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

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Our Guide

May 6, 2015

Psalms 48:14
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Our Guide

Running the course of this life encounters many obstacles and challenges. Each one of our lives are different, with different circumstances and different challenges. How do we navigate life successfully and gain from it the results that are everlasting? Psalms 48:14 reveals that to us. There is One that we can lean upon, trust in and rely upon to guide us through the maze of our lives.
Isn’t it a peace and reassurance to know that our God holds our destiny and purpose in His hand. If we are willing to fully trust and obey Him, He will lead and guide us into it. God’s Word lays the foundation and principles that order our steps and imparts His wisdom to us that we might know the way of life and walk therein. Even when we have departed from His ways He does not cast us off or judge us as unfit. His grace is not to be abused, but isn’t it wonderful to know that even in our mistakes and disobedience we can be forgiven and restored. We may change and be moved, but He isn’t. His Word never fails or changes and He stands true to all that He has promised to be to us.
If we want true success in our lives, If we want true fulfillment. If we want righteousness, peace and joy to pervade our lives then we must hold fast to God as our guide. There are many gods in this world. People worship and serve many different objects and deities in their lives, but there is and always will be the one and only true God, creator and redeemer, who can impart to us spiritual life that supercedes all that is passing away. He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Shield and our Defender. He will guide us through the darkness. His Word is a light unto our path and lamp unto our feet. He will direct us and keep us where others fail. He is our steadfast hope, the anchor of our souls; “for this God is our God for ever; He will be our guide even to the end.

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

Our Father, Guardian and Instructor

Proverbs 13:1
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

Why is it that God’s people should read and study the Word of God? Why is it that they should listen and read from Spirit Anointed men and women? Why are prayer and meditation so important?
As God has given us earthly parents that for a short time to teach and correct us, Our heavenly Father is continually our guardian, instructor and corrector. Hebrews 12:10 tells us, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Isn’t that our goal and destiny as people of God, to share in God’s holiness and nature? Isn’t this our new nature as we have been born again by the Spirit? As the wife and I read through the book of Proverbs we can’t help but be impressed with this message, ‘God will give us wisdom and life defining principles that will give us good success, long life and immortality. The condition is that we must take heed to listen and follow in these principles and ways of life. We all know that we have areas of weakness, failure and folly in our lives. We need correction, for without it we will perish. This is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish and the righteous from the wicked, the righteous and wise son will heed, receive and embrace correction and rebuke. He will not be offended by it because he knows that it is working life and godliness in him. Proverbs 9:8 says, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” Now none of us are overly fond of correction, because it generally hurts our ego or our flesh. Many of the trials that we endure are a form of correction, not because we are bad, but because God is exercising us in faith and in application of the principles and tenants of His Word. How do we get good at anything? Isn’t it by much repetition and practice? We are in God’s boot camp and His training ground for developing and exercising righteousness and right living. How are we going to know the right responses and ways to handle our trials and the circumstances that life throws at us if we don’t study the manual and listen to instruction? This is why we want a close walk and relationship with the Lord so that we can hear and discern the Holy Spirit’s voice. He is our personal teacher and life coach. He will teach us through our everyday life experiences if we are tuned in and listening to Him. Most of us are so busy blasting through life our own way we rarely give time or attention to even inquire or listen for the Holy Spirit. I wonder why we struggle so?
The wisest and richest man in the earth wrote Proverbs. Much of what is shared in Proverbs is a contrast between wise and foolish, simple and knowledgeable, righteous and wicked and life and death. We are continually instructed on right response and behavior and wrong response and behavior. It makes plain to us the consequences of our response and choices.
If any of us have had rebellious or disobedient children then we can relate with what the Lord puts up with in us. Somehow they can’t receive the fact that you are telling them things and limiting them from things that will result in their hurt. They perceive it as you being overbearing, unfair and just out of touch. As a result they choose to go down the hurtful path that results in pain and suffering for all. Many of us are certainly no different when it comes to obeying God’s Word.
We want to challenge you to read a chapter of Proverbs every day for a least two years and see if it doesn’t change your life, your finances and your situation as you begin to put these principles and proverbs into practice. There are thirty chapters, one for each day of the month. What Sharon and I are doing is reading a new chapter and then we reread the chapter we read the day before to reinforce it. God’s Word will change us if we will not only read it and hear it, but seek to give it application in our daily lives and circumstances. This is what develops holiness in the fear of God. This is what gives us faith and life and hope in every situation. Take the challenge and prove God’s Word. His promises and His Word will not come back void, they will work positive changes in your life. God is a good God, a wonderful and loving Parent and One that is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Blessings,
#kent

The Hidden Things

March 24, 2014

 

The Hidden Things


1 Corinthians 4:5

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.


How many of us know that things are not always as they appear outwardly?  Many of us may be very surprised at the ones that are ruling and reigning with Christ, because we judge by the outward vision and natural understanding, but God judges after the heart.  Big names and ministries, credentials and degrees, accomplishments and awards so often impress us.

When you see someone who stands out and is accomplished in an area our tendency is to admire that individual.  Is every individual that distinguishes themselves, self-made?  If you look beneath the surface you will probably see parents who sacrificed their wants and dreams for their children.  You will see teachers, instructors, coaches and mentors who poured into these promising individuals to help them rise to their potential.  The point is no one is great in and of themselves.  There is much invested in bringing people to greatness that most of the world never sees.  They are the hidden ones.  They live and work in the background and are never in the limelight.  They aren’t the ones that receive the recognition, awards and accolades, but they just may be the truly great ones because they know how to invest in making others great.  

Paul, the apostle was experiencing some of this same frustration in his ministry.  Paul saw time and again where he would pour out his life for the church, which so quickly would turn to some other ministry or doctrine.  The Jews or some other element would come in after he had left to pollute and lead the people off track from the gospel foundation that Paul had laid for them. We have the hindsight to look back at the legacy and tremendous impact Paul had on the early church, the New Testament and on the church throughout history.  We can easily see from our perspective what a great and awesome man of God that Paul was.  Do you think that a lot of the people of his day saw him in this light?  What they saw outwardly in Paul probably wasn’t that impressive.  He was this tentmaker and itinerate preacher obsessed this Christ.  He probably wasn’t that striking in his natural presence.  He was pretty much a hand to mouth type of guy who didn’t have a nickel to his name, but what he had he used it to advance his agenda about this Christ.  He was a passionate kind of guy and he preached a good word, but perhaps a little offensive at times.  He would go to any lengths to try and communicate this Christ and who He was and what He stood for, but probably not the kind of guy that would impress you by outward appearance or status.  In 1 Corinthians 4:9-16 Paul tells us a little bit about his glorious life as a great apostle, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We [are] fools for Christ’s sake, but ye [are] wise in Christ; we [are] weak, but ye [are] strong; ye [are] honourable, but we [are] despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, [and are] the offscouring of all things unto this day I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn [you]. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet [have ye] not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” Everything that Paul should have been in the natural was imparted to others.  The great ones aren’t the ones that have everything imparted unto them and the world marvels at, the great ones are those seeming nobodies that are the vessels and channels of imparting.  Their lives are spent and poured out to make others great.  They are fathers whose glory is in their children and what they become is because of what they were given.  Have you have found yourself discouraged because you have given and given, only to be taken for granted, despised and unappreciated?  Remember there is a day when the hidden things will be revealed.  It doesn’t matter what men think of us, the Lord is our judge.  In due season we will reap our reward if we faint not.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:4, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Just be faithful to do what God has put in your hand to do.  Judge nothing before its time, for God will bring the hidden things to light.   

 
Blessings,
#Kent

The Story of a Cripple

February 25, 2014

The Story of a Cripple


Isaiah 30:20-21

And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 


A little girl sits staring out her window.  Her thoughts and dreams take her on journeys that her legs never can.  Struck by a drunken driver while riding her bicycle she no longer knows the pleasures of running and playing with her friends the way she used too.  At first, it didn’t seem real and she thought that surely she would get better and be able to walk again, but she never has. Then she became very angry with this person who had hit her on her bike, she hated them and wanted them to die.  This person had robbed her of a normal life, of friendships and had forever handicapped her from being like everyone else.  

Elsa was just eight years old when it happened.  After her body had recovered as much as it was going too, she would spend hours looking out her large second story bedroom window.  Below in the street and yards she would watch the kids play.  Often she would be saddened and angry as she set there, a captive of her circumstances.  Eventually she began to look beyond the neighborhood into the nearby fields and forest that surrounded the area.  She began to observe nature, the seasons, the birds and the little animals.  She began to see that just like humans, animals, birds and even the trees sometimes experienced tragedies, but adjustments were made and life went on.  

One day when she looked out, the field was on fire and it was quickly moving toward the forest.  She hurriedly dialed 911 and reported the fire.  She observed as the fire fighters arrived quickly upon the scene and as they battled the blaze, doing all that they could to contain its damage.  It went on for some time and the fire had reached the forest, burning a good area of it, before they finally got it under control and put it out.  Elsa was saddened as the landscape had been forever changed and she felt it would never be as beautiful or the same again as she looked out over the charred trees and burnt ground.  As the seasons changed she was amazed the next spring when the grass was actually greener in the burnt area than any place else.  Elsa observed that over time the burnt area filled back in with growth and animals started coming back into the new growth and shrubs.  In many ways it was even more beautiful and lush than before.  The Lord began to speak to her heart and she began to make the connection that bitterness and unforgiveness only will leave your heart barren and unproductive.  It poisons the ground.  Elsa began to here the voice of God telling her and showing her that she was like that burnt ground.  Wonderful things could still happen in her life.  Yes, it might be different than most, but perhaps even more beautiful in some ways because she had a perspective that others didn’t have.  She began to pray and release the anger, bitterness and offense she had so long held inside.  She prayed for the person that crippled her and asked God to make them whole as well.  Elsa came out of her room and began to become involved with life and people again.  She accepted that circumstances beyond her control had forever changed her, but perhaps it could be for the better and not for the worse.  As she began to embrace life, relationships and people again, she felt her life enriched somehow.  She missed being normal; walking and running like others, but she saw opportunities to help people in ways she never had before.  She realized that, like that that burnt field, God was restoring her to be an even better person than she had been before.  She realized her right attitude and God perspective made her grass a little greener than a lot of those around her.  She found herself walking no longer with the natural legs that she was born with, but with legs of faith, trust and dependency upon God to now direct her life in the way and the plan that He had for her.  Now instead of feeling robbed of life, she felt enriched with new meaning and purpose that her new life had found.  Instead of the burnt field of bitterness, hate and unforgiveness she found herself flourishing in the greenery and new life of her relationship with the Lord and with people.  She was learning what it is to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, that even in adversity there is blessing and holding on to offenses is more crippling than physical handicaps.  

 

Blessings,

kent

Consecrated Son

July 23, 2013

Consecrated Son

1Samuel 1:9-11
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD And she [was] in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

Most of us know the account of Hannah and how she cried out in her bareness for a man-child. We know that Eli spoke a prophetic word to her, she conceived and gave birth to a child she called Samuel, who was a wonderful prophet and man of God. The only thing is that as Hannah had vowed, when the child was weaned she would come and present him to the Lord. The child was consecrated unto the Lord according to her promise. She had to fully relinquish the normal routines of a mother raising a child. The priesthood raised him and she only had visitation rights.
John 1:12 tells us,”But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:” When we come to Christ there is a spiritual dedication and consecration that takes place within us. Our soul, through its vow to Christ, dedicates the spiritual child within that is birthed to God. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:5-7, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Most of us who are Christians are very aware of our new birth, or born again experience. We understand the concept of that new creature which we now are and still are becoming, is the product, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. We should understand, like Hannah, that this spiritual seed, which is the product of the faith in our soul uniting with the promise of the Spirit of God, has produced a spiritual man-child within us. Our body is the tabernacle of this holy seed of God. What we often forget is that this child doesn’t belong to the soul. It belongs to the Spirit. We gave up our rights and dictates to it when we received Christ. As such we must remember and honor our vow that we are no longer our own. We belong wholly to the Lord. For many of us, even though we have been spiritually birthed, we have never been really separated unto the Lord. We are still being raised by our soul. The result is that our spirit man reflects the soulish woman rather than the godly man after the image of the Father. Who is raising your spirit man, your man-child that resides within? Is he becoming just an extension of your soul, of your mind, will and emotions? Or has he been truly consecrated and given to God? Is he being raised in the discipline of the Word of God and godly correction? Is he learning to truly bear the nature of the heavenly rather the earthly? Roman 12:1-2 exhorts us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” God has answered the cry of our soul to birth a part of Himself in us. We are exhorted to keep our vow and commitment to now let that spiritual man within us grow up in obedience and consecration to the Father and the instruction of His Word. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a mentor, a spiritual governor, advisor, helper, comforter and instructor to help us grow up into the priesthood of God. We are men and women of God. We are not ordinary and common people of the world. We have been consecrated and set apart unto God, for His glory and for His purpose. We must, as Samuel did, grow up into our calling and relationship with our Father. We are purposed and destined of God. We are not our own, we were purchased with a price. Has our soul relinquished the man-child we are and the destiny we have before us to be conformed into the likeness of the Son of God? If not, perhaps it is time we make good on our vow. What we give up in the natural, can in no way compare to what we gain in the Spirit. Let’s make sure we have been truly consecrated and released to God.
The soul or the mother is the vehicle to produce the son. She must then give place for the son to grow up in the likeness of his Father. The soul must decrease and the spirit man must increase. Have you consecrated your son?

Blessings,
kent

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