Colossians 3:18-19
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them.

The Road back to Love and Intimacy

Remember when your romance was as sweet as honey and the love of your life could do no wrong. You adored them, idolized them and wanted to spend every moment together. Many of us, looking back at those younger years, ask ourselves, “what happened to that first love?” We still may love each other, but many couples struggle with the “feelings of love” that are missing. The romance has died way down and now you may find that instead of really loving and cherishing that wonderful man or woman you are struggling to get along with them. The man may feel like the wife is always nagging him, he can never do enough or anything right, she doesn’t respect and honor him. The woman may feel like the husband has become an insensitive jerk that never communicates or works through the problems, he doesn’t meet her needs. Over the years and the cycles of good and bad times, we can accumulate a lot of baggage. If I ask you if you love your husband or your wife, you would quite likely reply, “will of course I do,” but neither one of you may be experiencing the love from one another that you feel and know should be there. We may say we hold no unforgiveness toward one another, but in reality both parties bear scars, wounds, unresolved conflicts and issues that linger in the subconscious ready to rear their ugly heads at the right moment, opportunity or provocation. We find that we fail to often treat each other with the love, dignity and respect that both parties are due in a marriage.
Fifty percent of our marriages fail due to these kind of issues, but how many more are struggling and hurting? We need to return to that place of intimacy and closeness that we once shared, but we can’t until we are able let down the walls we’ve built up and are willing to let go of all the offenses, hurts and bitterness that we carry.
When the Word says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” that submission might be just creating a safe place where your husband can share with you. It needs to be a place where you aren’t venting your anger, frustration, criticism and unhappiness, no matter how justified you may feel with those feelings. If you want your husband to communicate and be sensitive to your needs, you have to create an atmosphere of submission where you really want to see, feel and understand his heart. That can be a hard place for a man. He may not be in touch with his feelings the way you are, so be gentle and be patient and above all, be kind.
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Husbands can be very confrontational, critical and harsh, but many repress their feelings and emotions. They retreat into that shell of seeming insensitivity and non-communication. Many times it is a response of self-preservation. Often the harder the wife tries to break through that seeming insensitivity with harsh or critical words the more the husband withdrawals. If you want the turtle to stick his head out of the shell you have to stop beating on the shell and make him feel that when he sticks his head out it won’t get bit off. Husbands can hold a lot of things in their hearts that they may not even be fully aware of. Their means of retaliation may be more passive or subtle, but it may be coming from a bitterness that has built up in their hearts against their wives. They, on the other hand, need to really listen to the heart of their wives and make those needs their goals to fulfill. They need to make them feel secure in your love for them and remember them often in the little gifts, the things you do and say. Marriage is a teaching ground for unconditional love and service. It is where we should both be learning to lay down our lives for the other. Love is not always about feeling, but about commitment, covenant and a decision to love your spouse unconditionally even when they don’t derserve it.
Maybe we need to come together as a couple where we can agree that the love of Christ is going to rule and dictate our behavior and response to one another. We need to hold one another, not sexually, but intimately, while we confess our sins, our hurts and failures to one another. We need to truly commit to a willingness to really forgive and hear the other person’s heart. We need an uninterrupted time of reconciliation where we can write down and commit to one another some realistic goals where we will begin to address some of our deepest issues. Keep it simple and not more than we can realistically deal with at one time. Start with just three things each. Then let’s make a date for our next intimate time we can meet with the same right heart and attitude, in the love of Christ to see how we are doing. Again, we need to keep it safe and non-confrontational. This is a team project and we can’t succeed if we only have our own agenda and interest at heart. We can’t expect to mend and restore a broken down barn in a day or even a week, it will take time to restore, just as it took time to deteriorate. We can change the cycle and the direction of our marriages if we will both commit to it and stay with it. We will begin to see our true intimacy and love begin to come alive in our feelings and the way we treat one another. God wants to see our marriages strong and alive with His love. There is a lot of truth to the addage that ‘the family that prays together, stays together’. It is hard to be right with each other when we are not right with God. If we are committed to Christ, then we must also be committed to one another, for we are one flesh. Together let’s build the road back to true love and intimacy like we had in our first love.

Blessings,
#kent

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Hebrews 10:35-36
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Hold Fast to Your Relationship

Have you ever exercised, ran a race or just lived life and you came to the place where you thought you couldn’t or didn’t want to go any further. You were tired, exhausted, maybe even discouraged and felt defeated. There are times as we walk through life trying to hold fast the faith that we get tired. We just want to let ourselves drift back into the flesh and quit the daily effort of living a life of faith and righteousness. Perhaps we have a friend or loved one who is always pressuring us to go out and have fun with them or do the things we know would be displeasing to the Lord. There are times we get weak, we get discouraged and we want to give up trying and fighting the good fight of our faith. “After all, God still loves me and maybe He is not all that interested in what I do and don’t do.”
I can tell you from experience that when we step through that door, we step out of our place of fellowship and relationship with the Lord that we have cultivated through our walk and prayer time with Him. Often we don’t even realize what we do have and what His fellowship means to us until we lose it. When we walk away from it, that ground is so much harder to gain back the second time. The Lord knows our heart and our feelings, but we must be careful not to allow the enemy to come in and rob us of that confidence and relationship we have in Him. It is often so subtle and many times perpetrated through the ones we like and love.
The Lord says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The pressures and the trials of life often weigh heavy upon us and we sometimes want to give up, but the Word says, “don’t throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Stay the course, don’t give up and don’t give in. Find your rest and your strength day by day in the Good Shepherds arms. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

Are We Easily Offended?

December 18, 2013

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.


Are We Easily Offended?


What is our first reaction when somebody, ruffles our feathers, steps on our turf, wounds our pride, pushes our buttons or does something hurtful to us?  Don’t we see ourselves as the victim?  The one who has been wronged and hurt?  So our first inclination is to share it with someone who will sympathize with us and reinforce that this person has wronged us.  When an offense is shared and spreads to others it, in turn, brings division and separates us into camps.  As a result there is discord and separation of fellowship and relationship.  Our offense then becomes a stumbling block to others.  

Now as Christians we should know this and not so readily fall into this trap and yet it seems like we are some of the worse when it comes to being offended.  If we truly have our identity in Christ then, are our feelings really the issue or is it about hosting Christ’s presence, love and forgiveness, even in the face of legitimate offenses.  What Proverbs is telling us here is that if we are the promoters of God’s love, then love covers a multitude of sins, even as the love of Jesus has covered and forgiven a multitude of ours.  Every time we choose to sin, is that not an offense to God?  If God brought us into condemnation every time we offended Him with our sins, we would continually live in condemnation and separation of fellowship.  That same love that is in the heart of God to tolerate us and forgive us has to be the same love that we carry in our hearts to forgive others.  

We should make every effort not to offend others whether they are Christians or not.  1 Corinthians 10:31-33 instructs us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”  

There are so many saints that pass from church to church, fellowship to fellowship because of offenses.  We have to know who we are in Christ, where we have been planted and what our purpose is in where we are at.  People are always going to hurt our feelings and disappoint us and it may be the pastor, elder or someone we look up too.  If your eyes are on them then we are following the wrong one.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus, stop majoring on what others do or don’t do and focus on who you are in Christ and what that is suppose to look before others.  Let’s let our feelings not be so sensitive to others, but sensitive to the Holy Spirit and getting God’s heart and mind in a matter.  Sometimes we may be a hundred percent in the right, but still need to go and apologize to someone for the perceived wrong that we have done in their eyes; not because we are wrong, but because it is the love of Christ to reconcile a matter to restore peace and right relationship.  There are some who use being offended as a means of control to get their way, because people don’t want them to be upset.  That is witchcraft, from such turn away if they are unwilling to repent. 

The enemy does his greatest works in the dark and the misunderstandings of our minds.  The more we can bring things to the light and approach them with God’s nature, the more quickly they are resolved and dissolved.   When we speculate about what others are thinking, or what their non-verbal communication is saying, we open our minds and emotions to the deceptiveness of the enemy.  1 John 4:16-20 reminds us of this nature of God’s love.  “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19We love each other because he loved us first.

20If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” 

Colossians 3:13 instructs us, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Let’s practice drowning those offenses in love and forgiveness. 

 

Blessings,

kent

What’s Under the Surface

January 10, 2013

Ephesians 4:29-32
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

What’s Under the Surface

No matter how long you are around the “Christian” community it never ceases to amaze you what can come out of outwardly godly people. There are a lot of “Christians” that talk the talk, quote scriptures, praise the Lord, preach the gospel, but if you step on their toes or push their buttons they can totally come uncorked on you. That precious godly appearance and demeanor can suddenly turn into something totally unrecognizable and manifest some of the most ungodly words and behavior. Suddenly that person that was so sweet and kind to you can become your worst nightmare. It is amazing how we as “Christians”, who are suppose to be carrying the love and nature of Christ can suddenly become so unChristlike and so easily offended.
The test of a true believer and the character of what is in them is best revealed when they are under pressure and persecution. Their response is a window into the heart of their character. Do they respond with kindness and compassion, forgiving the other as Christ has forgiven them, or do they respond in bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice?
One of the first things that we need to realize and get a revelation of when we come into Christ is that we died to the natural man. Many of us have no clue about the death to self, we have only candy coated our exterior to look “Christian”. If we truly grasp “that it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me”, then why are we so easily offended when we don’t get our way, when people don’t meet our expectations or they step on our toes?
It is an interesting dynamic in churches to see how many people come and go. Many come in thinking it is the greatest church in the world until something doesn’t meet their approval and then they are out of there, continuing their quest for the Holy Grail of churches that will meet all of their expectations.
People are human and by nature, many of them will offend or fail you at some point in life. Your response to their offense or failure in your eyes, speaks to the maturity of where you at in Christ. Are your eyes on Jesus or are they on people? Are you covering others in love or are you finding fault and taking up offenses?
What I find even more amusing is that most of those who become so indignant with their offenders, no matter how they, personally may act or what they say, they are totally justified, righteous and feel they have been given the God-given mandate to judge and condemn those they are offended with. They become totally blind to their own conduct and unChristlike nature. We become God’s fruit inspectors while ignoring the fruit of our own actions and words. Nothing reveals a religious spirit more than this.
How do we respond when others purposely or accidentally push our buttons? Is Christ in control or is the flesh unleashed? Many times our own households are the proving ground of what our true character is. We are most unguarded around the ones we love and feel safe with. How do we respond to them in times of irritation and testing?
“Christianity” isn’t a new suit we can take on and off. It is a lifestyle of growing up into the very nature and character of Christ. One of the things that works that nature in us is in practicing His presence in the midst of adverse situations. Responding out of the Spirit and not out of the flesh. Practicing love and forgiveness where we might feel justified to dislike and hate.
Thank God for your enemies, your offenders, those that step on your toes and push your buttons. They can do a work in you that your friends never will. They are the ones that test the metal of what you really carry within you and the character you are living out of. When you don’t see Christ, then it is time to repent and ask the Lord to help you go deeper, abiding in the Spirit and not just looking spiritual. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Blessings,
kent

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