GET TOGETHER- DON’T FORGET WHO THE REAL ENEMY IS

GET TOGETHER- DON’T FORGET WHO THE REAL ENEMY IS

Eph 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Wow! What a challenging time it is to be a Christian in the United States. We see Biblical values on marriage and many other areas of life being attacked. One scheme of the enemy in all of this is to try to get our eyes off of the Lord. In doing that He will try to convince us that people are our enemies.
The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the church at Ephesus. It is a circular letter that will be passed around to other churches in that part of Asia Minor. Ephesus was home to the Temple of Artemis. There was a cult associated with that temple. Some scholars say that worship at the temple involved temple prostitution. Some of those Christians in Ephesus had come out of that cult. Other believers at Ephesus came out of Judaism and accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
The Apostle Paul describes a demonic hierarchy that is under the command of the prince of darkness Satan. This hierarchy will try to impose its will upon nations, governments, companies, churches, schools, and families and individuals.
The enemy has a plan. In verse 11 this plan is referred to as the wiles of the devil. It means cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery, and a scheme. One scheme that the enemy would like to make us as Christians do is get hard hearted toward those who oppose us. He wants to draw us into fleshly battles. We have to remember that we don’t battle against the leaders of big corporations, politicians, or individuals who promote worldviews that are demonic and contrary to a Biblical worldview. Our battle is with the demonic forces that have them under their influence.
Jesus gave some good advice on how to not be drawn into these fleshly battles. Mt 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “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, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Think about it. He didn’t call Pilate a scum bag. Yes, He spoke truth to Him, but it was the truth in love. Yes, we are to speak the truth in love. But remember that He died on the cross for those who are enemies of the cross that they just all of us who were born sinners and lived sinful lives might come to a place of repentance and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to save them from their sins just as He did me and you.
I have said this before a solid mentor once told me that we are to win the lost rather than trying to beat them. By the way this mentor was solid Biblically on all of the hot button issues in our culture today. The devil gets great enjoyment out of seeing Christians rather than putting on the full armor of God like Paul tells us to do in verse 12-18 being drawn into a fleshly battle.
Recently as I was praying for people that either are living in lifestyles, or promoting those lifestyles that are contrary to scripture the Holy Spirit spoke this to my heart. Was I praying for them so that one day that I could say see I told you that we were right? Or was I praying for them because I loved them and wanted to see them have a life in the will of God and to live with Jesus Christ forever and ever?
One other thing that Mentor who had pastored many years told that I think would help us to not get into a fleshly battle. He told me to love pastorally and to preach prophetically. Preach the truth. But love people enough that they can see what God has done in your life. Remember the Apostle Paul also had this to say about how not to get in a fleshly battle 2Co 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,”(NKJV) The world trash talks. The Spirit filled believer prays, fasts serves, and loves. Remember Jesus loves sinners. He loves us unconditionally. But praise God that He loves us too much to leave us in the sinful condition that we were in when we came to Him.

Let Us Pray
Lord I know that many are like me we want to be sure that we don’t compromise in this culture concerning truth about things that the culture wants to impose upon us. We ask you Lord to help us. On the other hand, Lord help us not to get drawn into fleshly battles and to succumb to the traps that the enemy sets up for us. Help us to be like You. Help us to love people enough to pray for their souls. Help us to love people enough that they see the light of Christ in us. Help us to know that our battle is not with flesh and blood. Help us to put on the Full Armor of God every day.
In Jesus Name
Amen

Love you all.
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER – REFLECTIONS FROM A VACATION

GET TOGETHER – REFLECTIONS FROM A VACATION

Re 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘ (NKJV)

          

          As many of you know we had a family vacation last week. I think that it was the best one that our family has ever had. We got to spend quality time with our children and grandchildren. Everyone got along really good and seemed to be enjoying being with one another. In some ways I was very sad that it came to an end. 

          That made me think more about a time and a wonderful place where the love, peace, joy and fellowship will never come to an end.  That is when the believer in Jesus Christ will live with Him forever and ever.

In Revelation 2:7 we see the word Paradise. The Greek term for that word is  paradeisos.  It is a place of future happiness. The Apostle John had spoke of a place of future happiness in Re 21:1-6 :

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

          We had some wonderful experiences on our vacation. There are really too many for me to list here. It was special when during my quiet time in the morning that our children came out and sat with us. It was special spending time on the beach with our children and our grandchildren. We played putt-putt and raced the go karts. 

                   One day at the beach some people beside us had their radio on a station that I guess was playing oldies, or it may have been CD’s. Some of the songs that came on were songs that I used to listen to when I was using drugs. It was a very dark and lonely time in my life. Then one song came on that  was an old song about a guy that had given up on life.  The name of it was Sitting On the Dock of The Bay by Otis Redding.  Some of the words to that song are “ I have nothing to live for and it looks like nothing is going to come my way. Sitting here resting my bones because this loneliness won’t leave me alone.”  

          In 1968 I had just flunked out of Jacksonville State University.  That song by Otis Redding kind of became my theme song for a while.  I can remember going to the beach and wondering if I would ever have a decent future. As I heard the song last week I began to weep. I thought about what a Redeemer that we serve! Not only does He save us from hell, but He delivers us from the power that hell has had over our lives. He also heals us from the damage that hell has wrought upon our lives. 

          He gives us a life more than a decent life. He gives us a life with meaning and purpose. Jesus describes this life in Joh 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. In the Old Testament it is prophesied of what the Messiah will do in the lives of those who submit to Him: Isa 58:12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (NKJV)

            He also promises us that this life will never end: Joh 3:14-16 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. “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.”

          If you are someone that has given up on life it is my prayer that these reflections from my vacation will give you hope that our Lord Jesus if He can turn my life around that He can turn yours around. If you are already walking with the Lord Jesus Christ rejoice that no matter what you may be experiencing at this time that He is with you. Jesus told His disciples to rejoice that their names were written in Heaven in   Lu 10:20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” We can rejoice about that as well. It will be better than any vacation here on the earth. There is so much more that I can say, but maybe we will talk about it later here, or someday up there.

          Let us Pray:

Lord Jesus  we praise You that You are a mighty Redeemer! You do raise up the age-old waste places. You save to the uttermost. May all that read this walk with You knowing that You have prepared a place for us and that we can rejoice in that now and forever.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER- The Power of Pentecost

GET TOGETHER- The Power of Pentecost
Lu 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Ac 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (NKJV)

I can still remember the first Pentecost Sunday that I preached as a Pastor. When I got in the pulpit and mentioned that it was Pentecost Sunday one of our good and faithful leaders interrupted me. It was a good interruption. He said that he believed that every Sunday ought to be Pentecost Sunday. I think what he was saying was that we need the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our services every Sunday. I totally agree with that. I will go one step further we need the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives everyday moment by moment.

It must be particularly important because just before Jesus ascended to Heaven He made it a point to tell the disciples that they were to go to Jerusalem and wait until they were endued with this power. There is not enough room, or time for me to say everything that could be said about the Holy Spirit and the power of Pentecost in this devotional. But there are two things that I will mention in this devotional. One is the power for the Gospel to be advanced. The other is the power for transformation to take place in the life of the believer in Christ.

In the Book of Acts we see the power of the Holy Spirit at work healing. In Acts 3 the Holy Spirit working through Peter heals a lame man. Stephen the first martyr of the church operated in the power of the Holy Spirit : Ac 6:8 ”And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” The Apostle Paul operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. 1Co 2:4 “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” The Holy Spirit would also use Paul to give us the information and the instruction on operating in the spiritual gifts ( See Romans 12:6-9,1 Corinthians 12:1-11, 1 Cor 14:1-6 and Ephesians 4:11,12). He did this so that we could fulfill what God has called us to do in the ministry that he has given us.

For those of us living in the United States has there ever been a greater need for the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in the church? Many of us may have let our swords get a little dull during the last year. It is time for a Holy Spirit sharpening of our spiritual swords. There are people that are sick that God wants to use us to lay hands on and be healed. The Bible says that we can do it :Mr 16:18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

There are lost people living in destructive lifestyles that God wants us to reach. If there ever was a time in our nation that the church in the United States, and throughout the world needs the power of the Holy Spirit at work in it that time is now.

As I mentioned earlier, we need the Holy Spirit working in our lives to help us to become more like Jesus. There is a popular Christian song out now by Zach Williams “Less like Me.” One of the lines in that song goes:
“ a little more like Jesus ,a little less like me.” The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives getting out those things in our lives that hinder us from loving like Jesus loved and living like Jesus lived. Paul described the way that the Holy Spirit does that in our lives in this way 2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJV) Corinth was a very secular, and sinful city. It was full of sexual sin and all other kinds of sin (see 1 Cor 6:9-11) And yet if you read that passage you will see how those in the church had not only been saved from hell, but through the power of the Holy Spirit they had been delivered from the power that hell had over their lives. Their sins had been washed away. They were now in right relationship with God and now they went from being unholy to holy. The Holy Spirit will bring transformation in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ.

So, on this upcoming Pentecost Sunday for all of us may it be a time of rededication. May we be a people that allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives everyday moment by moment. There were 120 gathered in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. There were three thousand saved on that day. The church was added to daily.
. They were a people who faced persecution from the religious and would later face it from the Romans. And in spite of that persecution, they experienced the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in great and mighty ways. How much more in the season that we are living in do we need to experience His power and presence everyday and in every moment? And never forget that in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost that they were in one accord. May we be a people in the Body of Christ that are in one accord in the will of God
Let Us Pray

Lord today forgive us when we have not wanted Your manifest presence with us at all times. Today may all that read this experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in a very special way. Lord help us to do what the early church did. You were their first priority. Lord help us through the power of the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel where you have commanded us to take it. Raise our faith level so that when we pray that we expect to see You do great and mighty things. We personally need a fresh outpouring. Our churches need a fresh outpouring, our homes need a fresh outpouring, our schools, our government, and our nation. May all who read this be filled in a very special way.
In Jesus Name
Amen

HAPPY PENTECOST
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

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GET TOGETHER- Goodness and Mercy

GET TOGETHER- Goodness and Mercy
Ps 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.(NKJV)

At first, I was not going to do a Get Together today, but I felt like I heard the Holy Spirit give me these words. And I felt like they were words that we all need to hear. These words come from the 23rd Psalm. When I went to elementary school and all through high school the 23rd Psalm was either read by a teacher, or student on a regular basis in school. In high school quiet often it was read over the intercom as each day started out with a devotional. So even when I was not walking with the Lord, I could recite this Psalm. And I am sure that many others could do it as well.
There are several wonderful promises in the 23rd Psalm. Today I felt like that the Lord wanted me to talk about two of them, His goodness and His mercy. And to be honest I am having a great day. I have had two great times of fellowship with some brothers in Christ today. The weather is beautiful here in Hamilton, Alabama today; the skies are blue, there is a gentle breeze, and an almost perfect temperature. Hamilton is a wonderful place to live even when the weather is not perfect Someone unexpectedly blessed Real Party Ministry in a great way today so it is pretty easy to say that goodness and mercy are following me today.
On the other hand, I realize that there are faithful Christians in prison for taking a stand for the faith. I realize that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who live in harsh conditions and face difficult trials on a daily basis. Some of those that I have met who live in some very hard conditions bless me so much with the joy that is in their hearts. And I truly believe that they would tell you that goodness and mercy are following them everyday of their lives.
We live in a time where there is a lot of evil. Evil is the opposite of good. We sometimes say that God is good all the time and that all the time that God is good. He is good when men and women are not being good. He is good on the days that the weather is not perfect in Hamilton, Alabama, or anywhere else. And as followers of Jesus Christ we can experience His goodness all the time in some way.
David also wrote that mercy would follow him all the days of his life. David truly experienced the mercy of the Lord. Even though he was a man after God’s own heart David was a man that committed some very damaging sin. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers. Then he had her husband murdered by putting him in the toughest part of the battle and withdrawing the other troops from around him. He was guilty of adultery and murder. However, unlike his predecessor King Saul David repented of his sin and was forgiven. The goodness and the mercy of the Lord surely followed David all of his life and into eternity.
One reason that believers in Jesus Christ can say that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives in found in David’s words in the last clause of this Psalm: And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. (NKJV) The world is really crazy right now. But praise God that no matter whether there are oil shortages, wars, and rumors of wars, Covid 19 or anything else we can rejoice. We can rejoice because of what Jesus Christ a descendant of David, the Incarnate Son of God did for us on the cross. We can truly say that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus made this promise to us: Joh 14:2,3 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
This morning I was listening to a preacher that I highly respect on the radio. When He preached about God’s justice it made me so evermore thankful that I have received so much mercy from the Lord. It reminded me of this passage in Jas 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. It made me evermore thankful for the mercy that God has shown me for the sins that I have committed that I know that grieved His heart and hurt others. Therefore, my response to that is to take to heart what Jesus said in Mt 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” I don’t know about you, but I have received a whole lot of mercy. I have also experienced a whole lot of goodness from the Lord. With that said if we have experienced the goodness and mercy of the Lord let us all be conduits that His goodness and mercy flows through to others. Even at such a time as this.
Let Us Pray

Lord Jesus we thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for bleeding and dying on the cross so that we could receive your mercy. we thank You for dying and rising from the dead so that we can experience Your goodness. Help us to be conduits of Your goodness and mercy to others.
In Jesus Name
Amen
On behalf of J.J. and myself may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your lives and may you dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER- Goodness and Mercy
Ps 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.(NKJV)

At first, I was not going to do a Get Together today, but I felt like I heard the Holy Spirit give me these words. And I felt like they were words that we all need to hear. These words come from the 23rd Psalm. When I went to elementary school and all through high school the 23rd Psalm was either read by a teacher, or student on a regular basis in school. In high school quiet often it was read over the intercom as each day started out with a devotional. So even when I was not walking with the Lord, I could recite this Psalm. And I am sure that many others could do it as well.
There are several wonderful promises in the 23rd Psalm. Today I felt like that the Lord wanted me to talk about two of them, His goodness and His mercy. And to be honest I am having a great day. I have had two great times of fellowship with some brothers in Christ today. The weather is beautiful here in Hamilton, Alabama today; the skies are blue, there is a gentle breeze, and an almost perfect temperature. Hamilton is a wonderful place to live even when the weather is not perfect Someone unexpectedly blessed Real Party Ministry in a great way today so it is pretty easy to say that goodness and mercy are following me today.
On the other hand, I realize that there are faithful Christians in prison for taking a stand for the faith. I realize that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who live in harsh conditions and face difficult trials on a daily basis. Some of those that I have met who live in some very hard conditions bless me so much with the joy that is in their hearts. And I truly believe that they would tell you that goodness and mercy are following them everyday of their lives.
We live in a time where there is a lot of evil. Evil is the opposite of good. We sometimes say that God is good all the time and that all the time that God is good. He is good when men and women are not being good. He is good on the days that the weather is not perfect in Hamilton, Alabama, or anywhere else. And as followers of Jesus Christ we can experience His goodness all the time in some way.
David also wrote that mercy would follow him all the days of his life. David truly experienced the mercy of the Lord. Even though he was a man after God’s own heart David was a man that committed some very damaging sin. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers. Then he had her husband murdered by putting him in the toughest part of the battle and withdrawing the other troops from around him. He was guilty of adultery and murder. However, unlike his predecessor King Saul David repented of his sin and was forgiven. The goodness and the mercy of the Lord surely followed David all of his life and into eternity.
One reason that believers in Jesus Christ can say that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives in found in David’s words in the last clause of this Psalm: And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. (NKJV) The world is really crazy right now. But praise God that no matter whether there are oil shortages, wars, and rumors of wars, Covid 19 or anything else we can rejoice. We can rejoice because of what Jesus Christ a descendant of David, the Incarnate Son of God did for us on the cross. We can truly say that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus made this promise to us: Joh 14:2,3 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
This morning I was listening to a preacher that I highly respect on the radio. When He preached about God’s justice it made me so evermore thankful that I have received so much mercy from the Lord. It reminded me of this passage in Jas 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. It made me evermore thankful for the mercy that God has shown me for the sins that I have committed that I know that grieved His heart and hurt others. Therefore, my response to that is to take to heart what Jesus said in Mt 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” I don’t know about you, but I have received a whole lot of mercy. I have also experienced a whole lot of goodness from the Lord. With that said if we have experienced the goodness and mercy of the Lord let us all be conduits that His goodness and mercy flows through to others. Even at such a time as this.
Let Us Pray

Lord Jesus we thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for bleeding and dying on the cross so that we could receive your mercy. we thank You for dying and rising from the dead so that we can experience Your goodness. Help us to be conduits of Your goodness and mercy to others.
In Jesus Name
Amen
On behalf of J.J. and myself may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your lives and may you dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER- Unity Brings Revival

GET TOGETHER- Unity Brings Revival

Ps 133:1-3 A Song of Ascents. Of David.>> Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-Life forevermore.(NKJV)
I just finished reading a good book by Brother R.T. Kendall. The name of that book is You Might Be A Pharisee If. It was a good read. It challenged me in some good ways, and it was also affirming in some other ways. One of the ways that the book was affirming to me was stressing the importance of unity in the Body of Christ. It was affirming in that there are certainly essentials to the faith that we as Christians agree on while there may be non-essentials that we do not. I am not saying that some of the non-essentials are not important. But we don’t need to let those stop us from loving, praying for, and at times serving together. We need to look at the big picture. Unity also does not mean accepting things that the culture tells us to celebrate that are called sin throughout the Bible consistently. From the first page to the last.
One of the points that Kendall brought out was that you might be a Pharisee if you are envious and not affirming when God really begins to move in another church, or another group of believers. The Lord has dealt with me about that in the past. If God begins to bring revival to another congregation, or group of Christians would you, or me celebrate it, or blow it off?
I remember at the first church that I pastored we were doing a prayer plan to see neighbors get saved from hell and brought into the Kingdom. Guess what happened when we did this? People started getting saved all right, but at another church nearby. The Lord then examined my heart. What was my motive? Then I want to see people get saved so that I could look good in the denomination that I was serving in, or did I really love and care about the people that we were praying for. The Lord also showed me that if they were being saved in another congregation that they were being saved in my church. Which is His church. After all, we are told in Eph 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Now guess what happened after the Holy Spirit checked the motives of my heart? People started getting saved in our congregation.
J.J. and I are so thankful for the many brothers and sisters that God has allowed us to serve the Lord with in different parts of the Body of Christ. For us it has been such a great blessing on several occasions to serve with brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries. Several of them are in different parts of the Body of Christ than us. I pray for all of us in the Body of Christ in His Holy Church that are serving in His Kingdom that we will encourage others who are serving in other parts of the Body of Christ than we are.
In closing in Psalm 133 we get a picture of the blessing of unity. Oil often symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Where there is true Biblical unity in a church and among God’s people, the anointing of the Holy Spirit will be there to change lives, to bring healings, and deliverances, to help people to know the blessing of marriage between a man and a woman. For those that God has chosen to be single the anointing will be there to help them to fulfill the destiny and purpose that God has created them to fulfill. It may not always be perfect. It will always have challenges, but it will be good and pleasant as we are told in this Psalm.

Let Us Pray

Lord Jesus today we thank You that You loved us so much that You prayed that we would all be one. We pray today for unity in the Body of Christ. We pray for us as Your servants that we will honor Your Word and honor and love one another. Remove the things in all of our lives that are not in Your will and in accordance with your Word. We pray your Kingdom come your will be done in the lives of every true follower of Yours and in Your church.
In Jesus Name
Amen

Love you all!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER – He Makes It Beautiful!

GET TOGETHER – He Makes It Beautiful!
Ec 3:1-11 ¶ To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

I can still remember the first time that I ever heard that reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes. It was on November 25th 1963. A Catholic Priest read it during funeral services for President John F. Kennedy. That was a very sad day for our nation that day. This past week we drove to Springfield Missouri to be with our son Jake, our daughter in law Tommie, and our grandchildren Eli, and Hannah. As I think back on our drive through the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and in Missouri, something else comes to my mind and makes me think about this passage.
The dogwood trees were still in bloom there. The dogwoods here in North, Alabama have already bloomed and given way to green leaves. However, in the Ozarks they were still in bloom and were so beautiful. If we had driven there a few weeks earlier, they would have not been in bloom, and would have looked very barren.
We who follow Christ are all on a journey. We all experience from time to time-different seasons in our lives. Some people now will be celebrating a son, or daughter graduating from college. Others may be celebrating a son, or daughter getting married in Holy Matrimony. For others it may not be a time of celebration. It may be a child that is in rebellion. It may be that a friend is going through a tough time. It could be for some of us the pain of the death. That pain that we experience when someone that we love leaves this walk of life. Others may have children serving our country and are in harm’s way in war torn nations. All of us experience difference seasons of life.
There is a promise for the believer in Jesus Christ. We can stand on His word that He does make all things beautiful in His time. We are told in Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Just as He can make that barren dogwood trees look beautiful He can make the ugliest things in our lives beautiful in His time. Sometimes that will be here on earth. At other times and always in Heaven.
Did you notice in verse 11where the passage says that God has put eternity in the hearts of men? All of us have been born with a desire to live forever. There is only one way that any of us can do that. That is by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. Our Lord Jesus says that in Joh 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The Apostle wrote in Ro 5:1,9 ¶ Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
On our way home last week we had a destination that we wanted to reach. That destination was our home in Shottsville. The dogwoods were still in bloom in the Ozarks on our way home. I try to drive cautiously, but a couple of times J.J. had to close her eyes as I passed a car on those short passing lanes on Highway 63. I praise the Lord that He did safely get us to our destination.
We have an eternal destination. And we have an eternal home. We may all experience some different season on our journey before we get there. However, stay in the car. Do not jump out, or do not turn back. When we do that, we will see God redeem every part of our lives. We will see Him make all things beautiful in His time. We will reign and live with Christ forever. We will be in a place that the temporary beauty of the dogwood here on earth will not be able to hold a candle to the beauty that we will behold. No matter what season of life that you are in walk with Jesus Christ and He will make all things beautiful in His time. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1Co 2:9 But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus we thank You that you do make all things beautiful in your time. Today for all that are experiencing some things that are ugly and not beautiful right now we pray that You will bring healing, restoration, and truly work for good in these situations and circumstances. Give each a peace that either here on earth, and, or in Heaven that You will make all things beautiful
In Jesus Name
Amen

Love you all!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston

GET TOGETHER- We Catch Them and He Cleans Them

GET TOGETHER- We Catch Them and He Cleans Them

Mt 4:18 -20 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
This time of the year my daddy used to go to Wheeler Dam and stay the whole week. I don’t remember if it was the crappie, or the stripe that were biting this time of year. What I do remember is that he fileted them and cooked them and they sure were good. During other parts of the year, he and my uncle Blondie would go to the Sipsey River and catch them and do the same. For Daddy fishing season was year-round. It didn’t matter if it was hot, or cold he was going. And most times he, my uncle, or some of his other friends would bring back a good catch and we would eat fish year-round.
I think for us in the church that God is saying that it is fishing season year-round and that we need to be about the Father’s business and doing what Jesus has called us to do. The good news for us is that we can catch them, but we do not have to clean them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job and I have found out that He does a much better job that I do.
He cleans the fish by bringing conviction of sin. He cleans the fish by making sin a distasteful thing to the born-again child of God. He cleans the fish as the fish begin to pray. He cleans the fish as other believers begin to encourage them. He cleans the fish through small groups where the fish can be authentic. He cleans the fish as the fish begin to serve Him.
I remember when we first went to Christ Community Fellowship. A man of God asked one of our Elders when we met with him if we were ready to catch dirty fish. I think that is what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church of God today. Are we ready to catch dirty fish? This kind of fishing is messy. This kind of fishing is risky and will take you out of your comfort zone. This kind of fishing isn’t always convenient. You may have to put aside watching your favorite football team, or some other interest to go on these fishing trips. And to be honest it has its emotional highs and lows. Sometimes you think that some may be in the boat and they get away just before they get there. Others will at times jump out of the boat and go back to the muddy water that the Lord wants to bring them out of.
On the other hand, it is a joy and a blessing to watch those that the Holy Spirit is cleaning become the men and women that God desires for them to become. It is a blessing to see them gain a heart for the Lord Jesus Christ. And the good news is that there is no pressure on us to do the cleaning. We can look in the Bible and see fish that the Holy Spirit cleaned. Peter, Paul, the Prodigal son. And there were many many more. About three thousand on the Day of Pentecost got in the boat on that day and they would be cleaned up by the Blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Remember when I said for my earthly Daddy that it was fishing season year-round? How much more for our Heavenly Father is it fishing season year-round? If you are a fish out there swimming in the muddy waters of life don’t think that you smell to bad for the Lord to clean you up. If you are a Christian that has been saved. Let me ask you this question are you ready to go fishing, or are you waiting on someone else to bring the catch in? Where someone spends eternity and the life that they ,and their family experience here on earth could depend upon it. Cast your net and catch them. Then let the Holy Spirit do the cleaning.

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus we know that You desire to make fishers of men out of Your followers. Forgive us for often sitting on the bank and watching others do the fishing. Give us a heart to be fishers of men and women and help us to trust the Holy Spirit to do the cleaning.
In Jesus Name
Amen

Get your tackle box out!
Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston
PS I was a very dirty fish myself until coming to Jesus Christ!
.

GET TOGETHER- PUT THAT WATERPOT DOWN !

GET TOGETHER- PUT THAT WATERPOT DOWN !
Joh 4:28, The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

Without going into all of the statistics in this devotional recently I have read several articles and news reports about the decline of Christianity in America. Fewer people believe that Jesus Christ was the Incarnate Son of God. And there are several other statistics that point to the fact that many in our nation have a secular, or humanistic worldview rather than a Biblical worldview
When I read about this, I am reminded of our Lord’s words in Mt 9:37,38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” If there ever has been a time for us to pray for and to be laborers in the harvest it is certainly now. The harvest certainly is plentiful and the laborers are quiet often few.
I have heard several different messages this week from people in different parts of the Body of Christ. One thing that I believe was stressed from them was that we are to occupy until the Lord returns. We are called to be advancing the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Jesus is not looking for a church that is hiding under the pew saying “it sure is bad Jesus is coming back.” I believe that He is coming back. But I also believe that He is looking for a church that is doing what He said to do in Matthew 28:19 “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, (NKJV). He is looking for a church that understands what He said in Ac 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” He is looking for a going church. He is looking for a witnessing disciple making church! He is looking for a Holy Spirit empowered church!
Last week J.J. and I were watching the series Chosen. One of the scenes that touched me the most was when Jesus met the woman at the well. It is recorded in John Chapter 4. In that passage Jesus reveals Himself to a Samaritan woman. A woman that has had five husbands and the man that she was currently living with was not her husband. She had an encounter with the Lord that day and she had to go and tell someone about it.
We live in a nation that is full of people who are in a worse spiritual condition than this woman was. Our Lord desires to meet these people. Our Lord died on the cross to save these people. Our Lord wants to use us as He did this woman to go and tell them that whatever that they are doing in their lives without Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah that it will never fulfill them. Drugs will not quench that thirst! Ungodly sexual relationships will not quench that thirst! Alcohol will not quench that thirst! There are some good things that will not quench that thirst. Success in business will not quench that thirst! Your favorite football, or sports team will not quench that thirst! Political power will not quench that thirst! Sitting in a church pew gossiping about how bad the world is will not quench that thirst! Only He can quench that thirst! And He has called us as the church to go into the world and point people to the thirst quencher. He wants us to use our words, our finances, and our actions to show His love to a lost and hurting world.
So, for all of us let’s leave our waterpot and go tell the world about a Savior that gives this kind of water. the kind that Jesus told the woman at the well that He gives in Joh 4:13,14 “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

LET US PRAY
Lord I believe that You are calling Your church to do what You have always called the church to do. I believe that You are calling us to get off the bench and to get in the game. Lord may we take the Gospel to the lost. May we do what You have told us to do in Matthew 25 and Matthew 28. Help us to be advancing the Kingdom of God upon the earth on that day that You return for Your Glorious Bride.
In Jesus Name
Amen

Love you all!
Your Kinfolk/Friend
Preston

GET TOGETHER- THIS BLOOD IS FOR YOU!

GET TOGETHER- THIS BLOOD IS FOR YOU!

Mt 26:28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

          Yesterday as I was listening to James Dobson on the radio there was a Messianic Jewish Rabbi doing the best teaching that I have ever heard concerning Jesus as the Messiah and connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament. His name was Rabbi Jason Sobel. I have ordered his book Mysteries of the Messiah.  He did an outstanding job on the when Christ was on the cross and what the shedding of His blood represented in a redemptive way in our lives and how that it tied into the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Lord. I am really looking forward to studying more about this. But today I want to share some of my thoughts on   the Blood of Jesus and how what He suffered on the cross can be redemptive in some ways in our lives and I believe that the Scriptures would fully support that.

          Before I go any further, I want to say first of all that it is only through our faith in the Blood of Jesus that we can be justified and put in a right relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Paul tells us in Ro 5:9 “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (NKJV) I am sure that I have shared this before, but I will share it again. I believe that the Bible tells us that salvation is being saved from hell, delivered from the power that hell has had over our lives, and healed from the damage that hell has wrought upon our lives. 

          So here are just a few of my thoughts. When I think about Jesus taking the nails in His feet, I think about the redemption that He paid the price for those of us who once walked in darkness.  The Prophet Isaiah prophesied that there would be One that would deliver us from walking in darkness:  Isa 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” There things and places that we used our feet for and went to that were places and things where we were being controlled by our old sinful nature. He paid the price to give us a new set of spiritual feet. The kind of feet that Paul wrote about in Ro 10:15 “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”(NKJV) Not all Christians are called to Pastor, or some other office. But all of us are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

           When I think about the nails in His hands and the Blood that flowed from those hands, I think about how that our hands were once dirty. Our hands had been used to do things that were contrary to the will of God. When we used our hands to do wicked things we were headed for eternal punishment:  Isa 3:11 “Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, For the reward of his hands shall be given him.” But when Jesus took the nails in His hands His blood cleansed us from the wicked deeds that we once committed with our hands and we can have fellowship and relationship with Him. Ps 24:3,4 “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy placeHe who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” (NKJV) As His hands bleeding reached out to a lost and hurting world our hands are now clean to be used by Him to reach out to a lost and hurting world. 

          Another thought that I had that I would like to share with you. As His head was bleeding from the crown of thorns around His head. I thought about how the blood that He shed positions us to experience the transforming power of God as our minds are renewed as the Apostle Paul wrote about in Ro 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” He shed His blood that our minds could be renewed and we would no longer act and think as we did when we were in our lost estate.

          When He took the spear in His side from that Roman soldier serving a pagan empire  His blood flowed from there and He was died a real death on the cross it looked like all hope was gone. When I think about that I think about how many times that the devil may think that he has defeated us. However, we know that on the third day our Lord came out of the tomb and that we are never defeated by the evil powers of darkness. 

           There are many things that I could write about concerning what the Blood of Jesus does for us such as healing of disease and sickness and many other things. But I felt like the Lord wanted me to share these thoughts with you. As we head into Resurrection Sunday, I pray that all of these will lead you to an even greater appreciation of what the Lord suffered and did for us. 

Let Us Pray

Lord Jesus we thank You that you took the nails in your hands. You took the nails in your feet, the crown of thorns around your head, and the spear in Your side for us. May we forever be thankful for the sacrifice that you made for us.  And may we always share this Good News with others as we walk in the victory that You have provided for us both  now and forever!

In Jesus Name

Amen 

Have a Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

Your Friend/Kinfolk

Preston

GET TOGETHER- WHAT A GIFT

GET TOGETHER- WHAT A GIFT
1Co 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NKJV)

Well today I hit seventy-two. One way I knew it was because I had an appointment with an ENT. He had to remove a piece of rubber that had come off of one of my hearing aids from my ear canal. Praise God that he did a pain free, quick, and efficient job. Talk about an answered prayer!
I want to thank all of you that have wished me a happy birthday today. And if you haven’t don’t feel like that you have to do that. Some days I may miss some people’s birthday on Facebook that I really love and care about.
God has blessed us with so many people in our lives that have been and are so special to us. From wonderful teachers, Pastors, mentors, friends, people that I played high school football with and against who are now my brothers in Christ. I am so thankful for the family that I grew up in. I am thankful for J.J. and the family that God has given us. I am thankful for the family that I married into. I am thankful for the churches that the Lord has allowed me to Pastor, and also for so many brothers and sisters that God has allowed me to work with across denominational lines here in the United States and in five foreign countries. I know that I am leaving many out, but to be honest I could write a good part of the day and I am sure that I would still leave some out.
In writing to the church at Corinth the Apostle used 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 and 14 to teach about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the way that they were to be exercised in the church. It is my belief that he used Chapter 13 what we often refer to as the love chapter to stress what the motivation and attitude should be for those that operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In verse 13 Paul lists the abiding gifts that abide in all true believers in Jesus Christ all of the time. they are faith, hope, and love. The Greek term for love here is agape. It is a benevolent love that expects nothing in return. What love is this that we can love others without expecting something in return from them? I just want you all to know that we love you, and that we don’t expect anything in return.
I want to thank the Lord for Christians who loved me when I was not saved. I want to thank you for loving me and for praying for me. I was in a very dark place. I thank God for that prevenient grace that kept me from dying and going to hell until I came to that point of repentance from my old sinful lifestyle and gave my life to Jesus Christ. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. But more than that thank you for loving me enough to pray for me that I would not remain in that lost condition that I was in.
I may have friends, relatives and others who read this that may have not come to that place in your lives. I want you to know that I love you. I know that God loves you. And I pray for you that at some point that you will come to that place of surrender so that you can experience God’s forgiveness and transforming power here on the earth. And that we can all live together in eternity forever and ever.
Two years ago, the Lord had me to step aside as the Pastor at Christ Community Fellowship. However, I don’t believe that God calls Christians to ever retire from serving God. When I read what Jesus said in Lu 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”(NKJV) I take that to mean that we are to keep our hands on the plow until the Lord comes back for us, or until we go home to be with Him.
I told the Lord if He would keep me in good health, I would serve Him until He calls me home. Here is part of my bucket list:
• To see all of our friends and relatives know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
• To see a Holy Spirit Awakening in this nation.
• To see people set free from addiction.
• To see families once again be put back together as God originally designed them to be
• And yes, there are some places and friends that I wouldn’t mind visiting should God make the time and for us to do it.
Thanks for listening to my heart today. Thanks for being our friends. Thanks for the birthday wishes. Thanks for all of your prayers and the way that you encourage us. We love you all !

Your Friend/Kinfolk
Preston