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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Putting Off the Old

September 3, 2014

Colossians 3:5-11
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Putting Off the Old

Let’s say I go out and buy a house that is a fixer-upper. The last tenant that lived there lived fast and hard and let the place become totally run down. Now the house is still livable, but not what is desirable. We have purchased the house with the intent that as we live here we are going to restore it to its original glory and beauty. When we purchased this house we looked past all of its defects, faults and failures. We had the vision to see it for what it was going to be and not what it was. As we live in this house daily we spend time working on its repair and restoration. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week or even a month. In fact it may be a project of a lifetime, but our goal will only be reached as we are faithful each day to continue working on some area of its repair and restoration.
Outside the paint is peeling, but we can’t just paint over the old with new paint, otherwise in a short period of time the new paint will be peeling as well. First we must strip off the old and scrape off all of the peeling loose paint. The same principle holds true throughout the house. We must remove the old and broken, before we can apply the new. If we just cover up the old, all we have done is temporarily prettied it up, but we haven’t restored it and that is the same as hypocrisy.
I think you can see the analogy and where this going, because the same principles hold true when the old man is inhabited by the Spirit of the Lord and we become a new tenant and a new creation man. Our purpose and intent for this house is not the same as it used to be. Before we lived in it only for me and what served my purposes. Now we live in it for the glory of Christ and what honors and pleases Him. What He is telling us here is the old has to go. All of those old attributes of our fleshly living for self have to be put off and renewed by the ways of His Spirit life. All of those old habits of the ways we used to look at and view others, the language that we used, the ways that we acted and the ways that we used to think must all be stripped away. In their place we are renewing ourselves with the building supplies of God’s Spirit and His Word. There, our mind, thoughts and purpose are renewed daily as we set our mind on things above and live in the purpose of the new creation man that we now are in Christ. We are not fully transformed in a day, week, month or even a year, but as we abide in Christ and live out of His nature, we find that we have a helper in this transforming work. What would be overwhelming and impossible with us has become possible by the Holy Spirit that now abides with us. Everyday He is there, as we will commit ourselves to Him and His plan for us. Every day we continue to relinquish and give up our former ways and habits to Him, so that He can help us to rid ourselves of the old and replace it with the new. He continues to teach us, instruct us and lead us, as we will set our minds and hearts upon Him. Through Christ this old house can be transformed and made new as we grow in His knowledge and grace from glory to glory even into the same image of Him that has called us.

Blessings,
#kent

 

The Righteous are not Forsaken


Psalms 37:5

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

 

Psalms 37:4 says, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”  As a people in general and as Christians I doubt that there are very many of us who don’t face times of real trial and struggle in our lives and many of us more than we would care to talk about.  For many of us, life is often a continual struggle, especially as we attempt to walk out our faith with faithfulness and obedience.  When we do really try and walk closely with the Lord we may find all of hell seems to be unleashed against us or we make some mistakes and then we are overwhelmed with guilt and condemnation because we blew it.  There may be those times we fall, stumble and falter in our walk with the Lord, but remember there is someone stronger than you walking with you.  Praise God we don’t have to rely upon our own strength and righteousness to get us to heaven.  Jesus is our High Priest and Intercessor who is always standing in the gap for us and pleading our cause.  

2 Timothy 2:11-13 tells us, “The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him. 12If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us. 13If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”   The desire of the Father’s heart is that we grow up in the fullness and likeness of Christ.  He has given us the Holy Sprit to help us in that process.  It has been said that the Holy Spirit is a perfect gentleman and doesn’t violate or force our will if we make choices other than Him.  In fact, we often don’t realize how we can offend and hurt the Holy Spirit by our attitudes and actions.  Many of us need to reconcile that relationship with Him.  The thing about God is that if most of us received what we deserved we would have been cast off a long time ago, but God’s heart is always to draw you back to His righteousness and to Christ.  The enemy would like you to think that you have burned your bridges and there is no way back, but the grace and love of God is so high and so wide and so deep that it can span the greatest chasms of sin.  He just wants us to repent and give our lives, without reservation, back to Him.  Even when we fall and fail, the Lord is there for us to pick us up again if we will let Him.  

Life holds many tests and trials for us, some we pass and others we don’t.  We are all in the process of maturing and growing, all too often we poop in our pants and make messes along the way.  We must remember that our past failures can be our future stepping-stones to victory and overcoming.  God will let us fall down.  He will let us make our mistakes and we often have to suffer the consequences, whatever those may be, but He hasn’t turned His back on us.  If we will cry out to Him, if we will repent and begin seeking Him with our whole heart we can find that place of forgiveness, fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit again. 

If some of us, or others that you know, are struggling today; God hasn’t abandoned you. He has finished the reconciliation upon the cross and now He lovingly waits for us to respond back to Him.  Many people perceive God in unfair and unrealistic ways because of how they have been treated or how they have been impressed and perceived God by the example of those claiming Christianity.  They are turned off to God because of us.  We, like Paul, must remember that our whole mission in life is to suffer whatever is necessary so that others may come into the kingdom. In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul says, “Therefore I [am ready to] persevere and stand my ground with patience and endure everything for the sake of the elect [God’s chosen], so that they too may obtain [the] salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with [the reward of] eternal glory.”  May God’s love likewise be extended through us so that we are willing to love even the unlovely for whom Christ died.  Let us continue to encourage and exhort one another to faithfulness.  God loves us and will not forsake us, even in our weaknesses and times of greatest trials.  He may not miraculously save us out of our circumstances in the way we might like to see, but He is there with us, walking it out and giving us grace. 

Don’t give up, don’t give in, but always fix your eyes upon Him.  He will carry you through and He will provide the way and the means.

 
Blessings,
kent
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