Romans 10:19
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by [them that are] no people, [and] by a foolish nation I will anger you.

Why we should be Thankful

Some nearly four hundred years ago God led a small handful of people out of the religious oppression and intolerance of Europe to a new land, unfounded and virtually uninhabited by the civilized world of that day. These people possessed within their spirits a calling and a mandate of God to come out from among the religious beast of Europe that proclaimed its self to be Christianity. They stepped out in the faith of God, forsaking all to become the pilgrims that we remember as the founders of our nation. This little handful of people, who were no people in the eyes of the world, they heard a calling to a promise land that flowed with milk and honey. A place where they could worship in the manner that they chose without fear of reprisals. Here they could be true to themselves and to God. It was this kind people with which our God founded this great nation we live in today called the United States. If any ever doubts that there is a God or that He was the One who was at work to bring forth this great country, let them follow the true history and accounts that took place when this country was formed and through its growth, even till today. All that we are and all that we enjoy is only due to the sovereignty, goodness, mercy and the blessings of God.
How it must grieve Him that now we have laws that we can destroy our unwanted children, laws that prohibit our teachers from teaching the truth of God in public schools, that deny God as the Creator and forbid His Word from being read, along with the freedom to openly pray. We have tolerated those who would strike His name from every public place and have courts that will not even allow the display of His commandments. What kind of religious freedom is this that tolerates every other religion being taught about in our public schools except the one true gospel? What spirit have we allowed to come in that has blinded the hearts and minds of so many and even we, His people, have become complacent and lethargic?
These early pilgrims gave their very lives to establish a precedent of religious freedom. Even when the captain of the Mayflower offered to take them back to England, not one of them would go, even in the face of such great adversity and loss. They counted Him faithful who had called them out of darkness and brought them into the light. It didn’t come without great sacrifice and loss. Many of us don’t really think about or really appreciate all the sacrifice of so many throughout the history of this country that has sustained its freedoms and liberties.
Let us remember our heritage and how we that were no people, God has made us a great people with blessings like none other upon the earth. He has taken that which was nothing and has made it something. He has taken the weak and made them strong. He has taken the poor and made them rich. Great is the Lord!
God, please forgive us when we take so much that You have done for us for granted. Help us to truly acknowledge You and truly give thanks from the depths our heart and soul. We are a blessed people and You are the reason for that blessing.

Blessings,
#kent

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Good out of Evil, Life out of Death

Genesis 50:16
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.

Most of us know the story of Joseph, how as a young man his brothers despised him because he was daddy’s favorite, he was a dreamer who seemed to think of himself as superior to everyone else. He was daddy’s informant about what was going on among the other ten sons. One day as they saw him coming it was in their heart to kill him, but instead they had opportunity so they sold him into slavery which led him to Egypt. The sons represented Joseph as dead to their father by taking his coat, tearing it and covering it with lamb’s blood and saying that they found it. This caused tremendous grief and heartbreak for Jacob for years to come. Joseph, after being sold into slavery, gained favor with his master for a time as the Lord blessed him, but then was thrown into prison after being falsely accused of rape when he fled the temptation of his master’s wife’s seduction. Even in Pharaoh’s prison he gained favor and possessed the gift of interrupting dreams. He once interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. Both of the dreams came to pass. After more years in prison Pharaoh had a disturbing dream that only Joseph was able to accurately interpret. This then brought him into a place of rulership and authority as he was given the responsibility for preparing and preserving Egypt and the surrounding nations during a time of great famine. Long story short Joseph’s brothers come for grain and Joseph has his opportunity to deal with his brothers. What would you and I do in that circumstance? Even the law said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth.” He could kill them, throw them into prison, or torture them; they were in his power.
The point the Holy Spirit wants to bring to us is that life may deal to all of us at one time or another some very devastating blows. It can come in many forms, abuse physically, mentally, sexually, betrayal in a marriage, the crippling effects of an accident or disease, the list could go on and on. When our lives have been devastated by some traumatic event how are we going to respond? Will anger, bitterness or unforgiveness consume us? Will we blame and forsake God? Will we seek revenge and hurt for the ones who have hurt us? What will we do with the evil and the death that has befallen us?
A while back I related a story of how I inadvertently used weed and grass killer on my grass thinking it was only a weed killer. Large yellow areas developed all over my lawn and it looked like I had destroyed it. Now, a couple of months later, after watering, rain and a little fertilizer the lawn is green again. Yes, there are still small areas throughout the lawn that were killed, but little by little they are filling back in. What’s my point? I thought of how this was much like these traumatic events that touch our lives. Time, the love and mercy of God are great healers and restorers to the hurts and wounds in our lives. When we would lose hope in the natural, when we would become so discouraged and think all is lost, we can’t discount the power and love of God. Only He can take what others meant for evil and use it for good. Only He can take what would work death and destruction and turn it to work life. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
… Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (Hebrews 12:5, 11-13).” Some of life’s most traumatic moments can lead to life changing events that work eternal changes in us. What we would never choose for ourselves can prune us and make us more fruitful than we would have ever been without them. If you are at that place in your life, don’t let a root of bitterness and unforgiveness come up that would rob the deeper work God can work in you through some of these painful things. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled. Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears (Hebrew 12:15-17).” God is at work in our lives in ways we can’t even see or know. The enemy is also at work to destroy and undo us, but God is so able to frustrate his destructive work by turning it for our good and redemption. Not only for us, but also for those He places in our path to minister those life experiences too. ” But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:16).”
” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? (Romans 8:28-31).”

Blessings,
kent

Friend or Foe

November 7, 2013

Friend or Foe

Matthew 16:13-28
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15″But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ,] the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Most of us would agree that Jesus’ disciple Peter was a friend of the Lord. He really did love the Lord and while a little rough around the edges Peter had some great qualities about him. I think most of us would say that we are a friend of the Lord’s, that we love Him and like Peter, we have committed our lives to follow after Him.
It is an interesting passage that we read today because first we see Jesus asking the question about who men think that He is. We see Peter chime in, with spirit of revelation, that Jesus is the Christ. Peter is called blessed and commended of the Lord. The Lord gives him the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose in heaven and earth. Peter must have been feeling pretty good about himself about then like maybe he was just one up on the others cause he had the goods. He had the revelation of the Christ.
We then see a quick turn of events where Jesus reveals the purpose and plan of his life to suffer and die in Jerusalem at the hand of the elders, chief priest and teachers. Peter, perhaps a little full of himself, begins to rebuke the Lord and let Him know that we are never going to let this happen. Suddenly we see a friend turned foe as the Lord rebukes Peter and says, “Get thee behind me satan.” That must have really taken the wind out of Peter’s sails. Jesus goes on to explain the definition of discipleship and the exchange of life that must take place which means the death of the self life to experience the resurrection of God’s life.
I think that we are not so unlike Peter. We have a true zeal and love for the Lord. We have a revelation and understanding of many things, but we become the enemy of the cross because we want to preserve our life when we need to lose it and reckon it dead. We want to hold on to the natural things of this world rather than to die to them that we may possess the treasures of the kingdom. We are like a baby that would rather hold on to a rock than exchange it for a silver rattle. We are much like Peter, spiritual on one hand and unwilling to embrace the cross on the other. What if Peter had had his way? He thought his intentions were noble and good. He wasn’t going to let Jesus have to go to the cross. Often we view the death that the Lord is leading us into as the worse thing for us, because we see the price of suffering and sacrifice. What we fail to see by faith, is what is on the other side of that death, it is abundant and eternal, resurrection life with great reward. We may be traveling that road to Calvary today and satan may be working through agents and people that mean well, but they don’t comprehend the way we must go and why we must go there. We must be careful that we don’t allow others to turn us from our call to discipleship and the cross or that we don’t become a stumbling block to others to keep them from walking that way as well. In order to fully realize who we are we have to die to what we were. It takes two hands to embrace discipleship. We have reached out in faith with one, but we have to release our world and the things we have held dear to take hold of the Lord with the other. The things of this world keep pulling us down into death while the Lord is pulling us up into life, but it takes both hands laying hold of His for us to be pulled up into the fullness of His life.

Blessings,
kent

A Fish Story

October 14, 2013

John 21: 1-6
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias, It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3″I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

A Fish Story

How often we struggle so hard to produce so little, but one word from the Lord, acted upon in obedience, can produce beyond our expectations.
When I was a young married man and Sharon was pregnant with our first son, we lived next to a lake in a park in the middle of town. I had been working construction as a laborer, it was the middle of winter, there wasn’t much work so I spent about our last $10 on a fishing license and decided to fish for our dinner. All morning long I sat out in the cold with not even a nibble. Around noon, Sharon came out to see how I was doing and of course I didn’t have a good report to give her. I had been fishing and praying all morning that the Lord would help me catch something and I had received nothing. She asked if she could try for a little bit, so she fished for about a half an hour and sure enough, she caught a little trout. Well, I have to say I was a little frustrated with the Lord, because here I had been fishing all morning with not even so much as a nibble and then she comes out and in a short time she has already caught something. After that I, I started fishing again and a short time later I felt a little tug and then a pretty good hit. I did everything you shouldn’t do. I jerked on that line to set the hook and I felt it go slack. “Oh no, I lost him” I thought, as I reeled in the slack line. Then, there he was again. I was reeling in like crazy and as I got this fish up next to the bank the hook came out of his mouth, the line went flying back up into the trees behind me and I am out there kicking this fish up onto the bank. It was quite a sight. What I caught was about an 18-inch walleye pike. The funny thing is how the Lord allowed me to catch it. When I looked at my hook, I had been fishing with salmon eggs and a little bitty perch was on the hook. The pike had gone for the perch and had never really been hooked himself. Normally a pike can cut right through your line with their razor sharp teeth, but through these unusual circumstances that Lord had answered my prayer and gave me a fish that fed about four or five people that night. There was never a doubt in my mind that it was the Lord that gave me that fish in a miraculous way.
The Lord often doesn’t work so differently in many other areas of our lives. We go out and do our thing and ask God to bless it. I think often the Lord sees us out there blindly flailing around in what we call faith and He has pity on us. God uses these little simple moments in our lives to teach us deeper principles. He taught me that faith doesn’t have a lot of substance unless it is tried and tested. He taught me that I should not be jealous or envious of others when it seemed I was bypassed and another was blessed. He taught me, that indeed He was my provider and He did care about my needs. We often don’t get a lot of results in our own efforts, but obeying one word from the Lord can more than fill our boat.
Don’t become discouraged if you have believed, for what seems a long time, with little results. Rest in the faithfulness of the Lord that He will move in His time and to His glory. Don’t mummer or complain, just keep praising Him and trusting in Him. Keep listening for His word and then act upon it, even when it doesn’t make sense to your natural mind. The Lord is nearer than you think and He knows your heart and your need. Trust that you will catch your fish when God’s time is right.

Blessings,
kent

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