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

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

Integrity

May 2, 2013

Integrity

Job 2:3
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

This passage in Job exemplifies what a man of integrity is. This is a virtue and attribute that is lacking more and more in us as individuals and as a society at large. God saw something in Job’s integrity that He wanted to draw not only our attention too, but also the devil’s. Job was a man that even in the adversity and tremendous trial and testing didn’t waiver in his integrity. It was by those principles that he governed his life and not even the loss of all things could move him from the integrity of his heart. How does that contrast with so many of us today that are like the waves of the sea tossed to and fro, shifting our beliefs, doctrines, behaviors and convictions based on what is politically correct at the moment. We’re all for God until calamity strikes and then we turn bitter and resentful toward Him. If anybody had a right to be bitter and forsake God it was Job, yet the calamities that afflicted his life only solidified the uncompromising conviction of his heart. That conviction was basically, “God you are what I live for and who I die for, I didn’t bring anything into this world and I am not taking anything out, though You slay me yet will I love YOU.” What a testimony of surrender, commitment and integrity toward God Job maintained. Most of us would have folded like a house of cards.
Integrity is completeness. Completeness in the sense that God Himself is our fullness and completion as human beings, without Him we are wanderers in a strange land looking for purpose and reason for existence. Job knew what his was. Integrity is uprightness that comes from a consistent and faith filled relationship with our God. It is simplicity and innocence that acts and behaves the same whether others are observing it or not. It doesn’t act one way in the light and another way in the darkness; it is ever a light and a standard that holds consistent. We can only be perfect in our integrity to the extent the Lord is the Principal and the Sovereign of our lives.
David was considered a man of integrity. Now David wasn’t perfect and he made some major blunders, but it was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t this where true integrity comes from, our heart towards God? It is only He that can establish us and keep us in that integrity, but He wants us all to have it and maintain it in our daily lives and walk. It is in our power and free will to desire and pursue the integrity of God’s righteousness. God will honor the desires of our heart when they are pure and sincere toward Him.
Integrity has been a slippery slope for many of us. As God is raising His standard in us, He is calling us to be men and women of integrity and uprightness. He wants us to not just have the shell of integrity, but like Job, it dwells in the innermost parts of our heart and being. It is in practice whether others see it or not, because God always sees our heart. It is uncompromising in it’s commitment to God’s standards of righteousness. Job 31:6, Job says, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Do we want to make that request?
Integrity is much akin to wisdom, it helps us to establish and hold our course in life. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
Recently we talked about the legacy our lives will leave. Integrity is definitely a part of that legacy we want to leave. “The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7).”
Integrity is exemplified in the nature of Christ that God is working in us as we submit ourselves to Him. Even as Job, let’s make it the standard and foundation in our lives.

Blessings,
kent

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