My Friend, Billy

June 4, 2015

John 14:15-20
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

My Friend, Billy

John was a middle-aged man of medium height. He lived on a street called Marigold Drive in a small house that his mother had left to him after she died. John was a reclusive man, with few friends and outside interests. John was an auto mechanic by trade and he worked on cars in his garage accessed by the alley behind his house. His work came from word of mouth and he kept relatively busy as he was conscientious about his work and his prices were quite reasonable.
John had never married or had kids. He had been a loner all of his life. Some thought John a bit eccentric and strange, but most saw a gentle and quite man who had just never really engaged with the society that surrounded him.
John had some customers come in one day that had a young boy, about eight, named William. His friends all called him Billy. Billy was very engaging and outgoing. He seemed to take to John right off when they came in. He was fascinated with the mechanics and workings of a car, so he had a barrage of questions for John as John was assessing the problem with their vehicle. For a lot of people, Billy would have been a bit of a nuisance and agitation, but the boy’s curious nature and vivacious personality really impressed John. He patiently answered and explained question after question that Billy had for him. The folks lived relatively close to John, so John invited the boy to come over and help him if he would like. Billy was very excited about the prospect of being an auto mechanic and launched a massive plea for his parent’s approval and permission. They agreed that after Billy had gotten his chores done around that house he could ride his bike over to John’s and help him out. John and Billy seemed to just hit it off from the start and Billy became to John that close friend that he had never really had. Billy respected and accepted John for just who he was and John appreciated in Billy all the things that he wasn’t.
As John and Billy’s friendship grew, Billy was over John’s at every opportunity, hanging out with his new best friend. John was teaching him what he knew and Billy was helping John better grasp the world around him. They were good friends that met needs in one another.
Now Billy’s parents were strong Christians who had raised Billy up in the Lord and Billy had a strong faith and personal relationship of his own with Jesus Christ. Every Sunday morning he was gone to church, but in the afternoon he loved to go over and just hang out with John. John had never been around religious people or grown up with a knowledge of the Lord. He was a good, honest, hard working individual, but he didn’t know the Lord in a personal relationship. When Billy would come over on Sunday afternoon, he would excitedly share with John all that he had learned that day at church. John saw in little Billy qualities and attributes that he desired and wished were in himself. He admired his faith and Billy would always want to say the blessing whenever they shared a meal together. Billy began to ask John if he would come to church with him. John was reluctant and negative about going at first, but Billy could be quite persistent in his own eager way, so John finally agreed to go. This was a totally new and strange environment for John. He felt totally uncomfortable and out of place. He didn’t understand all that was taking place and much of what was said was like a foreign language to him. The only real comfort he had was his friend Billy sitting next to him, smiling at him whenever he looked over. As he listened to the sermon, his heart was touched that there could be this One called Jesus that could love him so much that he would be willing to die for his wrong-doing. After several Sundays of going to church with Billy, John walked up that aisle and gave his heart to Jesus. With the love of Christ welling up in John’s heart, now it was John that became like a sponge soaking up all that Billy could tell him about this Jesus.
Meanwhile, next door to John lived an older widow woman who liked to always have her nose in someone else’s business. When she observed Billy always over at John’s and the close friendship they had, she began to gossip with her neighbors and make accusation and suggestions about what must be going on between them. After all, that John had never gotten married, so he was probably some sort of pervert or pedophile. John’s neighbors stopped speaking with him and began to look on him as some sort of criminal. John began to notice his business was dropping off and fewer people were coming to him.
Then, one day the worst thing of all happened. Billy came over in the car with his parents. They came in and talked to John about the accusations and rumors that were circulating around town. When John looked over at Billy, he had obviously been crying and was very upset. Billy’s parents felt it wasn’t a good idea for Billy to come around John anymore as people were apparently getting a wrong impression about what was going on. They said they were sorry, but the friendship had to end. When they left, John just sat there for hours with a blank stare on his face. He had never felt such hurt and pain in all of his life. His heart was broken and he didn’t know what to do. Finally as he looked over he saw his Bible setting on the table next to him. He picked it up, looked up to heaven and said, “Why God, did you take my best friend away?” He opened his Bible at random and it fell open to John 14:15-20 and he read, ““If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John heard the Lord speaking to him that He had not left him alone. Billy had brought him into a friendship that no one could take away from him. Even if Billy could not be there, the Lord would be there with him and would reveal Himself to him. John began to break down and cry as he realized that the Lord had brought Billy into his life to reveal Himself to him. John was never the same after that. He refused to allow the accusations and rumor destroy him. He chose to forgive his neighbor who had created them. He became active in his church, eventually teaching Sunday school and growing in favor with God and man. He in turn began to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with all that came around him all because one little boy was willing to share that great love with Him.

Blessings,
#kent

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The Lord’s Friendship

John 15:14-15
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Jesus says there is a characteristic that goes along with friendship with Him and that is obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is something we all probably take much too lightly. We tend to go our merry way through life and regard lightly the many ways and places in our lives that we offend the Holy Spirit and regard lightly the Lord’s will and commandment for our lives. It becomes an unconscious act on our part, because we get caught up in our busyness and our lives. We fail to always keep the Lord constantly before us, so that our day, our thoughts, our actions and words are centered around and in Him. Jesus is more often our afterthought rather than our forethought. What the Lord is communicating to His disciples is that in order to be in that relationship as a friend of God, rather than just a servant of God, requires obedience and cognizance of His will and His ways in all that we do. Obedience on our part is an expression of our love and friendship with the Lord. We are communicating that we value Him above ourselves and the relationship we have with Him is of more value than our personal will and desires. Jesus speaks in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In this fourteenth chapter of John where Jesus is basically bidding farewell to His disciples before His Passion, He emphasizes this aspect of love, friendship and obedience quite strongly. “At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me (John 14:20-24).”
Most all of us want a closer and more intimate relationship with Christ. We want to hear His voice and experience His manifest presence in our lives. It is the consecration of desiring Him above all else that brings us to that place. Would we want to be or abide someplace where we were ignored, put aside, unappreciated and not valued? Yet, somehow we expect to experience the presence of the Lord when this is often the attitude of our hearts toward Him. If the Lord is to feel welcome in us and extend His tent over our lives, then we have need of a heart attitude that reflects true love, reverence, respect and obedience to Him. He needs to know that we are truly His and not our own. He will not usurp the will He has given us and we can certainly override His will for our lives. Most of us have learned that when we do this, we rob ourselves of God’s best for us. Is there anything really better than abiding with Him, experiencing His closeness and abiding in the heartbeat of God? That is the place we really realize the fullness of joy, contentment and purpose.
The Lord wants to be our friend. He wants to reveal Himself to us in a much more personal way. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.” Jesus wants to be that friend to us that is closer than a brother, but we must show ourselves friendly through our response and obedience to Him. Our obedience is the expression of love to our dearest Friend.

Blessings,
#kent

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

September 24, 2013

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

2 Timothy 4:14-18
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

How many of us have been living life on a pretty even keel. We are getting along pretty well in our social relationships with people, living, what we feel, is a relatively good Christian life and testimony and then it happens. Some one comes into your life that train wrecks you emotionally and possibly in many other ways as well. Quite possibly they have come to you under the guise of another Christian Brother or Sister who loves the Lord. Maybe, initially you have sat and had great fellowship with them. They have won your friendship, trust and confidence and then it happens. At first some things start not adding up, there are seeming misunderstandings or miscommunications. Eventually it becomes evident that they are lying to you. They have been manipulating and using you as long as they could for their own gain or cause. Perhaps they are slandering you, spreading vicious rumors and trying to destroy your reputation. This is especially true if you are trying to expose them for who they are. What is worse is that they are still below the radar of most of their other associations, so most still perceive them as this wonderful spiritual person. Whether they are still perceived as spiritual or not you find yourself duped and taken advantage of. When you confront them they are always full of false promises of restitution and reconciliation or in total denial, turning it back on you as having the problem. What do you do with someone like that?
These types of people are probably much like those Paul describes in 1Timothy 3, when he talks about those who come having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was (1 Timothy 3:1-9).” What is disturbing is the emotional and spiritual destruction they leave in their wake. They often come defrauding honest people, deceiving, manipulating and betraying those who have embraced them in Christian love and fellowship. They often bring division and strife, as they turn brother against brother and sow the seeds of discord. Sometimes you would wonder if even they realize that they are the instrument of satan rather than the instrument of God.
The Word tells us that there will be those wolves in sheep’s clothing that will come among and try and destroy and undermine the work of God. We must guard our hearts, for their greatest strength is gained when they get us into the flesh, operating out of emotion and feelings, rather than out of the spirit. If we are able to rather stand in the Lord, entering into the fortress of prayer and lifting up a spiritual standard against this spirit, in time it will be broken. When we become frustrated, angry and discouraged, we tend to want to fall back upon the arm of the flesh to fight our battles. What did Moses do when Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses? Jannes and Jambres were thought to be the Pharaoh’s Egyptian sorcerers and magicians. It is interesting that Jambres name means, poverty, bitter and a rebel. What Moses did was let the Lord be His authority and vindicate his position. God will vindicate the righteous, but it may not be before there is great persecution. Again our lesson is to be discerning of men, stand our ground based on the Word of God and through prayer and confidence in God allow God to go before us in battle, so that we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

Blessings,
kent

God gives more Grace

June 7, 2013

God gives more Grace

James 4:4-10
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 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.

There is no reason in the man without a season,
There must be a time and purpose for all reasons.
Things spent upon our own desires and pleasures,
Seldom yield a spiritual fruit of any good measure.

Darkness often looms beneath our spiritual light,
Hypocrisy often turns our day to night.
Our envy, lust and striving are seldom for the higher good,
Often we find ourselves not living in the spirit we thought we would.

Outwardly we wear our religious and righteous attire,
Inwardly, struggles with sin burn in our belly like a fire.
There is hope if in humility we cry out to God in our need,
But many are the proud, blinded to the life that they lead.

Oh God, what wretched men we so often are,
Shunning the grace and Lord that is our redemptive star.
Yet you give more grace, so let us humble ourselves anew,
Help us resist the devil, submit our hearts and draw near again to You.

Help us draw nigh to you, oh God, that you might draw nigh to us,
Give us grace, strength and power to forsake our envy, pride and lust.
Let us weep and mourn when in our sin we’ve failed,
But help us overcome our failures and by your strength, prevail…
Kent Stuck

Blessings,
kent

Lonely?

March 12, 2013

Lonely?

Genesis 2:18
And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Some of us experience times of great loneliness in our lives that brings sadness that we lack companionship, friendship. Even God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, for man, like God is a relational being. He has been created to communicate, interact, and be in relationship with other beings. Sure, there are times when it is good to be alone. Some of us are so involved with people we scarcely have time for just ourselves and our thoughts. We deal with people continually on a surface level, but not on a deeper emotional level. There are times when we can have people all around us and yet live in loneliness.
I believe God wants to speak to those who are experiencing that spirit of loneliness, where they feel separated, and cut-off and out of relationship with others. You may even be married, but you feel that your spouse doesn’t really know you or care to relate to your inner needs. Loneliness is a door that can lead us to depression and despair. It is an area where we can also come into place of self-pity. That is not meant in a derogatory way, it is just, in that place, the enemy begins to feed our mind with thoughts of worthlessness, unloveliness and a sense of rejection and despair can come over us. In that place of being alone we can develop misconceptions and wrong thinking. We can envision ourselves as being the only ones going through this experience. Even Elijah, the prophet saw himself in this place in His effort to stand for God. He began to see himself as ostracized and the only one left standing, all alone in his efforts to serve God. Romans 11:2-4 gives us this example, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
The truth is many of us can have tremendous feelings of loneliness even in the midst of many people. Sometimes in that place, we blame others for our loneliness. We may blame our spouse or those close to us for not meeting those emotional needs in us. We may be lashing out in anger, because we feel it is their fault for not meeting our emotional needs of companionship and fulfillment. Unfortunately, through that bitter, critical and judgmental spirit you may be driving your companion, friends or relations further and further away rather than drawing them into a place where they can relate with you. You may be causing them to withdrawal more from you as they seek to protect their emotional well-being rather than you creating a safe-haven where they can feel safe to open their hearts to you without fear of reprisal, criticism, judgement and rejection. If you want to bring a turtle out of his shell then you put him in a place that he feels safe and not threatened. Our emotional person can be much the same way. It may be that we are expecting human relationships to meet needs in us that can only really be touched on a spiritual level. You know, we are never really alone. In the clouds of loneliness, the Son is still there. He desires to shine through and touch your need where you are. Jesus was constantly surrounded by people, pulling from Him and expecting of Him, but His real place of relationship, strength and renewal was in the alone time he had in relationship with the Father. If you are feeling that loneliness on the emotional level of natural relationships, then take that loneliness to the Father. Begin to come into the place of relationship with Him that can meet the needs that man will never meet. There is a place of need and relationship that only the Spirit of God can fill. You are forever precious and lovely in His sight. He will never leave you or reject you if you are seeking to relate with Him. He will love you unconditionally and like the woman at the well in John 4, you will find the water that satisfies and that makes you to never thirst again. Drink from the well of His salvation and grace. Enter into that fellowship and closeness to Him. You may find that as you are transformed through the time spent in His presence your natural relationships may improve as well. Allow Christ to satisfy the needs of your heart today as you abide in His presence and share with Him the longings of your soul.

Blessings,
kent

Friendships

January 8, 2013

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Friendships

Through life many seasons come and go,
In that time many people we get to know.
Through our hearts and lives relationships pass.
Many will fade, but others will last.
Rather we know them for a moment, a season or more,
No matter how long they may be here for.
May their lives be richer for having crossed our path.
May we have spoken words of life that last.
Kent Stuck

When we think back through our lives at all of the people that we’ve known, some we knew as casual acquaintances and others we may have been very close too. As we go through those seasons of life and all of the demographics that change, we see most of those people and know them only for a period of time. Some we will reunite with and many we never will. When we stop to think about the brevity of life then it impacts us how short it is and how important it is never to take our opportunities in our relationships for granted. Just as we have no assurance of tomorrow; we have no assurance that a relationship or friend will be there tomorrow.
One of the things that I get bored with quite quickly is just small talk. A certain amount of it is necessary and useful, but so much of our relationships are spent talking about things that don’t really matter or have any eternal value. As believers we want our conversations to seasoned with the words of life, hope and the things that are eternal. We understand that not all of our friends or acquaintances are at that place, but with Holy Spirit discernment and direction we should endeavor to flavor our conversations with those things that speak to the eternal and the lasting. Our life and our actions are the testimony to who we are and what we represent. Some may be turned off by that, but others will be drawn to us because of it. We are not in this world to please people and by the same token we are not here to recklessly offend them either. I believe God wants us to be sensitive to where people are at in their journey through life and endeavor to meet them where they are at, in love, not just mindful of where we at. Relationships are not just about us. They are about our opportunities to communicate Christ, in His various attributes, to others in a way that they can hear and receive.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul’s sole purpose in relating and befriending people was to stain their lives with the blood and the love of Christ, but he used wisdom as to how he could relate with them. So many times Christians have an arrogance, self-righteous and condescending attitude that is demeaning to others that are not like them. That is not the Spirit of Christ, that is a religious spirit. Christ came down and was planted under the earth that He might get under us and lift us up to where He is. ‘He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might have life.’ We are to be like him. He didn’t aspire to gain the approval of the righteous and the religious, he aspired to relate with people where they were at in their lives.
May God grant us the wisdom to have the heart of Jesus and Paul that people would know that when they have been with us, they have been in the presence of Jesus, because Christ is so much a part of who we are in our love and our demeanor. May their lives be richer for having crossed our path. May we have spoken words of life that last.

Blessings,
kent

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