Romans 5:6-8
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God Loves Us Even when We are Ugly

Isn’t it wonderful that God didn’t just limit His love and grace to the few us humans that are cute and cuddly? He didn’t just love us when we loved Him and didn’t withhold His greatest expression of love toward us even when we least deserved or merited it.
Have you ever been around someone that was hard to love and get along with? On in any given day that could probably apply to any one of us. We can all have our ugly times and our ugly ways. Then there are some with which it has become a way of life. You know the ironic thing is that it is usually with the people that we love the most that we are often the most ugly. We can be ripping our spouse or children up all-day and then come to a stranger and be perfectly nice and polite.
Why is that? Perhaps it is because we feel safe venting our anger, frustration and anxieties upon the ones that we love because we feel we are safe doing it with them. Maybe it is because the ones we “love” aren’t meeting our expectations or living up to our standards. Perhaps we feel those loved ones will still love me even when my raw side is showing. Unfortunately, what was maybe a once-in-a-while bad hair day, can become a habitual bad hair life. We can become abusive on a continual basis to the ones we should love and respect the most. It may be our husband, our wife, our children, parents, family or friends.
There is a great lesson here as we look at God’s love. We see His love is unconditional and that He did love us in spite of our inward ugliness. He teaches us to be the same in our love for others. We see it coming through in the attributes of His Holy Spirit, love, joy, longsuffering, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, meekness, faith and gentleness. As His people these attributes should be an ever-increasing part of our lives. When others are ugly toward us we have to look with the eyes of the Spirit into their hearts and ask why is this person hurting so bad that they treat others this way? Is there anything I can do in Christ to minister and help to heal those inner hurts, wounds and scars?
In our closer personal relationships perhaps we may be reaping in our loved one seeds of discontent and strife that we have sown by our own actions or insensitivity. Perhaps we have played a big part in why this loved one has become that not so lovely person. What do we need to do out of the love of Christ and the love we have for them to change our dynamics toward them to relieve these angry and resentful feelings that they may be expressing? So often anger and emotion keep us from coming to a resolution of our issues. Sometimes the expression of our anger and emotion only serve to drive those we love further away from us and cause them to withdrawal. You will never bring the head of a turtle out of his shell when he knows he is going to get clubbed as soon as He shows it. We need a truce, a cease-fire and to lay our emotions aside. We need to reconcile ourselves through the love of God to really hear and respond to the issues of the heart. Most all of us are creatures of habits and it may be those habits that are a constant source of irritation and dysfunction. Let us love one another enough to change those habits and behaviors for their sake and to help them become that lovely person again that we once knew.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Let us love one another as God in Christ has so loved us.

Blessings,
#kent

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Hey You! Wake Up!

January 6, 2015

1 Peter 5:9-10
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Hey You! Wake Up!

Isn’t it amazing how there can be a time when we are so in love, so on fire, so excited, full of joy and anticipation about someone or something, but as time goes on that which was extraordinary, can become ordinary, neglected and taken for granted. It has often happened with our spouse, our children, our careers, but most unfortunate is that it also happens with our relationship with the Lord. The things, events, people and especially our God, how do they fall off the radar of intensity, love and excitement? Other things keep coming in and little by little diverting our attention, draining our excitement and distracting us from that which was once the most important thing in our lives. Sometimes opposition, trials, frustrations tend to exhaust us and we get tired and want to give up. So we tend to quit trying, we just want to take a sabbatical from all of our problems and challenges in life. Often when we come to this place we let go of our self-control. Instead of alert we be become apathetic, complacent and uncaring. Now we are ripe for the adversary to come in. We are like the sheep separated from the flock, vulnerable and easy prey. You are not alone when this happens. It happens to most of us at one time or another. That is why we so often see our brothers or sisters that were so strong in the Lord and then we find out they have fallen into sin, or a couple that seemed to have such a strong family and marriage has come to divorce and separation. The enemy is looking for our places of weakness and vulnerability. This is one reason we need to be strong in our relationship with the body and have close fellowship. We need accountability with one another, we need to be able to share our weaknesses and struggles praying and lifting up one another rather than condemning, judging and gossiping about each other.
Brothers and sisters you have precious seed within you. You have the life and promise of Christ within. You have an enemy that hates that seed. He will do whatever will rob, steal or destroy it out of your life. He will do whatever will make you fall or others to fall because of you. This why the Holy Spirit is saying here, “Wake up! Pay attention! Come out of your slumber, your apathy and complacency. The destroyer is near and seeking opportunity.
A pastor shared a scripture out of Proverbs 24:10-12, “If you falter in times of trouble,
how small is your strength! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” We have a responsibility not only to stay awake for ourselves, but also to rescue one another when we are getting weak or faltering in our walk. We are all going to have trials, difficulties, troubles, heartaches and temptations. That is a part of our destiny and heritage. While none of us look forward to going through these they are the birth pains of the kingdom of God within us. These are the places where God is able to help us to find the riches of gold tried in the fire, When we overcome and prevail through them in the faith of Christ, this is what makes it ours because we possess a victory through experience. It is great to read the testimonies of others, but there is nothing more precious than when the testimony becomes our own. We all have testimonies and experiences, but in the midst of the heat of our trials we tend to forget what God has already done for us. I find that I am often brought to tears as I begin to remember and recount the many blessings and faithfulness of God in my life. It is always good to keep a journal of all the answered prayers and the ways that God is moving and doing in your life, because we have short memories and we tend to forget. We only see what God hasn’t done for us yet, rather than all that He has already done. Recounting the blessing and faithfulness of God will build faith, reassurance, new hope and confidence as you are facing your trials and tribulations. Ask David. Much of Psalms is David writing about the faithfulness of God in His life and the attributes of His character and nature. That was building faith in Him to continue to stand in His trials, putting His faith in the Lord in the midst of great adversity.
This is a day when the tempo of the spirit world is changing. It is going to become much more intense both in light and in darkness. God is going to begin moving through His people again in a much more powerful way. As He does the spirit of opposition will also become stronger. It is not a day to run and hide or be fearful. It is a day to rise up in the authority you have in Christ Jesus and come forth in a new boldness of faith. As I prayed this morning there was a fresh anointing of power and authority as I prayed and prophesied over loved ones and those that God would have me pray for.
Let us wake up out of our apathy and complacency of spirit. Get excited again about the mighty Christ who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Open your ears and eyes to the things of the Spirit, stepping into what God shows you with authority and purpose. Remember what can happen through you isn’t dependent upon your ability, but upon your willingness to allow Him to be mighty in and through you. Together, as one man, let us lift up holy hands and say, “Here am I God, send me.” Let us stir up one another to good works and ministry. Let us edify, build up one another and magnify the name of the Lord in our midst. Hey you! Wake up! This is a day for us to walk in victory and to be filled with the joy and excitement of what our God wants to do in and through each of us.

Blessings,
#kent

The Blessing of a Spouse

November 20, 2014

Proverbs 18:22
[Whoso] findeth a wife findeth a good [thing], and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

The Blessing of a Spouse

Many of us are blessed with a wonderful spouse that is a blessing to our life in many ways. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our trials, our disagreements and differences, but a good spouse is a compliment to our life. Sharon and I are so different in so many ways and yet she brings a compliment and qualities to my life that I need to complete who I am. A good spouse is someone you can confide your heart with. Someone who sees and knows all of your weaknesses and shortcoming and yet loves you anyway. We are not there to judge and criticize one another’s weaknesses, but to be their strength in that weakness. Sometimes there is nothing that we can do to help, but we always have prayer and the power of God.
When scanning through the TV channels the other day I briefly came across a panel of wives whose husbands were millionaires and the host was asking them what was the one thing that they felt that they personally contributed most to their husband’s success. The the theme I kept hearing is that they supported them, they really listened to what their needs were and that they were a team. It is hard for any of us to be successful when the other partner is always negative, finding fault or complaining about all that is wrong. Your spouse is not your enemy, you are the key to one another’s success, salvation and prosperity. Nothing destroys our blessing like division and strife. Marriage should never be a one way street with one person always getting their way. It should be a compromise and blending where each partner is looking for what is best for the other. It can’t be built on selfishness, but rather selflessness. I can’t tell you how many times my wife has gone out bought me things that I wouldn’t even buy for myself to support me, help me and just to bless me. We all have different needs, but it is important that we get in tune with our spouse’s needs and be there to help them and support them
In conclusion allow me to leave you with the words of 1 Peter 3:1-7 which speaks to both wives and husbands. We are in this together. We are heirs of life and salvation together. Together let’s be a blessing and a strong support for our spouse. Always respect and value the one God has given you.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
Now if you will excuse me, I need to go spend some quality time with my wife. 🙂

Blessings,
#kent

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

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

Returning to Our First Love

December 9, 2013

Returning to Our First Love


Revelations 2:4-5

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.


Love is a many splendored thing, but it can also be a place of vulnerability, heartache and disappointment.  So much depends on the care, attentiveness and tenderness with which we handle the most precious of gifts, one another’s hearts and their love.  

That first found love between two lovers those years back, it seemed so rich.  You loved one another’s presence and you didn’t want to be apart.  Your desire for one another was so strong and you bathed in the love that you had for one another.  Oh, that first love, how rich and full and sweet it was.  

Little by little small offenses began to enter in.  Sometimes unkind remarks were made that wounded your spouse’s soul, neglect, lack of communication, demands of life; so many things can tear at the foundations of your love.  

We begin to take for granted that first love, as we become more familiar with the other.  Those little things that we didn’t notice or didn’t seem to bother us now become a source of irritation and conflict.  Our hearts that were so warm and open begin to close as we often, without even knowing why, transform from that loving unity, to opponents and foes.  Little by little we can shut down in our emotions and our love to the point we forgot why we even liked this person, let alone loved them.  

We can often wander and drift away from our first love for Christ the same way.  Instead of being continually awed and thankful for all that Christ has done and continues to do for us, He becomes common, just another element of our lives and not the substance of them.  How blind we all can become to the hardness that can come over our hearts with regards to the ones we love and what we have held so dear.  Many of us have lost that which we once cherished more than life itself.

What has changed?  Is it them or is it us?  Maybe it is like our environment.  We love the beauty of the water and streams, the woods and forest, the mountains, oceans and wildlife, but if we have them before us every day we may take them for granted and lessen in our once great appreciation of them.  Somewhere in there our motives for gain, for what benefits us and for what we think will better our lives out weighs our appreciation for the other.  At the environment’s expense, we begin to deplete our forest, tear up our mountains, pollute our waters and destroy what we once held so dear.  It is the same thing that we do to our marriages and our relationships.  

We lose sight that our spouse is our teammate that we are dependent upon one another to make life easier and sweeter.  Yet we are so blind at how the enemy of our soul comes into to kill, steal and destroy what was the most precious thing in our lives.  Our unity is destroyed and our marriages turn from bliss to ashes.  Isn’t it because we have bought into the lie?  When one of us in our marriage loses we both lose.  There are no winners and losers, because we are a team. A house divided against itself cannot stand.  

The older my wife and I grow together, the more dependent we are on each other to remember things, to help each other, and to be the strength in the other’s weakness.  On the other hand there is the temptation to find more fault with the other’s shortcomings, especially when they have chided you for yours.  We have to realize that we are a team. We need each other more than ever.  Love cannot become a selfish thing that only looks out for itself. If it has and is becoming that then it has left the boundaries and definition of love.  The nature of love is to serve, to give and bless another.  Love always exalts the other above itself.

Perhaps it is time for many of us to remember and to return to our first love both in our physical and spiritual relationships.  It is time to give the precious gifts of our humility, our forgiveness and our first love.  It is time to make a safe place where we can come together, not to find fault or blame, but to find reconciliation and healing for our hearts and our relationships. Isn’t this what God wants for us?  I believe He will help in this endeavor if we call upon Him and His love to fill our hearts.  Let us cherish and once again hold with such tenderness and sanctity the gift of one another’s hearts and love.  In the same way let us recommit to our first love for Christ and find the first passion that so consumed our soul.

 

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

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

Affectionately Loving One Another
Romans 12:10
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Did you ever notice that the people that you end up neglecting and abusing the most are usually the ones you say that you love the most? They are most often your family, close friends, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ. The ironic thing is that we often give preference to the ones or the things that are putting the more demands and abuses on our lives, but in the scheme of things are less in importance. Somehow we just expect those we love and prefer to understand when we put them last on our agenda or speak or treat them harshly. Perhaps many of you, like myself, find your lives out of balance with your priorities and preferences. In a society in which we find ourselves running like crazy in a thousand different directions, with people and pressures pressing in on us on every side, when something has to give it is usually our family. That can apply to both our immediate families as well as the family of God. Isn’t it strange that we are doing all of these things that in our minds we consider for the benefit of our families and yet they are often suffering as a result of them? What’s wrong that picture?
I speak this first for my own benefit and then for the benefit of anyone else who thinks it may apply to them. I find I get an agenda set in my mind and I’m not real tolerant of interruptions to that agenda. Some of you, like myself, may find that you have created walls of hurt and wounded the ones closest to you. You have communicated to them so many times through your actions and words that they aren’t as important or as valuable as so many other things in your life. My feeling is that this is a major problem with a good many of our families and relationships. We all need to get our priorities in order. God and his people are often at the forefront of our offense list. It is not usually something we do intentionally and often quite subtly these neglects and abuses creep in to undermine our most precious relationships and destroy one of the most valuable commodities we possess, our families, friends and brethren. We often put up our pretty fronts around others, but the loved ones so often see a whole different face and attitude.
Those closest to us rub us the hardest. We would most like to blame them for being the problem with us, but in reality if we didn’t already have a problem then a lot of what they did wouldn’t irritate us so. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t get a person’s goat unless they have a goat to be got.”
The unconditional love of God prefers the other above themselves. It displays that preference by being affectionate. The connotation of our theme verse is to be tenderly reciprocating love and caring in a relational way as with a parent and child or husband and wife. It is preferring the other above yourself. Please join with me in making it our goal to set the priorities of our relationships and commitments straight. Let our God be at the forefront of all that we do, then our family, our relationships with each other, then those outside and then us. Let’s make it our first priority to invest in the eternal things and then the temporal.

Blessings,
kent

Lonely?

March 12, 2013

Lonely?

Genesis 2:18
And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Some of us experience times of great loneliness in our lives that brings sadness that we lack companionship, friendship. Even God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, for man, like God is a relational being. He has been created to communicate, interact, and be in relationship with other beings. Sure, there are times when it is good to be alone. Some of us are so involved with people we scarcely have time for just ourselves and our thoughts. We deal with people continually on a surface level, but not on a deeper emotional level. There are times when we can have people all around us and yet live in loneliness.
I believe God wants to speak to those who are experiencing that spirit of loneliness, where they feel separated, and cut-off and out of relationship with others. You may even be married, but you feel that your spouse doesn’t really know you or care to relate to your inner needs. Loneliness is a door that can lead us to depression and despair. It is an area where we can also come into place of self-pity. That is not meant in a derogatory way, it is just, in that place, the enemy begins to feed our mind with thoughts of worthlessness, unloveliness and a sense of rejection and despair can come over us. In that place of being alone we can develop misconceptions and wrong thinking. We can envision ourselves as being the only ones going through this experience. Even Elijah, the prophet saw himself in this place in His effort to stand for God. He began to see himself as ostracized and the only one left standing, all alone in his efforts to serve God. Romans 11:2-4 gives us this example, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
The truth is many of us can have tremendous feelings of loneliness even in the midst of many people. Sometimes in that place, we blame others for our loneliness. We may blame our spouse or those close to us for not meeting those emotional needs in us. We may be lashing out in anger, because we feel it is their fault for not meeting our emotional needs of companionship and fulfillment. Unfortunately, through that bitter, critical and judgmental spirit you may be driving your companion, friends or relations further and further away rather than drawing them into a place where they can relate with you. You may be causing them to withdrawal more from you as they seek to protect their emotional well-being rather than you creating a safe-haven where they can feel safe to open their hearts to you without fear of reprisal, criticism, judgement and rejection. If you want to bring a turtle out of his shell then you put him in a place that he feels safe and not threatened. Our emotional person can be much the same way. It may be that we are expecting human relationships to meet needs in us that can only really be touched on a spiritual level. You know, we are never really alone. In the clouds of loneliness, the Son is still there. He desires to shine through and touch your need where you are. Jesus was constantly surrounded by people, pulling from Him and expecting of Him, but His real place of relationship, strength and renewal was in the alone time he had in relationship with the Father. If you are feeling that loneliness on the emotional level of natural relationships, then take that loneliness to the Father. Begin to come into the place of relationship with Him that can meet the needs that man will never meet. There is a place of need and relationship that only the Spirit of God can fill. You are forever precious and lovely in His sight. He will never leave you or reject you if you are seeking to relate with Him. He will love you unconditionally and like the woman at the well in John 4, you will find the water that satisfies and that makes you to never thirst again. Drink from the well of His salvation and grace. Enter into that fellowship and closeness to Him. You may find that as you are transformed through the time spent in His presence your natural relationships may improve as well. Allow Christ to satisfy the needs of your heart today as you abide in His presence and share with Him the longings of your soul.

Blessings,
kent

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