The Deserts of Marriage

October 24, 2014

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

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Hinderances

April 11, 2014

Galatians 5:7
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Hinderances

This word hinder in the Greek is “egkoptō” which literally means ” to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way.” The question the Lord is asking us today is what is hindering us? What is interrupting our road to walking in His will and purpose?
There are many things that can come into interrupt and cut us off from walking and fulfilling the purpose and destiny that we are called too. Let’s just touch on a few and this by no means exhaustive so there are many others that could be added to the list. Scripturally we will address a few of them.
In Luke 11:52 Jesus addresses a major hindrance, ” Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” One of the greatest hindrances we have in the Church today is religious knowledge and true spiritual ignorance. Our way of thinking is so often skewed, even among grace believing churches, to still hinder our identity of who we are in Christ. We are still looking and seeking to change the man of sin which we were, rather than walking in the identity of the new creation man which we are and are maturing into. It is our paradigm and way of thinking that is one of the major obstacles. Even John the Baptist wanted to hinder Jesus from being baptized because he didn’t consider himself worthy. Wrong thinking. If Jesus hadn’t considered him worthy He wouldn’t come to him to baptized. Peter wanted to hinder Jesus from the cross. Jesus rebuked satan working through him, because it was a hindrance to His mission and purpose. Satan will always try and cut you off from your purpose and destiny, because his purpose to “kill, steal and destroy.”
What hindrances are you encountering today in your spiritual walk? One area might be in your marriage. Peter addresses this one in 1 Peter 3:7, ” Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” “Them” here being your spouse and ladies take this to heart as well. How is satan best able to get to us more than through the ones we live with. If he can cause contention, frustration, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness and irritation we fall into his trap of contending with the very one that God has placed into our lives that we are intended to be the heirs of salvation with. This is our partner not our enemy. The enemy is the one you are allowing to work through you as you give place to your flesh and emotion rather than to the spirit and the love of God. Yes, we are going to have our differences, we all do. The art of a magician is to distract you so that he may deceive you into thinking something that isn’t true. That is the craftiness and whiles of the devil. Discern your true enemy and unite your heart in love to defeat your common foe who is out to destroy you, your marriage and interrupt you communion and relationship with Christ. Unite yourselves in the spirit of Christ and reconcile yourselves through His love that your prayer and communion with the Father is not hindered. This speaks to men primarily because we must realize that women, as general rule, are more emotional and a man should be aware of what the influences in the home environment are and deal with them by the Spirit.
The final one we will address today are the hindrance that satan places before us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” Satan will always try to cause interruptions in you fulfilling your obedience to your destiny and calling. Here is where we must come into knowing our authority as a believer standing in the full armor of God, praying and making intercession, but also specifically declaring and taking authority through Word and the authority of the name of Jesus. There will be spiritual conflicts. When those hindrances come and in whatever form they may come, know who you are in Christ. Walk in the power and authority of the Spirit. Know that even though you may not immediately see things happening in the natural realm that doesn’t mean things aren’t taking place first in the dynamics of the spiritual realm. Hold fast your faith and confidence and do as Hebrews 12:1-3 commands us, ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Blessings,
#kent

Our First Love

February 14, 2014

Revelations 2:3-5

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

 


Our First Love


Many times our marriages and our relationship with Christ have a lot in common.  They both are built upon love and relationship.  They generally start out with great commitment, emotion and passion to love and serve the Lord or to love and serve our spouse.  Through the course of life with all of its trials and demands the polish and gold tends to wear thin on the feelings and commitment we first felt and lived toward the Lord and toward our spouse. Many of us have endured many hardships together and we have trusted the Lord through many of them.  

Even though we are good people, who have worked hard for our marriage and for our spiritual relationship the dynamics have changed.  We’ve somehow lost the closeness and the intimacy of relationship we once had.  

This word “forsaken” in verse 4 in the Greek means, “ to depart, as of a husband divorcing his wife, yield up, expire, let go, let alone, to disregard, to leave, to omit, neglect.”  Do any of these words speak to our hearts as to our relationships in our marriage and in our walk and relationship with Christ?  We are still here in body, going through the motions of marriage and relationship, but have our hearts left the room?  Have they grown cold with complacency?  Sometimes our marriages are measured by how well we tolerate one another rather than how well we really love and bless one another.  Even in our Christianity we so often get in the rut of being religious, going to church, giving our tithe or doing our duty, but our heart and passion are no longer in it.  

It is a time for stirring up the embers and throwing on some new wood.  It is a time we must blow and breathe new life back into the fire of our relationships.  I’ll admit I have been bad about becoming so caught up in my business and the things that concern me, that I have neglected the weightier matters.  Somehow we come to take for granted that this loved one will always be there and everything will be fine, meanwhile we allow the foundation to rot out from under us.  One day we wake up and our house is in ruin.  The signs were all around but we didn’t heed them until our lampstand had been plucked from us and suddenly we found ourselves shut out.  

Here the Lord is warning us about our relationship with Him and also what can happen in our marriages.  We must return to that first love, the courting, the dating, the intimacy and attention that we gave to our partner then.  It can be no less with Christ.  It is not our works that save us in our marriage or our Christianity, it is the relationship that we maintain and cultivate with the one that we say we love. For me, it is often my communication that fails the most.  I get caught up in my own little world and when I fail to communicate, I find I am failing in my relationship.  That communication, especially that which shares my heart, is what my wife needs from me.  She has to feel that connection with my heart to feel close to me and a part of me.  I think this often comes more naturally to women as a general rule than men, but it doesn’t mean that we as men can neglect it.  We have to cultivate it, even when it doesn’t come naturally to us.  It is always remembering that love is not about us, it is about the object of our love.  When we love the Lord or our spouse the way they need to be loved, we will find that our needs are met in our giving and loving.  Let us endeavor to return now to our first love, not just in word, but in deed and with all of our heart. 

 
Blessings,
kent

The Deserts of Marriage

November 4, 2013

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. There hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savoir. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Return of a Wayward Heart

October 31, 2013

Return of a Wayward Heart

Hosea 2:7
And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now.

The Lord has taken each one of us and has blessed, clothed, nurtured and provided our substance and our needs. He loved us when we were unlovely. He has taken us in when we were wandering without purpose and homeless. He clothed us when we were naked. He has healed us, bound up our wounds and broken hearts. He has given us favor where we would have had none. He gave us dignity, respect and purpose when we were full of sin, despised and forsaken.
How have we repaid Him for the richness of His love and blessing? Are we loving and serving Him with faith, obedience and love or have we been like Hosea’s wife in our hearts? Do we have that spirit of adultery and idolatry as she did to run after and pursue other lovers? Do we somehow think that they can in any way fulfill us more than our faithful husband, Jesus? Yet many of us forsake the Lord in our hearts and minds as we pursue and run after our affections and lusts. In the pursuit of them, are we fulfilled or satisfied? Are our hearts more content than when we were living and walking in faithfulness to Christ? Can those lovers ever fulfill the deeper needs and longings of our soul or will they take our life, our substance and our youth; casting us off, leaving us feeling used, dirty and rejected.
Where are we at in the fidelity and faithfulness of our heart and love toward our Lord today? Have we become as Israel of old who turned her back to the Lord to pursue her other lovers? Are we simply going through the motions of Christianity, but our hearts have become hardened and distracted by our sin?
Hosea 2:10 says, “So now I will expose her lewdness no one will take her out of my hands.” What we have done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops and our nakedness will be exposed and our sin revealed. God is calling His beloved back to His heart. He is wooing her to return and repent from her lovers and her vile behavior. The Lord will deal with us in ways necessary to deal with the harlotry of our hearts so that we may return again to Him and appreciate once more all that we have had and enjoyed at that goodness of His hand. Even though we deserve to be cast out and divorced, the Lord’s heart and love is still tender towards us. His love has been unconditional even in the midst of our unfaithfulness.
This is the place that He says that He is bringing us in Hosea 2:14-23, “”Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. 16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. ‘ 17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. 19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. 21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD—
“I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ‘ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”
The Lord’s heart is to reconcile and bring us back into right relationship with Him. Let us turn our heart from our foreign lovers and bring our whole heart back to the Lord. Let us repent of our unfaithfulness and turn from all of our lewdness. Let us honor, love and obey Him who is the faithful lover of our souls and true husband. Let us return to our first love.

Blessings,
kent

His Church

October 3, 2013

His Church

Ephesians 5:25-30
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body.

We, the Church, the loving bride of Christ, are taking in our hands the faces of the world’s wounded, downtrodden and outcast. We are the voice of God’s love and good news to those that are looking for direction and purpose in their lives. At some point, I think most people come to the realization of how shallow and empty that life is without God in it. Some would scorn and say we just use God as a crutch, because we aren’t able to think for ourselves and have no mind of our own. I am just so thankful that I have the wisdom to recognize how lame I am without Him. They are right I have no more use for my mind, because I understand how much greater it is to have the mind of Christ. Yes, the world and its spirit will often mock and ridicule us, but in the end what do they have but themselves, a meaningless life and an eternity of darkness. Mock the church if you will, but a least she is full of light and hope. She has purpose for living and being. She is more than just the expression of humanity; she is the expression of God’s redemption working in humanity. Yes, we will find in her many cracks and flaws if we are only looking on the outward vessel, but contained within her is a treasure beyond measure. It is the awesome presence of God’s Holy Spirit and Life. So many and varied are her members, all of them unique and different, but each one reflecting some aspect and dimension of God’s nature.
The Church is the redeemed of the Lord. It is the blood of Christ that now courses through our veins with the life-flow of God’s life, love and forgiveness. His mind is renewing our mind. His thoughts are becoming our thoughts. His eyes are becoming our eyes as we see our world from a kingdom of heaven perspective. As we hear with spiritual ears the world’s voice, we are moved to compassion for the hurting and the weak. We are moved to indignation over the world’s sin and antichrist behavior, but in it all, we are the salt of the earth. We are the ones that season it with the flavor of life and godliness. We are the ones who bring hope and the message of God’s love and reconciliation. Our world is perishing before us as we speak, but are we speaking God’s life and His love? Are we communicating with our world only on its terms, or are we communicating in a manner that our world is seeing something different in us? It doesn’t take us standing on a soapbox, preaching hell, fire and damnation to communicate God to people. It takes living a life that is like His, full of self-sacrifice, compassion, righteousness tempered with humility. It is not about us being lifted up or us being better than others, it is about us rolling up our sleeves and being willing to get down in the mud and dirt so that we lift someone else up. God didn’t place us in the position of looking down on others. He has placed us in the position of servanthood, of being the least that we might serve the greater. People won’t care about what we have to say until they know we really care.
It is sad when see so much of the church caught up in the outward show of things, in crowd appeal, pomp and splendor. You are more likely to find the greater presence of the Lord in some small nobody minister of the Lord who is simply in the fields of humanity laboring for the kingdom. His notoriety is not in the way he dresses, or performs, or orates, it in the likeness he has to Christ and His nature. He stands out the way Mother Teresa stood out. These people are a unique breed who have lost their life in expressing His.
Is that who we are today? How much of our life is still about us? Most of us would have to admit an awful lot of who and what we are is still about us. This is not to condemn us, but it is not in living for us that we will find God’s highest and His richest blessings. We have to become about serving others and that doesn’t mean letting everyone manipulate you into what they think you should do. It is in being humble and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to direct you in His purpose and His plan.
The Church is a beautiful woman, but she is not yet without spot or wrinkle. It will no doubt take the fuller’s soap to cleanse her and the fire of God to iron out her wrinkles, along with the washing of the water of the word. Each one of us is a part of what makes up God’s church and His bride. How are we living out our part?

Blessings,
kent

Faithfulness in Marriage

August 21, 2013

Faithfulness in Marriage

Malachai 2:14-16
You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows.
Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.”
Our hearts are not different than those that have gone before us. They are still deceitfully wicked and perverse. Unless guarded and kept under the Lordship of Christ and led by the Spirit they will lead us in the ways contrary to His will. We live in a day when the divorce rate is somewhere around fifty percent. One out of two marriages end in divorce. What is even more sad is that it isn’t a whole lot better even among the Christian community. What is this telling us about the condition of our hearts? In Matthew 19:8 Jesus says, “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”
From today’s passage we can readily see that this isn’t the will of God and what His attitude about divorce is. The enemy is doing a masterful job of destroying our homes, families and marriages. The moral fabric of our society is deteriorating before our very eyes, as we become more complacent and accepting of it. So many of us end up playing right into this destruction and we wonder why God isn’t blessing us and answering our prayers. Could it be that we have become too self-centered rather than God centered? Probably the only ones who will continue reading this if it is an issue in their lives are those who really care more about God’s will than their own. None of us like to be confronted with our sins. We, like the world, want to run from the light. The difference is that we are children of the light and if we are really Christ’s then our spirit won’t let us run away even when we are in error. We have a conviction to return to what is right and repent of what is wrong.
Our biggest temptation today is self-isolation. We become too absorbed in what we want to do, what is important to us and what meets our needs and wants. As a result we isolate ourselves from the demands and needs of those around us, especially our spouses. Life begins to slowly and subtly take us in different directions and begins to place a wedge in our relationships. I can be perfectly content going my own way and doing my own thing, but when I got married and committed to that woman my life, love and loyalty, I gave up being just about myself. It is the two of us that make up one person and while we are individuals with differences we are one flesh both of us living for the good and well being of the other and not just ourselves. I know how oblivious I can become to the needs of my wife because I get so caught up in what I need to do and what is important to me. I have to remember that my top priority next to God is my wife. When I forget that I begin to unwittingly open myself up to a breakdown in our relationship. Just as I must cultivate and spend quality time in my relationship with the Lord, I can do no less with my spouse.
What I am learning is that our spiritual relationship is directly related to our natural relationship with our spouse. When there is disharmony and dissension in the natural, it hinders the spiritual dimension of our relationship with the Lord. As 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” We have to remember that we are not in this by ourselves, we are together in union with Christ. We need that unity to maintain right relationship spiritually. This is another reason we as husbands and wives must commit to keeping our hearts in an attitude of submission before the Lord and to one another, willing to pray together and share our hearts together without fear of reprisals. We will all have our difficult times, but if our hearts and attitudes remain right we can resolve them.
If we are finding ourselves in the place in our lives where the storms of divorce are brewing, start by submitting your hearts to the Lord and His will. It is only in being right with Him that we can be right with each other. Love has to be the conquering force to all obstacles and we know that His love is greater than ourselves. Let His love reign in your hearts and relationships always and let us submit ourselves to one another in the spirit of that love.

Blessings,
kent

Marriage Defiled

August 2, 2013

Marriage Defiled

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

We have touched on this subject before, but this is what that Holy Spirit seems to be impressing upon my heart today. Not unlike times past our society and the moral fabric that holds it together is being compromised. We stand upon the precipice of ruin because so much of our society has lost the value and the sanctity of marriage. Over and over again when we watch a movies or TV or read a magazine the acceptance of a homosexual agenda is being presented as an acceptable lifestyle and alternative to marriage between one man and one woman. Now it is being pressed upon our society through the acceptance and legalization of same sex marriages.
Since the early 60’s the acceptance of cohabitation between unmarried couples has gained greater and greater acceptance, even now this comprises a great many of our households today. Then there are the many households where the lack of commitment has left children without fathers and many times with little or no support except from the government. Likewise, it is rare we watch movies, television and soap operas that fornication and adultery aren’t prevalent scenes and themes. What has all of this done to us as a society but make us hardened and callused to the fact that this is sin and an abomination to the heart of God? We have placed ourselves as a society and as individuals into a place of judgement because we have ignored and blatantly disobeyed God’s Word. If that isn’t bad enough we kill our unborn that result from much of this lifestyle. When we have not done these things literally we have entertained them and engaged them with our minds through impurity and pornography and vain imaginations. We have become a diseased society; infected with immorality and sin to such an extent that our hearts have become hardened and insensitive to the affects of the decay it is having on our families, our society and nation as a whole. There are hardly any of us that can say we haven’t been personally affected by this sin in our society, because it is touching each one of us either directly or indirectly. We have to come to the place and do all that we can to bring our society to the place where we really reverence the sanctity of marriage, the home and the family. God has been infinitely longsuffering and gracious towards us, but we must realize what a stench our sin is to His nostrils and He will not withhold his judgement indefinitely. By our own hand our nation will fall into perversion and ruin.
We have to again begin to really value and reinforce the importance of the institution of marriage between one man and one woman as God ordained it from the beginning. We have to reinforce the value of commitment and covenant in this relationship to where divorce isn’t found in one out of every two marriages. We have to again lay hold of the revelation of what it means to be one flesh with the man or woman we enter into covenant with, for better of for worse.
God doesn’t hate us because we have engaged in homosexuality, fornication, adultery or numerous other perversions and sexual sins, but He hates the sin. We have made ourselves His enemies in as much as we have engaged in it. If we are unwilling to repent, turn away from it and ask the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from these sins, then we will be judged in them. The Word says that the people who engage in such things have no part in the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” God puts His finger on it and tells us how it is going to be. We, as the people of God, must first purify our own hearts and get free from the strongholds and struggles we face in these areas. How can we help others until we have addressed our own issues? To our shame we have embraced many of the world’s values in regards to sexual purity and the institution of marriage. Marriage is the only acceptable area we can enjoy and share our sexuality in God’s eyes. He has given us this precious gift for a reason, but we have grossly perverted it and exploited it. We have to continually bring our hearts before Him and allow the Holy Spirit to examine us and show us our sin and folly, so that we can repent and return to a pure and right state in our minds and our hearts. We have to bear the torch and the standard of purity before our society. As long as we are in a state of hypocrisy and compromise we only reinforce this state of sin.
“God help us to purify our hearts and turn from our wicked ways so that we can be a light of righteousness to all around us. May they see the standard and the law of God written upon the tablets of our hearts through lives that glorify and honor you in word and deed. Help us to hold to the sanctity of marriage in our own lives and continue to keep covenant with the husband or wife of our youth through the power of the love you are working in our hearts. Amen”

Blessings,
kent

God at Arm’s Distance

July 18, 2013

God at Arm’s Distance

Revelations 3:15-20
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Did you ever have a relationship with a person where you really liked them, but you wanted to keep a little space with them, you really wanted the relationship on the terms of your comfort level? Many of us have those kinds of relationships in our marriage where we love our husband or wife, but we want our own space to live our own life and do our own thing. We want a relationship, but we want it at arm’s length, a place we can either pull away or be close, but not feel too confined. Isn’t that very much like the relationship many of us have or have had with the Lord? We believe in Christ, we love God, but we are afraid to get to close to Him. We’re afraid He might let us down, or we’re afraid He might require too much of us, or we’re afraid we’ll have to give up the things we love and want to do. Fear is the counterpart of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Herein is contained a promise of God that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. For a lot of us there is truth we would rather stay ignorant of or things we would rather not hear, because it requires of us accountability and we rather like things the way they are. I know these things because I see so many of them in me. I don’t always like it when somebody speaks the truth to me in areas where I am comfortable and don’t really want to change, yet I know that if I refuse to hear the truth and harden my heart, I am shutting out the Holy Spirit. I am holding out my arm and saying to God, “don’t come any closer Lord, you are infringing upon my territory, my self will.” Then I am reminded that I am not my own, He bought me with a price and my life belongs to Him completely and without reservation.
So many of us, especially here in America, have been so blessed and we have enjoyed so many things and privileges that we have become fat and satisfied. We are the Laodicean Church it speaks about hear in Revelation 3. “We are rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing.” In the natural that is true, but in the spirit it has left us “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” We can’t serve two masters and when we choose to be rich in the things of the world we suffer spiritually.
Most of you who read this faithfully are those who are willing to hear the truth even when it is convicting and most who don’t may not want to read it because the Lord does deal with us in hard areas that we maybe rather not have to deal with. The truth is we will have to deal with these issues either now while there is still time for us to align ourselves with the will of God or when it is too late and we experience the displeasure of the Lord. If there is one theme the Lord seems to be reiterating again and again through these writings it is that He is calling out a people for His Name, a people He wants to have relationship with and bring out of the common into the Most Holy Place. He is calling us higher into Him. The Lord is a consuming fire and as He draws us into His bosom and into His heart that fire is going to become hotter and hotter to our flesh till it consumes it more and more. Will we welcome his embrace which means we will buy the gold of His nature tried in the fire and we will put on the white raiment and clothing of His righteousness? Will we anoint our eyes with the salve of His Truth so that we might see by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh? Will we receive the rebuke, the correction and chastening of the Lord that brings us to repentance because we have quit holding God at a distance, surrendered our whole heart and said, “Yes Lord, I want all of you no matter what the cost.” Some of us need to make that commitment today in our lives. Perhaps we had in the past, but have found ourselves again compromised with the world. It was to the Church that Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus is calling out for us to come back into right relationship with Him, to sup with Him, to “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood” so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can never give up anything in this life that the Lord requires of us but what it will result in so much more in Christ. Instead of holding God at a distance open your arms and embrace Him with a full commitment of your love and devotion. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelations 3:21-22).”

Blessings,
kent

Return to Your First Love

Revelations 2:4
Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Most of us have been in love and hopefully still are if we are married. Remember the thrill you felt to be with the one you loved. They were your desire, your focus and they filled your thoughts continually. All you could think about was them and how you wanted to be them when you were apart. Remember how your world revolved around that special person. There was no one else in the world like them. When you were away from them for an extended period your heart yearned for them or when you thought you might lose their love your heart grieved and broke. That was your first love.
Remember when you first came to Christ and the joy of salvation filled your heart. The Holy Spirit had given you a revelation of Christ’s great love for you and you fell so in love with Him. Many of the same emotions that you experienced with the human relationship of love, you experienced with Christ. He was the delight of your heart and you wanted Him to fill and be a part of everything you did. No greater joy and blessing was there than to be in His presence. He was so real to you and you vowed in your heart you would never leave Him or turn away from Him.
Many of you know that when you have been in a long-term relationship, such as marriage, with the person you love those feelings and emotions often subside over time. You still love them, but you take each other for granted a lot. All of those first feelings, emotions and passions of love have faded into a daily routine that often has lost it’s luster. After all, we have all of the demands of life upon us and so many other things competing for our time, attention or affection. We come to find we have left our first love.
As we have done this with our human relationships, we have most likely been guilty of doing it with Christ. Is He the passion, the love, the joy and the longing of your heart that He once was or have we slipped into complacency and lethargy concerning our love relationship with Him? Yes we still love Him, we are Christians and He is our Savior, but is He still our lover? Does our hearts still long and thirst after Him every day? Does He continually fill our thoughts and are we in constant communication with Him? Is He the praise on our lips and the song in our heart? We all so often fail in the area of neglecting our relationships. We can have many good attributes, but we don’t want to lose that “first love”. It is the passionate and fervent love that is always in pursuit of the object of its love and affection. Ask the Father to renew in you that passionate, fervent “first love” for Christ. Seek it out and lay hold of it again. It is vital to us individually and corporately if we are to be His bride, His Church and possess all that He has for us in Himself as our husband.

Blessings,
kent

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