Lord of the Storm

December 7, 2018

Matthew 8:23-27

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

 

Lord of the Storm

 

Waves are crashing, wind, lightning, thunder,

At any time it looks like we will all go under,

Desperate measures to save our ship,

As the storm blows, tosses, tears and rips.

 

One sleeps peacefully in the hull,

Nothing seems to bother Him at all,

“Lord don’t you care that we all can perish,”

We are about to lose all that we value and cherish.

 

“Why are you fearful, oh ye of little faith?”

“When will you come to know your place?”

He rebuked the winds and there came a calm,

Mighty is He that rights the wrongs.

 

“What manner of man is this within our hull?”

“In Him there are no limitations at all.”

“He speaks and the winds obey,

What will He do if we believe and pray?”

 

The storms of life are tossing us to and fro.

Evil reports are found wherever we go.

Will we not believe the Lord’s report?

In time of need will we find the Lord’s support?

 

Know Him who calms the seas!

Know Him who has the power to make you free!

Know Him who hears you when you call!

Know Him within you, who is your all!

Kent Stuck

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Believing into Relationship

December 5, 2018

John 14:1

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

 

Believing into Relationship

 

Many people will say they believe in God and they approach Him in different ways with different beliefs and religions.  They may be very fervent in their belief or have a generic belief that, “yes, I believe there is a God.”  They may even believe in Jesus in a religious or generic sense, but what distinguishes, “The Believer” from a believer?  In as much as many of them know, all is good and they have all that they need.  Who is the believer?  Certainly there are many devout Jews who believe in God.  They are very careful to observe the law, days, traditions and to be Kosher in all that they eat.  There are many “Christians” who piously and faithfully go to church every Sunday.  If works are the criteria then surely they must qualify.

Jesus made a simple statement here in John 14:1 and goes on to better qualify what that means in the following verses, but the Holy Spirit put His focus on this one verse for a reason.  If you want real peace from a troubled heart then know that it is not just about believing in God, but also believing in His only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus isn’t saying here that He is separate from God, because they are one. What He is saying is that the interface of a relationship with God the Father is through the Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus has been the expression of the Father in the flesh.  He has not lived His life in accordance with His own will or desires.  Luke 10:22 says, “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and [he] to whom the Son will reveal [him].”  If you want a real revelation of who God the Father is, it is only revealed through the Son.  Jesus only did and spoke those things that He heard from the Father and that is where He is desiring to bring His disciples.

When Jesus was crucified, resurrected and had ascended to the Father He sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who is the third part of the Godhead, to indwell us as believers, so that we might have a channel to hear and do as Jesus did.  He is our channel through whom Christ is revealing Himself through us.  When Jesus says, “believe also in me”, He becomes the head and the husband under which all the true church is gathered and united.  It doesn’t carry a denominational label.  It isn’t attained to by religion or the good works of man.  It starts with that act of faith that embraces Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, but it doesn’t stop there.  It is a progressive salvation.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul prays, ” And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Salvation begins in our spirit man, but its work is to permeate and sanctify our whole man, spirit, soul and body.  Jesus walked blameless in all three of these dimensions.  As we yield wholly and completely to the in-working of the Holy Spirit, this is where He is leading us, out of self and into Him.  That is why He is now our identity and no longer the old man of sin we identified with prior to a revelation of Christ in us.

If we want a revelation of the Father God then we must believe in the Son.  That believing and continual work of faith, trust and obedience is what is what is bringing us into our sonship.  John 1:12 says, ” But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on His name.”  Romans 8:14 says, ” For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Through this Christ believing, Spirit filled relationship, we are being directed into our destiny and calling of relationship and sonship with Abba Father, because we are in the Son and He is in us and we are one, even as They are One (John 17:20-26).  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2).”

Blessings,

#kent

Foolishness

December 3, 2018

 

Foolishness

 

Ecclesiastes 7:25

25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

          Folly and foolishness is bound up in the heart of all of us. What motivates one man to pursue wisdom and another to pursue folly and foolishness?  What is folly and foolishness?  In this scripture it is defined as the “stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.”   Stupidity isn’t just ignorance or not knowing.  It is knowing what the right choice is and still choosing the wrong one.  None of us have ever been stupid or foolish have we; knowing what is right and choosing to do the wrong thing anyway?  We do it far more than we would like to admit.  What motivates us to sin?  It is foolishness.  Now why are we so stupid?  I guess it is what our stubborn flesh wants to do and the desire to satisfy it is stronger than the desire to be obedient to the mind and will of God. 

          The book of Proverbs spends quite a bit of its content addressing the contrast between wisdom and foolishness.  Wisdom is the pursuit of life and the knowledge and understanding of it.  It opposes foolishness, because wisdom’s direction is grounded in the principles that lead us to understanding and embracing the mind, will and purpose of God.  Proverbs says that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  As God’s children and even as adults we want to hold on to a lot of our foolishness.  We can be wise in some areas, but there are other areas we don’t want to let go of folly.  As a result we see the fruit of it in our lives.  It affects our relationships, our finances and taints so much of our life.  Why are we so stupid we won’t let go of it?  Usually it has become a stronghold in us that now rules over us instead of us over it.  These strongholds of foolishness can destroy us if we let them.  We know what is right, but seem helpless to be obedient to the truth in certain areas.  Here again the wisdom of the Lord is our deliverance.  The first act of wisdom is when we acknowledge that these areas are wrong and we no longer want to be a slave to them.  In our repentance we must seek God’s help; for it will not be conquered in our own power.  It is wisdom to seek the help of trusted brothers or sisters who will pray with us, stand with us and hold us accountable.  Our deliverance is when we come out of the darkness and into the light.  In the light, satan is powerless and all his deceitfulness is exposed.  It is in the darkness of our minds and the privacy our own thoughts he works to deceive and entice us to sin and folly. 

          Wisdom is known, not by her knowledge, but by her works.  Many are ever learning, but never able to come to knowledge of the truth.  Wisdom is spiritual and practical application of godly principles.  Foolishness is poor judgment and wrong choices motivated by selfishness.  All of us have a certain amount of foolishness left in us, but what are we pursuing today?  Are we hungry and passionate about laying hold of the mind of Christ which is wisdom in circumstances of life or are we given to folly and just going with the flow?  1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us; For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  Our foolishness is bound up in the heart of our selfishness, only the cross at work in us will deliver us into the wisdom of the life and mind of God.  Are we willing to release the stupidity of our folly and pursue wisdom at all cost to us? 

            Paul exhorts the Colossians, as well as us in Colossians 2: 1-4, For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and [for] them at Laodicea, and [for] as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  Christ is our wisdom and the standard against our folly.  He is the deliverance from our foolish ways as we apply the principles of wisdom He is teaching us daily through our obedience.   Remember, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise. (Proverbs 12:15)”  Will you seek wisdom today as you pursue to know and do the will of God in every area of your life?

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

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

Under the Shadow of His Wing

November 15, 2018

 

Under the Shadow of His Wing

 

Matthew 23:37

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!

 

Is this not a commentary on our nation today as we have little by little removed God from our schools, our government, our homes and our hearts?  The Lord spoke to Israel back in Deuteronomy 8 among other places.  He made promises to them of His provision and protection if they were faithful to not forsake and turn away from Him.  It grieves many of us as Christians to see the state our nation is in and where it is heading.  I can only think that it is because there are still many who do cry out against the abominations we see in our country and that we know grieves the heart of God, that God has mercifully withheld His judgement thus far .  The events of 9/11 and other nation impacting event are a wake-up call to us to bring us to that place of repentance and call us to return to the Lord with our whole hearts.  Thank God He has mercifully given us a godly leader at this time that is bold to hold up a standard of righteousness in strength.  One who promotes justice and truth and the right to life.  God forbid that we continue on as Israel did to their own destruction.  There is a place of protection in God and we have forsaken it.

Under the hierarchy of God there is an order of authority and leadership.  When each one is in submission to their respective head and leadership there is a divine order of protection and blessing.  When that order is forsaken through disobedience, rebellion, self-will and sin, the umbrella of God’s blessing and protection has been stepped out of.  The shield of faith has been dropped and we have made ourselves vulnerable to the mortal wounds of our adversary.  We see this breakdown in God’s order all around us from the individual, to family, to church, to government, to God Himself.  God founded this nation to be a type of New Israel.  He divinely fashioned and established it.  He has blessed it to become the greatest nation on the earth, but we are going the way of our forefathers, natural Israel.  God, through the Holy Spirit is speaking to His Church and to His nation to be gathered in the unity of the faith under the shadow and protection of the wings of our God.  In that place of obedience nothing touches us but what it first has to go through our God, but in our state of rebellion and disobedience we remove the hedge of His protection.

I remember a precious friend and saint of God many years ago was given a vision when her children were still young and in the household.  She saw a horrible and hideous beast around her house checking every door and window, looking for some way in to get to her children.  The Lord showed her that as long as her children remained in submission and obedience to their parents they were protected, but if they refused and chose to go out from the house they removed themselves from the hedge and umbrella of protection and were prey for that beast.   What we sometimes forget and take for granted is that when we get out of order and remove ourselves from God’s protection, then we not only make ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, but also those that are under our authority and responsibility.

The Lord is calling us back to His heart today, to repent and come quickly back under the shadow of His wing.  Let us return to Him with our whole hearts and stand in the place of intercession for the hearts of so many that have grown cold and callused against the Lord.  We can only expect that in the last days the division and the line between light and darkness will become more pronounced and distinct.  This is a day for spiritual battle and we must prepare our hearts and spirits for it.

Blessings,

#kent

The Path of Faith

November 14, 2018

 

The Path of Faith

 

Isaiah 30:21

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

 

Imagine the Lord placing you at the entrance of a single lane road.  It is early morning and a fog is encompassing the area.  The lane is lined on both sides by large trees.  The sunlight is soft as it penetrates the fog and filters softly through the leaves of the trees.  As you look up the lane your visibility is limited by the misty atmosphere and you can only see down the lane a short distance.  You have no idea what lies further down the road or what you will encounter as you walk down that lane.  All you have is a Word that the Lord gave you, “”I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me (John 14:6).  Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 31:21).” All that you have is the Word of the Lord and the faith that if you follow this way it will lead you to the Father and His eternal life.

On your side is a pouch filled with seed.  In you right hand is jar of water.  With these you have been given the instruction that as you travel down this road, sow seed along the wayside and when you see seed that is struggling to grow, water it.

And so you begin your journey down the path.   At times it is pleasant and uneventful. There are often many distractions and desirable things that are wooing you away from the path.  Then there are times when the fog moves in even thicker.  The air so damp and heavy and cold it almost pushes you to the ground as you struggle to feel your way along the path that you can no longer see with your eyes.  At times the hardship seems too much and you want quit, get off of that path and turn into some nice warm and comfortable shelter.  But behind you, you hear that still small voice in your spirit that continues to say, “This is the way, walk in it.”  As you persevere, eventually the fog lifts and sun shines and your heart rejoices that you have come through and back into the light.  You suddenly grasp the revelation that the sun never stopped shinning, it had never gone away, the only thing that changed was your perception, it was simply obscured by the clouds of your circumstance and natural surroundings.   There were times the path became very steep, rocky and treacherous.  One slip and you could plummet over the cliff to a sure death.  Somehow you weren’t afraid, your heart was confident and sure, because you knew you were still walking in the “way”, up the path of life.

During your journey you were faithful to scatter and plant the seed that was in your pouch, along the wayside.  You were frustrated as you saw that the birds feeding along the path consumed much of it.  You were disappointed that much of it fell on hardened and rocky soil and while it soon sprang up, it quickly withered, because it had no root and lacked moisture.  Some that you scattered among the weeds and thorns came up but was quickly choked out, but your heart rejoiced when some that you planted fell on good ground and they came up to bear fruit in varying degrees.  You were also blessed when you came to those seeds that were thirsting and withering for lack of moisture.  As you watered them, you saw them regain their strength.  You saw those bowed over in discouragement, encouraged and renewed in hope and in life.  You were blessed that in your journey you could be a part in sowing and watering.   Though your way was often difficult and not without many struggles, you found your greatest joy was what you could impart of the life that had so freely and graciously been imparted to you.

At long last your journey comes to an end as you emerge through the mist and fog to behold the great city to where this path had led you.  As you marvel in awe of its magnificent splendor, you enter through the gate where the Lord, who had first set you on this path, greets you.  There, He lovingly embraces you and says, “…Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).” As you stand there with joy flooding your heart, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2);” you are so thankful that His grace sustained you and that you continued in the path of faith that led you into eternal Life and the arms of Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

Many of us struggle with approaching God and establishing the relationship with Him that our spirit man longs for.  We want to hear the Lord speak to us, we want His direction for our lives, at least we think we do, and we want a relationship where we have a continual abiding fellowship and dialogue with the Lord.

We keep thinking, “what am I missing”?  Why aren’t I feeling closer to God?  Why don’t I hear His voice and get His direction more?  Our answers could lie in these verses and in this chapter.  For many of us we are loosing the battle to the flesh in too many areas of our lives.  We are back and forth between spirit and flesh.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and so we struggle with living consistent lives in the Spirit.

The first thing God tells us here, that we need to do, is submit.  Literally it means to be subordinate and be yielded to another’s control.  This is the same context of submission as Ephesians 5:22 requires when it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Men we are not really different from our wives. We really want to be in the driver’s seat concerning our lives.  One of the reasons we are missing God is we aren’t fully resigned in obedience to Him.  Wives, if you aren’t really submitted to your husbands, then you aren’t really fully submitted to Christ.  We all have to follow the order of authority that God has laid down for us in our lives.

The second area is “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Many of us are hit and miss at this as well.  We have good intentions, we mean well, but too many times we miss the mark.  Our resistance must be in direct proportion to our insistence that Christ is Lord.  When Jesus encountered the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, He insisted on the authority of the Word lining up in obedience to God.  Many, like the devil, take the Word and pervert it to try and say what justifies their particular lust and desires.  Resist the devil with the Spirit and the Word.  We are weak, but He is strong.  Our strength is in our abiding, obedient relationship with Christ.  He is the overcomer in us. We have to see ourselves through the lens of who we are in Christ.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  Are we continually approaching God in an attitude of true humility, contriteness and repentance?  Are His praises continually in our mouth, His meditation in our heart and is our purpose to find His will and plan for us personally?  What must we do to draw near?  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  The first and foremost thing is that we have to be totally serious in our intent to find God’s presence.   God sees right through our heart, our intents and motives.  James 1:4-8 tells us, “4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If we want God to take us seriously, then we have to be totally serious with Him.  Isn’t it interesting that again in this passage of James 5 he uses this terminology of “double-minded”?  This is where most of us find ourselves, divided between heaven and earth.  We look up at God and say, ” yes, I want you Father,” and then we look back at earth and think, “yeah, but I don’t really want to give that up, lay that down or turn away from that area in my life.”  We are double-minded, torn in two directions, but the Word calls us adulteresses, those of us who break our vows with our friendship with the world. It is this attitude and state of mind that we must grieve, mourn and wail over.  We must hate it so much that it becomes a stench to us.  We must be so grieved at any attitude or behavior that is contrary to the nature and character of Christ in us. He must forever be our all in all.  There must be so much of a humility and brokenness in our hearts that God will lift us up and know that we mean business with Him.  The lower we are willing to go the higher He can lift us up.  The more we are willing to die, the more of the resurrection life of Christ we are able to lay hold of.  How is our approach as we seek to find God’s presence today?

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

 

Aren’t we so often presumptuous to think we have the right or the ability to judge or to speak ill of one another?  Most of us have been guilty of passing judgements at one time or another and then some us make a career of it.  The word teaches us that if we want to judge someone we need to judge ourselves, not to condemn ourselves, but to discern our own hearts and motives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”  There is one Lawgiver and Judge.  His judgements are just and true because He sees the end from the beginning and sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. He sees all that surrounds a person and why they are like they are.  We see through very finite, limited vision and understanding into a person and yet we so often presume we are justified in passing judgements on them.

In Matthew 7: 1-7 Jesus teaches us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “  Jesus is reminding us that each one of us have our own issues we need to deal with.  How can we justify casting stones at others when we ourselves are not without sin?  Oh, I’m sure we are not near as bad as the person that we are judging is, at least not so in our own eyes.

Romans 2:1-4 reiterates the dangers of placing ourselves in the place of a lawgiver and judge, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Our own standards and perceptions often dictate our judgements.  As another man of God pointed out, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is made up of our perceptions and values of right and wrong.  When we judge others we are not judging from the tree of Life, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know that this tree results in death.

When we operate out of the tree of Life then our purpose is to give life in place of death, to offer strength and help where there is weakness, to rescue and restore one another, not to condemn and judge.   We are all experts when it comes to finding fault, but are we as proficient at finding solutions.  Some us  think we are and try and play the role of the Holy Spirit as we try to change and conform others into the image that we think that they ought to be.

Think through your life.  Are you the same person you were when you were eight, or eighteen or twenty-eight and so on.  Think about how your thinking has changed, your maturity, your views, values and understanding of things.  Think about how your walk and relationship with God has changed.  We can easily see that we are always changing, even though many things about us seem to remain the same.  Did others have a right to pass judgements on us as we passed through those changes and stages of life?

Every one of us is a unique individual.  God created us that way.  We are all different and we all have our unique and individual quirks that may rub someone else the wrong way.  That is why love, longsuffering, patience and self-control are all attributes of the Spirit.  They are something we all need in us to get along and tolerate and even love each other.

Perhaps we need to instill more compassion in place of our judgement, words of faith, kindness and encouragement in place of our slander and criticisms.  Give others the same grace and mercy that you would want God to extend to you.

Blessings,

#kent

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