Shake It Off

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“Shake It Off” by Kirk Hunt

And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

Acts 28:5-6 KJV

“Shake it off.” The viper, unseen in the brush, bit Paul and injected its poison. Even in the continuing storm, the local residents of the island recognized the seriousness of the snake and its bite. They assumed Paul’s death would be momentary.

Any viper bite is a serious matter. In modern medicine, such a bite may require an amputation. The certainty of the ancient locals comes as no surprise .

“Shake it off.” Scripture doesn’t even record a prayer or comment by Paul at that moment. A few flicks of the wrist or elbow and the snake went in the fire.

Did it hurt? Probably. Should Paul have suffered sever harm from the bite? Definitely.

“Shake it off.” Scripture doesn’t hide or sugar-coat the truth. Even the best Christians suffer in this life. Don’t let your trials and tribulations get the better of you.

Let God’s power and Holy Spirit carry you through. It might hurt, but God will keep you from harm. Practice your prayers and shaking motions now.

Think: God has given me the grace and power to shake it off.

Pray: “Lord, in the Name of Jesus, help me to shake it off.”

Copyright © July 2009, Kirk Hunt

Paul’s Bite

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“Paul’s Bite” by Kirk Hunt

And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.

Acts 28:4 KJV

Consider the cast of characters in Paul’s traveling group: pagan sailors, heathen soldiers and criminals-in-custody. Surely, one of them “better deserved” a deadly, poison bite. Still, it is Paul’s hand that is injected with venom.

Paul’s bite represents the negative events and circumstances that happen, even to the most Godly men and women. The folks looking on may mis-understand why it happened to you. Unfortunately, other Christian saints can get it wrong as well.

Even the negative things in our lives happen with God’s permission. Perhaps He is correcting a weakness in you. Maybe He is building a strength into you. It’s possible you are an illustrated lesson for someone else. God has His purpose, even for this.

Whatever the reason, go through your circumstances with grace. Endure with patience. Measure the comments of bystanders with Scripture.

God has His reasons. Trust His all-knowing wisdom. Remember His unending love for you. Don’t forget to shake it off (v. 5).

Think: Jesus loves you no matter what is happening in your life.

Pray: “Lord, help me to trust You and Your plan for my life.”

Copyright © July 2009, Kirk Hunt

Strong But Not Hard

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“Strong But Not Hard” by Kirk Hunt

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Proverbs 12:10 KJV

The hard and uncaring approach to life is not a righteous one. Christian men and women may not be able to coddle everyone or everything, but there is a lifestyle of treating everyone and everything with as much grace as possible. There’s no good reason for harsh and heartless.

There’s a lot of difference between strong and hard. In fact, much of the time, hardness is a façade that tries to cover up weakness. Real strength delivers comfort and blessing.

Make no mistake, sometimes Christian men and women must take uncompromising stands. We sometimes choose to be unmoved and refuse every force that comes against us. That takes strength, but isn’t hard or uncaring.

Compassion can only be effective when there are the strength and resources to make a change. Grace can only flow through the hand of a servant who seeks to bless. Real reformers always offer an alternative, not condemnation.

Even a beast of burden deserves simple consideration. The ability to show compassion and mercy to the living souls around us stems from God-given strength. How strong are you?

Think: God gives us strength, not hardness.

Pray: “Lord, give me Your strength.”

Copyright © June 2009, Kirk Hunt

Jesus Loves Me

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“Jesus Loves Me” by Kirk Hunt

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 KJV

“Jesus loves me! This I know,

Because the Bible tells me so.”

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Loves_Me>

Many of us sang Jesus Loves Me as children. I’m certain more of us should sing it as adults. Perhaps constantly.

We make our relationship with Jesus too complicated. The complex theological terminology gets in the way. The simple truth is, Jesus loves you.

It doesn’t matter if your voice is high and squeaky or deep and rumbling. You could be strikingly slim or substantially sturdy. Jesus loves you.

Maybe your childhood wasn’t all that innocent. Perhaps your adulthood hasn’t been very pleasant. It does not matter. Jesus loved you then. Jesus loves you now.

Don’t let the events of your life or your past history confuse you. You are here because of Jesus’ love for you. He has a plan and purpose for your life that will astound you. A plan created out of His deep and limitless love for you.

What does the future hold? I wish I could tell you. All I can say for sure is that when you get to tomorrow, Jesus will love you then.

Think: Jesus loves you and me, but especially me.

Pray: “Lord, help me to always remember your love for me.”

Copyright © June 2009, Kirk Hunt

There Will Be Room

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“There Will Be Room” by Kirk Hunt

A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Proverbs 18:16 KJV

Sometimes, Christian men and women concern themselves with the relationship between giving and progress. “I have given so much. Where and how will I see the outcome?”

It’s only natural and human to be concerned. When you give of your time, talent and treasure, you want it to count for good. Even the most selfless among us want a good return on investment.

The word “gift” in verse 16 can be translated as “a present.” While Scripture condemns bribes, it encourages generosity. When is it a gift and not a bribe? What are the motives of your heart?

There will be room for you. In fact your generosity will place you in front of the important and influential. According to your gifts, not your bribes.

Give your gifts with all your heart. Be generous with your time, talent and treasure. God delights in rewarding those who sincerely and diligently serve Him.

Stand and deliver, right where you are. Bless and benefit those who are close to hand. If you are giving from your heart, God will ensure there is room for you.

Think: God rewards those who give themselves in His service.

Pray: “Lord, help me to give generously of myself.”

Copyright © June 2009, Kirk Hunt

God’s Blessing (Jacob)

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“God’s Blessing (Jacob)” by Kirk Hunt

Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.

Genesis 31:41-42 KJV

“For every Jacob, there is a Laban.” I grew up hearing that phrase, and it never had a fixed meaning. Usually, it was a warning. Sometimes, it was an admonishment. On occasion, it was a comfort.

Jacob, the trickster, met more than his match in Uncle Laban. For 20 years, Jacob lived life in the negative uncertainty of what trick or swindle would hit next. I’m certain the irony was not lost on the man who robbed his own twin brother.

At the end of their time together, Jacob returned home, wealthy, blessed and protected by God. Not because of Jacob’s power or brains, but because of God’s faithfulness and provision. Not even Laban’s cunning is a match for God’s sovereign will.

God didn’t save Jacob from the consequences of his actions. Still, Jacob lived a fruitful, blessed and blessing life. Because Jacob learned to live a Godly life.

No matter what you’re living through, you can live in God’s blessing. Your way may not be easy, but it can still be blessed. And that something not even “Laban” can take away.

Think: God’s blessing is stronger than any thing else.

Pray: “Lord, help me live life Your way.”

Copyright © June 2009, Kirk Hunt

Finding Bethel

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“Finding Bethel” by Kirk Hunt

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Genesis 28:18-19 KJV

Jacob levered his granite mattress upright. Reverently, he used the ceremony for dedicating an altar to mark it as a holy memorial. Suddenly, a blank spot at the side of the road became a holy shrine.

“Beth-el” means “the house of God.” A place where God lives is precious. We underestimate the number of places that God can dwell.

Too often, we expect that in the hard, difficult places of our lives, we have been abandoned by God. Jacob, as a fugitive and exile, likely thought himself a long way from God. Instead, he met God in a miraculous and awe-inspiring way.

The place where you stand is Beth-el. Despite your hardship. With the tears and sorrow. You are in the presence of an all-powerful God, who loves you more than even you know.

No matter what is going on, God is nearby. Settle down and listen. Even a stone pillow becomes a comfort in the presence of God.

Think: Any place can be come God’s place.

Pray: “Lord, help me to listen for You, wherever I am.”

Copyright © May 2009, Kirk Hunt

Jacob’s Victory

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“Jacob’s Victory” by Kirk Hunt

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

Genesis 28:10-11 KJV

Jacob arranged the rocks, just so. Alone and on the run, he enjoyed the luxury of sleeping on stone. On top of his restful bed, he had the comfort of his most recent victory.

Earlier that week, if not that day, Jacob successfully swindled his father to get Esau’s blessing. Years earlier, he had cheated his twin brother out of his birthright in the first place. Jacob had won.

Of course, Jacob’s victory meant he would not see his father or mother again for 20 years. His brother had sworn a death oath against him. Alone and friendless, he fled the family homestead like a common criminal.

Jacob had used fraud, deceit and trickery to get what he wanted. God had already promised that he would become a great man and nation. Instead of seeking out God’s direction and wisdom, Jacob orchestrated his own victory.

What God has promised, He will deliver. In joy. With peace. Without trickery. Without cheating.

Who’s victory do you want? Yours or God’s? One involves peace and joy, the other a stone mattress.

Think: Am I doing it my way, or God’s way?

Pray: “Lord, guide me in Your way and path. I want Your victory, not my own.”

Copyright © May 2009, Kirk Hunt

Care and Provide

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“Care and Provide” by Kirk Hunt

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

1 Timothy 5:8 KJV

“Can Suzy Mae1 our niece, come live us?”

It had been years since there was an infant in my life. I have to confess, the question echoed theatrically in my head. Still, before I could form a full thought, the Holy Spirit arrived.

“This is your chance to live out what you write and teach.”

It ought to be hard to say “no” to a helpless baby. It is hard to say “no” to the Holy Spirit. Especially when it’s phrased that way.

Suzy Mae arrived with a paper bag of baby stuff and an enormous need for love and care. She needed us. The things we do for family.

In the end, we were a blessing. Not just to Suzy Mae, but to her parents. And everyone else who watched the situation.

Sometimes, it’s harder with family than anyone else. Still, you do the hard tasks out of love. Is there another reason?

Think: Am I doing a good job of caring and providing for my family?

Pray: “Lord, help me to bless my natural and spiritual family, out of love and obedience.”

Copyright © May 2009, Kirk Hunt

1Suzy Mae is a fictional name for a precious young girl.

Pray For Them

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“Pray For Themby Kirk Hunt

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:44-45 KJV

There it is. Red ink on white paper. Our Savior, Himself, commands us to bless and pray for the very people causing us the most pain.

Perhaps you’re like me. The very idea seems beyond your grasp. Certainly, the willingness is sorely lacking.

The idea really isn’t that hard. The level of effort needed isn’t beyond you. What matters is your ability to be obedient.

Your ego and emotions whisper like little devils against obedience. The actual hurts and slights beg for eyes and teeth as compensation. The common wisdom screams for revenge and retaliation.

Despite all of that, you know what you should do. Give forgiveness. Deliver graciousness. Pour kindness.

It may be wooden and awkward at first. That’s okay. Even clumsy obedience pleases God.

Think: God calls us to forgiveness and graciousness.

Pray: “Lord, help me to forgive, and bless, the difficult people in my life.”

Copyright © May 2009, Kirk Hunt

Answer The Call

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“Answer The Call” by Kirk Hunt

Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

1 Samuel 3:9-10 KJV

The God of eternity opened a door in time and space and stepped into young Samuel’s life. A little child became a national leader because he said “yes” to God. So began the ministry of one of the most important of the Old Testament Prophets.

Christians tend to make calling more complicated than it is. God calls all of us to follow Him. Some of us are called to additional service in His Kingdom. The question is how we respond.

Samuel could have refused to acknowledge God’s Voice. We are not machines or robots. God allows men and women to choose whether or not to accept Him. Samuel made the right choice. What choices have you made?

Step one is hearing the call. God is already calling you. Are you listening?

Calling happens. No circumstance, age or situation makes you immune. You may not think much of what you can do, but God works through the most unlikely men and women. All it takes is faith in God’s power and a willingness to answer God’s call with “yes.”

Think: Everyone is called. How will I respond?

Pray: “Lord, help me to say “yes” to Your Will and Way for my life.”

Copyright © April 2009, Kirk Hunt

Saints Share

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“Saints Share” by Kirk Hunt

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 KJV

Real friends and true family are glad for your good news. They try to pry every little detail of your victory out of you. When they tell others, the sincere tone in their voice makes you think it happened to them, and for them.

Genuine friends and loyal family grieve with you over your bad news. They sit in silent watch with you or listen patiently as you explain, over and again. They share in your hurt and woe, as if it were their own.

Loneliness and isolation is the ironic tragedy of our digital age. With so many different ways to communicate, we connect less than ever. The one exception ought to be Christians.

The body of Christ, the Church, shares. Good and bad. Woe or weal.

It’s only a matter of time until you have news: good or bad. When it happens, it’s better if you share. Call your Christian friends and Gospel family. Let it all out.

Kith and kin, especially the Gospel variety, are always there for you. Authentic family and friends will share the load or lead the parade. Reach out. Today.

Think: Real saints share the good and the bad.

Pray: “Lord, help me to hold up others, and accept their support in return.”

Copyright © April 2009, Kirk Hunt