Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Never Look Back


No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

(Philippians 3:13 NLT)  

 

The Miracle Mile

In 1954 Englishman Roger Bannister and Australian John Landy, who were the first two men to break the four-minute mile, met in a race in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, called the "Miracle Mile." With ninety-seconds remaining in the race and Landy ahead, he glanced back over his left shoulder to see his opponent's location.  At that moment, Bannister surged past Landy on his right side and won the race by eight-tens of a second.  Many observed that if Landy had not looked back, he would have won the race.

 

The Apostle Paul had learned what John Landy had not, that taking our eyes off the prize is never good.  There is a principal in life that what you focus on, you tend to achieve. Paul knew that the key to success was to forget the past, both good and bad. 

 

Many have noted that rarely are people defeated in their faith by today's problems alone, but by also dwelling at the same time on yesterday's failures.  We are not designed to multi-task present and past struggles.  Looking back on past failures, other than for redemptive purposes, is always counterproductive.  Paul knew that he had "not achieved" or become perfect, but he must press on, looking forward, to become more like Christ.

 

Conversely, considering past successes can limit our future vision.  Every new movement of God has been resisted by the previous one.  Good can become the worse enemy of best.  Certainly, if anybody could have rested on his past achievements, it was the Apostle Paul.  He had suffered and achieved more than any man alive, yet he knew that he had to continue to strive until he arrived in the presence of Christ in Heaven. John Landy dominated the race until the very end when he took his eyes off the prize.

 

Are you, like Landy, going to lose the race because you are looking back? Keep your eyes on the prize, heavenward.

  

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.

 

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 27, 2020

God's Dreams or Ours

But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’  (1 Chronicles 28:3 NIV)  

 

David was excited about building the Temple for the Lord, yet he could not build it.  The test for David was whether his dream was God’s or his. 

 


I have had some ups and downs in my service for the Lord.  I once served as a ministry leader and had great hopes and dreams.  Not long after I started, I was abruptly taken out of my leadership role.  Some years later, I was asked to serve on the board of directors for this ministry.  The question I had to ask myself was, did I own my dreams, or did God? To this day, I serve on this board and get great pleasure in seeing some of the plans that I had accomplished through another leader.

 

David seemed to have the same anticipation for seeing the Temple being built by this son Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:10-21 NLT).  It is not about who gets to accomplish the work, but are God’s plans being fulfilled?  President Reagan had a plaque on his office wall that said, “there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  It is much the same in Christian service.

 

I am convinced that many do not see their dreams fulfilled, not because they are not faithful enough, but they are unwilling to give them up. Give them up in the sense of allowing others to come in and take responsibility with a little different skillset—people, who because of their calling and gifting, can take the work to a higher level.  In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT), the Apostle Paul instructs us that it is not important who plants or waters, but that God brings the increase.

 

There is a strange dichotomy in the Kingdom of God. If you give something up, you keep it.  If you lose it, you find it.  If God has the ultimate ownership of our plans and dreams, He has the right and responsibility to decide who and how they are accomplished.  It is not about us but Him.  Are your dreams God’s?  If so, then they are bigger than you, and He is the only one that can fulfill them.

 

The image used by permission from Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Our True Hero


But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”  So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath.  (1 Samuel 27:1-2 NLT) 

We love to hear and speak about the heroes of the Bible, and rightly so.

Yet, the true hero in all our Bible stories is always God.

 

David was said to be a “man after God’s own heart,” yet we see him giving up and going over to the enemy. Subsequently, he has to feign insanity to stay alive (1 Samuel 21:13). In the end, King Achish forsakes David (1 Samuel 29). Unbelief always leads to disappointment.

 

David’s experience is not an isolated story in the Bible. Elijah, after his great victory over Baal on Mount Carmel, ran in fear from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3). After saying that he would die for the Lord, Peter denied Him three times ((Luke 22:54-62). At times, the history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants reads like a trashy novel. The Bible clearly records that the best of us still have clay feet.

 

We don’t like to hear things like this about our heroes, yet God must have a message for us. God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will.  We should never place our security in mere flesh. I am not suggesting that God is not concerned with bad behavior because he is. Nevertheless, if he waited to use us until all our ducks are in a row, he would be delaying a long time.  Unflattering stories about our Bible heroes can be an encouragement to us. They remind us that the true hero in all our stories is the Lord Jesus, and if God can use the fallible characters described in the Bible, he might be able to show his glory through flawed people like you and me. 

 

Image used with permission by Microsoft.


Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

 


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Idolatry, Injustice, and Violence


For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. (1 Kings 11:4-5 NASB)

History is as instructive to us today as it was in Solomon’s day.  Solomon turned to idolatry, and if you read the history of the Kings of Judah and Israel, you see the injustice that was accompanied by violence.  Today much is said about violence and injustice, but very little about idolatry.

Today we see the injustice that precipitates violence and violence that propagates injustice. It is a vicious cycle. Some white people have done despicable acts because of their racial hatred, and some black people have reacted with violence against people who are innocent just because they are white. We have traded one type of injustice for
another.

In our country today, it appears we have been majoring on the results of the problem rather than the source of it.  We have begun to reject the God of Heaven.  We have commenced to, without shame, say that bad is good and good it bad.  We have sanctioned the taking of innocent life and the acceptance of alternative lifestyles condemned in the Bible.  Milcom, the idol mentioned in our text, involved sacrificing their children.
Does that sound familiar?  We have started to worship the false gods of the progressive culture and are reaping the whirlwind of injustice and violence.

How did God start to remedy the problem?  He sent the prophets.  Where are our prophets?  You and I must be that prophetic voice, and there’s always a cost for speaking the truth.  Fill in the blank.  I____________ will serve the one true God.

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Original Sin


The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
 (Genesis 3:12 NLT)

Where it all started.
Some narratives often predominate in a nation which contains part of the truth, but not the whole truth.  Racism has been a terrible sin in this nation, but it is not the original sin.

Condoleezza Rice, an African-American, and the Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, once said that the United States was born with a birth defect.  She was referring to racism, as evidenced by slavery.  Our founding fathers were brave men, but not perfect men.  Many of them owned slaves, which was a sin against God and an affront to man. 

Racism was and is wrong, yet, in our national narrative, it appears to be portrayed as the original or least the unpardonable sin. Racial prejudice is the result of the action in the Garden of Eden, which was a rebellion against God. Racism is not a white or black problem; it is a human problem.  The Bible says that if you say you have no sin, you are a liar (1 John 1:8). If we say we have no prejudice, no matter the color of our skin, we are probably deceiving ourselves. 

It appears that it is the one sin for which we can be held accountable for what our great-grandfathers did.  It is very difficult to atone for what you have not done.  Being accused of something you have not perpetrated, can produce guilt, but never true repentance.  It creates resentment and ultimately divides us.  The strategy of the Enemy has always been to divide and conquer.

We live in a great nation, yet an imperfect country. If this nation is as bad as academia is telling us, why do we have to build fences to keep people out?  It is a flawed society because you and I live in it.  Accusing someone else of something I also have in my heart is hypocrisy.  The problem goes deeper than skin tone; it is one of the heart. Racism is part of the problem, but not the problem.  Feeling superior to others is wrong, and likewise, having resentment and ager in response to these feelings, also, is not right. Two wrongs never make a right. All of us were born with a congenital disability called original sin.  We are all the offspring of Adam and Eve, and like them, tend to dwell on other peoples’ sin and ignore our own.  

Am I saying we should ignore racism, no, quite the opposite?  I think we should all check our hearts.

The image used with permission by Microsoft.


Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Promises of God

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV)

The key to all our victories in Christ is the promises of God.

In the Pilgrim's Progress, the pilgrims, Christian and Hopeful are stranded in Doubting Castle, which was owned by Giant Despair. The Giant beat them in his dirty dungeon.  He tried to persuade them to take their own lives.  They took his abuse for four days until they decided to pray.  At that point, they realized they already had the key to releasing them from Doubling Castle, which was God's promises. They were bound by fear and discouragement.  When they started to use the promises of God, the doors and gates commenced to open, and they escaped.  The whole process was set in motion by prayer.  Prayer was never intended to be a one-way street, not just God hearing from us, but us hearing from Him.

 When the Devil leads us into our Doubting Castle, we stop reading God's Word and praying.  Praying and hearing what God is saying to us are our life-lines.  Without them, we are powerless to resist the Devil's abuse. They had God's assurances of His protection, but they were not appropriating them by faith. How do we appropriate these promises?  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NLT).

Are you in Doubting Castle, being mistreated my Giant Despair?  The Devil is lying to you to steal your hope, with which you have no faith.  The antidote is simple, believe God. "I shall never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).  Trust the promises of God, and the truth will set you free.

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Nabal the Fool


 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. (1 Samuel 25:25 NLT)
Gracious Abigail

As his name suggests, Nabal was a fool.  Often there is a very thin-line between willful and ignorant behavior.  Grace is sometimes better served when we choose to look at people as being ignorant rather than intentional.

Nabal was evil and ill-tempered man, yet he had one thing going for him.  He had a gracious wife, Abigail.  Nabal had returned evil for good to David (1Samuel 25:1-12).  David leaves with his men to teach Nabal a lesson (v.13).  Abigail springs into action and puts together gracious gifts of food for David (v.18).  Abigail shows respect for David and takes responsibility for her husband's wrong actions (v. 24).  Though not personally responsible, she intercedes with David for Nabal.  Nabal was a scoundrel, but he was still her husband. She then gives David a reason to be gracious.  She suggests that Nabal is ignorant rather than just evil (v. 25).  There is always some deception in our sin.  If we understood the consequences, we would not have sinned.  On the Cross, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." He understood the evil in their hearts, yet He chose to dwell on their ignorance rather than their intentional actions.  Mercy always triumphs over judgment.

Abigail was the heroine in this story, and Nabal was the villain.  She prevented David from doing something he would later regret.  David withheld the sword from Nabal, and God then took care of him as He struck him down.  “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 21:19 NKJV). Fools often tempt us to act in foolish ways. Grace intervened in David's life.  When looking upon sinners like the Nabal, it might behoove us to say, but for God's grace, there go I.  

The image is used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com