Tis The Gift To Be Simple

This Week’s Key Verses:  2 Chronicles 34 (NIV) Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left….

Written by Valerie Fay
Written by Valerie Fay

One morning, about a month ago, I sat down to read God’s word and began at Isaiah 63. I got to verse 19 … “We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name,” and stopped to ask, is this the state of our society today? Not just American society but it seems that all nations have cast away restraint; they have broken the yoke and burst the bonds, turned their back to God and follow in the path of utter iniquity.

I continued reading … Isaiah 65:1-2, “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call on My name. 2 “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts …”

And I remembered July 1979. This was me – and Isaiah 65:1 was one of the very first scriptures the Lord spoke to my spirit after I found Jesus. Not that I found Him – He sought me out and circled me with His love. He tracked me down and stood before me waiting for my response. He opened my eyes and I saw He was alive; He opened my mouth and drew me to my knees to acknowledge my sin.

And my sin was not an act but a state, an attitude, what I believed and how I lived. I was my own god, I did what seemed right in my own eyes. To look at me you would think I had it all together; there was no deep gash in my heart, no brokenness in my life. I had not tasted failure – rather I as far back as I could remember I had achieved success in whatever small endeavor I had undertaken. Or so it seemed. I only looked the part, I was clothed in the garments of this world but they covered an empty shell and heart of stone. I did not know that I was lost. I did not see that I was blind. I thought I had no need of God. And I certainly had no passion for the One who died for me.

Oh, the grace of God who calls the one who does not stop to seek His face – who speaks His Name into the ear of one who chooses to be deaf; the passion of Him who calls our name and does not stop until His words have left so deep an imprint upon our life. I ran the way of the world – He waited to bless, and come and make His home within my heart.

Remember the old Shaker song written by Joseph Brackett Jr, called Simple Gifts? This too was a song the Lord used in those early days of my walk with Him.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

When we are “in the place just right” we will find ourselves in the valley of delight, a place beyond any that we could dream or imagine.  When we give our self to re-focus on the one true God who loves us with a holy passion our heart is tuned to sing His song. Passion for Him is a gift God continues to give each and every day to all who receive it. And when we stray from the simple, when we are drawn to the complex and become entangled in theories and strategies this world offers, we become dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11), we live in half-light, the shadowlands where joy ebbs. But how wonderful to know that it is never too late to reach up and take the hand of Him who leads us to green pastures, laugh again and let Him sweep you off your feet and dance through life once more.

Valerie Fay

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

The Weight of Judgment

This Week’s Key Verses:  2 Chronicles 34 (NIV) Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left….

Written by Lynne German
Written by Lynne German

“It was a wrong judgment, as most judgments are,” Joseph Martin said, as he retold a story during our last session at his conference today.  His statement was so good that I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I had to write it down and give it to you.

I’ve been very blessed this week to attend the “Music in the Mountains” conference, led by world-renowned composer Joseph Martin.  We’d been singing choral scores all day long, every day this week, worshiping and learning together as we sang the songs God has given composers for the church and school.  Meeting and talking with the composers gives an entire new perspective to each piece, and what a blessing it was!   In our last session, Joseph Martin told us a story about a day he was waiting at the airport amidst very angry travelers whose Christmas flights had been delayed yet again.  In walked a guy with tattoos, very long hair, and a music case.  As the guy pulled out his guitar, Joseph tallied his judgment, and prepared himself for some very mediocre music.  He was totally surprised when the guy started playing Classical music with agility and skill, and then segued into other well-known songs.  The music quieted the angry voices, and its power totally rebooted and uplifted the atmosphere in that hangar area.   His first impression of this guy had been “a wrong judgment, as most judgments are.”

This story still hangs in my mind.  We can use the time God gives us in several ways:  invest it into the kingdom by living out God’s truth; spend it just for fun (vacations, movies), or waste it.  I work hard to use my time wisely and to work efficiently to accomplish the tasks God has given me to meet deadlines that accompany them, so that I have time to spend on my Sabbath of rest, relaxation, and fun with my family.  But one thing troubles me:  I still waste time.  My three biggest time-wasters are worry, complaining, and judgment.

Mathematically, if you come to a wrong conclusion because you began your equation with a false statement, you would be quite unwise to try using that equation again.  So if our judgments of others are wrong only half of the time, we are still serving a pretty poor statistic.  The worse part is that God promises us that He will allow us to be judged in the same manner that we judge.  That means every judgment we make of another person is like a new weight that we now carry in our lives.  Instead of using our energy for positive actions, we have now wasted precious energy by choosing to add a new weight to our backpacks that is also going to boomerang and will eventually hit us again on the journey.  Now, that’s a pretty big waste.

Can you imagine just one day on this earth with no judgments?  Don’t get me wrong, if you are the appointed judge (a teacher grading papers, an evaluator, a judge in the court of law), you need to judge with justice.  But unless judgment is our God-given job, we need to leave judgment to Him.  Imagine a day when no Christian judged someone else’s weight, hair (or lack thereof!), face, body, race, personality type, house, car, job, family, skill level, motives . . . and instead, used every second to love and pray for others . . . what power God could release into our world?   Jesus, God’s appointed Judge, carried every judgment in His body and the cross, and it has been crucified forever!  He didn’t leave anything for us to carry.

Christians, this is one of the reasons that we often lack power in our lives, and it is an area that we have sole power over.  Dear God, forgive us.  We sing about taking back what the enemy has stolen, but we have stolen judgment from You, causing us to live under Your judgment!   We release our foolish judgments, and ask to You to replace them with a fresh rain of Your love and presence in its fullness and power over our lives.  Oh, Lord, help free us of our self-inflicted burdens so we can dance in Your rain!  Amen, and amen! 

“God is the only Lawmaker and Judge.   He is the only One who can save and destroy.  So it is not right for you to judge your neighbor.” (James 4:12, NCV)

The Rain of Your Presence

Lynne German

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Mercy’s Triumph

This Week’s Key Verses:  2 Chronicles 34 (NIV) Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left….

Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer

On vacation I’ve been reading a book by John Arnott, The Importance of Forgiveness.  It’s actually more of a pamphlet, a small book but with huge subject matter and impact.

We have all been deeply wounded in our life. People hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t really matter, we all have many wounds we need healed in our lifetime. The starting place for healing though is forgiveness. We cannot receive the healing we so long for until we first receive the forgiveness of Christ we so desperately need and then hold forth that same forgiveness to others. Several weeks ago in his sermon Steve said, “Forgiveness is simply receiving the love of Jesus and then extending it to others.” It sounds simple, and in theory it is.

But, too often we demand justice. We have been wronged, we have been maligned and we have been lied to. We have been genuinely hurt and we want satisfaction for the pain we have endured.

I love the verse “mercy triumphs over judgment.” But, what does that mean?

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12-14)

James is reminding us that to be found innocent by the standard of the law we are responsible for keeping the whole law. We cannot keep just one or two commandments and believe we will be found not guilty. And, the same standard we use to judge others will be used with us. Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. 

As, I’ve been reading this book faces of people I have been hurt by have been floating through my mind. People I know the Spirit is prompting me to forgive. It’s surprising to me to realize that ones I thought I had forgiven are popping up.  But sometimes that is the nature of forgiveness— we must exercise it over and over until we are clear in our hearts.

As I have been forgiving people this week I have found myself filled with joy. As I am releasing ones I have held in bondage with my unforgiveness I am finding myself set free.

Mercy does triumph over judgment.  

The kingdom of God is not about keeping religious rules and regulations; it is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). That joy is something you and I have as we live and remain in the place of mercy.”  John Arnott

Jane Keller

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

I See You

Monday Marvels Edition – August 8, 2016

chattHOP_logo-smsqLike the Chattanooga House of Prayer, KPC’s desire is to ignite the passion and action of the Body of Christ for “sustained and unified prayer, worship, and outreach.” ChattHOP has enthusiastically agreed to share their weekly blog with us. It is our hope that Monday Marvels will enrich our prayer lives and challenge us, as a family, to expand our borders in worship and outreach. We encourage you to visit the ChattHOP site (here) to discover fresh ways we can bring our KPC vision to Hampton Roads.

My friend has a way of using just three words to speak life into those around her, and I’m not talking about “I love you.” I can think of few other phrases, that at the moment uttered, evoke such a breadth of responses – those of feeling comforted, affirmed and settled as well as mildly self-conscious, awkward and perhaps a tad horrified.

I see you.

That’s it. Three simple words.

Not the “I see you” to a child who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Rather, “I see you, and you haven’t gone unnoticed by me.” There is the implication that your heart and your actions, your very existence and being – has been recognized, validated and called out.

I’m seen.

Thank you for noticing.

Young and old alike have an innate need to be seen. By instinct, newborns lock eyes with their caregivers; young children are unashamed in demanding attention, “Look at me! Watch this!” Among family and in friendships, between those in love, and even daily interactions with strangers, a sincere “turning towards” and intentional eye contact communicate as deeply and profoundly as many words. By God’s creative design, he has so equipped the human body unto intimate relationships, that upon seeing – not just a quick glance but truly looking into the eyes – chemicals are released in our brains that bind our hearts to one another. Being seen is essential to being known, and being known opens the heart for trust, connection, and the giving and receiving of love. Loving requires seeing.

Not surprising then, one of the many names of God – each revealing something eternally true about Him – is

El Roi – The God who sees.

This name was given to God by a young, pregnant, runaway slave, Hagar, who found the God who found her somewhere in the middle of nowhere. “You are the God who sees me,” she said. “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16) And this facet of God’s character is found in scripture time and time again. This unchanging God, the one who designed the eye itself, is the God who sees, and knowing we are seen by a loving God can change everything.

Consider Hannah. She had the love and favor of her husband, Elkanah. Likewise, she had the torment of her rival, Peninnah. Hannah could not escape the constant reminder, year after year, that she was barren, unable to bear children as Elkanah’s other wife had done. The deep desire of her heart lay lifeless, seemingly entombed, in a wasted womb.

“Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?” Her husband would ask.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12)

She had grown beyond weary in wanting a child, along with the significance, dignity, fulfilment and honor a child would surely bring. She needed rest – rest from her rival’s constant irritation, incessant provocation, and taunting accusation – which she now almost firmly internalized and believed: I’ve been overlooked, dismissed and less favored by God Himself.

“Peninnah had children. Hannah had none.”  Peninnah had children. Hannah had none. Hannah had none. Hannah had none…


After many years of living among this other woman and all of her children, it seemed as if Peninnah – this fruitful, thorny vine – would eventually wrap herself around Hannah’s throat, choking out her last breath – had it not been for one more pleading prayer.

It is at this place that we find her in the temple, in anguish and crying out – accused of being a drunk woman – mouth moving, voice unheard. Wordless prayers poured out in ceaseless weeping, her stomach as empty as her womb, her prayers as potent as her desperation.

I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord….I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” (1 Samuel 1:15)

Desperation begins to bargain: Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…” (1 Samuel 1:11)

Pause. Wait. What? Hannah! Do you mean after ALL of THIS, you are saying that if God gives you the very thing you have cried out for all these years, you will just turn around and give the Answer away?!

And that she did.

God answered her cry. She became pregnant, weaned the young Samuel and presented her living sacrifice to Eli the Priest to serve in the temple. She gave him to the One who gave him to her.

I never understood this until I realized that it wasn’t all about getting the thing longed for.

It was about being seen.

“Lord, Almighty, if you will only look… remember… and not forget me…”

Lord, do you see me? Lord, do you remember me? Lord, have you forgotten me?

Hannah longed for a son, but the unmet desire evoked a deeper, primal longing:

Hannah needed to know that she was seen and not forgotten by God Himself.

In my smallness, my barren places, unfulfilled longings, and prayers-in-waiting, I cry out like Hannah: “I need to know that You see me, God.” Just as significant as having my prayers answered, is knowing that I have the attention, the eye, of the God to whom I am praying. The enemy would taunt me to lose hope in the waiting and in the One upon whom all my hope is set. Quite honestly, the importance of the thing longed for fades in light of a more haunting fear: I have been overlooked, unheard and forgotten by God, Himself.

But I am not forgotten and neither are you.

He says, “I see you.” And His eyes filled with mercy and love. (Psalm 34:15, Psalm 33:18)

“Behold the One beholding you and smiling.” (Anthony de Mello as quoted by Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart)

Micki Ann Harris, Director of The ChattHOP Prayer Room

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

The Children of God

This Week’s Key Verses: Luke 9:47-48 (NIV) Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Written by Pastor Neil Ellison
Written by Pastor Neil Ellison

Please read Genesis 21:1-8; Matthew 18:1-6.

Throughout scripture we see how children are beloved of God. They are a precious gift. (Psalm 127:3; Genesis 4:1; 33:5; Isaiah 8:18) It is amazing to think that we are known by God even before the creation of the world (Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15) for we are created by Him. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Also, we see that the children of Israel are chosen by God to be His people, and He will be their God. (Exodus 29:43-46). There is a sense here that they become God’s special children. Jesus uses the title of Father in relation to Israel as He speaks to the Samaritan woman. (John 4:21-23)

In like manner, we, as believers, become the adopted children of God. (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-7). Jesus Himself directed His disciples and us to call God “our Father.”(Luke 11:2 KJV)   We see references where God is referred to as our “loving heavenly Father.” (Luke 11:13)

As we reflect on God’s great love for children, we see God’s great love for us. Jesus Himself expressed it in these terms:

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

How might you pray today in response to God’s great love for you? What will you say to Him? What might He say to you? Try writing it down. If you do not already, try keeping a journal of your prayers.

Pastor Neil

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Two Years Old

This Week’s Key Verses: Luke 9:47-48 (NIV) Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer

“I feel like I’m a two-year-old child, Lord.

I’m the center of my own tiny world.

My ignorance outweighs my knowledge, and when I see something new, I’m filled with wonder.

Even though You always give me what’s best, I stamp my feet in rage or cry with grief if I don’t get my way.

But I lift my hands to You and say, “I’m sorry, Daddy; pick me up!”

And You lift me up into your lap and wrap Your arms around me, and tell me that You love me.

I beg for a story, and You teach me gently about Yourself, and repeat the same stories because I can’t seem to remember them well.

You remind me that even though I don’t understand things, I can always depend on Your love for me.

And I peacefully fall asleep in Your arms.”

I wrote that bit of prose a couple of years ago, when I was feeling particularly incompetent and unspiritual. Now, with a two-year-old in temporary residence in my home, I am constantly seeing her behavior and recognizing my spiritual self. It seems that the more I grow, the smaller I feel! Fortunately, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3, 4)

The Pharisees might be considered the “Bible-thumpers” of the Jewish world during Jesus’ time on earth. One would think that their desire for purity and strict observance of the Law would put them on God’s good side, particularly because the Israelites had been dispersed when they had turned from God’s ordinances. It’s true God calls us to follow His Way and to be pure, but He desires the right attitudes along with that desire, or it just becomes legalism. The desire to know God better so as to increase one’s power over others is not the same as desiring to know God because of love for Him and wonder at Him.

God looks at our motivations, not just our actions. Of Pharisaism and Christianity compared, Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “It was a leading aim of the Redeemer to teach men that true piety consisted not in forms, but in substance; not in outward observances, but in an inwards spirit; not in small details, but in great rules of life. The whole system of Pharisaic piety led to exactly opposite conclusions. Under its influence ‘the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith’ (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42) were undervalued and neglected…”

I encourage you to study the Word, to pray, and exhibit all of the other virtues that we are called to as Christians. But, as you do, keep in mind that

“You [God] do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51: 16, 17)

Kathy Koenig

To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.