Take Hold of Life

January 8, 2015

Take Hold of Life
Poverbs 2:6-19
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart,and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark was 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
The questions this morning is why do we embrace death when the Lord has proclaimed and laid before us the path and way of Life? Blindly and ignorantly we accept whatever the world tells us and follow its mandates like it has the answers to Life. There is one source and fountain of Life. It is contained between the covers of your Bible and the Spirit of Life that quickens it to our understanding. Wisdom is spiritual life and understanding. Wisdom is not in us embracing every device and ad campaign of man that promises so much and delivers so little.
Where are we at today concerning our health, our life, our future and our finances? Are we walking in faith searching out and embracing by faith the Word and promises of God or are we listening to a spirit of death that tells us how we are dying? The Word of God has a good report; who are we going to believe. Do we find ourselves dependent upon the ways of man? Are our lives now ruled and in bondage to medications, prescription drugs, loans and debt, materialism and the philosophies of the world’s success? Are we moving in the realm of liberty and freedom of the Spirit, embracing God’s Words of life or are we giving ourselves self-appointed doom and defeat, because we embrace and profess with our mouths words contrary to the Life God wants to give us. We are a Kingdom of God people that should live in a kingdom culture and way of thinking. You see we have been conditioned by the lies of the enemy and our temptation is to believe that we have to go the way of the world and death. What we fail to realize is that what we are saying is man is true and God is a liar. I don’t think many of us come out and say it verbally, but our lives, habits and behavior are saying it.
Listen to what the today’s passage is saying. Do we really believe and embrace that? My wife has a wonderful habit. Almost daily she is putting on CDs of the Bible and playing them. Constantly she is putting the Word in her mind and heart, awake or sleeping, rather consciously or subconsciously it is feeding her spirit. The exhortation for today is for us to examine our lives and let go of the death and wrong thinking that we are embracing that is ministering death to us and not life. Feed upon the Life, embrace the Word of God and let it be your standard for every aspect of your life. The adulteress of this world’s system will lead you into death, “None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” God has purposed us for Life, lay hold of it with all that is within you and hold fast to it that it might deliver you out of this life’s destruction and death. We are called unto life and godliness. If you lose you vision, you will lose your way.

Blessings,
#kent

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Peace

December 1, 2014

Peace

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Peace is not righting all that is wrong.
Peace is in knowing that our wrongs are made right,
That even in darkness and tribulation we have a song.
It is in knowing the “greater is He” when we go out to fight.

Peace is not just a quiet morning after a freshly fallen snow,
It is not always sunshine in your face and wind in your hair.
It is confidence in your God and “knowing that you know”.
It is resting in God’s justice when life isn’t fair.

Peace is not a life without opposition or strife,
Peace is in knowing that Christ has overcome the world,
Even in the valley of darkness and death He is our life.
When our enemy attacks like a flood, He is our flag unfurled.

Peace is not always about pleasant circumstances of the day.
When unpleasantness comes, it is upon His strength we rely.
It is in trusting that where a door is shut He will make a way.
He hides us in the cleft of the rock as our storms pass by,

Peace is not just about having any more war.
It is in knowing that He alone can transform the hearts of men.
In due season we will see the world we all long for.
Our greatest peace is in the forgiveness of our sin.

Peace isn’t having lived the perfect life,
It is in knowing His acceptance and the presence of His Dove,
Peace is redemption and mercy, in place of sin and strife.
Peace is our abiding in the riches of His grace and Love.

Blessings,
#kent

Practical Application for a Holy Life

Colossians 3: 1-3
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The first thing we need as Christians is a revelation of who we are in Christ. In Christ, the former man with it natural affections has passed away and we are putting on a new man renewed in thought, purpose and deed; reflecting and producing the image of Christ. Colossians 3 is a great application for who we are and what we are becoming, as well as what we need to be doing to get there.
We start out by realizing positionally where we are at, “raised with Christ” who is seated at the right hand of God. We are in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. We aren’t going to find many positions higher than that. We, who are in that position, have come to a new mindset different from the one we formerly carried. We must be a heavenly-minded people whose affections are on things above and not on things below, who walk after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Many of us are still holding on to that old unrenewed mind and earthly affections. It is bringing us down and robbing us of who we are and what we have “in Christ”. It is only as we behold Him that the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Colossians 3 is an instructional in the practical ways we are to become heavenly-minded and have a renewed mind. The first thing that it instructs us to do is often the hardest for us to put into practical application. Verses 5-11 instruct us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming, 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Do you happen to recognize any of these attributes still lingering around your life? The hardest thing to put to death is our flesh. It has an instinct for survival and it will do anything, compromise anyway, promise to be good, it just doesn’t want to die; yet it must. We can see the value of keeping Christ and the Word of God constantly in front of us, so that we have a mirror of who we are in Christ and we don’t loose vision of where we are going and what our purpose now is. These little daily devotionals are just one more means I pray the Holy Spirit uses to continually prompt and exhort us in His ways and not our former nature. We tend to want to turn away and ignore the things that put a finger on our sin and our reluctance to yield certain areas of our lives to Christ. We all have our little weaknesses, our idols, and those things that our flesh covets and doesn’t want to give up. Yet, if we are unwilling, then we are living in rebellion and disobedience to Christ, we are not being true to who we are “in Christ”, thus we deny His best and His highest for us.
These scriptures tell us what we must take off, but what about what we must put on. God never takes anything away but what He doesn’t give us something better to replace it with. Verses 12-17 instruct us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God is in affect telling us to be clothed now with His nature, which is the holy apparel that is consistent with heavenly citizenship. The world around us must see something unique, different and special about the people who bear the name of Christ. If we are no different than the world, then we haven’t really changed identity or clothing. We are still living in the same old unredeemed man. Its not all about us going to church, or just talking about Jesus, or telling the world they are sinners bound for hell unless they repent; it is about a lifestyle and behavior that exemplifies who and what we are in Christ. That speaks so much more loudly than words. Give me a person that truly lives Christ before me and that will more quickly move me to change than all of the words and arguments they could give. When you put on Christ you don’t just put on different behavior, you put on a holy presence. It is a presence that exudes the love and power of the Spirit that you are of. God now has place and platform to glorify Himself through you.
Colossians 3 concludes by these instructions to the households of believers and the reminder that at the end of this natural life there is a reward and an inheritance. A reminder that it is Christ we serve and that if we choose to do wrong, that wrong bears its consequences without respect of persons. Verses 18-24 instruct us, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
Thus we have simply laid out for us the guide for living the practical Christ centered life that is consistent with whom we now are. Daily we present our bodies a living sacrifice and daily we renew our minds in Christ. We apply these practical instructions with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, that in all things we might be conformed to His life and live consistent with the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Our Dark Places

March 10, 2014

 

Our Dark Places

 

Who are we willing to allow into our place of undress;

That secret place in our heart where we hide our messiness?

Who are we willing to allow to speak to the things amiss;

Those habits, behaviors and places we dwell in darkness?

Allow the Lord to come in and speak to our places of shame;

Not with condemnation, but with the love, blood and power of His name.

He wants to set us free, cleanse our sins and change our hearts;

Invite the Holy Spirit in for the light and transformation He can impart.

 

Kent Stuck

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

Enemy Thine

July 31, 2013

Enemy Thine

Romans 12:20
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

I am reminded in this verse of the parable Jesus gave of the good Samaritan, whom, though despised of the Jews, took pity and showed mercy on a robbed and nearly beaten to death Jew, whom his own countrymen had crossed the road to avoid. How many times do I cross the road in life to avoid the inconvenience of ministering to someone in need? Let alone, someone who despises me as his enemy. There is no more searing testimony of love than that shown through our unselfish actions. We have been the partakers of such a One’s love, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” We were the enemies of God and yet He loved us unconditionally and poured His hot coals of love on our heads through the Lord Jesus Christ.
There will be those in our lives who will hurt us, abuse us, take advantage of us, and treat us shamefully. They would be the objects of our hate and revenge if we were still natural men and women. There is something God wants to flow out of us that is supernatural. It stands in defiance of all natural laws of human relationships. It is a quality that can only come from the Father’s love and the nature of Christ He is bringing forth in us. It is that ability to return good for evil, blessing for cursing and prayer for those who despitefully use you. Mathew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
There are those of us today that are carrying deep hurts from the wounds others have wrongfully inflicted upon us. Jesus is asking something that may be very hard for us to do. He is asking us not only to forgive them, but also to pray for them and to do good to them. I believe He is convicting some of us right now in this area and as we are able to be obedient to the direction of His Spirit concerning these offenders it will be the source of great release and spiritual blessing in our lives. This is a Word of the Lord for you. God is going to show you how to feed your enemy and give him drink, but you must be obedient to lay down the offense and act on what God will show you. Remember we are no longer ordinary people, but extraordinary people because of the Spirit of Christ that indwells us.

Blessings,
kent

Take Responsibility

June 28, 2013

Take Responsibility

Genesis 3:11-13
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Even from the beginning of time people have not wanted to take responsibility for their own actions and consequences. Even as we see Adam and Eve passing the blame for disobedience to someone else, so it continues today. We are continually reading about lawsuits that people actually win where it is obvious that there own negligence, ignorance or stupidity was to blame, but someone else has to pay for it. We obviously want to assume as little responsibility and accountability for our actions as is humanly possible. As a result of the sue-happy society that we live in, attorneys get rich on malpractice and liability insurance because any little thing gone wrong could result in a lawsuit and someone’s bankruptcy. Obviously there are many occasions when someone’s omission or commission causes harm or loss to another. That is where they need to take responsibility for their action or mistakes.
How does that affect us as Christians? Do we carry the same mindset and practice of the world? Jesus gives us principles in the Word that definitely are contrary to the standards and responses of the world. He says in Matthew 5:38-42, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” “ The standard that Jesus gave was to go beyond what is required to give and forgive. That pretty much flies in the face of our human nature that wants to do just the opposite and yet that it is a Christ standard of behavior.
Most of us would say, but don’t you know if you do that you are just going to be a door mat for others to walk all over you? You have to stand up and fight for your rights. Is that what Christ taught us? It doesn’t mean we are without principles and that we don’t stand for our beliefs, but when we go beyond the expected we become empowered because we choose to give beyond what was required.
Paul addresses an even more disturbing situation that still exist among the church today. It concerns the lawsuits among believers in 1Corinthians 5:1-11: “1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” It is a sad state when brother defrauds brother or when we have to go into the world’s court system to seek the world’s justice. Matters of difference should be arbitrated by the church if, not forgiven altogether.
Many of us still operate our lives by the natural laws that govern men. Christ has given us an even higher standard to follow and it is one our flesh probably isn’t going to like, but we need to exercise godly principles. Maybe you have a legitimate complaint against another but forgiveness needs to be the order of the day, because Christ first forgave us and gave us what we did not deserve and could not earn. That is the heart He wants for us to live out of. This is a foreign concept to many of us and the way we have been brought up to think and believe. Jesus practiced this principal most of effectively in the cross. He took responsibility and paid the price for a debt that was not His own. We will have our crucifixion experiences as well if we are in Him, because “as He is so are we in this world. “ Are we willing to take the responsibility for our actions while at the same time often forgiving the faults and sins of others against ourselves? Such is the law of Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Your Gift of God’s Love

November 2, 2012

Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

Your Gift of God’s Love

Remember that friend that betrayed you? The one you love and trusted and shared everything with? Maybe it was a husband, a wife, a close friend or relative.
Wow, how could you forget the hurt you felt when you discovered that betrayal. This was a person that you loved and would have done anything for. How could they do such a thing?
Now what? They are banned from your life forever. You feel you could never trust them again and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe they repented, cried and asked for your forgiveness, but how could they dare, after what they had done? Now they are on your black list. Your list of unforgiveness, where they have been exiled forever, as far as you are concerned.
I know, who needs people like that in their life? That person you were so vulnerable with and told all of your secrets. Maybe it stirs up all of those raw emotions even thinking about it again.
Did you know Jesus had some friends like that? Some of them were His very own disciples that swore they would stick by Him even to the death, but when it came to that, they ran away. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends even denied, cursed and swore he never knew him.
How twisted and sharp the knife of betrayal can be. How deep are its pain and wounds.
Why didn’t Jesus write off these, “so called friends” of His? Why wasn’t He wiser to pick more faithful and trustworthy people?
Maybe because they were a lot like all of us, who under the right circumstances, would act out of an unbecoming nature and character. Did it mean they didn’t really love Jesus? Did it mean they didn’t hate what they had done or how they had acted?
No, we see Peter, after realizing what he had done, weeping bitter tears for denying his Lord and his best friend.
Maybe those who have hurt and betrayed us don’t deserve our forgiveness, but Jesus showed us through the cross that forgiveness, though undeserved, it what sets people free. When we are the one that has been wronged, it sets us free as well. Forgiveness is a wall of un-love that we erect to keep out our offenders, but it doesn’t just isolate and separate them, it does something else. It separates us in our relationship with the Father.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Did Jesus lead by example? What did He say on the cross concerning those who had beaten, tortured and hung Him there? “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Maybe today is a good time to forgive that person who has hurt you, physically, emotionally, spiritually or even in all of those ways. You are not saying they are right in what they did, only that you have enough of the love of the Father to release them and no longer hold their offense against them. When you set them free, you will set yourself free as well. The love of your forgiveness is one of the richest ones that you can give and, like God’s love, it is not given because it is deserved or earned, but because you choose to be like Jesus in His love for you. You and I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but He chose to give it to us anyway.

Blessings,
kent

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