GET TOGETHER – Growing in Truth Growing in Love

GET TOGETHER – Growing in Truth Growing in Love
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

I love the Book of Ephesians. It is sometime referred to as the manual for Christian living. Certainly, that could be said about all 66 Books in the Bible, but the Book of Ephesians is loaded with Kingdom principles on how to live the Christian life.
This Book was written to a church that was made up of Jews that had been brought up in the Synagogue and former idol worshipers who had worshiped the goddess Artemis, or Diana. Those who had been brought up in the synagogue would have to learn how to grow in grace. And for those who had worshiped the goddess Artemis, they would have to learn a completely new way of life. All would have to understand that as new creations in Christ Jesus that there was still growth for them to become more like Jesus Christ. For all of us today no matter what back ground we may come from there is always more growth for us. That is a good thing! It means that we are alive in Christ!

We see in Chapter 4 some ways that we need the Holy Spirit to help us as we grow in Christ. First of all, we have to realize that we are different from the rest of the world. In Eph 4:17,18 ¶ This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts.” The world looks at things through the carnal, natural, fleshly eye. Meaning the worlds response to situations and circumstances will be different from the response of a born-again Christian’s response. The heart of the unbeliever is blinded to the spiritual aspect of what is happening in the world. The Apostle Paul said it like this in 2Co 4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,” (NKJV)

Back to our opening verse. The world believes that truth is subjective. Meaning that an individual can say “well this is what my truth is.” For the Christian truth is objective meaning that God is truth and that God is the source of all truth. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, he asked Jesus “what is truth?” I had a Professor that told us one time in class that Pilate was looking at truth right there in front of himself and did not know it. He was spiritually blind.

For us to grow as Christians we need to hear Him today by spending time with Him in His word. We are told in Eph 4:21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.” We spend time listening to Him in prayer. Prayer isn’t just us doing the talking. It is God speaking to us through the small still voice of the Holy Spirit. He will speak to us anywhere and at anytime that we are listening. We are told in Isa 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.(NKJV) As New Covenant followers of Christ with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us we can hear Him as He gives us direction, comfort, and speaks to us about many things. He sometimes speaks to us through other believers. We are told in 1Co 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

To grow in Christ, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to deliver us from desires that are contrary to God’s will for us. We need His help to deliver us from sinful desires. We are told in Eph 4:22 “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” The Greek term for lusts here is epithumia, ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah. It is a desire, or craving, and a longing, for what is forbidden. The Holy Spirit helps us to go after Christ and to no longer go after those things that God forbids. God doesn’t forbid them because He desires to ruin our lives. He forbids them because when we grow in Christ, we experience something much better.

I don’t know about you, but before I came to Christ, I thought that some little white lies are ok. As Christians we get in some situations that the enemy will try to get us to lie. I remember when I was applying to Asbury Seminary. I was going to be taking on line classes. At that time, I was not very computer literate. When the person in charge of admissions asked me was I efficient on a computer the enemy tried to get me to lie. He was telling me that if I didn’t lie that I would not get in. I told the truth. The woman that I was speaking with said that is okay Brother Headrick we have a tech support person and all you have to do is call him anytime that you need help. I probably still hold the record for calling him.

The last one that I believe that the Holy Spirit would have me to mention is in Eph 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” We are not told that we can’t be angry and grow. But what we are told is that when we are angry that we are not to express that anger in a sinful way. Many times I have heard some Christians reference that Jesus got angry when He turned over the money changers table in the Temple. His anger was a righteous anger. His anger was concerning how the House of God has been made a den of thieves. He stated that the Father’s House was to be a House of prayer. His anger was about something not being right in the House of God. By the way he had absolute authority to express His anger in that way because He is God the Son. For all of us when we express our anger, we are to express that anger in a way that is not sinful and in a redemptive way that will glorify the Lord. We speak the truth. But we speak the truth in love.

Finally, when we grow in Christ and practice these Kingdom principles it will keep us from what we are warned about in Eph 4:27 “nor give place to the devil.” The devil is always looking for a chink in the Christian’s armor. He is always wanting to keep the Christian from moving forward in the faith and becoming more like Jesus Christ. Because when we become more like Jesus, we bring the light to where there is darkness. We bring hope to where there is hopelessness. We are taking back ground for the Kingdom that the enemy thought was His.

Let Us Pray
Lord today we praise You that You have delivered us from the power of darkness. We know that where there is growth that there is life. Today I pray for all of us that we will continually grow to be more like You. Help us not to be drawn and enticed to things that the enemy would use to harm our witness. Help us to direct our anger at the real enemy. His name is Satan. Help us to turn that anger into prayer. Help us to speak the truth in love. Help us to point a lost, frustrated, hurting, angry, world to the only One who can give true peace. And to the Only One who can give eternal life.
In Jesus Name
Amen
We love you all!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER – THE HOLY SPIRIT OPERATING TABLE

GET TOGETHER – THE HOLY SPIRIT OPERATING TABLE
Mt 7:3-5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I would not be honest if I didn’t say that there have been times when I was preaching and the anointing of the Holy Spirit was strong and that I was encouraged when people were saying Amen when a particular point was made in the message. That is a good thing. It is good to encourage one another. And during those times I was greatly encouraged by those that were receiving the message and responding in that way. On the other hand, there have been times when the Holy Spirit anointing was strong and you could tell that the He was dealing with the hearts of men and women and there was a very hard silence. The Holy Spirit examination room was full as He was shining His light into the hearts of the men and women who were in the service. By the way He always shines it in the preacher first.
I have often said that Jesus who was the greatest preacher that has ever, and will ever walk the face of the earth most likely didn’t get a lot of Amens when He preached the Sermon on the Mount. I am sure that there were many and probably the majority of those that were there were in the Holy Spirit examination room that day.
As part of my prayer time recently the Holy Spirit has told me to pray through a chapter of the Sermon on the Mount each day. This moves you from the Holy Spirit examination room onto the Holy Spirit operating table.
I have had several of these operations in my journey with the Lord over the past thirty years. Unlike a medical procedure you get to be fully awake during this time. There are sometimes during this surgery that there may be some discomfort. It is not always comfortable to be told to love your enemies. It is not comfortable to be told to go the extra mile with someone that we may feel like we have gone far enough with them. It is not always comfortable to be told that we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
Now with that said although the surgery isn’t comfortable it is very beneficial. When I read the passage above, I am reminded that just like people that have had a medical procedure need to exercise and to perhaps go through some therapy that this is our prescription for growth and becoming more like Jesus Christ.
If I am constantly looking at the sins of others it will inhibit my growth as a Christian. Jesus is not endorsing the sins of others in this passage. He is telling us that if we are to grow and to help others that we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and remove those things that hinder our growth. Here is where the Holy Spirit is examining my heart. Do I form my opinions on how others look on the outside? Do I judge people by the color of their skin? Do I judge people by how they dress? Do I look down on people who may be less financially secure than me? Am I envious of those who may have more material wealth than I do? Do I grant forgiveness as quick as I desire for the Lord to forgive me? By the way that is just a few of the things that He is examining me about.
How about the Non – Christians that I am praying for to be saved? Do I pray for them out of love? Or do I pray for them because I want to prove that I am right. My prayer for all of us that desire to live in a Christian nation. And I believe that is God’s desire for all nations to be a Christian nation. Is that we would be a people that would ask the Holy Spirit to help us to live out what Jesus preached and taught in the Sermon on The Mount. I covet your prayers for that. And you have ours. I haven’t gotten there yet. But as an old friend of mine used to say, “I’ve come to far to turn back now.” Remember a successful surgery will always make the patient better. And in this surgery, we have the Great Physician working through the Holy Spirit in us. So with that said let’s rejoice that we can expect to get better as we go from the examination room to the operating table

Let us Pray
Lord Jesus we thank You that when You put us on the operating table that you are going to do a good thing. We thank You that the Holy Spirit examination room is not a place of condemnation, but a place that is showing us a place where the Holy Spirit is showing us an area that He wants to work in our lives. As we pray this we are reminded that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion.
In Jesus Name
Amen

We love you all! Don’t miss your appointment!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER – A LOVE LIKE NO OTHER

GET TOGETHER – A LOVE LIKE NO OTHER

1Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  (NKJV)

            Last night I was reading an interview with one of my former professors. He was a very solid professor. He taught about holiness.  He helped me to come to understand much about holiness, and I realize that I have not completely gotten there yet, but I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me to get there a little more each day.

             As I was reading this interview something that he said and something that he used to teach about and stress was perfect love.  I must admit that I am not perfect. You can ask J.J., and she would verify that. On the other hand, I think that many of us in the Body of Christ like to use that term “I am not perfect” as a cop out sometimes. We often use it as an excuse to not live as Jesus has commanded us to live and to love as Jesus has commanded us to love.

             In Mt 22:37-39 we are given the picture of what perfect love is.  Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.    Perfect love is loving God more than any other person, or thing. Perfect love is loving God with all of your heart soul mind and strength. Perfect love means that we do not have to be afraid of God as our Judge. Because our heart is always fixed upon God.

            Perfect love is loving your family. Perfect love is loving those that you serve God with. Perfect love is loving those that don’t always agree with you. Perfect love is loving those who oppose you. Jesus had this to say about that in  Mt 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  He made a distinction between the way that He calls His followers to love and how the world loves in   Lu 6:32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (NKJV)

            As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that the Biblical definition of marriage is one man and one woman. I believe that life begins in the womb. I believe that I am to speak the truth about those two issues that our country is so divided about. On the other hand, I know that the same Bible that speaks very plainly on those two matters also contains the Sermon on The Mount.

             Many of us are praying for an awakening in our nation.  I believe that Hell is a real place. I believe that Hell is a place where those that have not been born again by faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ will live forever in torment.  On the other hand, I remember someone telling me that some may preach about Hell, because they don’t love their enemy and are glad that some are going there. The Preacher that is preaching on Hell with perfect love is the Preacher that is shedding tears, and has spent time in the prayer closet praying for those who oppose the Gospel. The Holy Spirit has given the Preacher the love for the lost that He has. We see this type of love in  2Pe 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  (NKJV)

            I must admit that when I see political leaders, actors, actresses, and athletes   and other public figures in the media that don’t have a Biblical worldview I don’t get goose bumps. I must admit that sometimes I get very upset. But then the Holy Spirit reminds me that while I was living in rebellion against God that He loved me and that He had others loving me and praying for me. Some of you are some those who were.  He then begins to have me to pray for them.

            The Apostle Paul lived and was imprisoned under the evil ruler Nero. Paul never compromised the truth. On the other hand, there were people in Nero’s household that became followers of Jesus Christ. What if Paul had been a man that trash talked those who opposed him? What if he had been a man that hated his enemies? Would the following verse be in the Bible?   Php 4:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

So today please pray for me that I will love people with a perfect heart toward God and a perfect heart toward them.  I know we may say that it  is hard. But aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t say that it was hard to love us when we were living in rebellion toward Him?

Let Us Pray

Lord I must admit that I am not there yet. On the other hand, Lord, I don’t want to use the same old cliché that I am just human and that I am not perfect and stunt my growth in love. I pray for all that read this. That we will not compromise the truth of the Gospel. And the biggest part of that truth is loving You with all of our heart, souls, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

In Jesus Name

Amen

Hey you guys are pretty easy to love!

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER – Encouraging One Another

GET TOGETHER – Encouraging One Another

Ac 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

            A few years ago, one of my mentors in the faith said something in his message when he was ministering at our congregation that really stuck with me. In his message that night he talked about how important that it is to encourage one another in the faith. That night he stressed that the devil would do enough to attempt to discourage us, therefore it is important that we encourage one another in the faith. 

            I would like to thank all of you that encourage us in the faith. I pray that when we send out words of encouragement that we never do this to seek the praises of man, or to flatter you. That would not be in accordance with the scriptures. But I do pray that you are encouraged to continue in your journey with Jesus Christ and to fulfill the destiny and calling that God has for you in your life. 

            It is our prayer that like those churches mentioned in our opening passage that you would have peace in your life and that God would use you to help others to have that peace. It is our prayer that God would use these words to help us all walk in a Holy fear of the Lord. That doesn’t mean that God is sitting up there with His hands full of lightning bolts just waiting to get you with one. It is an abhorrence of sin and the things that grieve the heart of God.  It is a desire not to willfully offend God. It is a desire to bless God. It is not seeking God’s approval to get saved. It is a Holy response to the Father for sending His Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. 

Now let’s get back to talking about encouraging one another in this journey.  The Greek term for edified is oikodomeo,  oy-kod-om-eh’-o. It literally means to build up as to build a house.  Metaphorically it means to found, or establish. It also means to promote Christian growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, and blessedness, as well to grow in wisdom and in piety.

            In this season where most congregations have not met together, I praise God as I have before for all of the creative ways that God has given His servants to get His word out. Many across the Body of Christ have been an encouragement to us. 

            On the other hand, I have thought about what a blessing it is to meet with the Body of Christ and be encouraged by those that we meet with.  One means of this has been through preaching of the word. Another means has been during times of personal ministry when people have ministered to us and others as the Apostle Paul talks about in 1Co 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. (NKJV) And by the way many times people have encouraged us in this way outside of the church building. 

            I will never forget one time a brother in the first congregation that we Pastored spoke a prophetic word of encouragement over me at a critical time in our lives and ministry. It was when the Lord called us to leave that congregation that we loved so much and to come to Christ Community Fellowship, a congregation that we would grow to love as well.  I remember him saying “you are going to be going over yonder.” Well every time that I get on an airplane to go on a ministry trip to another country the Holy Spirit will bring those words that he spoke to me that day.  It is a way that God confirms that I am in His will and that He will not only take care of me, but that He will do great things that only He can get the Glory for. 

             So, as we pray for an awakening and a revival in our nation let us not only walk in peace and the fear of the Lord, but let us be used by God to build one another up. There is not a Christian that if we yield our heart to God that He will not give us words to encourage one another. When we do that not only will the people that we encourage, but we ourselves will walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and then the church will be multiplied. 

Let Us Pray

Today Lord help us to yield our tongues and other ways that You have given us to influence others to You. May we speak life and encouragement to other members of the household of faith.  Lord help us not to compromise truth, or to flatter others for an unholy reason, or for self-promotion. But help us to be used to build up Your people for such a time as this and until you reappear or  until You call us home to be with You.

In Jesus Name

Amen 

We love you all. Please pray for the ministry that God has called us to that we will be faithful to Him. That we will glorify Him and not seek to glorify ourselves. 

Your Friend

Kinfolk

Preston 

ion, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness to grow in wisdom and piety

https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/oikodomeo.htmled metaphorically to found, establish to promote growth in Chri

GET TOGETHER- NO NEED FOR A MAKE UP CALL

GET TOGETHER- NO NEED FOR A MAKE UP CALL 

Ro 8:38,39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NKJV)

Yesterday was such a beautiful day here in Hamilton, Alabama.  It was a perfect Spring day to get outside and work in the yard, or your garden. J.J. and I have two small plots that our son-in-law Shaun plowed up for us.  And we are expecting a good crop!

J.J. went outside to get started with the work. I was grading Final exams for the Old Testament class that I teach here at Bevill State Community College.  I told her that when I finished grading the exam that I was currently grading then I would be out there to get started with the project that we were working on. After she went out I realized that another exam had been completed and I felt like I needed to grade that one. Then I got a phone call. Bottom line I was probably about fifteen minutes later getting out there to help than I had originally said that I would be. 

The devil then came with a spirit of condemnation and false guilt.  As we were working, I began to think I have really got to hit a homerun out here today to make up for getting that late start.  I wanted to be sure to get back in J.J.’s favor. The Holy Spirit then spoke to my heart. He said that there was nothing that I could do out there and that there was no need for me to try to do something to make that up to J.J.  He reminded me that J.J. loved me for who that I was and not how I perform.  He then reminded me that is how God loved me. He impressed upon me that there was nothing that I could do, or had to do for God to love me. 

Now before you write me off as a cheap grace person let me say a few other things. When we realize that God’s loves us for who we are it leads us to desire to live a life that is in line with His word.  Certainly, there are times that we know that we have sinned against God and we need to repent and to ask Him for His forgiveness. We do this because out of our love relationship with Him we don’t want any of our actions to grieve Him. In the same way I don’t won’t to ever intentionally hurt J.J. because I love her. We made a commitment to each other. 

When we come to Jesus Christ, we make a commitment to Him. We are the Bride of Christ. When we sin, we ask Him to forgive us and He will. The Bible tells us in  1Jo 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  There are times that I do have to ask J.J. to forgive me for something.  I do this not because she has stopped loving me when I may do something wrong, but because I want our marriage to be pure and holy.  Sometimes I may ask her more than one time to forgive me for the same thing. She always replies I forgave you the first time that you ask me. That is the way that our Heavenly Father is. He forgives us the first time that we ask Him.

So today know that as a child of God that there is nothing that you have to do to make God love you. He loves us. He loved us when we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us too much to leave us in that rebellious estate. The Gospel of John says it like this Joh 3:16,17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  The Apostle Paul said it like this : Ro 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So today rejoice in the fact that God loves you no matter whether we perform well, or whether we make mistakes and sometimes our performance is not so good.  If you have never repented of your sin and come into a love relationship with Jesus Christ let today be that day.  He loved you enough to die on the cross for your sins. May all who read this experience His love in a great and mighty way. 

Let Us Pray

Lord we thank You that You don’t turn Your love for us on and off like a hydrant. Help us today to respond in a way of gratitude for the love that You have shown us. Help us also to love others as You have loved us. You loved us when we were and sometimes are still hard to love. 

In Jesus Name 

Amen

This garden is bringing back memories of digging potatoes in our garden in Hull camp in Walker County when I was a little boy. I was griping one day about having to work in it. My daddy said son you may have to do this one of these days. Well turned out that he was right! Love you all!

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER – THERE IS A REASON THAT IT IS THE BOOK

GET TOGETHER – THERE IS A REASON THAT IT IS THE BOOK
Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

This is and has been a very different time for Christians. First of all, I want to say praise the Lord for the many creative ways that the Holy Spirit has given Pastors and church leaders to get the Gospel out during this challenging season. Ever since becoming a Christian I have believed that the building is not the church that we the born-again blood bought children of God are the church. And I am in agreement that we don’t go to church we are the church. I am a strong believer in not just being a hearer of the word, but being a doer of the word. I didn’t have to go to Seminary to understand what Jesus was talking about in Mt 28:19,20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
With all of that said perhaps I should have had a subtitle to this message that said (There Are Actually Several Reasons). I can remember on the weekend that I got saved. It was on a Christian Retreat. There was a handout with Bible verses on it. I knew that I didn’t want to ever go back to my old lifestyle again. The passage from Hebrews 10:23-25 stood out to me.
Before I get to that first of all I want to say that when God’s people come together in corporate worship it is showing Him that He is first in our lives. We lay aside everything else to come and worship Him. Jesus answered the woman at the well’s theological question about where to worship Joh 4:23,24″But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Yes, we can worship Him any where we are at. But throughout the Bible God calls us as a people to worship Him corporately as His called-out people. Let’s look at some of the benefits of corporate worship and meeting in small groups.
We get to know one another when we meet together. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works The Greek term for consider here is katanoeo, kat-an-o-eh’-o. It means to observe fully: –behold, consider, discover, perceive. What a blessing it was when I realized that I had brothers and sisters who were human just like I was and that we could share our challenges and victories together. We could pray for one another. We could walk out our journey together. There is a stirring that takes place when we meet together. The King James Bible uses the English word provoke. The Greek term for provoke is paroxusmos. It can mean an incitement to do good. So, when we meet together, we are stirred up and incited to do good unto the Lord, our family, our neighbor, and even our enemies. When we meet together, we stir one another up by ministering to one another.
It has been my experience and I believe that the Scriptures would support this that when God’s people come together in corporate worship with a pure heart that His presence will be magnified. In the churches that I have served we have always prayed for the sick during our services, and ministered to others at the altar for whatever needs that a person may have. The Bible tells us in Le 26:8 “Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.” There is power when God ‘s people come together in one accord! There is power to heal! There is power to deliver from demonic oppression! There is power to see the lost get saved!
I love this passage about what takes place when God’s people are together in one accord at a prayer meeting : Ac 4:24 -31 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’ “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together”to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” I believe that when we come together in one accord in corporate worship that we can still see God do those things among us and in our culture.
In closing I don’t believe that I would be doing this devotional today if I hadn’t been meeting in corporate worship with God’s people, meeting in small groups and meeting with other Christians in one on one times of confession and encouragement. There have been many temptations that have come my way. There have been many personal challenges and times of discouragement. But praise God for the saints that God has brought into our lives that have stirred us in so many ways. Today let’s all pray for that time that we can get together and shake hands, hug one another, lay hands on the sick, take Holy Communion with our other brothers and sisters in the room with us. And then be ready to go into the world and be the church to a world that needs Jesus Christ so much.
Let Us Pray
Lord this isn’t a complaint. However, it is a request. We ask You today to move in such a way that Your people can gather together again in one place. Forgive us for when we took that for granted. We do thank you for the creative ways that You have given Your servants to serve You and to worship You during this time. But Lord as David wrote in Ps 122:1 ¶ <> I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”(NKJV) There is no other House like Your House. As the sons of Korah sang and wrote in Ps 84:10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.(NKJV) We long to gather together in Your Name as your people to worship You and to love one another. Please Lord would You hasten the day?
In Jesus name
Amen

Thanks to all of you who have stirred and continue to stir J.J. and I in the Lord! We love you all
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER- IN EVERYTHING THANK HIM

GET TOGETHER- IN EVERYTHING THANK HIM

1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I first met my good friend and Brother in Christ Jackie Isom in 1991.  We were working on a Christian retreat. We were both pretty new Christians.   Jackie gave me a book by Merlin Carruthers.  Jackie was one of the Founding Elders at Christ Community Fellowship. He has been in Heaven since 2016. He bought hundreds of copies of this book and gave them out to many to help them in their journey with the Lord. 

The name of the book was Prison to Praise. Merlin got saved in Prison. He went on to become a faithful Chaplain in the US Army.  He also served in ministry after that. In the book he talked about how we are supposed to give thanks in all situations.  This morning as I was driving into town the Holy Spirit brought the passage from 1 Thessalonians by me. I thought about how for all of us how this has been a very different and challenging time.  Some of us have had some major things happen in our lives as a result of this pandemic.  Love ones have passed away and funerals had to be kept to a minimum of the closest relatives at best.   Some people have experienced major financial loss. And for all of us we have had to make a lot of adjustments that can sometimes be somewhat irritating. On the other hand, for some of us there has been more time with family during this season.  

            I don’t believe that God sent the virus. I do believe that He has used it in a lot of different ways in different peoples lives.  I do believe that it is His will that we thank Him in all situations. 

             So today I am going to thank Him that I can allow Him to use me to send this message. I am going to thank Him that I know that no matter what happens that I am going to live in Heaven with Him one day. I am going to thank Him that according to His word in Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”   I am going to thank Him that according to Ro 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Thank Him because He will not leave you! Thank Him because He is mightier than a jillion pandemics! Thank Him because when we are in the fire just like He was with Daniel He will be in the fire with us!  I feel like preaching!!   I thank him for my family! I thank Him for saving me from Hell! I thank Him that I have a car to drive! I thank Him that we have heat! There isn’t enough time for me to thank Him for all of the things that I could thank Him for in this devotional.  I thank Him that He is on the throne. I thank Him that He will have the final say in everything!

So as Paul writes in 1Th 5:16 ¶ Rejoice always.  We can shout Hallelujah during this time! We can rejoice because God is for us and if God be for us who ,or what can be against us. We can do this because Paul also tells us in this chapter in  v.17 pray without ceasing.

            Sometime  today just begin to thank Him ! It will have a big effect on you and what is going on in the spirit realm.   I called sister Judy to see if it was ok to use Jackie’s name in this devotional. She assured me that it was and then shared with me that today was his birthday. What a blessing to know that someone can be in Heaven and God still be using them here on earth.    I believe that as we give thanks in this situation that God will use us while we are still here on earth, and after we are gone to be with Jesus as well.

Let us pray

Lord I must confess that there have been sometimes during this pandemic that I have griped and complained more than I have thanked You. Lord please forgive me and help me and all that read this to give you thanks during this time of trial and challenge. Help us to be a light in a dark season and always giving You thanks!

In Jesus Name

Amen

We give Him thanks for all of you!

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER- HE GUIDES AND HE PROVIDES

GET TOGETHER- HE GUIDES AND HE PROVIDES
Ps 105:40 The people asked, and He brought quail, And satisfied them with the bread of heaven. (NKJV) Mt 6:24-34 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Yesterday I saw on the internet where a meat packing company was warning that there could be a shortage of meat soon. This morning when J.J. and I were having our quiet time I told her about reading the article on the internet. Just about the time that I said it I happened to look outside from our sunroom window and there were three quail there. There are always some birds out there because we feed them. But this was the first time that there have been quail there in a long time. And by the way wild birds are my favorite pets!
I immediately thought about how God provided Israel with quail when they were griping and complaining in the wilderness. Although their motive was wrong God still provided for them. When I saw the quail this morning I felt like the Holy Spirit was giving us an assurance that God will always provide for us in season and out of season.
There are many other times when we are there in our sun room that when we watch the redbirds, bluebirds, and other kinds of birds that the Holy Spirit brings Jesus words in the passage that I posted from Matthew to my attention. Yesterday morning while I was in our car, I was listening to a sermon by a preacher on the radio. He mentioned in the sermon that we need to be reading the headlines from Heaven during this time. I thought about that today. The headlines that we are listening to from the media can get very discouraging. But if we look to the headlines from Heaven we will see that there is a God that loves us. We will see that there is a God that will be with us at all times. We will see that there is a God that will provide for us.
Israel asked and He gave. For us as born-again children of God we are under a better covenant than they were. He says in Mt 7:7 ¶ “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. This morning the Holy Spirit reminded me that they don’t call Him Jehovah – Jireh for nothing. He is the Provider! The Apostle Paul said it like this in Php 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.(NKJV)
At least five times in this passage from Matthew He tells us not to worry. I believe that the answer to this is found in Mt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. So in this uncertain time are you worrying, or trusting? Are you seeking peace through God ,or in some other way? If we abide, He will provide. I can remember someone telling me right after we had surrendered to the call to the Pastorate that where He guides, He provides. I think that we could say with certainty and the scripture would certainly support it, that for those that He guides He will provide. Today during this uncertain time trust the One that has never failed to provide for His people. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you! He said it and He meant it. Heaven’s bank is backing up every word that He said.
Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus we praise You that You are a great and faithful High Priest. Father we praise You and thank you that You provide. We thank You that there is never any lack to those who trust You. By the power of the Holy Spirit help us to trust You as our Provider during this uncertain time and all the time.
In Jesus Name
Amen
We love you all! I am going to stand in for you right now and hug myself Aas a token of mine and J.J.’s love for you all!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

Get Together- Don’t Take It For Granted

Get Together- Don’t Take It For Granted

Mt 27:51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. Heb 10:19 –22 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

            The Holy Spirit brough a memory back to me when God really answered a prayer quick for me. It was in the Spring of 2002.  I was on Interstate 65 on my way home from Asbury Seminary. I was just outside of Franklin Kentucky a town right on the Tennessee -Kentucky border when I had a flat  on the right rear tire of my green Chevy S-10 pickup.

            I had never changed a flat on that model pick up before. When I got up under the truck, I was using all my strength and limited mechanical knowledge to get the spare tire to come down. It wouldn’t budge. I tried to call J.J. back in Alabama. She is mechanically savvy. But she was at Bible Study and  I couldn’t reach her. I remember praying Lord if you have a servant out here on this highway would you please send them by here. I got back under the truck and started trying to pull the tire down again. It wasn’t long before I heard a voice saying, “you aren’t getting anywhere are you.” I almost went through the truck! I jumped out from under the truck and there stood a Mennonite man ready to help me. He said put your tire tool in that slot right behind the tag and you can lower it down.  He helped me change the tire and then he followed me to Wal- Mart where I bought a new tire.

            This Friday is the day that we Christians refer to as Good Friday. I used to wonder how that day could be called good when our Lord Jesus suffered such a horrible, tortuous death on the cross at Calvary. We know that it is good because we can now be forgiven and delivered from our sinful pasts. We know that it was good because He would rise from the dead on the third day.   Now that was a prayer that was answered quick.  I raise God that we can call on our Heavenly father and times like that. 

            Let’s look at another reason that we can call it good. Before the veil of the temple was torn into only the High Priest could go into the holy of holies one time a year on the Day of Atonement.  Now we as believers in Jesus Christ have access to the throne room at any time all the time. Praise God that through the shedding of the perfect Blood of Jesus Christ we have access to our great and faithful High Priest. We have that access when things are going well. We have that access when we find ourselves in trouble, or a challenging situation. We can truly experience what the Old Testament Prophet wrote in Jer 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

            So, on this week as we reflect on our Lord’s suffering for us. As we celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. And as we live at a time of so much uncertainty. Let us take advantage of that glorious privilege that our Lord Jesus paid the price for us to have when He suffered, bled, and died on Calvary’s cross.  No matter how big, or how small your concern may be. our great and faithful High Priest is always there for us.

Let Us Pray

Lord Jesus we thank You that you suffered and died for the forgiveness of our sins. We thank You that You suffered and died for us to have access to Your Holy Throne. We pray that we will never take that privilege for granted. Holy Spirit of God prompt us to use this privilege often not only in this time of great concern, but until the day that You return for us Your children.

In Jesus Name

Amen

J.J. and I are praying for all of you. We love you all so much!

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER- SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TIME THAT WE LIVE IN

GET TOGETHER- SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TIME THAT WE LIVE IN
Matthew 24 :3-12 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.”For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. “All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Well here is another one that I really was resisting writing, but I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading me to write this.

First of all, I am not an end times expert. I have had the privilege of reading, or hearing different sincere Christians share their views concerning the return of the Lord. Some are people with post tribulation views. Some are sincere Christians with pre tribulation views. And all can give you a good scriptural argument for their view. So, I take none of that lightly. I am not here to enter in to a debate over any of those views. There is one thing for sure that all of these would agree on and I would certainly agree is that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return for His people to live with Him forever and ever.

What we are experiencing right now with this virus came on us unexpected and unprepared. It has shaken society and culture all over the world. I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite, because I love sports, our son is a coach, and most of our family has been involved in sports in some way most of our lives. But in this situation where we have seen big time sporting events cancelled could not God be speaking to us to give Him priority over these and some other things? No not for one minute do I believe that God sent the Coronavirus. But I do believe that it is a good time to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts concerning those things that we consider most important in our lives.

Now with that said when I look at this passage there are several things that really get my attention. First of all be careful that you are not deceived by false prophets, or false teachers during this season. Or, by false Christs. Throughout history there have been some who proclaimed that they are the Messiah. 1Jo 4:3 “and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” One day there will be one last false Christ. He will deceive multitudes. He is going to look good. He is going to appear to solve all of the things that are wrong in the world. 2Th 2:8,9 And then the lawless one will revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”

There are currently wars going on all over the world today. There were over 10,000 combat related deaths around the world last year. We also know of the tensions between our nation and Iran, Communist China, and several Islamic terrorist groups. There are famines in and the potential for more famine in several parts of the world.
Jesus spoke about pestilence. The Greek term for pestilence in this passage is loimos, loy’-mos. It means a plague, or the disease. I think that this world wide pandemic would certainly fall into that category.

One more thing before I get to the conclusion. I know that many will say well there have been wars, and rumors of war throughout history. Many will say that there have been various plagues, earthquakes at various times throughout history. Well we are told that there will be scoffers in the last days. 2Pe 3:3,4 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” I have actually one more thing before the conclusion. First of all, we are living at a time where lawlessness definitely abounds. Watch the news and read the Scriptures and you will get the point.

You may be saying well Preston what are you trying to say through all of this. First of all I am not saying that I know when Jesus will return. Mt 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. I do believe that I would be negligent as a Christian, and as an evangelist to not tell people that we need to be ready every day to meet the Lord. My eschatological position is to be ready every day and you will be ready on that day.
As I read Matthew 24 I believe that the Holy Spirit is saying to me that just as this caught many unprepared. Be sure that you are not caught unprepared, on the day the Lord returns. And don’t be caught unprepared the day that you pass from this life. Whether someone is post tribulation, or pretribulation I receive you as my brother and sister in Christ. All true Christians believe that our Lord will come back for His people who remain alive on the earth. He will bring those who have gone before us with Him. When He returns may He find us advancing His Kingdom here on the earth.

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus we thank You that You have told us to be aware of the things that are going on in the world at the nearness of Your return. We don’t know when You are coming back. We are paying attention to many of the things that are mentioned in the Word of God preceding Your return. Help us today to use our time in a way that brings others into Your Kingdom. We long for the day that we touch Your nail scarred hands. Until that time may we be about what You have called us to do.
In Jesus Name
Amen
Remember : Be ready everyday and you will be ready on the day!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston