Monday, December 27, 2010

Insulated but Not Isolated

Jesus prayed to His Father, "I do not ask you to take them (His disciples) out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one." The "world" He's referring to are all the people who don't know God, along with all their attitudes that are hostile and ungodly. Our first response is to run away and isolate ourselves. That's why monks went to monasteries in the wilderness, where no one else would go. They were trying to escape from "the world" so they wouldn't be tempted by it. But how could they be "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14) if they were not in it?

Jesus wants us to go into the world, but He doesn't want the world to get into us. A submarine can't fulfill its purpose if it is out of the water. It must be submerged into the ocean before it can be effective. Even though the sub is surrounded by water, the water can't get inside because it is insulated. The submarine was prepared ahead of time, before it went into the sea, to have all possible areas sealed where leaks could occur.

In the same way, we are to be insulated from the world but not isolated from it. We need to be prepared ahead of time, before we go into the world, to seal off all possible areas where the world can leak in. The Lord wants us to influence the world--but not for the world to influence us. To hear the entire message on this topic go to:
"Living in a Changing World"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Using the Wrong Method

A lady had a pet dog that was sick. Every day she tried to force a tablespoon of medicine down its throat, but the dog would always resist and pull away. One day she accidentally knocked over the bottle and the medicine spilled all over the floor. To her surprise, the dog went over to the puddle and started lapping it up! The dog hadn't been resisting the medicine. It was resisting the method that its owner had used--forcing it down its throat.

As Christians, we have the only medicine that is able to save a person's soul and put that person's life back together. Jesus came to bring life and light to people who have no hope. But so often we use the wrong method to get the message across. We try to force it down people's throats instead of presenting it in such a way that they will willingly receive it.

Jesus said, "Let your let shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). We can shine our light in the right way or the wrong way. "In such a way" means that we use the right method to present the gospel so that they will be converted. They will see the light in us and say, "I want what you've got!" When we do it the right way, they will "glorify your Father." That means they will receive the message, be converted, and their lives will change so that they will be glorifying God.
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to
"Shining Your Light"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning From Kudzu Vines

If you've ever driven along the Interstate in the South, there's a good chance that you've seen miles and miles of Kudzu vines covering trees and bushes along the road. Have you ever wondered how they got there? No one planted them, at least not along the road. They spread there from somewhere else.

Kudzu wasn't native to America. It was imported from Japan. It all started about 1935, when farmers were encouraged to plant it to reduce soil erosion during the "dust bowl" years. It looked like a great idea at first, but they didn't think about the problems it would cause in the future. They had no idea it would spread so quickly that it would become uncontrollable.

The vines can grow a foot a day and up to 100 feet long. It creeps up trees and over bushes, cutting off light and eventually smothering the life out of them. If you pull up a vine, you had better make sure you destroy it because it can root itself and start over again! No one has found an effective way to stop it and that's why you see it along the Interstate highways.

This menacing plant is an object lesson for us. When making a decision, don't just look at the immediate results, but think down the road about how it will affect your future. Too many people want instant gratification and ignore the disastrous consequences that are sure to come. This is why so many people are in financial trouble due to credit card debt. They bought what they wanted but the interest has compounded like Kudzu. Wise people will make their decisions by thinking long-term. That means saying no when everyone else is saying yes.

To hear the entire sermon on this message, go to:
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on
"Increasing Your Wisdom"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finding Wisdom

Sherlock Holmes and his faithful assistant Watson were on a camping expedition. Holmes could always solve mysteries through his powers of observation and he would continually try to teach Watson how to do it.
After eating supper, they got into their sleeping bags and turned in for the night. Several hours later, Holmes work up his friend and said, "Watson, wake up right now and tell me what you see." After rubbing his eyes, Watson said, "I see thousands of stars."
"And what does that tell you?" Holmes quizzed. Watson answered, "It opens the possibility that there are thousands of planets out there."
"Very good, Watson. What else do you observe?"
Watson said, "The position of the moon tells me it is approximately 3 a.m."
"Very good. What else?"
Scratching his head, Watson replied, "I'm drawing a blank. What should I be observing? What am I not seeing?"
Holmes said, "Watson, old boy, it tells me that someone has stolen our tents!"
Some people can't see the obvious. Common sense can see the obvious, but wisdom sees beyond the obvious. Wisdom is the ability to make right decisions. Wisdom is the insight into how to solve problems. None of these come from our own natural abilities because Prov. 2:6 says, "The Lord gives wisdom." If we are going to be wise, we must get it from Him. Here are four things required of us:
1. Have the highest respect for God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10). Do you fear the Lord above all else?
2. Have a teachable spirit. You can have the greatest teacher in the world but if the student doesn't want to learn, he won't! Are you willing to do whatever He says?
3. Ask God for it. James 1:5 says, "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." What's funny about this is that EVERYONE lacks wisdom. They just don't know it. For those who realize they need it, they must ask. God doesn't automatically make everyone wise. We must ask. We must ask desperately and God says, "it will be given him."
4. We must receive it. James 1:6-7 says if we doubt that God will give it, we will not receive it. Have you ever tried to give a gift to someone who won't receive it? Even though you've bought the gift and are offering it, it's all in vain if the person won't receive it.
God will speak His wisdom to you through thoughts that pop into your mind, through desires in your heart, and through godly counselors. To hear the entire audio message on this subject, go to:
"Finding Wisdom, part 1"

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Secret to Being Thankful

Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft, once spoke at a convention in Seattle. At the time Gates was the richest man in America with a personal worth of $35 billion. At the end of his speech, he allowed the audience to ask him questions. One man asked, "Mr. Gates, if you were blind, would you trade all your money to have you sight restored?" Gates replied, "If I were blind, yes, I would give up all my money to receive my sight." He put a $35 billion price tag on his eyesight!

What price have you placed on your blessings? Everything you own has a price tag on it. It's a price tag in your mind and the value can change whenever you decide. The value of something is determined by how much it is appreciated. When an item means a lot to you, it appreciates in value. But when it isn't important to you anymore, it depreciates in value.

When you buy an expensive piece of furniture, you are excited about it and are thankful. But over time you might quit noticing it and decide to sell it in a garage sale for $5. In your mind, it has lost its value so you stop being thankful for it. When a bride and groom stand at the altar exchanging vows, they tell each other that they are the most valuable person in the world. But as time goes on and conflict occurs, they may stop appreciating each other. They don't value each other like they did on their wedding day.

The key to being thankful is to increase the perceived value of what you own by raising the price on each item. Make a decision to appreciate everything that God has given you by giving genuine thanks to Him. Eph. 5:20 says, "Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God." Why would He tell us to do this? Because God really, really likes to hear us give thanks to Him--all the time. Unfortunately, much of what He hears is just complaining.
To listen to the entire message on this topic, go to
"Thankful ALL the Time."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Overcoming Temptation

God created Adam & Eve with a hunger drive, and then He gave them food to fulfill that drive. They could eat from any tree in the garden except for one--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). If Adam & Eve had been eating the food that God had provided for them, they would not have been hungry for the forbidden fruit. If they had been filling up on legitimate fruit, their hunger drive would have been fulfilled and the temptation to eat forbidden fruit would have gone away.

Suppose you went to your Aunt Margie's for Thanksgiving dinner and she has just baked your favorite dessert, homemade apple pie. You are about to indulge yourself when Aunt Margie interrupts and says, "You can't have that now. Lunch is ready. You can have it for dessert."

She serves you turkey and dressing with all the trimmings and you stuff yourself like it's your last meal. You go back for seconds and when you're done, you have too loosen your belt. Then Aunt Margie comes out with a large piece of apple pie and places it in front of you. You tell her, "Ohhhh, take that away. I can't eat another bite. I'm stuffed!"

Thirty minutes ago you were craving the pie and now you can't stand to even look at it. What changed? Your hunger drive has been been fulfilled, so the temptation is no longer there!

The same thing that works for your hunger drive also applies to every other desire and drive in your life. If you fulfill your drives in God's way, you won't be hungry for forbidden fruit. To listen to the entire message about the 6 keys to overcoming temptation, go to
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Overcoming Temptations"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Entering Into Temptation

Temptation is an area that can be entered into. Matt. 6:13 says, "Do not lead us into temptation." Matt. 26:41 says, "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation." The Greek word "into" means to go from the outside to the inside. You go from the outside of a house through a door to get inside.

Adam & Eve entered into temptation when they decided to go to the middle of the Garden of Eden to inspect the forbidden fruit. In the picture above, the circle represents the area of temptation. When Adam and Eve were outside of the area, they weren't being tempted by the forbidden fruit. It had no power over them. But the moment they decided to inspect the fruit and took the first step toward the tree, they entered into temptation. They went through the door of temptation and now they were "under the influence" because the lure was pulling them toward the forbidden fruit.

They could have broken the spell of the influence if they had turned around and run away from the tree (see picture below). Most people try to resist the temptation, but the flesh isn't strong enough to win the battle. "The flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). That's why we need to turn around and flee out of the area. 2 Tim. 2:22 says "Flee from lusts." Joseph didn't try to resist Potiphar's wife but ran away from her. If you are being tempted, you need to run away from the forbidden fruit. God will make a way of escape for you (1 Cor. 10:13) so look for the EXIT sign. To listen to the entire message on this subject, go to www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Analyzing Temptation."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where is Your Treasure?

Jesus said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:20-21). Our hearts and our treasure are tied together. Notice that He did not say, "Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also." That would seem to make more sense. Instead, He reversed it and said "where your treasure is, there your heart will be." Why did He emphasize the treasure?

Here's why. Some people say that they love God, but they never worship Him by giving their money in offerings. They are deceiving themselves. Although we can't see inside a person's heart, we can see where his money goes. To show us where a person's heart is, Jesus points us to where his treasure is invested. Look for the treasure and you will find the heart. Follow the money. People always invest their money in what they love the most. A person who loves golf has no problem spending his cash on golf clubs, golf carts, and country club fees.

My uncle graduated from Georgia Tech. He had Georgia Tech window stickers, rugs, mugs, and a host of other items with the school emblem. He even showed me a plaque that he received from Tech in recognition of his giving $50,000 to the school. How do I know he loved Tech? He gave 50 Grand to the institution. His treasure went to Georgia Tech, and that's where his heart was.

When we cheerfully give our offerings to the Lord, we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven. If our treasure is there, our hearts will be also. How much are you investing in eternity? To hear the entire message on how to lay up treasure in heaven, go to:
"Pay Day in Heaven"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Final Exam

When author Rick Howard was attending college, he walked into his classroom after skipping class for nearly 2 weeks. He was ten minutes early for class, and his heart skipped a beat when he saw every student seated with books open, cramming for a test. He nervously asked his friend, "What's happening here today, Jim?" Jim said, "On, nothing special, Rick. Just the mid-semester exam, that's all."

"You've got to be kidding!" Rick responded with a look of horror on his face. "Oh, no," Jim replied. "You ought to come around here more often." Rick knew he wasn't prepared, so he approached his instructor and asked if he would consider postponing the test for him.

His professor said, "Mr. Howard, I can't punish you for missing class for 2 weeks, but you are responsible for everything that goes on here. You must take the exam or you'll receive an automatic failure on the test." Rick's heart sank to his stomach as he stared at the exam, not knowing how to answer the questions.

Are you ready for your "Final Exam"? Judgment Day is not an unannounced test. It is coming. "For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). Do you realize you are reading about yourself in this verse? What will this exam be like?

If you are a Christian, God has already taken care of your sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This judgment will be a GOOD judgment, to examine your life to determine your rewards in heaven. The bad things we have done will be burned up, but everything we have done to please the Lord will be rewarded with something magnificent, better than we can even imagine (see 1 Cor. 3:10-15 for more on this judgment).
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and
click on "The Final Exam"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life After Death

One day your heart will stop beating. At that moment, your soul will leave your body (James 2:26) and you will spend the rest of your never-ending existence in the next world. What happens to you in the next life will have already been determined in this life. The decisions you make during your life on Earth will determine two things in the next world: Your eternal destination and your eternal occupation (if you are saved).

Your eternal DESTINATION. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your eternal destination will be heaven. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God" (John 1:12).

Your eternal OCCUPATION. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one thinks about what we will be doing there for millions and millions of years. Your faithfulness in serving God after you have been saved will determine your POSITION in heaven, your REWARDS in heaven, and your JOB ASSIGNMENTS in heaven.

We will "serve Him" forever (Rev. 7:15, 22:3), which means we will have job assignments. These will be privileges, like eternal hobbies, and not like work on Earth.

We will have different ranks in heaven because "many who are first shall be last, and the last, first" (Matt. 19:30). Some who are generals in this life will be privates in the next life. Some who are privates in this life will be generals in the next life. These positions will be determined by humility and faithful service. Which will you be?

If we are faithful in handling our money on Earth, we will be put in charge of something called "true riches" in heaven (Luke 16:11). This isn't figurative language. There really is treasure in heaven and the most faithful stewards on Earth will get to manage it in eternity.

How can you make your life count for eternity? By living to please the Lord in all that you do. To hear the entire message on this subject, go to:
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "The Next World"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Near Death Experience--testimony of a man who died and went to heaven

In 1982, Ian McCormack was an atheist who didn't believe in the afterlife. He was stung by 5 deadly box jellyfish while scuba diving, and as he was being taken to the hospital, he called out to Jesus to save him in the ambulance. He passed away in the hospital and was dead for 15 minutes. What he saw on the other side is one of the most amazing testimonies you will ever hear! Ian was sent back into his body and is currently serving the Lord as a pastor in England.

Ian's testimony is in 10 short videoclips. I highly recommend that you listen to parts 1-4, which tells how he got stung and how he desperately tried to get to the hospital. Parts 5-10 tells what happens after he died.
Click here to start with part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgF_iwUNqFU
Click here to start with part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-AXSHLZCPg

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Animal School

A group of animals started a training school to increase their abilities. They offered courses in swimming, running, climbing, and flying.

The duck always wanted to run fast like the rabbit, so he signed up for running. He got frustrated because he kept tripping over his big webbed feet.
The rabbit wanted to fly like the hawk but nearly broke his leg when he jumped off the ledge.
The hawk wanted to climb like the squirrel but kept falling because he couldn't hold on to tree with his wings.
The squirrel wanted to swim like the duck but almost drowned because she couldn't kick with her little feet.
They all failed because they were trying to do things that God had not created them to do.

The Lord has things for you to do in this life, and He will give you the ability to fulfill your calling. When you are effectively operating in your spiritual gift, it will become "supernaturally natural" for you, like a duck swimming or squirrel climbing. But if you are trying to do something that God has not called or gifted you to do, you will feel as awkward as a rabbit trying to fly!

To hear the entire message on this subject, go to
"Discovering Your Spiritual Gift"
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Speck Inspectors

A man and wife pulled into a full service gas station to refuel their car. As the tank was being filled, the station attendant washed the windshield. When he finished, the driver stuck his head out the window and said, "It's still dirty. Wash it again."

"Yes, sir," the attendant replied. After he cleaned it a second time, the driver said, "Don't you know how to wash a windshield? It's still filthy. Now do it again!"

The attendant scrubbed the windshield a third time, carefully looking for any messy spots he might have missed. By now the driver was fuming. "I can't believe you are so incompetent that you can't even do a simple job like cleaning a windshield! I'm going to report you to your boss!"

Just then, his wife reached over and removed his glasses. She wiped them clean with a tissue, then put them back on his face. And it was amazing how clean the windshield was!

A person with a critical spirit is a speck inspector. Jesus said, "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own?" (Matt. 7:2) A critical person always finds things wrong with others because he's looking through the dirty glasses on his heart. God wants us to remove that mean-spirited attitude that picks others apart. But how?

By increasing our love for others. When our compassion decreases, our criticisms will increase. But the reverse is also true. When our compassion increases, our criticisms will decrease.
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to
"Destructive Attitudes pt 5: Criticism"
Keep looking through a clean heart!
Kent

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Lose Your Perspective

In 1 Kings 19:1-4, the prophet Elijah received a message that King Ahab's wife Jezebel would kill him within 24 hours. Immediately he fled to the wilderness and asked God to take his life. By shifting all of his attention to his problem, Elijah's perspective was thrown totally out of whack. He got spiritual amnesia and forgot about all the miracles that the Lord had done through him, including raising a boy from the dead and calling down fire from heaven. In Elijah's mind, Jezebel now looked bigger than God!

During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee had a shortage of soldiers and knew his army would be devastated if the Union forces discovered this weakness. Since he couldn't increase his number of soldiers, he decided to make his army larger than it actually was. He loaded his troops on trains and transported them to different places. At every train station, the same Confederate soldiers were unloaded from the trains. The Union spies believed that thousands of new troops were being added to the Rebel army. General Lee didn't make his army any larger, but was just using a psychological tactic to deceive the Union army. And it worked.

In the same way, Satan tries to make our problems appear larger than they really are. He puts them under a microscope and magnifies them, so that we can't see anything else. He does this so that we'll lose perspective and leave God out of the picture. And like Elijah, we quickly forget about God's faithfulness and all the good things He has done for us.

What makes you lose your perspective? When your favorite team loses? (I know that this is hard to believe, but it's only a game!) Do you lose your perspective by worrying about the future? Just remember that God exists in the future, is waiting for you there, and has good plans for His children.

So what happened to Elijah? Jezebel didn't kill him, so his fears were simply a lie to torment him. In fact, it was Jezebel and not Elijah who died the violent death (2 Kings 9:30-37). It's ironic that Elijah, who was afraid of being killed, never died. He was caught up into heaven alive (2 Kings 2:1, 9-11). If Elijah would have just remembered God's faithfulness in the past, and trusted in God's good plans for the future, he never would have lost his perspective.
To hear the entire message on this, go to
"The Elijah Complex."
Keep looking up!
Kent

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Anger Management

In the 1800's, a ship in the Atlantic encountered a bad storm. The crew heard crashing sounds below and hurried down to discover that a cannon had broken loose. As the ship went up and down over the waves, the cannon was rolling back and forth, ramming into the sides of the ship. The sailors were able to secure the cannon and get it under control.

It's not the storms on the outside that destroys us, but the storms on the inside. When our anger gets out of control, it becomes like the loose cannon that tears us up inside. If we don't get it under control, it will sink us. So how can we manage our anger?

1.We must find the cause of our anger. God asked Cain, "Why are you angry?" (Gen. 4:6) A mechanic has to figure out what's causing the car problem before he can fix it. You must find out what's causing you to be mad by looking deep within. The problem may not be with the other guy, but your unrealistic expectations of others.

2.We must choose to respond in the right way. God then told Cain, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?" (Gen 4:7). We can choose to respond in the right way or the wrong way. Cain could have responded correctly, but he ignored God's advice and murdered his brother Abel instead.

3.We must divorce ourselves from anger. Eph. 4:31 says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger. . . be put away from you, along with all malice." Maybe if more people divorced themselves from their anger, there would be less divorces. Paul tells us to separate ourselves from "all" wrath, anger, and malice. By cooperating with the Holy Spirit you can let go of your hostility, which is robbing you of your happiness.

To hear the entire message on managing your anger, go to
"Anger Management."
Keep looking up,
Kent

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Fear

When Pastor Max Wilkins was a boy, he went to visit his great Aunt Ruth's house to spend the night. It was a large, spooky old three-story house where the floors creaked when you walked on them, like a haunted house you'd see in the movies.

That night he went to his bedroom on the third floor and climbed into bed. He was about to close his eyes when he saw something that startled him. There was enough light coming through the window that he could see a man standing in the corner of the room!

Max was terrified. He figured the man must have been hiding in the closet when he came into the room. Max decided to lay there and pretend to be asleep, but ready to run if the intruder approached him. All night long he nervously laid in bed with one eye open, watching to see when the man in the corner would make his move.

Max remained still for hours until the sun came up, and as it got brighter in the room he could see that the man in the corner . . . was just a coat rack with a hat on it! He spent all night in torment because he chose to believe his fears.

Fear torments us by making our imaginations run wild. Fear is actually negative faith--a perversion of faith that believes the worst will happen to us. Placing our trust in God is the only way to conquer fear. David said, "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God I will put my trust. I shall not be afraid."

What is it that you fear the most? If you'll trust, you won't worry. But if you worry, you won't trust. It's your choice. If you want to be free from fear, choose to believe that God will provide for you and protect you. Trusting God will make life a whole lot easier.

To listen to the entire message on fear, go to
"Thou Shalt Not Fear"

Keep looking up!
Kent

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Building a Better Nest


A buzzard and swan fell in love. Mr. Vulture, also known as Buzz, had never seen a bird as beautiful and as graceful as Swannie. And Swannie hadn't ever met any bird as rugged as Buzz. After a whirlwind courting relationship, Buzz and Swannie joined wings together and committed themselves to a lifetime of bliss.
They got into their first argument when they tried to build their new nest. Buzz was raised in a nest made with sticks high up in a tree, and that's how he wanted to build the nest. Swannie had grown up in a nest made of grass on the ground by the lake, and that's how she wanted to build the nest. When dinnertime drew near, Buzz flew over highways looking for roadkill, just like his father had raised him. His favorite meal was fillet of skunk. But Swannie loved fresh fish for supper, just like her mother had taught her. Their different tastes created even more arguments.

Buzz and Swannie decided to see a marriage counselor, so they visited with Mr. Owl, who was the wisest bird in the forest. Owl said, "The answer to your problem is obvious. The nests you grew up in each have something good to offer. Choose the best ideas from both nests and you will build a better nest than the one you grew up in."

Do you have conflicts in your marriage because you were each raised differently? You can build a better nest if you will sit down together and choose the best points of each nest. You might need to come to the realization that the way you were raised wasn't the best way to do things. Be humble and honest, and the Lord will help you build a better nest.
To hear the entire sermon on this topic go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on
"Relationships, Part 4, The Marriage Repair Shop."
You can also download the PowerPoint slides for this message.
Kent

Monday, July 26, 2010

Deposits and Withdrawals

Willard Harley in his book His Needs, Her Needs says that relationships work just like a bank account where you make deposits and withdrawals. Deposits are pleasant and friendly interactions with others, like smiling and speaking words of encouragement. Withdrawals are angry and hurtful encounters with others, such as frowning, criticizing, and arguing. If you are making more deposits than withdrawals with an individual, you'll have an enjoyable relationship. But if you are making more withdrawals, your relationship with that person will eventually go bankrupt.

Jesus talked about deposits and withdrawals in Luke 6:27-28:
When people hate you (withdrawal), do good to them (deposit).
When people curse you (withdrawal), bless them (deposit).
When people mistreat you (withdrawal), pray for them (deposit).
In other words, respond in the opposite spirit.

To make a valid deposit in another person's account, it must be in a currency that's acceptable to the other person's bank. What you like to receive may not be what they like to receive. My wife's "relationship bank" likes to receive flowers as deposits. My bank, however, doesn't accept flowers. Since I'm a Texas A&M fan, my bank likes to receive Aggie sports paraphernalia as deposits. You get the idea. If you want to bless someone and build the relationship, give them something that they would like to receive.

You can turn a bad marriage into a good marriage by building up the account balance. Stop making so many withdrawals (fighting and arguing) and start making lots of deposits in your spouse's relationship bank (dating and having fun together).
To listen to the entire message on this topic go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on
"Relationships, Part 3, Do the Opposite."
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who is in Your Dungeon?

Jesus told a parable about a king who forgave a slave of a $50 million debt (in today's dollars). It would take 4,500 lifetimes to pay off the debt, yet the merciful king let him off the hook! You would think that slave would be so grateful that he would forgive all his debtors as well. Not so with this guy. He went a fellow slave who owed him $15 in today's money. When the fellow slave could not repay the debt, the slave threw him into the dungeon (Matt. 18:23-30).

The $50 million debt represents our sin debt to God. When we plead for mercy, the Lord forgives the entire debt! But after we have been forgiven, the Lord expects us to forgive all our debtors as well. If we don't forgive others, we are like the slave who threw the fellow slave into the dungeon, except our dungeon is inside our souls. Everyone that you refuse to forgive is locked up in the dungeon of your soul.

Whenever you think about how they hurt you, you make a trip down the stairs into your dungeon. You pull out your whip and you start lashing the people chained to your walls, trying to make them pay for what they did to you. But every time you whip someone in your dungeon, you feel a sharp pain in your stomach. It's almost as if, instead of whipping them, you are whipping yourself on the inside.

The only way to get free of the torment is to release your prisoners. You need to make one more trip down the stairs. This time, instead of carrying a whip, you carry the key of forgiveness. You unlock their chains and watch them leave your dungeon. It's empty now. You can't explain it, but the sharp pain in your stomach is gone. And then you realize that it wasn't them you set free. It was you!
To hear the entire message on this topic, go to
"Relationships, Part 2, Who is in Your Dungeon?"
Keep setting others free,
Kent

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lessons from Mountain Climbers

In October 2009, a 41-year-old man from Ireland fell to his death while scaling a mountain. Although it was risky to go off by himself, he apparently thought he wouldn't need help from anyone. He was wrong. He broke the number one rule of mountain climbing: "Don't go climbing alone."

In contrast, when a group of tourists went mountain climbing in Switzerland they all fastened themselves together to a line. As they were ascending one of climbers slipped. He would have fallen to his death on the rocks below but was saved because he was connected to a lifeline. The other people pulled him to safety.

After reading about these mountain climbers, it occurred to me that some Christians are like the man who went off by himself. They might watch evangelists on TV and listen to Christian radio, but they aren't connected to other believers through a relationship with them. Sooner or later they will fall and no one will be there to catch them.

However, other believers are like the team that was connected together with a lifeline. They spend time together in prayer and fellowship so that they know what's going on in each other's lives. If one of them falls, the others are there to hold the person up. That's why Hebrews 10:25 says to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some."

Sure, it's easier to just withdraw and not get involved in other's lives. But God didn't design you, or call you, to be independent. We are a part of Christ's body. We need each other. Which kind of mountain climber are you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is Your Motive?

When detectives are trying to solve a murder case the first question they ask is, "Who has a motive for doing this?" People typically kill for a reason. Something evil inside their hearts drives them to do the unthinkable. Was it someone who would inherit a fortune? (greed) Was it a person who wanted to keep the victim quiet? (felt threatened) Or was it someone trying to get revenge? (hate) Figure out the motive and you'll narrow down the list of suspects.

We can also pray for the wrong reasons. James 4:2-3, "You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives." An X-ray machine can look at a person's heart, but it can't look at the motives in a person's heart. Only God is able to look into our hearts and see why we're asking for something. Prov. 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight but the Lord weighs the motives." If we're asking for something selfish or it will hurt us in some way, God in His mercy will deny our requests.

Jesus told us to examine our motives when we give our offerings, fast, and pray (See Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18). We are not to give grudgingly (against our will) or under compulsion (out of guilt if we don't) because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). The Lord is looking past the outward deed of giving to see why we are doing it. On the day of judgment, He will reveal the motives of everything we do (1 Cor. 4:5), so we need to do it right the first time.
What is your motive for the things you do? As you go about your business today, make sure your heart is right first, then follow through with the action.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Faxing Two Things to Heaven

In Acts 10:1-4, an angel appeared to a Roman centurion named Cornelius and said, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as memorial before God." How would you like an angel to appear to you every time you prayed to assure you that your prayer had been heard?

If you fax a message from Los Angeles to New York, it is sent from one side of the country and it's immediately received on the other side of the country. Cornelius "faxed" his prayers and offerings from earth and they were immediately received in heaven. And you can also fax those same two things to the Lord.

1.Your offerings. Always remember that the Lord is on the receiving end of your offerings! Although you can't see it with your natural eyes, in the spiritual realm God is immediately receiving your gift and turning it into "treasure in heaven" (Matt. 6:20). Every Christian who gives cheerfully to the Lord will be rewarded throughout all eternity with something much, much better than anything this world can offer.

2.Your prayers. The Lord is also on the receiving end of your prayers. You are not praying into the air. You are not praying to nothingness. You are talking to a Supreme Being who hears what you are saying. Although your prayers are instantly heard, the answer may not come for a while. God's timing is different than ours, so continue to pray until the answer comes.
Keep on faxing,
Kent

Monday, June 7, 2010

Willing & Able

A farmer had two mules. One was named Willing and the other was named Able. Willing was a frail and puny mule. He was willing to work but wasn't able. On the other hand, Able was a big, strong stubborn mule. Although he had the ability to pull the plow, he wasn't willing.

Willing was willing, but not able. And Able was able, but not willing. The farmer never got any work done because he needed mules that were both willing and able.

For us to get our prayers answered we must believe two things. We must believe that He is able to answer our prayers, and we must also believe that He is willing to do it. We just can't believe one or the other. We must believe both.

King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace unless they bowed down to the golden image he had made. In Dan. 3:17 they responded, "Our God who we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king." They believed He was both willing and able.

In Matthew 9:27-28 a couple of blind men asked Jesus to heal them. Jesus asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" Why did He ask that? Because whatever we are asking for, we must believe that God is able to do it. In Matthew 8:2-3 a leper said to Jesus, "Lord, if You are willing you can make me clean." He believed He was able to do it, but wasn't sure if He was willing. Jesus said He was willing, so the leper was healed.
What are you praying for? Do you believe He is able to do it? Do you believe that He is willing?
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, May 31, 2010

Giving Your Problems to God

Joe was about to go camping and strapped a backpack on his back. Just then he ran into Lou, who started talking about all the problems in his life.
Joe said, "Why don't you pray and give your problems to God?"

"I already did that," Lou responded, "but I'm still worried and burdened down. How will I know when I've given them to Him?"

Immediately Joe released the backpack off his back. "How do I know if the pack is not on my back anymore? I haven't turned around to see if it's off my back."
"Because it isn't weighing you down any more," Lou answered.
"And that's how you'll know when you've transferred your problems to God," Joe replied. "They won't be weighing you down any more."

When we pray correctly, we transfer our problems into God's hands. If you are still burdened down after you have prayed, then you never let go of your problems to begin with.

Have you turned your problems over to the Lord? Phil. 4:6-7 says, "Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything . . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." You'll know that you've given your problems over to God when His peace fills your heart and mind. You're not worried anymore because you're trusting God to take care of them.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, May 24, 2010

The God of Another Chance

In golf there's an unwritten rule called a Mulligan. If you hit a bad shot off the tee, you can take a Mulligan, which says the first shot doesn't count and you get another chance to hit a new ball. It's a picture of grace because you don't deserve a second chance. There's no rule in golf that says you can forget about the first shot and get another chance to hit the ball. So where did the Mulligan come from?

It came from a man named David Mulligan, who was a manager of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. While playing golf one day in the 1920's, he hit a bad shot off the tee and decided to hit a "correction shot." His friends liked the idea so much they named the correction shot after him. Other golfers decided they needed another chance too when they messed up, so they also started taking Mulligans. And so have golfers for the next nine decades!

Did you know that God is offering you a Mulligan? If you've messed up your life, He wants to give you another chance to get it right this time. No, you don't deserve it. It's only by God's grace. He wants you to get your life back on track again.

But here's the deal. God will give you another chance, but you must do it differently than the first time. If you hit the ball the same way, you'll get the same result as the first time. This time, by God grace, you must do it His way. And then you'll wind up on the green rather than in the rough.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, May 10, 2010

Making Decisions--Open & Closed Doors

Proverbs 16:9 says, "The mind of the man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." One of the ways God directs our steps is through opening and closing doors. A Sunday school teacher asked her class if she had ever seen God miraculously open a door. One little boy raised his hand and said, "I see God open doors every week." She replied, "Every week?" He said, "Yes, every week when Mommy takes me to the grocery store, I see God open the doors!"

Just as God can open the doors at the grocery store at just the right time, He can open a door for you at just the right time. An open door is an opportunity. Sometimes we must knock on the door before it will open. Jesus said, "Keep on knocking and the door will be opened for you" (Matt. 7:7). If you've lost your job, "knocking on doors" means filling out job applications and sending out your resume. You might need to apply to 100 businesses, not because you need 100 jobs, but because you don't know which door He will open.

Rev. 3:7 tells us that God can open doors that no one can shut, and can shut doors that no one can open. The Lord will close doors to protect us from make a mistake and to divert us in a new direction. Sometimes the door will be closed until the timing is right, and then it will open.

As you seek God's direction for your life look for the open doors, and don't get mad at Him if a door closes. He's just trying to protect you.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Making Decisions--Choosing Your Advisors

Two men, who were broke and destitute, were sitting on a park bench. One guy bragged, "No one is going to tell me what to do! I've never followed anyone's advice." The other man stuck out his hand and said, "Shake, old buddy. I'm a man who followed everyone's advice."

The two biggest mistakes people make are 1) not following anyone's advice and 2) following everyone's advice. Both extremes will lead to failure. Instead, we must be selective in the advice we listen to. Proverbs 24:6 says, "In the abundance of counselors there is victory." That doesn't mean we must take a poll and ask everyone's opinion. Before making a major decision, we must first qualify our counselors and then we let them advise us.

1. Choose godly counselors. Ps. 1:1 says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly." The first qualification is that the person must love God and have the track record in their lifestyle to prove it.

2. Choose experienced counselors. Prov. 24:6 says, "For by wise guidance you will wage war." If you are going to war, you need to gain wisdom from someone in the military who has already fought battles and has won. Choose someone who is experienced in the area where you need advice and has been successful. If it didn't work for them, it won't work for you. If someone doesn't know how to swim, they can't teach you how to swim.

3. Choose caring counselors. Prov. 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." Some people are envious and don't want others to succeed, so they will deceptively give you bad advice, hoping you will fail. Your counselor should genuinely care about what will happen to you.

4. Choose several counselors. Prov. 24:6 says, "In the abundance of counselors there is victory." Select a group of counselors after they have been qualified. They will be able to point out things concerning the decision that you hadn't thought about. After listening to their counsel, remember that the final decision is your responsibility, not theirs.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sword First, then the Hand

Admiral Horatio Nelson was an English navy hero who twice defeated Napoleon's army. Whenever he won in battle, he always treated the enemy prisoners with dignity. After one of his victories, the defeated commander was brought on board Nelson's flagship for a formal ceremony where he would surrender his sword.

The man quickly walked across the deck and stuck out his hand for the Admiral to shake. Nelson held his hand to his side and refused to shake his hand. Then he said, "Hand over your sword first and then I'll shake your hand."

If we want to be at peace with God, we must first surrender our swords. When the commander surrendered to Admiral Nelson, he didn't keep fighting against him. He handed over the sword and was at his mercy. When we surrender to God, we quit fighting against Him and we do what He says. If He wants us to get rid of our anger or forgive someone, and if we say "no," we haven't completely surrendered. We must come to God on His terms. We must lay down the sword that we use against others.
Do you want God's hand of blessing on you? Hand over your sword.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting to Know God's Voice

I always enjoyed watching Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor talk to his neighbor Wilson in the TV sitcom "Home Improvement." If you watched the show, you know that the TV producers played a gag on the viewing audience because they never showed us Wilson's face. We never saw his lips move. His face was always partially covered up by the fence between the yards, as seen in this picture. If Wilson was in Tim's house, we couldn't see his whole face because a lamp or some other object always blocked our view.

Although we couldn't see his face, we got to know Wilson through his voice. Whenever Tim didn't know what to do and needed advice, Wilson was always there to offer words of wisdom.

In some ways, that's how we hear from God. Although we can't see His face, we can get to know Him through His voice. Jesus said in John 10:17, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me." He also said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come" (John 16:13).

How does His voice sound? He speaks to us through thoughts in our minds and impressions in our hearts, always offering words of wisdom. If you are a child of God, He wants to guide you down the right paths. The only prerequisite is you must be willing to follow wherever He leads.
Keep looking up!
Kent

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Thief on the Cross

The thief dying on the cross next to Jesus said, "Jesus, remember me in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). Do you know what is amazing about that statement? He was trusting a dying man to save him! Jesus was covered with blood, with nails in His hands and feet, and looked totally helpless. The religious leaders and soldiers had asked Him to come down from the cross, but apparently Jesus didn't even have the power to do that. Can you imagine trusting a bloody, helpless man to save you?

The thief could have said, "Jesus, you're dying on a cross, and I'm dying on a cross." Why don't you pay for 80% of my sins on your cross, and I'll pay for the other 20% on my cross." That's what some people say. "Lord, you do your part, and I'll do my part. I'll pay for my part by going to church, by feeling guilty, and by trying my best." But it doesn't work that way. There can't be 2 Saviors--both you and Jesus. You must trust Jesus to pay for all of your sins. That's 100%. God can't save us until we stop trying to save ourselves.

A boy was drowning in a lake. His mother couldn't swim, but stood on the shore and cried out for someone to help. A man stood nearby but made no effort to save him. As the boy was going down for the last time, the man dove into the water, rescued him, and brought him to shore. The mother asked, "Why did you wait to save him?" The man replied, "As long as he was trying to save himself, he would have dragged me down with him. But when he stopped trying to save himself, then I could save him."

God wants to use the thief on the cross as a role model for us:
1) He knew he didn't deserve salvation
2) He knew he couldn't save himself
3) He placed his faith in a dying Savior
4) He called out to Jesus to be saved.
If you'll follow the example of the thief on the cross, Jesus will remember you in His kingdom as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Full of Yourself or God?

A Bible student went to a wise man and said, "Will you teach me what you've learned about God?" The man invited him into his house and replied, "I'll be glad to, but first let me pour you a cup of coffee." The young man held out his cup as the man poured it until it was full, but kept pouring until it was overflowing.

The student said, "Stop! The coffee is spilling out. The cup can't hold any more." The wise man said, "This is your first lesson. When you are full of yourself, there is no room for God. If you want God to fill you up, you must first empty yourself."

How do you know if you're full of yourself? Here are a few signs: You frequently argue with others. You get offended when you don't get your way. You disrespect your boss. You're unwilling to do the things God has asked you to do. You pray about everything you want but forget to pray for others.

We empty ourselves by becoming humble and submissive. First Peter 2:13 says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake" to earthly authorities. No one can make you submit. The only one who can make you submit is "yourself." First Peter 5:6 says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time." The only one who can make you humble is "yourself." We make a decision to empty ourselves. We get out of the way so God can fill us up. We trust God to take care of our situations rather than trying to control and manipulate them ourselves. When we humble ourselves, we will find favor with God and He will exalt us at the proper time.
Kent

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We Will Reap IN DUE TIME

Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." What does "in due time" mean? It means that God has the day circled on His calendar as to when He will bring your harvest.

When you make your house payment, the billing statement will specify a "due date." Your mortgage company doesn't say, "Oh, just pay it whenever you want." No, they tell you the exact date so that there's no question in your mind about it. When UPS delivers a Next Day Air package, they promise to deliver it "in due time." It is scheduled to arrive by 10:30 the next morning or the shipper doesn't have the pay the shipping costs.

In the same way, your harvest has a specific arrival time on God's schedule. Even though we might not know when it's coming, we can place our confidence in God's promise to bring the harvest in His perfect timing. God has never been late on His deliveries! If we will keep that fact in mind, we will not get discouraged in doing good knowing that the Lord has promised to reward us for our labor. The harvest IS coming!
Keep sowing good seeds,
Kent

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plant the Seed!

Years ago archaeologists discovered some wheat inside of a pyramid. The seeds laid dormant inside the Egyptian tomb for between 3,000 and 4,000 years. They wondered if the wheat would still grow, so they decided to plant them. And to their amazement, the seeds sprouted! The life within the seed remained inactive for thousands of years, but once it was planted in the ground it was able to release its power and produce even more seeds.

The Bible frequently talks about the principles of sowing and reaping. The Apostle Paul said, "He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). He told the Galatians, "Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal. 6:9). Paul isn't really talking about farming, but he's speaking metaphorically. Everyone has seeds, but unless you plant them you will never enjoy reaping the harvest.

The "seeds" are all the resources God has given you that need to be shared with others--all your abilities, all your money and possessions, all the things you intend to do, your words and actions toward others, and the good news of salvation. If you keep these things to yourself, these "seeds" will lay dormant and non-productive, just like the seeds laying inside the pyramid.

You must make a decision to plant the seed. When you use your abilities to serve God and others, you've just planted a seed. When you give your money as an offering, you've planted seeds in God's kingdom. When you turn intentions into actions, you're planting seeds. When you show kindness to those who are rude to you, you're planting seeds. And when you share God's plan of salvation with others, you're planting seeds in people's hearts that could change their eternal destiny.
I'll share more principles about sowing and reaping in the next devotional.
Kent

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brokenness

"A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). For years whenever I read that verse, I pictured in my mind a pot that had been broken into little pieces. It didn't make much sense to me. Then it dawned on me that a cracked pot wasn't the right idea at all. Instead, brokenness is like a cowboy breaking a horse.

When a horse isn't broken, it tries to throw the rider off. But when it reaches the place of brokenness, the horse surrenders to the cowboy and quits fighting against him. It's only then that the horse can be guided wherever the rider wishes to lead it.

In the same way, when we quit fighting against God and surrender to Him, we can be guided wherever the Lord wants to lead us. Willing to be led by God makes a lot more sense than being a crackpot!
Have you come to the place of brokenness?
Kent

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Junk Box

Years ago, a store owner put a sign in his window, "Help Wanted." A boy named Crawford Hill came in an applied for the job. The owner told him, "Go up into the attic and you'll find a long, deep box up there. I want you to sort through all the junk in the box and separate the things that need to be saved from the things we need to throw away."

Crawford went up the stairs into the hot attic and began sorting through the box. For the next few hours, he separated bent nails from the good ones, and kept everything that was worth salvaging. When he got to the bottom of the box, he noticed a $20 bill laying on the bottom.

He scooped it up and ran downstairs, holding it in the air and shouting, "Look what I found in the box!" Then he handed it to the store owner. The owner smiled because he knew he had found a boy to work in his store.

You see, the old junk box was just a test. He had filled the box with nails, screws, and other items to test his faithfulness--to see if he would work in the hot attic without complaining, even though he didn't understand the purpose for the job. He planted the $20 bill at the bottom of the box to test his honesty. If he didn't report finding the money, he knew he couldn't be trusted with the cash register. Crawford passed the test.

Do you realize that you are sorting through a junk box whenever you are faced with a trial? God is watching to see if you'll be faithful and honest in spite of your difficulty, especially when you don't understand why you are going through it. Remember, it's a test. It's only a test.

I hope you'll hear your Master say, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master." (Matt. 25:21)
Kent
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Have You Been Brainwashed?

Webster's dictionary defines brainwashed as "to indoctrinate so intensely and thoroughly as to effect a radical transformation of beliefs and mental attitudes." When we hear the word "brainwashed," we normally think of a David Koresh-like commune of people who can't think for themselves. Like zombies, they blindly follow the orders of their wacky, off-the-wall leader. For sure, those people are brainwashed.

But what about the less than obvious forms of brainwashing? Is it possible the news media and other TV programs try to brainwash their viewers by slandering those who don't line up with their agenda? When a teenage girl in high school is pressured to compromise her beliefs to be in the popular crowd, isn't that also a form of brainwashing? The common denominators in brainwashing are the pressure to conform, the ridicule if you don't, and being led away from God's freedom and truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

I'd like to present a different idea about being "brainwashed." Our minds are dirty and we need to have them washed! Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse our guilty consciences and set us free. "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14). Although Jesus shed His blood 2,000 years ago, He can cleanse your mind with His blood today "through the eternal Spirit" who transcends time.

Do you need your brains washed? Confess your sins to Jesus Christ and His blood will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Keep looking up!
Kent
Feel free to forward this email to your friends.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you would like to receive my devotionals via email, you can subscribe at http://www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com/ You must click on the email that you'll receive from Feedburner (Many potential subscribers have forgotten to do this last step)