Family Relationships

July 31, 2015

Mark 10:4-16
4And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. 13And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Family Relationships

This is an interesting passage where Jesus is not only talking about marriage and divorce, but He is then addressing the importance of children and their part in the kingdom of God. One of the greatest maladies of this age is the moral decline we are experiencing as a society and as Christians because of the breakdown of our homes and our families. We have become either too busy or too broken in our marriages to give our children what they need. There are millions of homes with single parents struggling to make ends meet and millions of children growing up with a lack of love, discipline and mentoring that they need. Even those of us who have homes and marriages that are loving and intact often find ourselves missing the opportunities we need to take advantage of, in investing into spouse and our children’s lives.
I believe Jesus, in this passage is bring out the point that marriage and family are not about putting the ones you love aside. So often we get so caught up in the process of providing for our family that the means takes the place of the object of what our lives are about. We miss out on giving the greatest provision of all, our personal time and attention. If we spend all our resources to buy a farm, but never spend time working the fields, can we expect them to produce anything but weeds? A family is an investment of our lives and it continues on even when our kids are grown and we have grandkids. The most meaningful memories we have from our childhood are probably not what mom or dad bought us, but those special one on one times that we had with them that were special and meaningful. Sometimes we don’t realize the little things that we do or give that are the most significant. God wants us to know that the most precious gift we have to give is our time and ourselves. Passing down memories, teaching and instructing our children and grandchildren are the things that matter. I have felt the Lord’s conviction on my own life that it won’t matter so much whether we were rich or poor, but where we invested our time and our love. Perhaps nothing says more to someone about how important they are and how much we love them than the personal time and attention that we give them. Seize those moments when you can have special time with your family and the ones you love. Few things are more important.

Blessings,
#kent

More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

Silver Dollar

May 5, 2015

Revelations 3:17-19
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Silver Dollar

Years ago the value of money was in the coin. When someone gave you a dollar you knew it was worth a dollar because it was backed by the value of the silver in the coin. Today we pass representations of a dollar around, as the real thing and put the same value on them when in reality there is nothing of substance to back up that value. I feel like the Lord is showing me that we do the same thing with our faith and our discipleship. We say we are Christians and represent ourselves as such, but does our faith and discipleship carry the same value as is represented in the Word and as seen in the early Church? Are we living out the value of our faith or are we just paper representations of the real thing? This is what the Lord is dealing with in this passage in Revelations 3 concerning the church in Laodicea. They perceived themselves as rich, having the value of the faith and in need of nothing when in reality the Lord is saying you are nothing more than paper dollars, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Talk about a devalued dollar, that is what they represented. Now the Lord is showing them what they are and the error of their perception not to condemn them, but to bring them to repentance, so that they might regain the value they once carried. God is at work in the Church today exposing the same things in our lives. He is exposing how religion and man’s theology has left us as a devalued dollar in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord is counseling us, His Church, to buy gold tried and refined in the fire so that we may become rich and our true value restored. It is not our talk , dress, social circles and church attendance that give value to our faith; it is the walking out of our faith in daily life. It is living out the principles and the actions of the kingdom that put value in our dollar. It is not what we think in our mind; it is what we perform out of our heart as we seek to be led and directed of the Holy Spirit. Many have settled for a “feel good” faith. It soothes the conscience and gives an appearance of righteousness. Many of the religious people of Jesus’ day had that same thing. It didn’t impress Him then and it doesn’t impress Him now. Jesus can no longer be just a token of our life, He has to become the sum and substance of our life. The Word doesn’t tell us that we were created for ourselves to please ourselves. It tell us in Colossians 1:16, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” We were not created by Him for us, but for Him. Hebrews 2:10 also tells us, ” For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. We are created by Him, for Him that we might be the sons He brings into His glory. Paper dollars can’t fulfill that calling. It takes silver dollars that have the value and the weight of the Son within them.
The paper dollars will fail, because they don’t carry the substance of their value, do we?

Blessings,
#kent

The Blessing of Giving

November 26, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The Blessing of Giving

The greatest blessing we can give and gift that we can receive is in giving something of substance and ourselves that is life changing and life giving to someone else. There are few things more rewarding than the joy we feel when we have made a difference for someone else. Some of us struggle with that. We have become so focused on how to sell ourselves, our goods and services trying to provide for our own that we have missed the joy of caring and blessing another. There is always a constant barrage of mail, phone calls, pleas over the television and radio all asking for our contributions. We often begin to build walls that automatically shut out any plea for help. Realistically we can’t give to everything. Few of us have the financial resources to do that, but at the same time we don’t want to harden our hearts to become insensitive to every need that passes before us. This is where we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and where He would have us to extend ourselves in our time and our finances. We each have different gifts and abilities, but all of us have something we can give. It is wonderful that we give our tithes, but what can we offer of ourselves as a tithe. It isn’t really our money that God wants from us, He wants our hearts. Our tithe is an expression of obedience, worship, thanks and giving back in a small portion what He has provided abundantly toward us.
Our lives will be so much richer when they are filled with random acts of kindness and giving. We are the hands, the feet, the mouthpiece and the body of Christ to carry out His works. Acts 10:38 speaks of the works of Jesus, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” God has anointed us with the same Spirit that indwells Jesus. He has given us power and authority to act in His Name. Let us be sensitive in our every day lives to not pass by the opportunities to express the love of God in the lives of others. May we let our words and our deeds carry with them this anointing that was in Jesus, so that we are life givers and a blessing in the earth.

Blessings,
#kent

Life and Godliness

June 3, 2013

1 Timothy 6:6-12
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Life and Godliness

This scripture kind of flies in the face of all that we are taught in our present day society. It teaches us that it is all about education, working your way up, success and getting ahead. All of these can be good in the right balance, but in all of our pursuit of life’s “success” we often miss the most important and needful things, life and godliness. It takes a paradigm shift in our natural thinking to not be so earthly minded and material oriented that we rob our soul to satisfy our flesh. How many upon finally reaching their goals of success, wealth, fame and riches find that happiness, satisfaction, contentment and peace are not in the pot of gold they thought to find at the end of their rainbow?
We all need to work and support ourselves and families. That is a godly principle. In the process of that we often find ourselves getting out of balance, because the world and work place begins to demand more and more from us at the expense of robbing God, our family and even our own souls.
Many times this may be because we are trying to find our identity in our career rather than our relationship with Christ. What we are and how we are seen in world’s eyes supercedes who we are and our life’s purpose in Christ. Many of us have fallen in this snare and may be there right now.
This is not to condemn, but cause us to take an honest look at our true motives, affections and life’s pursuits. If we are not first and foremost focused on our identity in Christ and how He wants to live through us day by day, then we are missing our calling. We all have to be so careful that we don’t get caught up in the materialism of the world and society we live in, that we miss our higher and foremost calling. “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
If our basic needs are met, then let us pursue what God apprehended foremost for, Himself. Our primary function is the expression of His nature in and through our lives which grows out of an ever increasing relationship and intimacy with Him. The enemy will bring every distraction and temptation to rob us of that identity and purpose we all have in Christ Jesus.
Let us check our priorities today. Are we aligning our lives with this scripture? If not, what steps do we need to take to bring our lives back on course with our true identity and purpose?

Blessings,
kent

2 Corinthians 6:9-11
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

You Don’t have to Give

Giving should never be a mandate, a law, a legalism or a guilt trip. Those should never be the reasons for our giving. For so many giving has ceased to be a joy and has become an obligation and burden.
The truth is so many of us are continually being pressured to give. I am a business man and I wish I received half as many calls from people that wanted to do business with me as I do with people wanting me to do business with them. Then I go to the mail box and the majority of the mail is again full of requests for what I can give to them. Then I may go the kids school or have the kids coming to me raising funds for school projects. By the time I go to church or I have the opportunity to give unto the Lord, I may well feel tapped out and resentful at one more person or organization wanting “my money.” By the time the pressure of the holidays come people often feel overwhelmed and unable to live up to all of the expectations put upon them without going into debt to do it. Is this the way giving should be?
First we must get rid all of the guilt and manipulation when it comes to giving. Can I tell you that God doesn’t want you to give if it is not in your heart to do so. God meant for our giving to be a joy and not a burden. One of the things that really affect how we give and the attitude with which we give is our mindset about what is mine and what is God’s. If I see everything that I get as mine then it comes under the limitations of my mindset. If I see all that I posses as God’s, with Him entrusting it to my stewardship, then that shifts the ownership from me to Him. While God wants me to enjoy what He has put into my care, I know it is not His nature to be selfish with it. If I believe that God is responsible for all that I have rather than just the works of my own hands, then I have to understand a kingdom principle. It is stated in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” The way to harvest more seed is to sow a portion of the seed I have already harvested. No seed planted results in little to no harvest reaped.
Giving is not as much about the amount or the percentage as it is about the attitude of our hearts. Why has God so generously and bountifully given to His children? He doesn’t do it out of obligation. He does it because it is His nature and joy to give. He wants us to experience this same heart in our giving.
Can I just be honest from my own heart. God was speaking to me today that I have a fear of giving, because deep down I always think there won’t be enough. “I’ve got to horde this back or I’ll run out.” But He showed me fear is not faith. It is quite the opposite and fear will always rob you of what faith can produce. If I give out of fear then my giving is begrudgingly, reluctantly and without joy. That is not the Spirit of my Father, that is an orphan spirit. A spirit of lack, rather than a spirit of abundance. I need my Father’s heart to have that giving spirit. God knows that I can’t give what I don’t have, but first I must be faithful in what I do have. Doesn’t He say that if you faithful in the little, He will make you faithful over much?
Do we really dare to believe God or are we content with the little while we rob God through our lack of faith and obedience? Let’s dare to prove God with a joyous heart of outrageous giving. It doesn’t have to be just monetarily, it should flood over into every aspect of our lives. When aligning our minds and paradigms with God’s mind and kingdom thinking there will be no lack for we will see and meet the needs in one another and provide for God’s house. We will see God’s abundance begin to flow through us as we are willing to open up resources for His use rather than just ours. He tells us in Proverbs 28:7, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” What Father is trying to show us is that we are robbing ourselves when withhold from those in need. It doesn’t mean that we have to give to every thing that comes along, but that we should have the Father’s heart in our attitude of giving. While I am still of the mind to consider my finances, “my money”, it will always come up short and always experience lack. When I see it as His money for blessing others then I am brought into a whole new freedom and joy of dispensing His wealth and not my own.
You don’t have to give, but that would be to rob yourself of the greatest joy. It was God’s joy in giving us the greatest gift of all, His son Jesus to die for our sins, that we might see the Father’s heart for unconditional giving. Why wouldn’t we want the joy that is in His Spirit of giving? Why would we want to rob our own selves through our spirit of want, fear and lack? Luke 6:38 promises, ” Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We can’t out-give God!

Blessings,
kent

The Simple Life

November 28, 2012

The Simple Life

Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Does life with all of its demands overwhelm you? Are you caught up in a flurry of activity just trying to survive till the next day? Often life can become this way. Life has a way of running over us and possessing us instead of us possessing it.
I was reading the scripture in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The dream of most of us as human beings is to try and get ahead, to have just a little more and before we know it we are consumed in our pursuit for material gain. What compounds the problem is that the more we have the more we become enslaved to keeping it up, maintaining and repairing all that we possess. All of those things that we wanted for our enjoyment now run our lives. It can be a hard merry-go-round to get off of. In some ways we do want to get off of it and in some ways we don’t. The sad part is that often when we come to the place in life where we have what we want materially we find that other essential parts of our lives are suffering and we may be losing what are the most important things. Often it is at this time in our lives that we find our marriage falling apart or our children are out of control or we lack a true spiritual relationship with the Lord like we used to have.
Sometimes we have to take the time in life to reevaluate our priorities, goals and purpose. I believe this scripture in 1 Timothy 6 is directed at us as Christians. There is nothing evil with money itself; it is what does inside of us through greed and covetousness that can end up devastating our lives. Maybe it is time for some of us to change our focus from our paycheck to what life is really all about, our relationships. Many of us look back at earlier times when we struggled financially, but we were so much happier because at least we had love, the Lord and each other. Somewhere along the way we can loose those precious things that money can’t buy.
Maybe today is the day to begin to simplify our lives, returning more to the basics and just working for the essentials. Our greatest assets are not in our bank account, portfolio or investments; they are in our families, our faith and our relationship with the Lord. Love is the most important thing and money can’t buy you love. Check your compass and correct your course as needed.

Blessings,
kent

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