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

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The Blessing of Giving

November 26, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The Blessing of Giving

The greatest blessing we can give and gift that we can receive is in giving something of substance and ourselves that is life changing and life giving to someone else. There are few things more rewarding than the joy we feel when we have made a difference for someone else. Some of us struggle with that. We have become so focused on how to sell ourselves, our goods and services trying to provide for our own that we have missed the joy of caring and blessing another. There is always a constant barrage of mail, phone calls, pleas over the television and radio all asking for our contributions. We often begin to build walls that automatically shut out any plea for help. Realistically we can’t give to everything. Few of us have the financial resources to do that, but at the same time we don’t want to harden our hearts to become insensitive to every need that passes before us. This is where we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and where He would have us to extend ourselves in our time and our finances. We each have different gifts and abilities, but all of us have something we can give. It is wonderful that we give our tithes, but what can we offer of ourselves as a tithe. It isn’t really our money that God wants from us, He wants our hearts. Our tithe is an expression of obedience, worship, thanks and giving back in a small portion what He has provided abundantly toward us.
Our lives will be so much richer when they are filled with random acts of kindness and giving. We are the hands, the feet, the mouthpiece and the body of Christ to carry out His works. Acts 10:38 speaks of the works of Jesus, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” God has anointed us with the same Spirit that indwells Jesus. He has given us power and authority to act in His Name. Let us be sensitive in our every day lives to not pass by the opportunities to express the love of God in the lives of others. May we let our words and our deeds carry with them this anointing that was in Jesus, so that we are life givers and a blessing in the earth.

Blessings,
#kent

Beware the Seductress of Your Soul

Proverbs 7:1-5
1MY SON, keep my words; lay up within you my commandments [for use when needed] and treasure them. 2Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple (the pupil) of your eye. 3Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4Say to skillful and godly Wisdom, You are my sister, and regard understanding or insight as your intimate friend– 5That they may keep you from the loose woman, from the adventuress who flatters with and makes smooth her words.

Proverbs 7 is an exhortation and an illustration of what can happen to any one of us, at anytime as we travel through life. God has called us to be fishers of men to bring the gospel and the good news of the kingdom to our world and sphere of influence. We are the lights and the instruments of God’s choosing and using to draw men to Him. Even as men are persuaded to righteousness and faith in Christ by the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto life, there is an antithesis that works unto death. Satan is a fisherman also, continually casting the lure and bait that appeals to our base appetites. It is rare that one is so foolish to walk into an obvious trap, so what we get caught up in usually starts out very unthreatening and alluring. We’ve no doubt all been there at one time or another and to one degree or another. Some of us, by the grace of God, have been delivered in areas of our life where the enemy was able to bring great devastation and damage because he was able to get his hook into us and we couldn’t seem to get loose. Some of us may well still be experiencing the prison of this entrapment are still battling issues in our lives from wrong choices that we made or others that were close to us have made. How many of us have felt the effects in our lives from alcohol, drug, sexual addictions, fraud, lying, cheating, stealing and just plain selfishness? Sin has touched all of us directly and indirectly.
Listen to how the seductress and loose woman of Proverbs 7 seduces and ensnares her prey. The young man is vulnerable because he is simple, empty-headed and empty-hearted.
“And behold, there met him a woman, dressed as a harlot and sly and cunning of heart. 11She is turbulent and willful; her feet stay not in her house; 12Now in the streets, now in the marketplaces, she sets her ambush at every corner. 13So she caught him and kissed him and with impudent face she said to him, 14Sacrifices of peace offerings were due from me; this day I paid my vows. 15So I came forth to meet you [that you might share with me the feast from my offering]; diligently I sought your face, and I have found you. 16I have spread my couch with rugs and cushions of tapestry, with striped sheets of fine linen of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us console and delight ourselves with love. 19For the man is not at home; he is gone on a long journey; 20He has taken a bag of money with him and will come home at the day appointed [at the full moon]. 21With much justifying and enticing argument she persuades him, with the allurements of her lips she leads him [to overcome his conscience and his fears] and forces him along.” This woman is a chameleon and will take on the guise of whatever is necessary to capture your heart. She is a savage beast in beautiful array. Her one intent is to draw you into temptation that she may destroy your faith and devour you. Her ways are death and lead to hell. She has entered the backdoor of your soul in order to drive her dagger into your spirit. In verses 22-27 we see his end, “Suddenly he [yields and] follows her reluctantly like an ox moving to the slaughter, like one in fetters going to the correction [to be given] to a fool or like a dog enticed by food to the muzzle 23Till a dart [of passion] pierces and inflames his vitals; then like a bird fluttering straight into the net [he hastens], not knowing that it will cost him his life. 24Listen to me now therefore, O you sons, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25Let not your heart incline toward her ways, do not stray into her paths. 26For she has cast down many wounded; indeed, all her slain are a mighty host 27Her house is the way to Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead), going down to the chambers of death.”
Our exhortation is to avoid her and not to even flirt with her, for her ways are death. The way we avoid her is by not being simple minded, but Christ minded. We set our mind on things above. We fill our hearts with word of God and His wisdom and discernment. We do not allow ourselves to become ignorant or naïve concerning the ways of the world and the enticements that it holds. We keep our hearts humble and trembling before the Lord, for we know that ‘pride preceedth a fall’. In all humility we seek to warn others lest they also become the prey of satan and their faith is shipwrecked. Hold fast to the Word of Life. It is the anchor and preserver of your soul.

Blessings,
#kent

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