Proven Faith

July 10, 2015

1 Peter 1:3-9 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Proven Faith

Is there any one of us that feels like our faith has been sorely stretched and tested through our trials and tribulations? Yet even in what we have gone through few of us have been tested in the way many of these early Christians were tested. Even in our struggles and hardships we are blessed in so many many ways. Currently anyway, we still enjoy the freedom to worship without fear of retribution. Our children may actually experience less freedom of religious expression in their schools than we do. The important thing for us to realize is that God doesn’t paint a picture here of all blessing, prosperity and no opposition. For many of us we are only beginning to head into the winds of opposition, trial and testing. Few of us walk into the fire of our own accord, but it is so relevant in this hour that we know Him intimately that shields us as we pass through the fire. Verse 5 says, “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” There is a divine promise of God’s great salvation and power towards us, but in order for us to reach that breakthrough we must pass through the fire. That fire will greatly test the metal of our faith. It will separate sheep and goats, but, more importantly, it will burn up in our own lives whatsoever is not of God. Some of us have already been feeling the fire and enduring the testing of our faith for some time now. You may feel there are days when you don’t know if you can still go on, but I want to encourage you that you are among the firstfruits of God’s delivering power if you will hold fast your faith. You will be the guide and the mentor to help others come through where you have already walked. You may feel right now like God’s rejected ones, but you are far more favored than you know. When we are going through the severe discipline and chastening of the Lord it is hard for us feel or see ourselves in a place of victory. What we must realize is that we are in a place of victory because of God’s discipline and chastening in our lives. While many Christians are still walking the superficial Christianity you have been experiencing what it is to be on the front lines of battle as you stand in faith concerning your circumstances and all that has come against you. What you probably don’t see is the precious value of your faith that is emerging out of this fire with purity and power. What we all have to learn and are learning even more in this hour is that our reliance and source can no longer be through our human efforts. We must learn the rest that comes from knowing Father as our source in all circumstances. You don’t have the resources, but He does. It occurred to me that it is like a Father that establishes a business and as he raises up his sons it becomes a family business and he changes the name from father’s business to Father and Sons. God is preparing us to take over His business and to operate in it. That is why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” He is establishing His business back in this earth through us. First we must be fully trained, equipped and tested to know how to operate in this business properly. We have all seen examples of how it can be improperly operated, but Father is putting integrity back into the business and He is doing it with the fires of purification. Be encouraged people of God. What is crucifying our flesh is strengthening us in spirit and in power. If we hold fast our confidence we will reap its exceeding abundant salvation. We will not only reap it, we will have the privilege of being the instruments of it. Be of good cheer and let the inner peace and joy of the Holy Spirit sustain and encourage you through every trial and testing.

Blessings,

#kent

Peace

December 1, 2014

Peace

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Peace is not righting all that is wrong.
Peace is in knowing that our wrongs are made right,
That even in darkness and tribulation we have a song.
It is in knowing the “greater is He” when we go out to fight.

Peace is not just a quiet morning after a freshly fallen snow,
It is not always sunshine in your face and wind in your hair.
It is confidence in your God and “knowing that you know”.
It is resting in God’s justice when life isn’t fair.

Peace is not a life without opposition or strife,
Peace is in knowing that Christ has overcome the world,
Even in the valley of darkness and death He is our life.
When our enemy attacks like a flood, He is our flag unfurled.

Peace is not always about pleasant circumstances of the day.
When unpleasantness comes, it is upon His strength we rely.
It is in trusting that where a door is shut He will make a way.
He hides us in the cleft of the rock as our storms pass by,

Peace is not just about having any more war.
It is in knowing that He alone can transform the hearts of men.
In due season we will see the world we all long for.
Our greatest peace is in the forgiveness of our sin.

Peace isn’t having lived the perfect life,
It is in knowing His acceptance and the presence of His Dove,
Peace is redemption and mercy, in place of sin and strife.
Peace is our abiding in the riches of His grace and Love.

Blessings,
#kent

Hebrews12:1-3
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

I remember when I was a young boy I spent a great deal of time on my grandparent’s farm. When I was probably a young teen my grandpa had taught me how to drive. It had first started with learning to drive a tractor and then he taught me how to drive “Little Red”. It was an old, red, 1949 step side Chevy pickup. Being out in the country we could get away with driving before we had a driver’s license. I remember one day I happened to be by myself driving down the country road and my attention was diverted onto some pheasants that were feeding out in the field. As I was watching those pheasants my attention suddenly came back to my driving. I looked up and found myself driving in the ditch instead of the road. Fortunately was able to steer back up on the road and get back on course.
I was thinking how typical this is of our walk with the Lord. We can be going along pretty good, but then something else catches our attention and pulls us off of our walk and relationship with the Lord. It may not have even been anything bad or sinful, but it was a distraction. Suddenly one day we come to our senses, look up and find that we are driving in the ditch. While we were looking away we got off course and we got off the road that we were on.
We have all learned through our experience as drivers how important it is to keep our focus when we are driving. Even a few moments of distraction or inattention could result in an accident. Hebrews 12:1-3 is our exhortation to keep our eyes on the road, fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. The journey that we are on is not for just a day or even a week; it is a lifetime of commitment and walking with Jesus. There are plenty of things out there that want grab our attention and cause us to get off course from the road we are traveling. I am sure it has happened to most of us and you may find that you are driving in the ditch at this time in your life.
The Lord is graciously calling for us to get back on course with Him today. We can not expect to win the prize and finish the race if we quit or stay off course. There are many reasons that we get off course in our spiritual walk, but if we will fix our eyes on Jesus He will help to us to complete the race that we have begun. It is not about our ability or our goodness; it is about our commitment and obedience to His faithfulness. It says that He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is writing the book on your life. I don’t know about you, but I would like every page of that book to be about Him.
Is it always easy to walk this walk and hold fast our faith? No, sometimes we get discouraged, tired or distracted and we want to give up or let it go. Then we have to ask ourselves what did Jesus have to give up so that I could run this race and be found complete in Him. He despised the shame and endured the cross. He endured the opposition of sinful men. If He was willing to do that for me then can I do less when I meet with adversity, hardship, weariness or the distractions of this life? We have to fix our eyes back on Jesus and stay in the race and yes, the Lord does need you. He didn’t give His life to lose you; He gave it to save you. He didn’t ask us to do it alone or even in our own strength. He has promised to be here with us, even when we feel the burn in our legs from the race. It is easier to win a race when you have something to focus on. Look down at the end of the course. There are all of those that have gone before us cheering us on and saying, “Come on, keep running, you can do it.” There we also see Jesus with His open arms of love and assurance waiting to embrace us.
Today let us get our focus back on the race. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and the finisher of our faith. Keep your eyes on the road.

Blessings,
#kent

The Favor of the Lord

June 10, 2014

Psalms 67:1
God be merciful unto us, and bless us; [and] cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.

The Favor of the Lord

Did you know you are the object of the Lord’s favor and blessing today? Today as Father looks upon you He says, “Because you are my blessing in the earth, so shall I bless you.” Yes, you are blessed and highly favored of God. You are His child and He relishes in the very thought of you. You haven’t escaped His attention even for one minute.
You may have thought He didn’t care, or He didn’t hear you when you prayed or He couldn’t possibly love you with all of the adversity you are going through or the places you know you’ve failed. What you may forget is that because Christ is in you, He walks with you through every adversity and trial you face. Again, you may have lost sight of who you in Christ, because you have become so identified with the trials that are pressing in upon you.
May I remind you of another character in the Bible that was blessed and highly favored of God. Job 1:6-12 records this dialogue between God and satan, ” One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”
May I propose to you that satan has no power or authority over you unless he be given permission by the Father. Remember Colossians 3:1-3, it tells you where he has positioned you. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” For satan to get to you he has to get through God and Christ, because that is where you are hidden. May I also suggest that while satan may think he has power and control God uses him as a smith and an instrument to perfect His saints and bring them into the authority of who they are and destined to be in Christ. He is simply an instrument to bring us into our destiny. Without a battle there can be no victory, without and adversary there can be no overcomer. Strength and power are developed out of opposition and resistance. God allows certain things to touch our lives for our ultimate good and triumph, not because He is mean of vindictive.
What does Romans 8:28-30 say? “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.” Believe me, when Job went through his trial he wasn’t experiencing what seemed to him to be the warm and fuzzy side of God, but God through those trials was transitioning him into a place of priesthood and double portion ministry and living.
Don’t despair because you are in the place of trial and testing. It only speaks to the fact that you are highly favored and blessed of God. “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? (Hebrews 12:4-7)” Be encouraged beloved and highly favored of the Father.

Blessings,
#kent

Deceitfulness of Sin

April 29, 2014

Hebrews 3:12-14a
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Deceitfulness of Sin

We are a people that are much moved and guided by our souls: our mind, will and emotions. Often we use these natural senses to define our truth and often they are the inroads that satan uses to turn us from faith to an unbelieving heart. Often the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes and the vainglory of this life dictate our values in life. Even when we have embraced a faith in Christ the ways of the world we live in are most often in direct conflict and opposition to it. Our faith in Christ takes us down a very rewarding road, but the rewards are not always evident or seen. Those rewards, like the very nature of our Christian walk, are often ones of faith. The apostle Paul makes a statement in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” It is not always in this life that we see the wonderful riches of Christ manifested. True Christians have to be a people of faith, love and vision. When we loose sight of those attributes, then our hearts can become unbelieving and we start looking at the world. We see the temporal rewards of this life that may be passing us by. In those times of weakness our eyes and heart begin to turn from the Word of Truth, the promises of God, which we possess by faith and the deceitfulness of sin can enter in. Justification and compromise become more and more a part of our lifestyle as we begin to believe the lie and embrace the sin.
Brethren, in Christ, we have not chosen the easy way. The way of the cross is never easy and it can often be demanding and painful. But we endure the cross, despising the shame, even as Jesus did, for the greater hope that is set before us. We have the assurance and vision of our faith that Paul gives us 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Again, he says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight.” The deceitfulness of sin gets our eyes off of these spiritual realities and on the temporal rewards and gratification of this present world. What we often fail to see is what the fish fails to see when he takes the bait, which covers the hook. What looks good and even innocent to the outward man gets a hook in us that takes us where we don’t want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay and cost us more than we want to pay. It doesn’t matter how rich we are, how famous or powerful we are or how much we have if we become the servants of sin and the enemy controls us. The man that possess nothing of this world, yet possess the freedom of his soul in Christ, is a far richer man than the one controlled and ruled by sin. How quickly we can lose sight of this truth.
We can’t allow our confidence to be shaken, by the disappointments of this life. Don’t look back as Lot’s wife did who was turned to a pillar of salt. “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Our inheritance is not of this world and we must maintain our vision to see beyond the things of this world. We must be of one mind and vision even as Paul has shared in Philippians 3:12-21, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Here he speaks to us of the results of the deceitfulness of sin, as well as to the glorious hope we have in Christ. Be encouraged in your faith and don’t waiver from it. This world has nothing for us.
We are a people that are entering into the rest of God where we know Him as our all in all. We are not moved by what we see, but by what the Word of God and the Spirit of God are telling us. We are a people with a faith, a love and a vision. We will not be moved. We will not harden our hearts in sin, but with a humble and contrite heart we will find our forgiveness in the blood of Jesus that we might continue to press on into the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Hinderances

April 11, 2014

Galatians 5:7
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Hinderances

This word hinder in the Greek is “egkoptō” which literally means ” to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way.” The question the Lord is asking us today is what is hindering us? What is interrupting our road to walking in His will and purpose?
There are many things that can come into interrupt and cut us off from walking and fulfilling the purpose and destiny that we are called too. Let’s just touch on a few and this by no means exhaustive so there are many others that could be added to the list. Scripturally we will address a few of them.
In Luke 11:52 Jesus addresses a major hindrance, ” Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” One of the greatest hindrances we have in the Church today is religious knowledge and true spiritual ignorance. Our way of thinking is so often skewed, even among grace believing churches, to still hinder our identity of who we are in Christ. We are still looking and seeking to change the man of sin which we were, rather than walking in the identity of the new creation man which we are and are maturing into. It is our paradigm and way of thinking that is one of the major obstacles. Even John the Baptist wanted to hinder Jesus from being baptized because he didn’t consider himself worthy. Wrong thinking. If Jesus hadn’t considered him worthy He wouldn’t come to him to baptized. Peter wanted to hinder Jesus from the cross. Jesus rebuked satan working through him, because it was a hindrance to His mission and purpose. Satan will always try and cut you off from your purpose and destiny, because his purpose to “kill, steal and destroy.”
What hindrances are you encountering today in your spiritual walk? One area might be in your marriage. Peter addresses this one in 1 Peter 3:7, ” Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” “Them” here being your spouse and ladies take this to heart as well. How is satan best able to get to us more than through the ones we live with. If he can cause contention, frustration, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness and irritation we fall into his trap of contending with the very one that God has placed into our lives that we are intended to be the heirs of salvation with. This is our partner not our enemy. The enemy is the one you are allowing to work through you as you give place to your flesh and emotion rather than to the spirit and the love of God. Yes, we are going to have our differences, we all do. The art of a magician is to distract you so that he may deceive you into thinking something that isn’t true. That is the craftiness and whiles of the devil. Discern your true enemy and unite your heart in love to defeat your common foe who is out to destroy you, your marriage and interrupt you communion and relationship with Christ. Unite yourselves in the spirit of Christ and reconcile yourselves through His love that your prayer and communion with the Father is not hindered. This speaks to men primarily because we must realize that women, as general rule, are more emotional and a man should be aware of what the influences in the home environment are and deal with them by the Spirit.
The final one we will address today are the hindrance that satan places before us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” Satan will always try to cause interruptions in you fulfilling your obedience to your destiny and calling. Here is where we must come into knowing our authority as a believer standing in the full armor of God, praying and making intercession, but also specifically declaring and taking authority through Word and the authority of the name of Jesus. There will be spiritual conflicts. When those hindrances come and in whatever form they may come, know who you are in Christ. Walk in the power and authority of the Spirit. Know that even though you may not immediately see things happening in the natural realm that doesn’t mean things aren’t taking place first in the dynamics of the spiritual realm. Hold fast your faith and confidence and do as Hebrews 12:1-3 commands us, ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Blessings,
#kent

The Pothole of Self Pity

February 28, 2014

 

The Pothole of Self Pity


Jonah 4:1-4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.  Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 


In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity.  He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see.  He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter.  So he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.

While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either.  

I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated.  That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way.  What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes.  

The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently.  Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs.  Now the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems.  So finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”.  The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did.  Afterwards I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into.  Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me.  Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is.  I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others.  I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me.  The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine.  How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others.  This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization.  That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others.  The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself.  

We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do.  Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives?  In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at.  Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition.  We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.”  Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart.  It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values.  Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature that God wants to work in us.  It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it.  There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy.  If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of.  Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ.  If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves.  

Watch out for that pothole of self-pity.  It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk.  Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”

 
Blessings,
kent

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

This key verse was spoken in an interesting setting. A remnant of the children of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem was in ruin with its walls torn down. Under the leadership that God raised up through such great men as Ezra and Nehemiah the people were organized and the walls of the city were rebuilt through adversity and opposition of surrounding peoples. Now the city, walls and temple of Jerusalem were in ruin because God had brought judgement upon Israel for their sin and rebellion against God. After seventy years of captivity and exile from their country the people have been allowed to return and begin again to pick up the pieces and rebuild their city. When we come to the point where this verse is given we find the walls have been rebuilt and the gates have been hung. The work on the walls is done and all the people have gathered in Jerusalem to hear the Law of Moses read and explained to them. From early morning till noon the people listened attentively as the Word was read and explained to them. The people began to weep, for the verse prior reads, “And Nehemiah, which [is] the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [is] holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” Then, in our key verse, the people are exhorted and encouraged, ” Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Through our lives we are pretty much follow the same pattern as the Israelites of old who tend to go through many cycles of God’s goodness and blessing, then the people would forget and eventually turn from God to pursue sin. God would lovingly and patiently warn them, they would stubbornly and rebelliously ignore Him until the consequences of their sin and unwillingness to repent would bring judgement upon them. Under the hand of judgement the people would repent, turn from sin, and cry out to God. God in His loving mercy and kindness would hear them, restore and again bless them. Eventually the cycle would repeat itself. Have our personal lives been so different? This event takes place at a time the people have just returned from the judgement of God through their exile to Babylon. God has dealt with them even further through Nehemiah and others. They have labored to build up again not only the physical walls, but the spiritual walls of their walk with God. They learned in a practical way to put on the whole armor of God so that they no longer have to fear or submit to the surrounding threats of the enemy. Now as they sat and really heard the Word of God, just as we must sit and really, from a hungry and contrite heart, hear the God’s Word, it breaks our heart, because we realize how much we have grieved the heart of God through our life and our actions. We, like the people of that day, become truly broken and repentant as we are convicted by God’s Word. The Spirit of the Lord that day was not there to bring condemnation, or rebuke. The Spirit of the Lord, that day, was to make glad. We find that when we really come through a place where we have acknowledged and repented of sin in our lives then there comes a day of true joy. We feel the freshness and forgiveness of God’s cleansing. We often will weep for joy at God’s incomprehensible goodness, patience and love toward us in that He still loves us and embraces us back into His fellowship. May there be a day, as we have come through that place of repentance and restoration of right fellowship, that we have a holy day, a day when God dries our tears and blesses us. Let there be a day when we eat of the fat of His blessing and drink the sweetness of His love and mercy. As we are blessed in His goodness, He exhorts us to go our way and make our blessing in Him a blessing to those that have not. We become the portions for whom no portions has been prepared. Our joy is our strength to live, with renewed commitment, a life that is holy unto Him. It is not a day to be sorry, but a day for joy, as we experience God’s renewed presence and blessing, “For the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Blessings,
kent

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