Passing Storms

November 30, 2018

 

Passing Storms

 

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

 

The weather is so typical of life; as we live we see sunshine, we see rain, we see many little storms and occasionally we encounter the really catastrophic storm that literally turn our lives upside down and shakes every fiber of our existence.  The amazing thing is, just a few miles above the earth, nothing changes; the sun is always shining and the stars are always out.  Isn’t that like God, always eternal, unchanging and ever faithful.  When we have particularly gloomy and stormy spells, we may begin to wonder if there even is a sun above.  The light is very dim and sometimes we wonder if this weather will ever pass. Devastating things can touch our lives, our loved ones, our nation and our world, but God is ever eternal upon His throne and nothing shakes Him.  He is still the same, yesterday, today and forever.  If we are in His hands then all of hell may be unleash against us, but God still holds us.  We find such a scripture of encouragement and hope in Romans 8:28-39, “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. 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Whatever your storm is today, be assured that the sun will still be shining, whether you can see it with your natural eyes or not.  Sometimes we may make a comment like, “the sun hasn’t shone for days”.  We may not have directly seen it for days, but in truth we know that the sun has never stopped shinning, it has only been obscured by the clouds of our circumstances.  Look through the clouds with the eyes of faith and trust.  Know that God is your light even in the darkest day.  Never doubt Him or His love for you.  We don’t have to understand why; we just have to trust that He is and always will be, and that His Word is our world and foundation that cannot be shaken.  Never stop trusting Him; He will see you through your storm.

Blessings,

#kent

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Faith or Law?

November 29, 2018

 

Faith or Law?

 

Galatians 3:1-5

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

 

What we believe and have conviction for in our lives can come at a high price.  In many times and various places it could cost you your livelihood, your possessions and even your life.  With that kind of a price tag you want to be pretty sure that what you believe is right on and that it is worth the price you pay.  The Galatians were such a people.  They began their spiritual journey as they heard the gospel and embraced it by faith, but now the apostle Paul finds them mixing the law and faith.  They are getting caught up in the doctrine that the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not sufficient in itself, but must be supplemented with works and the keeping of ordinances.  This was a battle that Paul had to war with on many fronts throughout his life.  If Paul ever had a thorn in his flesh, this was a major one. If anyone would have thought that faith alone in Jesus Christ was not sufficient for our salvation you would think it would have been Paul.  Having been raised and trained in the rigors of the Mosaic Law as a Pharisee, his whole life had been built upon this premise.  It is obvious by Paul’s passionate apologetic of the gospel that he no longer sees the law as a necessary component of our faith and salvation.  He in fact, strongly views the legalism brought in by the Judaizers as an undermining of the faith that stands in Christ alone.

Some might argue will if you have faith and the law isn’t that even better?  Don’t we have the best of both and isn’t that more pleasing to God?

The reason that Paul is so passionate on this point is that the law is based in man’s righteousness.  The whole reason that God gave us the tutor of the law was to teach us that man’s righteousness would always miss the mark of God’s righteousness and holiness.  If the law had been sufficient we would not have needed Christ.  Our faith in Christ bases our righteousness in Christ and not in ourselves.  The Law leads us to believe that by our goodness and observances of the law we obtain favor with God.  Yet the Bible teaches us without faith it is impossible to please God.  Our faith cannot be in us; it must be in Him.  Roman 10:1-4 bears out this truth, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

When Paul speaks of the two laws in Romans 8:1-4 he says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The Law doesn’t work because it is dependent upon our goodness.  Faith in Christ works because it is dependent upon His goodness which is imputed to us by faith and not by works.  When we mix the law with faith we put ourselves again under the law of sin and death.  The only way that we abide in the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is through faith in His finished work upon the cross.  When we say we still need the law, observances and ordinances to supplement that faith, then we are in affect saying, “Jesus, you are not sufficient for our salvation.”  Any of us who are still putting ourselves under the law need to strongly consider that.  We will never enter into the fullness of God’s Holiest while we are still clinging to the former things.  Hebrews 9:8 says, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.”  The new wine was never meant to be put into old wineskins.  Luke 5:37 says, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.”  The Old and the New Testaments are two different covenants; they were not made to be mixed.

Through the Old Testament we gain many wonderful insights into examples of man’s interaction with God, God’s nature and revelations of the principles and purposes of God, but we see them consummated and fulfilled in Christ.  In Christ, we live out of His righteousness by faith.  When the Word tells us that we are the righteousness of Christ, it is telling us that when the Father looks upon us, He sees us in His Son who is without spot or wrinkle.  How do you stand before God today, in your righteousness or in His?

Blessings,

#kent

Every Day

November 28, 2018

 

Every Day

 

Revelations 20:12

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 

It occurs to me as I sit and write that all of us are composing and writing our lives upon God’s books.  Each of us has a life’s novel that tells the story of our lives and what we did with them.  Though the memories of us may fade and we are forgotten in the earth, there is a record that stands, a book that we wrote.

What are we writing in our book?  How will it read back to us as we stand before God and give an account for our lives and what we did with them?  If we feel we have nothing else, our life is our talent, to use for God’s glory and purpose or for our own.  The sad part is, none of us can ever go back and erase what we did the day before or the years before.  The ink is already dry upon the page.  The good news is that today is still to be written and our tomorrows after that.  What are we writing upon the pages of our life?  Will it be a story that pleases the Father or one in which we stand ashamed at a life wasted and that brought forth no lasting value in its life’s pursuits?

All of us have our regrets, our failures and our pages we wish that we could write over.  The important thing for us not to forget is that we are still writing this book.  Ecclesiastes says that as long as there is life there is hope.  Will your book be a story of transformation from death to life?  Will it be a story of how your life was a blessing; not only to God, but also to the lives you touched?  What are we going to write in our book today and through the coming weeks and years?

Psalms 118: 4 says, “This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  There is a Latin phrase, “Carpe diem”, simply, “seize the day”, make the most of every moment that we have breath and life.

Solomon was a man that had and could have all that his heart desired. He set out to find the meaning and purpose of life.  At the end, this is what he had to say and we will conclude with his words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 12.  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”

The Conclusion of the Matter

13 Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

May we consider carefully every day how we write each page of our book.

Blessings,

#kent

Christian Behavior

November 27, 2018

 

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him ;If he is thirsty, give him a drink;

For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Christian Behavior

 

This passage is a basic guideline and checklist for the behavior and attitude that we should be living out of in Christ.  You will notice that all of its tenants are based on walking in love toward your fellow man and the saints of God.  Its first point is to let your love be without hypocrisy.  How often do we mask our true feelings with a smile and outward show of love and piety?  It is important that we be honest and transparent with one another even when our feelings or attitudes aren’t right.  Love doesn’t mean that we hide them or ignore them, but that we deal with them.  If our heart or our attitude are wrong then we must be willing to confess that and address it in order to correct it.  If someone else’s heart and attitude are wrong then we, in humility and love, are honest with them about what we see.  Our function as the body of Christ is not to sit in judgement on one another, but to help each other.  There are things you see about me that I may be totally blind too, if you don’t help me in love then how am I suppose to know?  We all need the capacity and openness to receive correction as well as give it.  None of us are yet perfect or have all of the answers.  That is the reason that we function as a body and not as individuals.  Our end purpose is to fulfill what this passage in Romans 12 is exhorting us to do, basically walk in love toward all men.  Allow God to deal with those who abuse us with evil.  We are exhorted to walk as much in love toward our enemies as we do our brethren, but it does tell us to prefer one another.

We also notice that our Christian walk is not just a passive living.  It has purpose and direction.   It tells us to not be lacking in diligence, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints and given to hospitality.  We are processing and distribution centers for God’s love to flow through.  We have a relationship with the Lord and receive of His love and blessing so that we can process that through our lives and distribute it to the lives of those around us.  As we are each faithful to do this we meet the needs in one another and in our fellow man.  It is in this healthy relationship with God and man that others will see the love of God flowing through our lives and we will be fulfilling our purpose and calling in Him.

Blessings,

#kent

The Spirit of Fear

November 26, 2018

 

The Spirit of Fear

 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind

 

There is a fear that is a phobia and a dread; beyond that, it can produce heart-pounding terror.  Fear can be so strong that it can totally incapacitate us.  It can grip us so strong that it will cause us to tremble and shake.  Sometimes we can’t even move or think or we flee in terror.  There is a spirit of fear that can grip our hearts in a way that makes us terribly afraid.  There are varying degrees that this spirit can come upon us, but when it does, it robs us of faith and confidence in God if we only focus on the fear.  Often fear plays upon the imaginations and perceptions of our mind.  When we have experienced nightmares, they weren’t real, but they created such fear and panic in us because they seemed so real. We can experience waking nightmares, as well, that seem just as real.  Fear, itself can’t harm you, but it can create such feeling within your mind and emotion that you often fear for your life and safety.  We can sometimes enter into a tremendous battle with this spirit of fear and just speaking words doesn’t always bring the results of victory we would like.

Sharon, my wife will share with you a story of fear that affected her for about year.  We hope in sharing this it may help some of you that have had experiences with attacks of fear, panic and terror.  For my wife it was a process of the Lord teaching her how to obtain the victory and sometimes there are areas that we open up in our lives for these attacks to come in that we need to shut.

For Sharon, it came after a time when we had attempted to trust the Lord for a home birth.   Our son was just too large for my wife and after a long period of transitional labor we had to go to the hospital.  There we felt contempt and reproach from the doctor and medical staff for not having checked in earlier and done things the traditional way.  It was a difficult time, but the good news is that we had a healthy baby.

It was shortly after this that my wife began to have a visitation of a spirit that would bring great fear upon her.  This spirit came usually when she was alone and was resting.   It was generally in this state of semi-consciousness, between waking and sleeping that this spirit of fear came.

 

Sharon:                “At this point, Kent has asked me to step in and tell my own story.  It was a time in my life I thought I was strong in the Lord.  The Lord had just healed me of breast cancer seven months or so before our son was born.  For whatever reason, the Lord allowed me to go through this experience to teach me many things about my life, where I was with Him spiritually and how I had to change from the bondage my childhood held over me.

I remember the first encounter; it was in the early morning after Kent had gone to work.  To this day, I don’t know if I was awake or in that semi –conscious state.  It was so real; it felt like I was awake.  I heard a noise downstairs and I remember thinking Kent had gone to work already.  I heard what sounded like someone coming up the stairs, but it was more familiar than that.  Whoever it was, came up skipping a stair, just like my Father used to do when one of us kids were in trouble. When this presence entered my bedroom, I could feel it, but I couldn’t see it.  A fear entered with it that paralyzed me.  This spirit sat on the edge of my bed and I felt strong hands grab me by my throat and it began choking me.  I laid there in unbelief.  I felt like I was going to die. When it couldn’t kill me, it left and went back downstairs.  I laid there trembling, trying to understand what just happened to me.  I could hear my heart pounding; it was beating so loud.  Fear gripped me again, as I heard it coming back up the stairs for the second time.  At this point, I was searching my thoughts wondering what was happening to me?  Its presence entered my bedroom again and this time, it sat down and began beating me about my face.  I felt the blows…and they hurt! When it couldn’t kill me by its blows, it left again.  I heard the familiar sound coming back up the stairs for the third time and I wondered if I would survive this time.  This time, it sat down and began touching me in a sexual way.  It was then that I sat straight up in bed and rebuked it in the Name of Jesus!  It left immediately.

This presence came and left over the next year.  It came in other forms, taking on the form of my husband once.  It seemed so real.  This wasn’t an experience I wanted to share with people.  Can you imagine going through this sort of thing as a Christian?  There were many times, I would rebuke it in the Name of Jesus and it would laugh at me.  How could I share this with others?

I will tell you briefly what I learned.  The Lord taught me that it was only a spirit of fear and that it really couldn’t do anything to me, or it would have already done it.  When I understood that, it helped me to enter into the Lord whenever it would make an appearance.  Through this experience, it taught me how to climb up on the lap of my Heavenly Father and allow Him to put His big arms around me to protect me from this wicked thing.  I learned to enter into the presence of the Lord.

There were areas of my life the Lord was dealing with at that time.  I was repeating what I had been taught as a child from a stepfather who didn’t know the love of God himself.  God was trying to free me from my earthly father’s example in order to follow my heavenly Father’s example instead.  I was caught up in soap operas at that time and the Lord taught me what we put into our minds and take in through our eyes does affect how we live and think.  I was also taught that we could control even our dreams when we allow the Lord to be the Lord of our lives.  You see, I used to think we could do in our dreams what we couldn’t do in real life if it was sin, but if it were done in our dreams, it was okay.  The Lord taught me, ”as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

The last significant time it came, I was lying on a couch in our family room.  I heard what seemed to be a herd of these spirits.  By this time in my life, I was so angry at this thing called fear, I grabbed for them and they went screaming.  I remember getting a hold of one of their arms and it took hold of this spirit with both of my hands to break its bone.  I heard it snap!  I also heard great pain coming from the one I grabbed, while it was trying to get away from me.  That evening, a young man came to our house for a Bible study and he prophesied, “Today, has the enemies’ arm been broken.”  He had no idea what had gone on, but I knew exactly what it meant…and from that time on, this spirit of fear has never had the same grip it had, the first time it manifested itself in my bedroom.

While this was a hard trial to go through, I wouldn’t by pass going through it, when I stop and consider how much I learned from this experience.

When I got complete victory over it, it was because I learned to turn that fear into trusting my heavenly Father by climbing up on His lap whenever this thing would manifest itself.  Through the years, it has come and left a few times.  I have made comments like, “You again?”  When it realized fear had no grip on me anymore, it came around less and less until I can’t remember when it manifested itself last.

 

Fear is not a physical enemy even though it may use physical means or even people to manifest its self.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  This includes that spirit of fear that can grip our hearts.  1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  The place where we find that perfect love is in the heart of the Father.  If fear is your tormentor, then the heart of the Father is your deliverance.  That is the place spoken of in Psalms 91:1-7, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; [nor] for the arrow [that] flieth by day; [Nor] for the pestilence [that] walketh in darkness; [nor] for the destruction [that] wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee.”  Your faith, your abiding and your authority in Christ are your victory over the spirit of fear.

Blessings,

#kent

The Gift

November 23, 2018

 

The Gift

 

1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

 

 

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. “  The greatest gift we can give one another is ourselves, our life, our time and our love.  Often we equate love with what monetary gifts we can give.  Those gifts are good and loving expressions, but they should be in addition too and not in place of the others.  Many of us don’t realize that we are a gift to someone else that loves and needs what we have to give.  Far too often we end up withholding our gift or using it on the demands that life puts on us, rather than on those who really need and would appreciate it.  Our quality time can be of more value than we can realize.  Our personal love and attention are often the only things that can meet the needs in others.  Especially in our society, we tend try and use a lot of substitutes, but there are hurting and lonely people for whom the greatest gift is our personal time, attention and love.

I know I have often been guilty of being so involved in my work or interested in other things, that I have neglected the greater needs in my family.  Many of us realize that we have done this.  When we come to the end of our lives it will be the relationships that we have built through the investment of our time and our lives that will matter most.  We all seem to think there will always be tomorrow, but tomorrows will run out and we will have never lived and loved for today.

The greatest reward we have in life is the satisfaction we have in giving, in making another’s life a little better, a little richer and ministering to those little personal needs that we all have.   Jesus gave us the most precious and priceless gift that anyone has ever given, His life.  That gift has perpetuated life now through millenniums of time.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.   God has placed a gift in us that we must be faithful in giving.  The more that we give it, the greater the increase.  Someone needs the love and personal attention that only you can give.  Let us not deny those needs wherein we rob not only them, but ourselves as well.  Give out the love that Christ has placed in your heart.  It is not for keeping, but for giving.

 

 

This an attachment with this writing that friend had sent and I thought so illustrated this point:

 

I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying

groceries. I wasn’t hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 57 years

was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories.

 

He often came with me and almost every time he’d pretend to go off and

look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I’d always spot

him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands.

 

He knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only

wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was

different since he had passed on.

 

Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two.

 

 

 

Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and

remembered how he had loved his steak.

 

Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blonde, slim and lovely in a

soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large package of

T-bones, dropped them in her basket.. hesitated, and then put them back.

She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks.

 

She saw me watching her and she smiled. “My husband loves T-bones, but

honestly, at these prices, I don’t know.”

 

I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes.

 

“My husband passed away eight days ago,” I told her. Glancing at the

package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. “Buy

him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.”

 

She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the

package in her basket and wheeled away.

 

I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy

products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy.

A Quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream. If nothing

else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone.

 

I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the

front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady

coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package. On her face was

the brightest smile I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled

her blonde hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine.

 

As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my

eyes. “These are for you,” she said and placed three beautiful long

stemmed yellow roses in my arms. “When you go through the line, they

will know these are paid for.” She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss

on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she’d done,

what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked

away as tears clouded my vision.

 

I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue

wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know? Suddenly the

answer seemed so clear. I wasn’t alone.

 

Oh, you haven’t forgotten me, have you? I whispered, with tears in my

eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.

 

Every day be thankful for what you have and who you are.

(Please read all of this, it is really nice)

 

This is a simple request. If you appreciate life, send this to your

friends, including the person that sent it to you.

 

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings. Thank

you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.

 

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as

possible. Thank you, Lord , that I can see. Many are blind.

 

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising. Thank you, Lord, that

I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.

 

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost,

toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud.

 

Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

 

Even though our breakfast table never looks like the picture in

magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced.

 

Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.

 

Even though the routine of my job often is monotonous. Thank you, Lord,

for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.

 

Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my

circumstances were not so modest.

 

Thank you, Lord, for life.

 

Pass this on to the friends you know. It might help a bit to make this

world a better place to live, right? A friend is someone we turn to when

our spirits need a lift. A friend is someone to treasure.

 

For friendship is a gift. A friend is someone who fills our lives with

Beauty, Joy and Grace and makes the world we live in a better and

happier place.

 

YOU ARE MY FRIEND!

 

God bless you and yours.

Blessings,

#kent

Thankfulness to God

November 21, 2018

 

Thankfulness to God

 

Acts 17:28

For in him we live, and move, and have our being…

 

Thanksgiving is always a good time for us to all reflect about who God is in our life and where we would be without Christ.  Can we live without God?  Yes, in a natural sense we can and many do, but without Him life is void of any eternal substance and meaning.  We can all go around the table and none of us should have any problem recounting many of the wonderful blessings and acts of God that He has performed in our lives in the past year.  The truth is our thankfulness should be going so much deeper and richer than just what God does for us.  The truth is the spirit of thankfulness and praise should be continually upon our lips and in our hearts everyday of the year.  As God becomes so much more to us than just a creator or some mystical, untouchable and unapproachable Being, we begin to understand how intricately our lives are tied to all that He is.  Without Him we don’t even exist.  The fact that we do exist and have life is a testimony to us that all that we are, all that we have, all that we ever will be, we owe to Him alone.  A lot of us get pretty big on ourselves; what we can do, what we have accomplished, how talented and gifted we are, but we have none of that without God’s gift to us.  He made us all that we are and all that we can be.  The wonderful thing is that even if we are one that has inherent weaknesses or shortcomings, we can still look to God to be our strength in our weakness.  Often it is the weak ones who best understand the strength and uplifting power God can have in our lives.  Because of their weakness they are not focused on themselves and their accomplishments, they are focused on the One who is their strength in the midst of their weakness.  Our God is the source of our life and it only stands to reason that even more than our parents He should be honored, reverenced and receive all of the glory for what we have.

How do we move through our lives?  Do we have a sense of destiny or purpose?  Is it true what they say, “that he that dies with the most toys wins?”  As much as many of us are invested in materialism one might think that this is our ultimate goal.  When we come to know our God and His Word, we grasp that we move through this life not to be mere individuals who have breath for a few short years and return to dust.  God has made us eternal spirits who temporarily inhabit these mortal bodies, but what we accomplish in these mortal bodies through our actions, attitudes, words and faith, impacts others and us for all of eternity.  Eternal destiny and position is determined in the few short years of our temporal existence.  We have been given the choice, to live only for the temporary or to invest our mortality into the eternal.  These lives that we now possess are a gift and no one knows just how long we have this gift to make a difference in others and ourselves.  As we move through our lives we need to have that sense of destiny, purpose and commitment that all that we are should be to His glory and to fulfill His purpose in us.

In Him we have our being.  We know that God is all around us.  We know that as believers God has come to reside in our spirits.  Most all of us know God’s omnipresence, but how many of us know His manifest presence?   Deuteronomy 34:10 says of Moses, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”  James 2:23 says of Abraham, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”  These were men that knew God, not from a distance, they didn’t just know the acts of God as Israel did; they knew God up close and personal.  They had not only an intimate encounter with God, but also an intimate life with Him.  This is the state of being that is God’s desire for us, that in Him we, with each breath, live and move and have our being.  Christ has made the way for us to approach His throne boldly and come into His awesome presence.  Our greatest desire and purpose should be that this is not just a place of visitation, but a place of habitation.

Are there truly words or expressions of thanksgiving that exist that could adequately honor and appreciate the Lord our God in whom we live and move and have our being?

Blessings,

#kent

You Say You Love Me

November 20, 2018

 

You Say You Love Me

 

Matthew 15:8

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.

 

            You say you love Me, but your heart is so far from Me.  Your mind and heart is upon Me in passing, but your thoughts, affections and attentions quickly distract you; so quickly I am set aside.  You say you are My friend, but conversation is a hodge-podge of interruptions as the world presses in around you and again you speak to Me in passing.  You say that I am your God and yet you are constantly scheming and planning how to accomplish your goals and pleasures.  You ask for My direction and leading, but never really take the time to seek and listen for it.  You go to church to worship and listen to My Word and even there your mind is wandering.  Even on the day you proclaim to be mine you pursue your own pleasures and desires.

            Intimacy is cultivated through time spent and direct attention given to the object of your affection and relationship. You lack intimacy and relationship because it is not your priority.  Intimacy is developed through a quality of exchange between two parties.  It is searching one another’s hearts and becoming one with them emotionally, physically and spiritually.  If you really love Me come into the bed chambers of My presence through worship.  Discard the clothing of worldly cares and distraction, the weights and sins that so easily beset you.  Have times when I alone am the sole purpose of your life, time and commitment, then you will know Me as your friend, your love and your life. 

            Do not continue to try and fool yourself into believing you have a relationship with Me if I am not the primary object of your affection, the purpose of your life and your reason for being.  So many are missing Me in this hour through the mere pretense of religion and relationship.  It is the same reason that your marriages fail and your children turn away from you. The temporal things have possessed your soul while the eternal things fall by the wayside.  Reevaluate your priorities and live according to those things that are most important, for soon this life will pass and all that is left is what you have built on an eternal foundation.  The house will be tested in the fire and only the eternal things will remain.  Be wise; build your house upon the rock so that it may stand the test of time and storm.  Don’t rob yourself through the deceitful gains of this world of the eternal riches that are yours in Christ.  Search your heart, be true to yourself; am I what you truly love most in this life?  You know My love does not waiver for you, that it is not conditional upon your performance or good deeds, but don’t treat it as common and take for granted all that I have done to express that love for you. Honor and fear Me, for I have humbled Myself that I might exalt you.  Do not despise through your neglect and complacency the calling and purpose that I have for you.  Return your heart and true affections and commitment to Me, so that I may have fellowship with you and reveal myself to you.  You are the object of My love, but I must truly be the object of yours.

Blessings,

#kent

The Blessing of Our Women

November 19, 2018

 

The Blessing of Our Women

 

Proverbs 31:8

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.

 

 

               Most all of us have a woman or women that are very special in our lives.  They are often so dependable, constant and such a continual source of blessing that we often become complacent and even unappreciative in our attitudes toward them.  Much like our attitude can become toward the Lord, we can become very insensitive to their presence, their continual serving and blessing and all that they contribute to our lives.  We often are far more acutely aware of their faults, their nagging, and their expectations.  Yet it is often some of these little irritating qualities that keep us on track, that help us live up to our abilities and responsibilities, and they are often the cornerstones of our households.  These little ladies look after us, pamper us, serve us, bless us, love us, even when we are unlovely and are constantly laying down their lives to unselfishly serve and bless their families. 

               Often we relegate one day a year to commemorate and recognize these special ones, which is much like just going to church on Christmas or Easter.  We should be so cognizant to love and appreciate them every day, in every way and through all of the little actions as well as the larger ones.  Sure they have their human side.  They can get cranky and irritable and some times hard to live with, but that may be a good indication that we as men and children aren’t doing our part to support, love and care for them. 

               I know my wife is so giving and far more generous than I am.  While I’m always carefully watching the bottom line, if there is something I really need or want, she doesn’t hesitate to try and bless me with it if it is in her power to do so.  Time would fail me to tell all of the examples of her giving and blessings in my life.  She is such an example of love and Christ to me in these areas.  Often, I get irritated with her for always asking me if I remembered this or that, but if she didn’t she knows that there is a good chance I would go off and forget it.  What I am saying is that these special women are such a constant source of blessing and help to us, and we usually cop an attitude with them in their efforts to help us keep on track. 

               Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”  We men and children that have godly women in our lives are very blessed and should never fail to praise and appreciate them.  They wear innumerable hats, continually work at daunting tasks and yet manage to love and serve their household in that process.  Many of us truly have heroines living among us whom we don’t love and appreciate nearly enough.  They deserve our best, because they give no less of themselves. 

               It is interesting that some of Jesus’ last thoughts and concerns, while hanging on a cross, were for His mother.  He delegated her care to the disciple John.  If we see Jesus throughout His ministry so tender, loving, forgiving and caring of women should we, as men, be any less so?  He valued women as few men did of that time.  The Word exhorts us husbands in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

               We must ask ourselves, as men, husbands and children, are we really everyday appreciating and showing the women in our lives how special they are?  Our encouragement and praise means so much to them and helps them to continue on in their endeavor to serve and bless us.  I speak this as strongly to myself as I do anyone else; that the women in your life are an extension of you in one way or another.  If we love ourselves then we must not fail to love and bless them as a part of ourselves.  Many of our marriages and relationships fail, because we cease to really love and appreciate one another.  We become focused on all of the faults and shortcomings and actually cause them to become accentuated through the negative confessions of our lips.  What if we were to speak, sometimes by faith, what we see or would like to see more of them, in a positive way?  What if we were to be sure and praise and appreciate often the positive aspects of one another while humbly and willingly receiving loving correction and exhortation from one another.  None of us are the perfect husband or wife, mother or child, but we can move and encourage one another toward that through the positive reinforcement we can bring to one another’s lives.  Let today and each coming day be a day of true appreciation of those special women in our lives.  Let us continually let them know how special they are and how much they bless our lives.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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