Appreciation

October 8, 2015

Appreciation

Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

One thing that is common in both God and man is that everybody likes to be appreciated. We will go to great lengths sometimes for others if they have a grateful heart and are appreciative of our efforts. It is important that we always appreciate the Lord. It is this appreciation that keeps us mindful of Him and all of His wonderful attributes and the blessings we so richly enjoy from Him. It is a dangerous thing for us to develop an ungrateful spirit. That spirit shuts us off from people and causes us to only be caught up with ourselves.
We see that thankfulness and appreciation to the Lord are basic steps of etiquette to entering into His presence and fellowship. Psalms 100:4 tells us, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.” We can never appreciate the Lord too much and that heart of thankfulness and praise should be resident in us continually. Appreciation gives value to the one receiving it and it is an act of humility and respectfulness on the part of the one delivering it.
The lack of appreciation has far different results. As many in the world were caught up in sin, it caused their hearts to become hardened toward God, as it can ours. What was the result of their ungratefulness and lack of appreciation to the glorious God and Creator who authored our lives and gave us life? Romans 1:18-32 gives the account of man’s ungratefulness and what results. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Our ungratefulness and lack of appreciation causes a perverted and arrogant way of thinking and leads us to God’s wrath and judgement. On the other hand, a truly grateful, thankful and appreciative heart can lead us into God’s very presence and the fullness of joy. What does God command us to do? Love Him with all of our hearts and love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we truly need to appreciate the Lord and appreciate those that God places in our lives. We might be amazed at the difference we would have in our relationships if we really became sensitive and attentive to appreciating those around us. We all want to feel that the things we do are worthwhile and that we are valued. We all want to be appreciated, even God.

Blessings,
#kent

Alert and Watching

February 27, 2014

 

Alert and Watching


Judges 7:5-7

So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 

7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. 


As I watched a sparrow feeding out of the bird-feeder this morning I was impressed at how it did not just casually eat with no other thought or worry in the world.  It was continually eating and watching, turning its head from side to side and aware of what was going on around it.  It didn’t take its safety and well being for granted, but was ready to fly at a moment’s notice.  I was reminded of the story of Gideon and how that out of thirty-two thousand whom volunteered to fight for Israel, God brought it down to three hundred.  The first thing God did to disqualify the excess numbers was to let all that were fearful or afraid go home.   God is raising up a people for His glory and one of the first things they must have is faith and confidence to believe and trust in their God.  A lack of faith and trust is the first thing to disqualify us.  Out of the thirty-two thousand that started twenty-two thousand went home.  Ten thousand were still too many people.  A battle won with that many men could be construed as man’s ability, rather than God’s.  God must receive the glory for the deliverance and if we think we have any strength or ability then we tend to dismiss God and take the glory for ourselves.  The second thing God did was to narrow the field  by having them drink water.  If they were down on their knees drinking with their head down and unaware of their surroundings they were disqualified.  Only three hundred lapped the water from their hands like dogs, because that way they were alert and ready, their physical needs were not turning their attention from their first duty as soldiers in readiness.  

Where are most of us as the body of Christ?  Where would we fit in among these thirty-two thousand that came to fight in the Lord’s army?  Have we become fearful and afraid? Has our faith and confidence in the Lord become weak?  Has our attention has been diverted by our blessings, by our affections for life and by all the other distractions that take our eyes off of the Lord. Have we ceased to really watch and be concerned about the things of God and the timing of God?  I don’t believe the Lord is looking for us to be fearful or paranoid, but He is looking for those like the three hundred that fought with Gideon, who are alert and watching in their spirit.  They are attuned to when the enemy is around, where he is at and what he is doing.  They are not allowing themselves to become vulnerable by becoming lethargic and complacent.  They are sensitive to the hour and the timing of the Lord, watching to move at His command and His coming.

This aspect of watchfulness is addressed a number of times and especially in the New Testament, but in Psalm 130:6 David says, “My soul [waiteth] for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: [I say, more than] they that watch for the morning.”  

Jesus teaches us this throughout the gospels such as in Matthew 24, 4“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many…13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…” 42″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 

45″Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise and the five foolish.  When the Lord did come the foolish missed out, because they were unprepared and not watching.  When they came back it was too late and the door was shut to them.  Verse 13 says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Mark 13:37 says, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”  1 Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  1 Thessalonians 5:6 tells us, “Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.”  Paul exhorts Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

The Lord is speaking to all of us today to rise up off of our haunches of complacency and spiritual dullness.  Now is the day to really get our ears in tune with the Spirit of God and our hearts ready to meet Him.  He is exhorting us not to neglect the day of His visitation, but as good soldiers, to prepare ourselves and be watching for Him.  When the Lord comes will He find most of us at the water hole, drinking our fill and oblivious to the spiritual time, hour and condition of our hearts?  

When the Spirit addresses the churches in Revelation 3, the first concern that He addresses is one of watchfulness.  Revelations 3:3-6 says, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Isn’t this what He is speaking to our hearts today?

 
Blessings,
kent

Affectionately Loving One Another
Romans 12:10
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Did you ever notice that the people that you end up neglecting and abusing the most are usually the ones you say that you love the most? They are most often your family, close friends, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ. The ironic thing is that we often give preference to the ones or the things that are putting the more demands and abuses on our lives, but in the scheme of things are less in importance. Somehow we just expect those we love and prefer to understand when we put them last on our agenda or speak or treat them harshly. Perhaps many of you, like myself, find your lives out of balance with your priorities and preferences. In a society in which we find ourselves running like crazy in a thousand different directions, with people and pressures pressing in on us on every side, when something has to give it is usually our family. That can apply to both our immediate families as well as the family of God. Isn’t it strange that we are doing all of these things that in our minds we consider for the benefit of our families and yet they are often suffering as a result of them? What’s wrong that picture?
I speak this first for my own benefit and then for the benefit of anyone else who thinks it may apply to them. I find I get an agenda set in my mind and I’m not real tolerant of interruptions to that agenda. Some of you, like myself, may find that you have created walls of hurt and wounded the ones closest to you. You have communicated to them so many times through your actions and words that they aren’t as important or as valuable as so many other things in your life. My feeling is that this is a major problem with a good many of our families and relationships. We all need to get our priorities in order. God and his people are often at the forefront of our offense list. It is not usually something we do intentionally and often quite subtly these neglects and abuses creep in to undermine our most precious relationships and destroy one of the most valuable commodities we possess, our families, friends and brethren. We often put up our pretty fronts around others, but the loved ones so often see a whole different face and attitude.
Those closest to us rub us the hardest. We would most like to blame them for being the problem with us, but in reality if we didn’t already have a problem then a lot of what they did wouldn’t irritate us so. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t get a person’s goat unless they have a goat to be got.”
The unconditional love of God prefers the other above themselves. It displays that preference by being affectionate. The connotation of our theme verse is to be tenderly reciprocating love and caring in a relational way as with a parent and child or husband and wife. It is preferring the other above yourself. Please join with me in making it our goal to set the priorities of our relationships and commitments straight. Let our God be at the forefront of all that we do, then our family, our relationships with each other, then those outside and then us. Let’s make it our first priority to invest in the eternal things and then the temporal.

Blessings,
kent

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