The Streams of our Hopes and Dreams

Psalms 127:3

Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward. 

Springs bubble up from the melted winter snow

Pure little streams trickle down to larger ones below.

How precious the resource of these little bubbling springs

They are like the wellsprings of all our hopes and dreams.

They bubble to the surface birthed into their little stream.

They are so rich in hope as they start off pure and clean.

Hopes and dreams cascade over the rocks smoothing them to stone,

They cascade over waterfalls showing a splendor all their own.

Sometimes they are muddied as they flow to rivers below,

Sometimes they are unappreciated among the river’s flow.

Still they exist in the heart of the spring from which they came.

Even when they become muddied they are cherished just the same.

Our children are often the seed of so many of our hopes and dreams.

We hope and desire they are not just milk, but rise to be the cream.

Even when life doesn’t bring to pass all that we had dreamed for,

Forever we cherish our dream in them and for them pray the more.

They are our legacy to carry on the resource of our life,

Sometimes they turn from us and it cuts us like a knife,

But we look beyond what we see as we hold on to our dream,

We hope, as long as there is life, that our waters again become clean.

Never lose your hopes and dreams though they become clouded along the way,

Bath them in prayer and faith as you look to a brighter day.

Look to the promise of the seed that you planted within their precious hearts,

Believe that when they are old, from God’s grace and love, they will not remain apart.

Blessings,

#kent

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God’s Love though You

July 14, 2015

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God’s Love though You

Inherent in the nature of God is love. Jesus Christ is the personified expression of God’s love towards us. God is “agape” love, unadulterated, pure, undefiled, unselfish expression of affection and good will. 1 John 4:9-12 goes on to exemplify this love that God wants to see manifested in our lives, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” We see expressed in this love of God the sacrificing of what is most precious to Him on our behalf. God is looking first to our interest and need. This love is not earned or deserved, it is simply expressed and freely given. Through this love we see the true heart of God toward us. He is working in our best interest and in what will bring us out of death and into life. Now He is saying this same love that you see exemplified from Me through Jesus Christ My Son, is to be your expression and your nature. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 defines for us the attributes of this love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.” As the children of God this is our legacy and the expression of the Father that is now resident in us, because Christ is in us. This attribute, above any other, is what should define us, as God’s own. God is telling us that if this is not actively working in our lives then we don’t truly know Him. God is saying for us to know Him is to become like Him and that which most defines Him is His love. Most of us would agree that we probably fall desperately short of being the expression of God’s love, but here we see the commandment, not the request of God in 1 John 4: 7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Our very ability to express this love is a God thing. We are able because of Christ in us. If we are missing it, it is because He is not the fullness of our heart and desire. When we are the expression of love to others, we are in affect loving on God, because to be the expression of His love is to love and honor Him. The world needs the fresh expression of the love of God through a people that are not looking for anything in return, but just want to bring glory and honor to the One who has first loved them. This love must first be resident within the household of God and how we treat and care for one another. We all have our personal agendas, but God’s agenda for us is that we be the expression of His love. Let us be cognizant of His nature within us and not stifle it with our own self-interests and agendas. He is our first priority and His first priority of us is that we would love others as He has first loved us.

Orphan, Son and Father

April 14, 2015

Luke 15:11-31
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Orphan, Son and Father

Many of us have read or heard sermons on this parable many times before, but the Lord was dropping into my spirit just a few key principles from this example that I don’t know that I had ever heard or thought about before.
In the midst of Christianity today there are many of us that have an orphan spirit. It is one that really doesn’t know its identity. It is one that is not secure in who they are in Christ and they don’t often have a good sense of what the nature of their Father is. They are often only looking after their own best interests, they like to hoard and keep things for themselves and they really lack that security of just being loved and accepted. As a result most of their world is pretty much about them.
In this younger son we see such a spirit. He had everything and yet all he could see is what he thought he didn’t have. He didn’t want to build into his father’s house, but wanted to take his inheritance and use it to his own self-indulgence which is another quality of an orphan spirit. So father gave him his inheritance and let him go. Now, an orphan spirit, isn’t interested in legacy or building and sowing into something greater than himself. All he really sees is himself and often carries a victim mentality and sense of entitlement. After all, his father “owed him” his inheritance because it was rightfully his. He had a “right” to be free and spend his inheritance how he wanted. What an orphan spirit does is take us down a road of perpetual poverty, because we never see beyond ourselves. All that we think we have or gained becomes dust and blows away, because we don’t have a vision to see our Father’s heart.
Now this orphan spirit son finds himself where this spirit will always tend to lead you, being dependent upon others to feed you the pig’s food. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.” Finally, he gets a revelation that even his father’s servants are living better than he is and it would be better to go back to father as a servant than to live starving and dwelling among the pigs. He now sees the fruit and the consequences of his orphan spirit.
Now we see the heart of the Father as he comes back home. ““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
You see the Father’s heart is always for restoration and legacy. He was willing that his son departed for a time that eventually he might come to repentance and be restored. The Father never saw this boy as any less than a son when he left and when he returned. His love, his heart and longing was always for him. The father didn’t receive him back because he deserved it. He didn’t kill the fatted calf and celebrate because of his great choices and he didn’t put the ring on his finger because he deserved to be a part of the family any longer, but because the father wanted him to know who he was to him and know that he still belonged to the family not just as servant, but as a son.
Now we see the spirit of the son. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
The older son has been faithful to his father and to his father’s house. He has staid the course and paid the price, so this causes a great offense in his heart when he sees how his younger prodigal brother is received back with celebration and royalty. He becomes very angry. For those that are in the Christian faith who have been sons and have walked the walk and staid the course, take note, because the day is coming when the prodigal is going to come home and your hearts are going to be tested in similar manor. The son sees from the perspective of what is deserved, but the Father’s heart is one of grace and restoration. Just because we are sons doesn’t mean that we have a father’s heart, but God wants us to get one, because it is the next level of maturity. It is where we understand that it is not about us and never has been. It is about the kingdom. It is about restoration and reconciliation of that which was lost being restored back to the Father. It is not that the father didn’t already love the older faithful son, but what did he tell him?
““‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” This is what we must understand as sons; all that that the Father has is ours and it is our for a reason so that which is lost may be found and restored back to the Father. As sons we have to catch the Father’s heart or we will be offended. Just like Jesus, we must descend so that we can ascend and bring others up with us. It is not about us, it is about the Father’s house and kingdom, His love for the lost and His desire for legacy which is a lasting representation of His nature and character in the earth.
Thus we see the Father’s heart to restore the orphans to sonship and the sons to fatherhood, so that Father God’s kingdom will come and His will, will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Blessings,
#kent

The Art of Storytelling

January 14, 2015

Psalms 34:11
Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

The Art of Storytelling

Many of us experience the difficulty of relating with our children and grandchildren. They live in a high tech world of video games and fast paced television. To them we may seem pretty boring and out of touch. Even so, I think children still have the same need to be able to be taught and nurtured by us. Often we are perceived as just the yellers and disciplinarians. Yet part of the role of an adult parent or grandparent is the role of a teacher. God has given us a good number more years to experience life first hand through both success and failures. We tend to forget the wealth of experience that we possess. Used in the right way, this can be one of the greatest avenues for us to relate and teach our children the positive lessons of life. It is our way to make real to them the reality of God and how He personally works in our lives.
God exhorted the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is a parent’s responsibility to pass on the laws, principles and precepts of God’s Word to their children. Many of us have been very guilty of ignoring this responsibility or feel like we have met our obligation by giving our kids religious videos and taking them to Sunday school. That is all well and good, but God has given us the responsibility to instruct our children. Maybe we don’t feel qualified or we think that just entails us sitting them down while we read scripture to them. No, the Word of God has to become alive to them through us. We have to convey to them spiritual reality.
Our grandchildren love all the things that other kids love, but I find that they are fascinated to sit and listen as we tell them the stories of how God has worked in our lives. We can share with them our victories and our failures. When they understand how God has worked for us and in us then they can mentally handle God in the flesh. It becomes reality to them and it makes the stories of God’s Word more of a reality to them as well. It is amazing to see the hunger in our grandchildren as they ask to hear story after story. The neat thing is that as you are telling them the stories you can teach God’s Word to them in a meaningful and interesting way.
We may not think we have much to share, but maybe we need to take some time to really meditate back through our lives and think about all of the times God has been there for us. As we think about it, most all of us have experiences where we have seen God’s hand in our lives, His blessing, His protection and His provision. We may find that encourages and stirs up our faith as we remember and reflect on all of God’s goodness in our lives. Be faithful to teach your children and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. They need it because it is what gives them a sense of identity and purpose for their own lives. There is perhaps no more effective way than through the art of storytelling. It is the way that cultures have passed their values and their heritage on to the younger generations throughout history. We don’t want to lose this art in our high tech world. Take the time to share your stories and do it often. It is the way that we instill godly character, values and knowledge about who God is, what He is and what He wants to be to them.

Blessings,
#kent

Hope, Joy and Crown

November 24, 2014

Hope, Joy and Crown

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

When we selflessly plant ourselves into other people’s lives what is our gain if they can’t reward us and we see no earthly or monetary benefit? What do we hope to see in our children through the years of raising them, nurturing, teaching and mentoring them? It is not for what they can pay us back in material gain that we do it. It is a labor of love and the harvest we long to see, that we continue to pray for, hope for and believe for are lives that are healthy, productive and that produce a legacy. A parent’s greatest reward is to have children that love and respect them, but also that hold to the values of faith that were instilled in them and that they in turn instill those same values in their children. We long to see a perpetual legacy of generations that follow on to know and obey the Lord.
The churches that the apostle Paul established were his children. He taught them, mentored them and raised them up in the faith and knowledge of Christ. It wasn’t a job for him; it was his life, his purpose and his joy. When he stood before the Lord there was no greater testimony to his faithfulness and his greatness as a servant of God than those that he had raised up in Christ. He was able to stand with the Lord and look through the generations at the harvest he had been instrumental in producing in the earth. This stood as Paul’s greatest, hope, joy and crown. This was his greatest reward.
Our greatest reward in heaven won’t be about our businesses, our finances or our status in the community; it will be about what we planted in others. It will be about what we sowed into their lives through our faithful commitment and walk with Christ. We want to see it in our children and our grandchildren. We want to see it in the ones that we helped disciple and bring to Christ. Nothing breaks our heart more than to see what we have treasured and nurtured stolen and destroyed by sin. It is for this reason that our Lord Jesus ever stands as our high priest making intercession on our behalf. He too, longs after us to be His hope, joy and crown.
Let us not grow weary or complacent concerning the awesome responsibility that we have toward those who under our spiritual authority or influence. We must remember that we are the priests of our home and have the responsibility to pray, intercede, teach and persuade our families in the ways of righteousness and salvation. Be faithful to the gift, the calling and instrument that God has created you to be. How we respond and use what He has created us to be and how that translates into the lives of others will be our hope, our joy and crown. Our legacy is our glory and our joy.

Blessings,
#kent

The Blessing of Obedience

December 16, 2013

Genesis 22:1-18

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

3Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”


The Blessing of Obedience


This  story of God asking Abraham to offer up His only son Isaac, the son of promise, was God’s ultimate test of Abraham’s faith and obedience.  It is one many of us are familiar with and hopefully we have seen it as the type of God the Father offering up His only Son of promise, Jesus Christ.  What we see happening through this story and through Abraham’s faithful obedience is a perpetual blessing that has been cascading through the ages in both the spiritual and natural realms.  The focus of what is shared in this discourse is the promise and the blessing that was produced through this act of obedience.

We learn a number of lessons from this passage.  One very important one is that I don’t have to understand why God does or ask what He does, it is only important that I am willing to obey Him no matter what the cost.  When God requires a death it is for a multiplication of life.  When God plants a seed, that is sown by His people in faith, He has already seen the harvest it will produce.  A Father’s heart is for legacy, but legacy is not created by holding on, but in letting go.  What God gives us in promise and blessing can become our idol if we are unwilling to release it back to Him.  Our heart of complete trust and obedience is the key to unlocking God’s unconditional and exceedingly great blessings and promises.  

What God promised Abraham those many hundred of years ago we are still reaping in our world and in our personal faith today.  You, in Christ, are an element of that answered promise to Abraham.  You are one of his descendants, stars and grains of sand, rather you were born a Jew naturally or not.  “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)”  You see God’s true seed that He is looking for are those that have that same kind of heart as His friend Abraham; a heart of complete surrender, trust and obedience.  This is what the Father is looking for in us.  

When God made this promise to Abraham, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me,”  He swore by what Hebrews 6 calls an immutable or unchangeable thing in which it is impossible for God to lie. 

Why did God do this?  Hebrews 6:17 says, “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”

What does that mean to you and I?  Sometimes as we labor in kingdom purpose we can get discouraged in well-doing and good works.  When can get lazy and complacent concerning our faith and the purpose that we have in Christ.  I believe this is what prompted the Hebrews’ writer to share this and remind us of our inheritance; “It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  He says prior to this in verses 10-12, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”  

The promises of Abraham are flowing through you as you are faithful to persevere in the faith and His blessings are unto you as well who obey and keep His Word.  Faint not, for His promises never fail. 

 

Blessings,

kent

Integrity

May 2, 2013

Integrity

Job 2:3
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

This passage in Job exemplifies what a man of integrity is. This is a virtue and attribute that is lacking more and more in us as individuals and as a society at large. God saw something in Job’s integrity that He wanted to draw not only our attention too, but also the devil’s. Job was a man that even in the adversity and tremendous trial and testing didn’t waiver in his integrity. It was by those principles that he governed his life and not even the loss of all things could move him from the integrity of his heart. How does that contrast with so many of us today that are like the waves of the sea tossed to and fro, shifting our beliefs, doctrines, behaviors and convictions based on what is politically correct at the moment. We’re all for God until calamity strikes and then we turn bitter and resentful toward Him. If anybody had a right to be bitter and forsake God it was Job, yet the calamities that afflicted his life only solidified the uncompromising conviction of his heart. That conviction was basically, “God you are what I live for and who I die for, I didn’t bring anything into this world and I am not taking anything out, though You slay me yet will I love YOU.” What a testimony of surrender, commitment and integrity toward God Job maintained. Most of us would have folded like a house of cards.
Integrity is completeness. Completeness in the sense that God Himself is our fullness and completion as human beings, without Him we are wanderers in a strange land looking for purpose and reason for existence. Job knew what his was. Integrity is uprightness that comes from a consistent and faith filled relationship with our God. It is simplicity and innocence that acts and behaves the same whether others are observing it or not. It doesn’t act one way in the light and another way in the darkness; it is ever a light and a standard that holds consistent. We can only be perfect in our integrity to the extent the Lord is the Principal and the Sovereign of our lives.
David was considered a man of integrity. Now David wasn’t perfect and he made some major blunders, but it was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t this where true integrity comes from, our heart towards God? It is only He that can establish us and keep us in that integrity, but He wants us all to have it and maintain it in our daily lives and walk. It is in our power and free will to desire and pursue the integrity of God’s righteousness. God will honor the desires of our heart when they are pure and sincere toward Him.
Integrity has been a slippery slope for many of us. As God is raising His standard in us, He is calling us to be men and women of integrity and uprightness. He wants us to not just have the shell of integrity, but like Job, it dwells in the innermost parts of our heart and being. It is in practice whether others see it or not, because God always sees our heart. It is uncompromising in it’s commitment to God’s standards of righteousness. Job 31:6, Job says, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Do we want to make that request?
Integrity is much akin to wisdom, it helps us to establish and hold our course in life. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
Recently we talked about the legacy our lives will leave. Integrity is definitely a part of that legacy we want to leave. “The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7).”
Integrity is exemplified in the nature of Christ that God is working in us as we submit ourselves to Him. Even as Job, let’s make it the standard and foundation in our lives.

Blessings,
kent

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