The Good Shepherd

July 17, 2015

Psalms 23:1
The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Good Shepherd

The Lord is sufficient for every need that we have. One of the hardest things for us to do at times is to lie down in green pastures when in our perception all there is dead grass. One of the most important things that the Lord wants to teach all of us is to rest in Him. That is hard to process when the natural world around us is falling apart, bills need to be paid, physical afflictions are besetting us. It is hard for us to rest when our children are in rebellion, our spouse is leaving us or that special someone is in critical condition.
God is not in our fears, He is in our faith and faith causes us to rest when everyone else is franticly trying to do something to solve the problem. Some problems are out of our control. They are bigger than we are and there is nothing else we can do except believe and trust in the Lord. We can never put God in a box and say if I just do this, then He will do that. Sometimes He doesn’t rescue us out of our disasters, but He will always be there with us as we go through them. Sometimes God works through miracles and sometimes it is through our hard life experiences. The important place for us to be is in the Shepherds arms. The Psalmist David rested in the profound truth that the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He knew from the experience of being a shepherd that a good shepherd would always act in the best interest of His sheep. Sometimes that meant rescuing them out of trouble and sometimes it might mean breaking their leg, so that they would learn not to stray. Whatever was necessary the shepherd would act out of his love for the sheep. They were an extension of him and his purpose, just as we are an extension of Christ and His purpose.
Today, the good Shepherd is watching over you. If you truly believe and rest in Him, then you shall not want. ‘He is able to meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory.’ “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6

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

Self Struggle

April 7, 2014

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Self Struggle

From my night I look out into the light.
I am drawn by its warmth and love.
There is a love that draws me out of my night.
But then the voices rush in that changes my gears.
They remind me of past hurts, disappointments and fears.
They remind me of all that I enjoy and would need to give up.
So I am drawn back from the light and from drinking His cup.
Back into the security of my unchanging heart.
Back into my dysfunctional darkness of which I’ve so been a part.

I hear the voice speaking into my spirit,
“Would you be made whole?”
“Would you be healed?”
“Would you be delivered and set free?”
Suddenly there is such a strong sense of duality.
Two men warring within me for dominion and victory.
One struggles to keep me in the darkness and need;
Bringing before me fears of change, and shame of my past,
Condemnation of sin and a half empty glass.
And what it will cost me to make the change?
The other man stands in His peace and light of His gain,
Arms extended and the truth of His love inviting me in.
I love the warmth and the peace of His presence,
But then the darkness crowds in, causing me to withdrawal again.

Inwardly I am grieved at my fallen state.
Only fleeting joy, broken promises and empty estate.
I look back over the wastelands of my life.
All I see is heartache, brokenness and strife.
What is my purpose if this life is all there is;
If I continue to choose this self-life instead of His?
His love is faithfully pursuing my wretched soul.
What can He possibly see in this lump of coal?
This time when He invites me, I run with a new reply.
I cast my wretched self upon His grace and cry,
“Change me and fill me with yourself and your love.”
“I would be made whole.”
“I would be healed.”
“I would be delivered and set free.”
Please Lord, take and fill all of me.

The magnitude of His love and peace floods my heart.
I sense His blood cleansing every filthy part.
Hope and joy are now abounding through my soul.
I finally relinquished my will and gave Him full control.
A new day has dawned in this heart and soul of mine.
Transforming power and new direction do I find.
“What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Blessings,
#kent

Bridge over Troubled Waters

November 27, 2013

Bridge over Troubled Waters

John 14:1
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Our hearts are often burdened and troubled with many things, our children, our marriage, our loved ones, our finances, our health and the list goes on. Jesus tells us this is a part of this earthly life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” It is true to the selfless nature of Christ that in the last hours before His apprehension and subsequent crucifixion Jesus is not trying to find comfort for Himself, He is instead comforting and reassuring His disciples, preparing them for what is to come. In our lives we will come to these crossroads of great tribulation when our world will get turned upside down. It will be hard to make sense out of the devastation that we feel and heartache we may incur, but Jesus wants us to know that He has not forsaken us in these times. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to be our comforter, our peace, our reassurance that God has not left us or forsaken us. Our Father doesn’t rescue us from all of the tragedies of life. We are destined to walk through them and the consequences that sin has had in the earth. The peace we have is that our Christ lives in us. He is the source and the resource of our ability to walk through the fires and trials of life and not have the smell of smoke upon us. Invariably our first inclination is to begin reasoning and fighting in the power of our flesh, but our salvation is not in us, it is in Him. It is entering into the rest of our God and knowing ‘He is working all things to the good of them that love Him and that are called according to His purpose.’ Our peace comes only as we enter into that place of faith and trust. We know that we serve a great God, who is sovereign over all the earth and the affairs of men and while God doesn’t always change the course of history or events for our particular circumstances, that doesn’t mean He isn’t at work in them. We get so nervous when we are not in the driver’s seat, but God is well able to guide and direct our situation far better than we are. When Job was met with the tremendous tragedies that took his children, his wealth and his health, was he effected emotionally? You bet that he was What made the difference with Job is that he knew life was not about the things of this earth, it was about his relationship with the Father. Job 1:20-22,”20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. [c] The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” How different from so many today who face trials only to blame God and turn away from him because He let these bad things happen to seemingly good people. Even as the second set of trials were laid upon Job with the afflictions of his flesh, his response bore out his rest and full relinquishment of his life to God. Job 2:7-10, “7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
Our peace in the midst of our tribulation comes from not being devastated by what is happening without, but by turning within. It is by worshipping our God in the midst of trials, by placing ourselves fully within His hands to perform whatever it is He would work out through what we may only see as evil. He is our ark of safety, our fortress, our high tower, our shield and buckler. The Overcomer dwells within us. He has conquered death and the grave; He ever lives to make intercession our behalf. If our eyes and our heart are upon Him, then we are already looking at our victory regardless of what is happening without.
Is your heart troubled today? We have become anxious about many things. Perhaps we are angry with others because they are not doing something to help us. Martha was upset with Mary, her sister, because she was setting at the feet of Jesus feeding off of His words, rather than helping with the natural food preparation. Complaining to Jesus, He tells her, ““Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” Instead of being anxious, we also need to choose the one thing that is needed, which is feeding off of the Word of God and sitting in His presence. If you need that peace today, you will find it there in His presence as you rest in Him. He is that bridge over troubled waters.

blessings,
kent

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