this faithfully are those who are willing to hear the truth even when it is convicting and most who don’t may not want to read it because the Lord does deal with us in hard areas that we maybe rather not have to deal with. The truth is we will have to deal with these issues either now while there is still time for us to align ourselves with the will of God or when it is too late and we experience the displeasure of the Lord. If there is one theme the Lord seems to be reiterating again and again through these writings it is that He is calling out a people for His Name, a people He wants to have relationship with and bring out of the common into the Most Holy Place. He is calling us higher into Him. The Lord is a consuming fire and as He draws us into His bosom and into His heart that fire is going to become hotter and hotter to our flesh till it consumes it more and more. Will we welcome his embrace which means we will buy the gold of His nature tried in the fire and we will put on the white raiment and clothing of His righteousness? Will we anoint our eyes with the salve of His Truth so that we might see by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh? Will we receive the rebuke, the correction and chastening of the Lord that brings us to repentance because we have quit holding God at a distance, surrendered our whole heart and said, “Yes Lord, I want all of you no matter what the cost.” Some of us need to make that commitment today in our lives. Perhaps we had in the past, but have found ourselves again compromised with the world. It was to the Church that Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus is calling out for us to come back into right relationship with Him, to sup with Him, to “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood” so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can never give up anything in this life that the Lord requires of us but what it will result in so much more in Christ. Instead of holding God at a distance open your arms and embrace Him with a full commitment of your love and devotion. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelations 3:21-22).”

Blessings,
kent

Return to Your First Love

Revelations 2:4
Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Most of us have been in love and hopefully still are if we are married. Remember the thrill you felt to be with the one you loved. They were your desire, your focus and they filled your thoughts continually. All you could think about was them and how you wanted to be them when you were apart. Remember how your world revolved around that special person. There was no one else in the world like them. When you were away from them for an extended period your heart yearned for them or when you thought you might lose their love your heart grieved and broke. That was your first love.
Remember when you first came to Christ and the joy of salvation filled your heart. The Holy Spirit had given you a revelation of Christ’s great love for you and you fell so in love with Him. Many of the same emotions that you experienced with the human relationship of love, you experienced with Christ. He was the delight of your heart and you wanted Him to fill and be a part of everything you did. No greater joy and blessing was there than to be in His presence. He was so real to you and you vowed in your heart you would never leave Him or turn away from Him.
Many of you know that when you have been in a long-term relationship, such as marriage, with the person you love those feelings and emotions often subside over time. You still love them, but you take each other for granted a lot. All of those first feelings, emotions and passions of love have faded into a daily routine that often has lost it’s luster. After all, we have all of the demands of life upon us and so many other things competing for our time, attention or affection. We come to find we have left our first love.
As we have done this with our human relationships, we have most likely been guilty of doing it with Christ. Is He the passion, the love, the joy and the longing of your heart that He once was or have we slipped into complacency and lethargy concerning our love relationship with Him? Yes we still love Him, we are Christians and He is our Savior, but is He still our lover? Does our hearts still long and thirst after Him every day? Does He continually fill our thoughts and are we in constant communication with Him? Is He the praise on our lips and the song in our heart? We all so often fail in the area of neglecting our relationships. We can have many good attributes, but we don’t want to lose that “first love”. It is the passionate and fervent love that is always in pursuit of the object of its love and affection. Ask the Father to renew in you that passionate, fervent “first love” for Christ. Seek it out and lay hold of it again. It is vital to us individually and corporately if we are to be His bride, His Church and possess all that He has for us in Himself as our husband.

Blessings,
kent

Your Treasure

January 4, 2013

Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Your Treasure

The true joy in life is not in what you possess, but in Who you possess. The true blessings in life are not in storing up possessions, but in sharing the treasure of Who you possess within. If Christ is the treasure of your storehouse then the depth of your being is determined by where you live from. The more you share out of the treasure and storehouse of who you are in Christ, the more incorruptible treasure that is added to your account. What you value most, is what your heart pursues.
As human beings living in this world we are often short-sighted and short-circuited into believing that the pursuit of earthly gain equals security, joy, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction and all of those emotions that we believe we will find at the end of our rainbow. In reality, what we find, is that this is as much of a myth as the pot of gold.
When you check out at the grocery store and you see all of the tabloids. There are stories of the rich and famous, but I don’t read or see stories about their joy and deep fulfillment. These are the people that are where most of us think we would want to be, but without Christ it is all empty vanity. In so many ways, you who have Christ, are so much richer than any of them. You can find in Christ all of the things the world is pursuing by natural means. The wonderful thing is that it is not through all of our works, efforts and scheming. It is not even through our goodness, talents or abilities. It is all about faith and resting in the arms of Him who desires to give it all to you. I have found a truth in my life that the more I put Him first, the less I lack. I found that He is my sufficiency, my provision, my healer, my Redeemer and the greatest friend I could ever imagine. I don’t get up and pray early in the morning because I have too, I do it because I love hanging out with Jesus and being in His presence. I love sharing my heart with Him and asking Him to share His heart with me. I love the things He shows me and the words He gives to me as I just trust Him. I can never brag about what I have, my abilities, my belongings, my gifting, my writings, because it isn’t mine to brag about. All that I have, I owe to Him. He is my treasure and life is so rich because He is in the center of it. When we truly find Christ and our relationship with Him, then we understand we don’t have to value what the world values, because our treasure is so much richer, rewarding and fulfilling.
What the world doesn’t so often see is what Paul describes in 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 be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but a life that often crushes the grapes of our natal man to produce the sweet wine of His life. That crushes the petals of our rose, to release the fragrance of His life within us.
In Christ we are not given to the natural affections and desires of this world, we have been transformed to dwell in the heavenly realms and part of that is allowing the natural to be touched so that the heavenly can be released. Let us never lose sight of who we are, where we are and where our true treasure is; for through your life and mine are released into the earth the treasures of heaven. The world is a richer place because we are in it and Christ is in us.

Blessings,
kent

The Simple Life

November 28, 2012

The Simple Life

Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Does life with all of its demands overwhelm you? Are you caught up in a flurry of activity just trying to survive till the next day? Often life can become this way. Life has a way of running over us and possessing us instead of us possessing it.
I was reading the scripture in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The dream of most of us as human beings is to try and get ahead, to have just a little more and before we know it we are consumed in our pursuit for material gain. What compounds the problem is that the more we have the more we become enslaved to keeping it up, maintaining and repairing all that we possess. All of those things that we wanted for our enjoyment now run our lives. It can be a hard merry-go-round to get off of. In some ways we do want to get off of it and in some ways we don’t. The sad part is that often when we come to the place in life where we have what we want materially we find that other essential parts of our lives are suffering and we may be losing what are the most important things. Often it is at this time in our lives that we find our marriage falling apart or our children are out of control or we lack a true spiritual relationship with the Lord like we used to have.
Sometimes we have to take the time in life to reevaluate our priorities, goals and purpose. I believe this scripture in 1 Timothy 6 is directed at us as Christians. There is nothing evil with money itself; it is what does inside of us through greed and covetousness that can end up devastating our lives. Maybe it is time for some of us to change our focus from our paycheck to what life is really all about, our relationships. Many of us look back at earlier times when we struggled financially, but we were so much happier because at least we had love, the Lord and each other. Somewhere along the way we can loose those precious things that money can’t buy.
Maybe today is the day to begin to simplify our lives, returning more to the basics and just working for the essentials. Our greatest assets are not in our bank account, portfolio or investments; they are in our families, our faith and our relationship with the Lord. Love is the most important thing and money can’t buy you love. Check your compass and correct your course as needed.

Blessings,
kent

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