Rotten Green Tree

Rotten Green Tree by Kirk Hunt

Wait on the Lord,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.

Psalm 37:3435 NKJV

The tree was big, green and notable in its surroundings. The problem is that the good looks were hiding a critical rot in the roots. The rot had so weakened the tree that it could not keep itself upright. The tree fell suddenly and without warning in the dead of night. Had it fallen in daylight, someone could have been crippled or killed.

The fallen tree blocked a central set of walkways. The mercy is that in its fall, the most serious damage was limited to a single directory sign. In a matter of seconds, the tree was transformed from a living state of beauty and utility to a dead object of hindrance and destruction.

And for days, men and machines labored hard to clear away the remains of a once healthy-looking tree. The hidden rot had killed the tree and tainted the wood. The wood could not become lumber, only firewood.

When men and women fall, they can do serious damage. The moral disease, thought hidden, is exposed to everyone. Where once there had been benefit and profit, there is suddenly destruction and damage.

As God’s saints, you must keep yourself free of rot and disease. Otherwise, like my tree, your fall will come suddenly and without warning. The remains of your passing suitable only for a fireplace or furnace.

Think: The green of the tree can hide a killing rot.

Pray: “Lord, keep me in Your way, free of moral taint or decay.”

Copyright © May 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press. You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

Sacrifice Is Personal

Sacrifice Is Personal by Kirk Hunt

Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

2 Samuel 24:24-25 NKJV

Araunah (also called Ornan) had every reason to give King David anything he needed for a sacrifice. In addition to being a devout worshiper of Jehovah, he also owned great wealth. David needed to sacrifice the goods to stop a heaven-sent plague coming his way. “Anything you want, your majesty.”

David, a true leader who cared for his followers, made a point of buying, not taking. David refused to sacrifice a cost-less gift to God. David understood what made a sacrifice or offering acceptable to God. As the flames burned on the altar, the king’s once heavy purse held only a bill of sale.

Saints, especially leaders, must personally sacrifice for the Kingdom. Wealth, time and comfort are often burned on the altar of our worship. As the smoke and flames go heavenward, tears often flow downward from our too human eyes.

The point of worship and sacrifice is to demonstrate that we love Him first and foremost. If you want your offering to be real to God, it must be significant and personal. You give what is yours to prove the love is yours.

Well meaning hearts and souls might offer to pay at the wrong times. Remember David’s example. Give your personal sacrifice out of love and devotion.

Think: Sacrifice to God must always be personal to be real.

Pray: “Lord, accept my sacrifice to You.”

Copyright © April 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press. You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

Faith In The Storm

Faith In The Storm by Kirk Hunt

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?

Mark 4:39-40 NKJV

Did Jesus need to calm the storm? Since the boat was sinking, His interference in the natural course of events was welcomed by the Disciples. Still, the need or desire for God to intervene in circumstances is not an excuse to lose (or set aside) your faith.

God is God, all of the time. Not even a series of circumstances can exceed God’s sovereignty or mastery of creation. You might be in over your head, but God remains above everything. He is the final authority of all time, space and situations.

Keep and guard your faith, no matter how fierce the storm. Since God is always omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, your inconveniences are never an issue for Him. Your faith should be based on Him, not what is going on around you.

Jesus rebuked the storm. Then He rebuked the Disciples. Their concern about the storm was reasonable and to be expected. Their sudden loss of faith was a failure to think and act on their understanding of God and the presence of Jesus.

No matter how difficult the situation, God is your source. Keep your faith strong. The Master is more than equal to your storm.

Think: In the middle of the storm, my faith remains in God.

Pray: “Lord, help me to keep my eyes and faith on You.”

Copyright © March 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press. You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

In The Storm

In The Storm by Kirk Hunt

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:37-38 NKJV

Simon, Andrew, James, and John were not rookies, afraid of a strong breeze.    They were professional fishermen who earned good livings, with this kind of boat, on this very body of water.    They were expert, seasoned sailors and knew watercraft well.    They had all been through storms before. This storm was different.

They did not panic, at first.    They did what they knew to do.    They used their professional skills and extensive experience to weather the storm.   

They bailed water.    They shortened the sails.    They lightened the ship.    All to no avail.

The Disciples woke Jesus.    Big, burly men who, until now, had seen everything the Galilee could throw at them.    Strong, tough guys, who were way past their limits. And knew it.    They could do nothing, but they knew someone who could do anything.

In the middle of the crisis, the Disciples turned to the Master of Storms.   

Do what you know to do, but call out His Name.    Use your skills and abilities, but look to Christ for the solution.    Act, but rely on Jesus.    When we reach our limit, God’s Power begins.

The wind will howl.    The waves will crash.    Is the Master of Storms in your boat?

Think: In the middle of the storm, Jesus is my safety and comfort.

Pray: “Lord, thank You for how You protect and preserve me.”

Copyright © January 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press. You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

God’s Word The Second Time

God’s Word The Second Time by Kirk Hunt

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,   “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

Jonah 3:1–2 NKJV

“Don’t make me tell you again,” is the exasperated admonition (or warning, or threat) every parent has said at least once to a beloved but recalcitrant child.  Even God’s people are more child-like than we admit.  God too often has to tell us the second (or third, or fourth) time.

At God’s command, the great fish had spit Jonah out on dry ground.  God’s prophet likely smelled like fish belly, and he may have been spitting sand out of his mouth.  .  The storm and time in the fish had the desired effect of getting Jonah’s attention.  The prophet listened when God spoke the second time.

There are reasons God has to repeat Himself to us. We can be too busy with our plans and agendas to listen to Him now.  Our daily cares, concerns, or pains drown out His voice.  Too often, our willfulness or disobedience leads us to knowingly ignore or disobey God.

God loved Jonah and patiently worked to get his attention.  Thankfully, God loves us and patiently works to get our attention. Instead of reacting to us with justice and judgment, He responds to us with mercy and grace.  God unfairly allows His children to misbehave and not pay the (full) cost they should.

Perhaps God is speaking to you the second (or third, or fourth) time. You should listen, this time.  You should be obedient, this time.  After all, God is demonstrating His great love for you, this time.

Think:       When God speaks to me I should listen and obey every time.

Pray:         “God, please help me to listen and obey every single time.”

 

Copyright © March 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

God Speaks, Good Happens

God Speaks, Good Happens by Kirk Hunt

“Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.

“But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”

So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah 2:8-10 NKJV

God’s prophet finally responded correctly.  Jonah spoke his contrition, worship, praise and thanksgiving to the God of mercy and love.  So God spoke and His prophet landed face first on the beach, alive and well (if chastened).

God is a god of mercy and love.  God’s mercy refused to burn Jonah down on the dock.  God’s love refused to let him drown in the sea.  Then, as now, God loves all of His children, not just the well-behaved kids.

God is also a god of justice and righteousness.  His righteousness refused to let Jonah be willful and disobedient.  God’s justice delivered correction to His prophet for his sin and rebellion.

Spitting sand out of his mouth, Jonah stood, still a prophet of God and still loved by Him.  No matter what you have done, God is waiting for you to repent.  His correction is part of His love.  His forgiveness is prepared and waiting for you.

Earthly fathers, imperfect as they are, love their wayward children.  Father-God is perfect and His love for us is without limit or restraint.  When will you go back to Him and repent?  When will you accept what He has waiting for you.

Do your part.  God will speak His part and it will happen for you.  Never mind any sand you have to spit out.

Think:       After I repent God will speak good into my life.

Pray:         “Lord, thank You for continuing to love me.”

 

Copyright © February 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

He Hears Your Voice

He Hears Your Voice by Kirk Hunt

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.   And he said:

“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.”

Jonah 2:1–2 NKJV

Out of the boat and inside the fish, Jonah prayed.  Finally, instead of rebelling, Jonah decided to talk with God.  God had been waiting and listening all along.

Jonah’s naked rebellion could not have been clearer.  God ordered him to walk east to Nineveh.  Jonah sailed west to Tarshish.  A less merciful God could have justly burned Jonah alive on the dock.  God was not obligated to indulge Jonah’s resistance and revolt.

Too often we take our privilege with God for granted.  Men and women respond to God’s commandments and direction with willfulness and defiance.  Then we have the nerve to be surprised and offended when things do not go our way.

Are you ready to speak with God yet?  Are you not tired of your fruitless attempt(s) to flee Him?  Has His discipline not penetrated your willfulness yet?

God patiently waits for you to turn and speak with Him.  Despite it all, He loves you.  No matter what you did or said before, He is waiting for you to come to Him and speak.

Maybe you are angry.  Perhaps you are scared.  You might be confused.  No matter where you are, stop and talk to Father-God.

Like any good father, He is waiting for His beloved child to talk to Him.  The creator of the universe is waiting for you to speak.  Here and now is a perfect time to let Him hear from you.

Think:       When I get tired of my rebellion, God is ready to listen.

Pray:         “Lord, thank you for listening to me.”

 

Copyright © February 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

Prepared Belly

Prepared Belly by Kirk Hunt

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17 NKJV

The fish, large enough to swallow a man (or woman) whole, met Jonah at the appointed time and place.  The belly, prepared by God, gave an intimate residence to God’s prophet.  For 72 hours, Jonah had the time and opportunity to consider who is in charge of whom.

Moses stood before a burning bushElijah heard a still, small voiceAn angel appeared to Gideon.  To men and women who are not resisting Him, God speaks and they give their attention readily.  For those who resist Him, God creates circumstance that command your attention.

Keep in mind that resisting God is not the same thing as rejecting God.  Jonah, as a prophet had accepted his calling from God.  Still the prophet decided to be disobedient and resistant to God’s will.  Jonah decided he did not want to be obedient regarding Nineveh, but did not reject God altogether.  Jonah wanted his own way and to retain his place and privilege with God.

In the belly of the fish, God gave Jonah the time and space to consider his decisions and choices.  God prepared a place and (cramped) space for Jonah to remember who is in charge of creation.  Under God’s gracious discipline, Jonah remembered that mere men ought to obey God the first time He speaks.

God’s discipline helps us remember who is supposed to obey whom.  The prepared belly of a circumstance is from God’s love and grace.  Take the opportunity to end your resistance to hear and obey Him.

Think:       Does God have my attention?  How might God command my attention?

Pray:         “Lord, I want to listen and attend to You, when You speak to me.”

 

Copyright © February 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

Fear And Reverence

Fear And Reverence by Kirk Hunt

So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.   Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.

Jonah 1:15–16 NKJV

Jonah hit the water and everything changed.  The murderous storm instantly dissipated.  The howling wind became a whispering breeze.  The towering waves that threatened to smash the hull vanished.  God’s demonstration of His naked power and command over creation invoked fear and reverence from the sailors.

Fear can be defined as “profound reverence and awe especially toward God.”  The sailors watched someone switch off a major tempest like flipping a switch.  That is not the action of a mere man or an accident.  The God who can do that has my awe, for sure.

Father-God loves us like a father.  Like any good father, He is often gentle and tender with us.  But God so much more than a mere father.

God’s power over all creation demands our awe.  His holiness deserves our reverence.  The level of awe and reverence you feel toward our all-powerful God should be overwhelming at times.  Call it fear if you must.  The sailors would.

They responded, the way I hope you respond, to seeing God’s power at its most unrestrained.  Reverent worship and awestruck adoration is the only reasonable response to all that God is and can do.  With a little more fear of God in his life, Jonah may not have wound up overboard.

Think:      Does God have my reverence?  Does God have my awe?

Pray:         “Lord, You are worthy of all of my awe and reverence.”

 

Copyright © January 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

Calm Your Storm

Calm Your Storm by Kirk Hunt

Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”   So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.

Jonah 1:14–15 NKJV
Please also read Jonah 1:1–17

Rank pagans trembled while God’s prophet stood in calm stillness.  The deck pitched violently as the storm continued to rage, threatening the lives of all aboard.  To restore calm, all the sailors had to do was throw a man overboard.

Jonah, a prophet of God, had attempted to flee from his calling and assignment.  God had sent him to Nineveh (see northern Iraq) but Jonah willfully tried to sail to Tarshish (far western Mediterranean).  The storm that enveloped the ship was only a small reflection of God’s judgment and displeasure with his disobedient man.

What task has God given you?  Are you working toward your assignment or trying to run away?  Following God’s purpose will lead to calm and peace.  Sin and rebellion will generate storms and turmoil in your soul.  And the people around you may have to suffer along with you.

God’s purpose is rarely the easy way, but there is always joyous calm on His path.  His love for us is great and He wants us to experience the blessings of obedience.  And there is love in His correction.  He will patiently and lovingly discipline you as long you think it is necessary.

Father-God loved Jonah too much to let him continue in sin and disobedience.  The sailors were ready to be obedient and save the ship and their lives.  Finally, Jonah decided he was ready to throw his sin and rebellion overboard.  Are you ready for calm in your soul?

Think:      What do I need to throw overboard to restore God’s calm in my life?

Pray:         “Lord, help me throw distraction, sin and error out of my life.”

 

Copyright © January 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

See With His Eyes

See With His Eyes by Kirk Hunt

Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.   

Judges 16:21 NKJV

After all of the damage Samson had inflicted on the Philistines, they took poetic revenge.  They put out his eyes, which led him once and again, into error and sin.  Then, the burner of fields made flour for his enemies (for the rest of his life).

Walking in a circle, in the darkness, Samson had time.  Time to think.  Time to remember.  Time to get serious with God.

Mortal men or women might have left Samson alone and defenseless, in the hands of his tormentors.  God instead came close, then embraced and spoke with the man he still loved.  Despite his rebellion and disobedience, Samson remained God’s beloved son.

Samson’s eyes were not restored, but his relationship with God was healed.  Alone among his enemies, he dwelled securely in the hands of the Most High.  A good father loves all of his children, not just the well-behaved ones.  A father loves most when he disciplines his children.

Look at yourself through God’s eyes.  He sees your sin.  He sees your error.  Still, He loves you.  As you serve your sentence, He looks out for you, even when you cannot (or will not) look out for yourself.

Samson served his prison sentence with Father-God at his side.  His eyes never looked away from Samson.  His eyes will never look away from you.  Are you looking to Him?

Think:      Despite my circumstances I can have relationship with God, if I choose Him.

Pray:         “Lord, forgive my sin.  Help me to draw close to you.”

 

Copyright © January 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.

He Did Not Know

He Did Not Know by Kirk Hunt

And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

Judges 16:20 NKJV

Samson woke up and engaged with his enemies, but he did not know.  As a man of God, he should have known that God’s Spirit and power had left him.  His education and experiences should have told him that he was being set up, again, by a betrayer.  He ran headlong into a trap and defeat.

Samson’s humiliation (and mutilation), at a minimum, should have impossible or at least more difficult.  Instead he has become a byword for wasted potential and squandered opportunity.  A man born a Nazarite ignored his upbringing.  Intended for greatness in God, he ended humbled in prison.

Samson used God’s power and strength through God’s mercy and grace.  God is full of love and tenderness for us, but He is also a God of justice and judgment.  God eventually moves against deliberate sin and error.  Psalm 103:9 warns us: He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.

So God withdrew from Samson.  He allowed Samson to operate without Him.  Deliberate sin and disobedience is a way of telling God you do not need Him or you know better.  And Samson learned the truth.

We have all sinned and fallen short.  After your error, do you repent and try to do better?  Do you deliberately sin again and assume God is still with you?  You may not know the truth when you start, but you will know at the end.

Think:      Do I know the truth of how close I am to God?

Pray:         “Lord, forgive my sin.  Help me to be Your obedient child and know Your truth.”

 

Copyright © January 2020, Kirk Hunt

This devotional is brought to you courtesy of CadreMen Press.  You can purchase a copy of Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals For Gospel Champions from your favorite bookseller or directly from CadreMen Press.