Troubles that Confront Us

November 12, 2014

Philippians 1:19-24
…for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.d 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Troubles that Confront Us

Throughout life, those near us or ourselves personally, are touched by tragedy, disappointments, hardship, setbacks, hurts, sickness and trials of various kinds. If we don’t have a revelation of what our life purpose is we can become discouraged, bitter, unforgiving and even blame God for what touches our life or the lives of those around us. Paul gives us a perspective here of a life that is lived and dedicated to Christ. No matter what adversity befalls him, Paul has one goal and purpose. His life, he does not consider his own, but Christ’s and the life he now lives, he lives by faith, not for himself, but for Christ who died and gave Himself for Paul. Whether in life or death, Paul’s life is about living for Christ and fulfilling his purpose in Him. We all need to get a greater revelation of how Paul lived his life. Most of us still see our lives as being mostly about us. In that place of giving life to self there will always be things that we are struggling with that will touch us through our emotions, feelings, mind and will. Things that we struggle with because we are rationalizing them with the natural mind and understanding. For the person that is truly dead in Christ all that really matters is that Christ is fully living through them. Rather good or bad, it His will and destiny that directs their lives and gives them the purpose for living and being. The body and earthly life are but a tool in the hand of God to work His greater work and will through. We are the callused hands of His working in the earth to make a difference in the lives of those He touches through us. We are also the gentle touch of compassion and grace that leads others to repentance. We are His precious hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God into the earth and we do that as He lives and has expression through us. The more of self that is in the way, the more of that purpose is hindered and His true nature is polluted.
Bad things do happen to good people, Bad things happened to Jesus, the Son of God and bad things can happen to us. It is not the bad things that happen that define our life, but rather the goodness of the God that lives within us. We don’t always see the ultimate and long-term purposes of God. The disciples couldn’t see the purpose and goodness of God when Jesus was crucified. When, we, like Jesus are willing to pour out our lives for others then we can have assurance that God will take the seed of sacrifice that we planted and bring forth a harvest. Let us not be so concerned about this current life, but rather living out of the eternal life that inhabits us. Fear God and not the things you may suffer, for as Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” All of this is the preparation for the revelation of the sons of God who will set creation free. Our rest is in our death and His life, so when this life is spent it only gives place to a greater place of glory. It is not the physical death that we must fear, it is the spiritual life or death with which we must be concerned. The purpose of our life is to perpetuate that spiritual life. No matter what confronts us we live out of His life and not our physical strength and being or natural understanding.

Blessings,
#kent

Fear of Man

October 14, 2014

Fear of Man

Psalms 56:1-6,9-13
Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me; all day long they press their attack. 2 My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride. 3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me. 6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life…
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise- 11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Fear is a powerful force. Most all of us have been influenced and moved by it. But ironically it is the fear of God that will move us to faith, while the negative fears that we harbor and allow, touching and influencing our lives will move us away from faith. If we think about it most anything we fail to trust God for is either an act of disobedience through rebellion or it is disobedience out of fear. Faith is a confidence in God and His Word, fear is the doubt and apprehension that God will fail us. Romans 14:23 tells us that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” One of our greatest fears is what others think about us, how they will accept us and what they can do to hurt us. Fear is one of the strongest instruments at the enemy’s disposal. It undermines our faith and gets our eyes and our confidence off of Christ and back on to us. It causes us to see after the natural rather than the supernatural.
There are different levels at which fear can touch us from the most surface levels of fear to the deepest levels of psychological trauma. On the surface levels we all deal with fear of social acceptance, failure and insecurity. Think about a baby in the mother’s womb. It knows no fear there. It is safe, it is warm, provided for, accepted and secure. It has all of the things that we loose the guarantee of as we come into this world and are forced into self- responsibility. When these basic needs or wants are threatened it causes us to fear. We fear when we are not in a safe environment. We fear for our health, our daily provisions and needs as well as the needs of those we are responsible for. We fear when we feel insecure and threatened, physically, emotionally or even spiritually. Thus fear becomes a very powerful motivator and influence in our lives. Jesus addresses this fear that stems out of worry in Matthew 6:25-34, “”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? 28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Is all fear bad? No, we can’t say that all fear is bad, because it is often fear that can motivate us to right actions or even protect us from things that could harm us. The fear of God is a good fear because it moves us into Him and the more that we move into God the more we learn to trust Him. He can bring us again to that place of peace we had as infant only it won’t be without conflict. It won’t be without many things, people and circumstances coming against us, as they attempt to rob our peace and confidence in the God that we’ve come to know, love and serve.
Many of the challenges to our faith come through the fear of man. We fear that others will not accept us so we focus on what will be pleasing to the world. Many of us get our self worth and esteem from what others think. We often fear man so much that we let society and our circle of influence shape our values, our opinions and form the standard for how to act, what to wear, what we can and can not talk about. In Jesus’ day people were fearful to talk about Jesus. John 7:13 says, “Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” Many of us fear to speak openly of Jesus today for fear that others will be offended or not accept us. We want to have the heart that David had when he said in Psalm 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Our flesh avoids pain and seeks pleasure. We fear not living up the standards others have for us for fear of rejection. Many of us live in a constant state of worry and anxiety, which is fear. Yet the word teaches us in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Fear will always focus us on the natural and take our eyes off of our faith in God. Deuteronomy 31:6 exhorts God’s people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” God speaks His Word into us to disperse our fears. Isaiah 41:10-14 says, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
It is our faith in God that gives us boldness in place of timidity, that gives us eyes and a heart to see beyond our fears as we embrace the realities of God’s promises and His Word. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” And again in 2 Corinthians 4:18 he says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal. “ The fear of the Lord will bring us into faith for it will cause us to exalt God’s ways above man’s ways and it will embrace His Word as truth even in the face of opposing natural evidence. Our hope, our confidence and our faith are in the Lord. When we embrace who we are in Him, then the fear of this world looses its power over us, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. (1 John 5:4)”

Blessings,
#kent

Buffet

September 18, 2013

Buffet

2 Corinthians 12:7
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

The word buffet means to strike with the fist, give one a blow with the fist, to maltreat or treat with violence. This is one of only two places where this word occurs. In both cases the outward violence is prompted by a spiritual influence. Here Paul speaks of the afflictions in his flesh brought about by a messenger of satan. The implication here is that God permitted satan to afflict or beat up on Paul for the purpose of keeping pride in check.
The other scripture deals with Jesus, when the religious leaders are examining Him. “And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:65).” We might observe that these buffetings were physical afflictions or attacks brought by satanic influence, but permitted by God.
The question then becomes why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. Why would God allow Jesus or Paul or any of us to be buffeted by satan, especially in light of the fact that he is a defeated foe. Hebrews 5:8-10 tells us of Jesus, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” The one principle we learn here is that in the place of suffering we learn obedience and submission. Paul says this in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” When we desire and press in to rising above our earthly state we are often met with great spiritual resistance. Of course we cry out to God, but God doesn’t always immediately remove our trial and test. Perfection in us is not brought about by our deliverance from every unpleastantry, but by our steadfast fast faith and obedience to overcome in the midst of trial and testing. It is counting God faithful even in the face of failure, defeat or loss.
Why would God be so hard on us? The condition of every precious jewel and precious metal, in it’s raw state, is mostly earth and dross and impurities, that’s us. God is the master jeweler, the great potter and the master craftsman of His creation. What He is working in you and I are nothing short of perfection and stunning beauty in His eyes. What we feel in the process is often rejected, persecuted, abused, afflicted, cast down. We are not so unlike Paul’s description in 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Satan is simply a tool or hammer in the left hand of God. While Satan may have delusions of destroying our faith, God’s intent is to test it, try it and temper it, dealing with it and burning away all of the impurities. He is giving us eyes for only Him, so that no matter our circumstance, rich or poor, sickness or health, success or failure, Christ is all and in all. Like Paul, we cry out for God to deliver us, but often His answer to us is the same that He gave to Paul, “My grace is sufficient.”
You are not enduring this buffeting because God hates you, or despises you, or is mad at you. You have been counted worthy to suffer the cross. You have been called to come into the ranks of the saints who ‘overcome by the word of their testimony and the blood of the Lamb; and they loved not their lives unto death (Revelations 12:11).’ Revelations 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This is you and I.
If you are buffeted today rejoice in the love of God and that He has counted you worthy to be the ultimate instrument of His victory, glory and praise. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37)”.

Blessings,
kent

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