Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crisis Praying

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.  (Colossians 4:2 NLT)

   During the Korean War I was stationed at Mare Island Naval shipyard in Vallejo, California.  I found it sad but interesting to listen to the "old salts", as we called them, telling stories about crisis praying.  What do we mean by crisis praying?

   Crisis praying takes place when life and limb are in extreme danger.  If you've watched the movie, Run Silent, Run Deep, you know the submariners were under heavy depth charge attack by the Japanese Navy.  You could see men with heads bowed, lips moving, fingers crossed, and dead silent.  They were in a crisis praying mode.

   The Apostle Paul reveals his heart for prayer in each of his Epistles.  To the Thessalonians he says, "Do not stop praying" (1 Thess. 5:17)  The disciples were told by Jesus to "watch and pray that you fall not into temptation." .

   Are you watching and praying?  Make every day a day of prayer and you will avoid the crisis praying mode.  

Thought for the Day: God is a crisis solver, but desires continual communication with you.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Awesomeness of God's Creation

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way. (Genesis 1:31)

   We often stand and sing "I Stand in Awe of You" and other hymns of worship.

   Recently I spent some time on Mount Titlus near Lucerne, Switzerland; the beauty of the snow covered peaks was breathtaking.  I stood in silence and wondered at the scene before me.  No words were adequate to describe the awesomeness of the event.

   Do you stand in awe of God's creative power?  Do you thank him that you are wonderfully complex (Psalm 139:14) and made in his image?  As an act of worship, list six evidences of God's creative excellence that you see every day.  This should prompt you to say, "What an awesome God!"

Thought for the Day: God's creation is unsurpassed in beauty and excellence.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4 NLT).

   Twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Solomon refers to time.  Most of use are enslaved to time.  We jump out of bed in the morning to the buzzing of an alarm clock.  After a quick breakfast we race to work in order to get there in time to punch the time clock.  Once there, we take our break and eat lunch according to the companies' set time.  Then we depart when the whistle blows at the designated time.  Doesn't it seem like "time" is our master.

   God is not regulated by time.  He is beyond time -- timeless.  Prior to the account in Genesis there was no time.  Time is related to man, not God.  When we arrive in eternity there will once again be no time.  Time will cease to exist once man is off this earth.

   Aren't you glad that God is not enslaved by time?  I am so glad that He is the master of time and not mastered by time.  What a joy it is to serve a timeless Savior!

Thought for the Day: The time will come when there will be not time -- just the Savior.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him.  (Hebrews 11:17)

   When trials and tests come into our lives we are tempted to say, Life just isn't fair!  This statement should not come as a surprise because to tell you the truth --- Life isn't fair.  You aren't going to find fairness while living in a broken world.  The sin of disobedience by our forefathers in the Garden of Eden threw the entire world into a state of unfairness and brokenness.

   God told Abraham to get packed and move, but he didn't tell him where -- Abraham moved.  Then God made promises to him, but didn't tell him when -- he patiently waited.  This was followed by an impossible situation of bearing a son at 99 years of age and God didn't tell him how.  Finally, after Isaac is born God told Abraham to sacrifice (kill) him and didn't tell him Why.  In every situation Abraham obeyed God without question.

   As true believers are we willing to follow God's leadership even when we don't know where, when, how, or why?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Favorite Father

The Angel said, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary.  For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  (Matthew 1:20-21 NLT)

   There are several reasons why I have to admire Joseph, Mary's fiance.  He did not get all bent out of shape when he learned that his young bride-to-be was pregnant.  He simply decided to break the engagement quietly.  When the Angel appeared to him and explained the situation he graciously accepted the news and went ahead with the marriage.  I find it noteworthy the the Angel told Joseph that he was the one to name the newborn baby, Jesus.

    I also have to admire the way he trained the boy, Jesus in his carpenter shop.  The writer to Hebrews says,
So even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
I have no doubt that Jesus suffered splinters, black and blue fingers, and cuts from the work that he did in his father's shop.

   It is through the hardships of life that we learn the true meaning of faith and trust.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cozy by the Fire

The guards lit a fire in the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.  (Luke 22:55 NLT)

   Peter always seemed to say the wrong thing and be at the wrong place.  On the mountaintop he wanted to build three tabernacles -- one each for Jesus, Moses,  and Elijah.  God spoke and put a stop to that idea.  God said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased, listen to him (Matthew 17:5).  In the courtyard by the fire, Peter denied knowing Jesus -- even with a curse.

   I can remember times when I reacted much like Peter.  Speaking and acting impetuously.  Sometimes harsh words flowed from my lips -- hurtful words, bitter accusations, falsehoods, and openly rebellious words.

   Jesus modeled the example he wants you and me to follow.  He showed love and compassion to a woman caught in the act of adultery.  After the Pharisees had left, Jesus straightened up and said, "Woman, where are your accusers?  Did no one accuse you?"  She said, "No one, Lord."  And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either.  Go.  From now on sin no more" (John 8:10-11).

   This speaks volumes to me.  How I need to allow the love of Christ to control my words and actions

   Paul tells us to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."  Don't get too cozy by the fire, danger lurks there!  Just ask Peter.

Thought for the Day: We are the only Bible that some people will ever see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cost of Discipleship

If you want to be my disciple you must hate everyone else by comparison -- your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters -- yes, even your own life.  Otherwise you cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

   Today's Bible reading is emphasizing two distinct principles.  The first principle requires each of us to count the cost of discipleship.  No man enters into a business partnership without first sitting down, devising a plan, and counting the cost.  Such factors as product desirability, market needs, work force and labor costs, salesmanship, etc.  In the spiritual life, God wants you and me to first count the cost and see if we are willing to give every area of our lives to him.  Are we willing to leave all and follow him?  The disciples gave up their lucrative fishing careers.  Matthew gave up his tax collecting job, and Paul, his heritage and position as a Pharisee.  What are you willing to give up in order to follow Jesus?

   The second principle that I believe is embedded in the words of Luke 14:26 is that of being willing.  God is looking for willingness on the part of his followers.  Sometimes this is called availability.  Just be willing.  We can't hang onto the world and cling to Jesus at the same time.  Something has to go.  Are you willing to give up all your personal ambitions, your possessions, your friends and family in order to be Jesus' disciple?

   Moses counted the cost and ended up leading an entire nation.  Joshua counted the cost and led the Israelites into the promise land.  David counted the cost and slew the giant.  Elijah counted the cost and defeated the prophets of Baal.

   Have you counted the cost of discipleship?

Thought for the Day: The cost of discipleship is no more than was asked of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cosmetic Makeovers

Your adornment must not be merely external -- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  (1 Peter 3:3-4 ASV)

   The old adage: "beauty is only skin deep" certainly isn't part of the marketing strategy of the cosmetic industry today.  Television advertising promotes beauty as the pinnacle of success using gorgeous women with shiny swishing hair, smooth silk like skin, seductive eye shadow and colorful lip patterns.

   This reminds me of a problem facing wives during the time of the Apostle Peter.  They tried to win their husbands to Christ by using the cosmetic approach.  They plaited their hair, wore designer clothes, and obtained fancy makeovers, but apparently husbands were not impressed.  Christ was not honored.

   Peter said, not so fast ladies, don't be concerned about the outward beauty, instead work on the inside and let the beauty residing in the heart shine forth.  Fancy hairstyles won't win your husbands over.  Expensive gold jewelry won't turn them to Christ.  Nagging? -- forget it.  That will only turn them further away from the Lord.

   Peter's instructions to them were: "clothe yourselves with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is precious to God.  Let the love of Christ flowing through your spirit win them over.  Be gentle, kind, obedient, understanding, patient, and loving."  These are the qualities that God uses to bring lost souls to himself.

   Are you living with an unsaved mate?  What are you doing to win him or her to Christ?  Are you obedient, gentle, loving, patient, and kind?  This is the successful formula for winning lost souls to Christ.  Worldly fashions will fail.

Thought for the Day: God's adornments are the result of the Spirit's gentle work within.

Monday, June 20, 2011


So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9 NET)

   One of the believer's greatest struggles in his daily walk is consistency.  To be consistent one must set a course and refuse to deviate from it.

   Although Jesus modeled consistency, his disciples often failed to show it in their lives.  Peter was a prime example of inconsistency.  On one occasion he made the statement I will never deny you and then turned around and denied the Lord three times.  How do we fare in this area of our lives?

   We can learn a lot about inconsistency by studying the lives of Old Testament patriarchs like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.  On the other hand Joseph, Moses, Nehemiah, and Esther lived consistent lives.
One of the best ways to live consistent lives is to make sure you keep the promises that you make.

Thought for the Day: God is consistent in keeping his promises.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Compulsory Offerings

They must then bring a guilt offering to the priest, who will present it before the Lord.  This offering must be a ram with no physical defects or the animal's equivalent value in silver.  The priest will then make atonement for them before the Lord, and they will be forgiven.  (Leviticus 6:6-7 NLT)

   My wife makes a savory dish called Sweet and Sour meatballs.  It is a combination of meatballs, pineapple chunks, and Sweet and Sour Sauce served over rice.

   The Israelites received instructions for sweet-savor offerings and non sweet-savor offerings.  The two non-sweet savor offerings were required when sin had broken their fellowship with God.  The guilt offering paved the way for restoration from the sins of touching an unclean object, making a foolish vow, cheating or fraud, while the trespass offering caused sins of injury to God and others to be forgiven.

   What do a dented fender, cracked windshield, and a white spot in your favorite pair of dark pants have in common?  (Hint: they have nothing to do with your spouse!)  Give up?  All three act as reminders of less than favorable experiences:  the yellow pole in Wal-Mart's parking lot that ran into your car, the rock the truck slung at your windshield, and the Clorox that splashed unto your pants.

   God has given each of us unpleasant memories to remind us of our sinfulness.  None of them are a sweet fragrance to God because sin is never sweet to him.  Sin requires repentance, forgiveness, and restitution.  In response to confession God says, "He has removed our sin as far from us as the east is from the west."  (Psalm 103:12 NASV)

   Have you given God a non sweet-savor offering lately?  God is always ready to listen to our complaints, forgive us for our sins, and restore the joy of salvation in our souls.

Thought for the Day: Non sweet-savor offerings are a mandatory requirement for sin.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Compelled to Share Christ

Seeing the people, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ASV)

   Have you ever struggled to turn a conversation to spiritual things?

   Years ago I was engaged in door-to-door evangelism.  It was my worst nightmare.  I was so afraid of rejection.  When someone opened the door and said, "What do you want," I shook in my boots. I told the Lord,  "I'm not cut out for this."  He replied, "I will be with you."

   Do you feel compelled to share Christ?  What can you do?  Here are a few suggestions:  Hold a dinner for six in your home.  Invite unsaved neighbors and friends.  Let them see Christ in you.  Start a Good News club in your neighborhood or school.  Find some gospel tracts and put them in each bill paying envelope.  When you eat out leave a nice tip inside a gospel tract.  Volunteer your time in a local thrift shop for the poor.  Help with Meals on Wheels at a local senior citizens center.  Visit a nursing home for the aged.  A big smile and encouraging words will go a long way to make their day brighter.

   Now is the time for compelling boldness.  Step out by faith.  The key is to be on the lookout for opportunities of service in your local community.  It's not so much how much you do -- just do something.

Thought for the Day: God's promise to be with you is still valid for today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Will it be today, Lord?

Therefore Jesus said, For a little while longer I am with you.  Then I go to Him who sent me.  (John 7:33)

   Are we there yet?  How I dreaded hearing those words from my kids as we drove along the highway leading to Niagara Falls.  How do you explain time and distance to a child?  My normal response was, "It's only a little farther."  The normal cliches don't work well with children.  They might satisfy for a few minutes, and then I would hear it again, "How much longer?  When will we get there?"

   I"m sure Jesus had the same problem with his disciples.  Near the end of his earthly stay he said, "For a little longer I am with you, then I go to see him who sent me.  You will seek me, and will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come."  (John 7:33-34 NASV)  Jesus said he'd be gone for awhile but would return.  What do ;you suppose the disciples were thinking?  Wondering?  Were they confused, skeptical, doubting, discomfited, or in denial?

   How many times in my life have I been in denial?  Denying the existence of a given truth doesn't make it less true.  Denial only prolongs the agony of facing up to the truth.  Jesus said, "I am going away, but I will return." Do I really believe that promise, or am I living in a state of denial?  If I truly believe, then I will be living in anticipation of his return.  Every day when I wake up the question will be on my lips, "Will it be today, Lord?"

   Are you patiently waiting for the Lord?  Jesus said, "Occupy till I come."  We need to be busy serving him while we are waiting.

Thought for the Day: There has never been a time when God did not fulfill his promises.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comforting Others

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  (2 Corinthians 1:3)

   The older we get the more comforts we desire.  We used to enjoy camping, sleeping in a tent, roughing it in the   wilderness, but now we want a motel with elevators, a king size bed, a TV, and a free, hot continental breakfast.  Oh. where has the pioneer spirit gone?

   In the Scriptures, God presents a different perspective on comfort.  He isn't concerned with plush surroundings and creature comforts.  His comfort is in the spiritual realm rather than the physical.  James 1:23 says, "Count it all joy, my brethren, (when) you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."

   Human comfort comes with a hug, holding of hands, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness.  God never promises to removed all difficulties, pain, and suffering, but he does promise to stand with us in our hours of trial.

   As you embrace Him -- He embraces you.  What a wonderful mutual promise.  Have you felt his loving arms around you?  Worship him by thanking him for his divine comfort.

Thought for the Day: Jesus is the God of all comfort and stands beside you in times of trial.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Come and See

Then John's two disciples turned and followed Jesus.  Jesus looked around and saw them following.  "What do you want?" he asked them.  (John 1:37-38)

   When I spend time in devotions, I need to answer the same question Jesus asked Andrew and John, "What are you seeking?"

   Am I coming to him seeking material or spiritual blessings?  What is my greatest need today?  Is it greater knowledge, fellowship, understanding, assurance, or forgiveness?

   What did the disciples who followed Jesus want from him?  What were they seeking?  Jesus obviously wanted to know what was on their hearts.  That's why he asked the question, "What do you want?"  (John 1:38 NLT)

   The disciples asked, "Where are you staying?"  A time may come when we'll really need you and want to know how to get in touch with you.  Do you have a 911 emergency ;number?  Are you available 24/7, or do we need to take a number and wait in line?

   Jesus responded by saying, "Come and see."  The invitation is given for John and Andrew to become partakers of his life's work.  The same invitation comes to you and me today to join his team of harvest workers.  Jesus told his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields."  (Matthew 9:37,38 NLT)

   What are you seeking?  Is it to be a harvest workers?  Are you willing to give up the luxuries of this life to follow the Savior?  Will you give Jesus your time, energy, and abilities to meet the needs of the worldwide harvest?  Jesus says, "Come and see."

Thought for the Day: Workers are needed to sow the seed and harvest the souls.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Colorful Signs

I have placed my rainbow in the clouds.  It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and all the earth.  Genesis 9:13

   Children delight in rainbows.  The arch of colors filtering through the clouds bring exclamations of joy.

   As we approached the town of Frisco on the way home from our vacation in Colorado, the boys in the back seat shouted, "Dad pull over and look at that beautiful rainbow."  Sure enough, there was the arch of a colorful rainbow.  We could see both ends of the arch, and I recalled what my mother used to tell me as a child.  "Bob, there's a pot of gold at one end of the rainbow." I surely would love to have that pot of gold, and there was the end of the rainbow sitting right on top of the Pizza Hut restaurant.  To my boys the pot of gold was a Pepperoni and Cheese pizza.  "Let's go get that pot of gold," they shouted.

   Sometimes we see God's promises reflected in other ways.  When I was in Bible school we were down to our last can of baby Lima beans, the only thing in the house to eat.  God provided the next meal by putting a five dollar bill in my mailbox.  On another occasion I made a stupid subtraction mistake in my checkbook, but found that God had put a $500 dollar check from the government in my account a month early.  Recently we were preparing for a mission trip to Cameroon and God supplied the needed funds through various means.  One person walked up to me after church and handed me three one hundred dollar bills.  Another person offered $500 for a baby sweater that my wife had knitted.  God is not restricted in the way he works to supply our needs.

   What rainbows do you see?  Where do you witness God's faithfulness to you?  Look for it in the small needs met just at the right time.  List five ways God has provided for you unexpectedly.

Thought for the Day: God uses lots of rainbows to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our lives.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clothed with Beauty

And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  (Matthew 6:28-29 NASV)

 As I was taking my morning stroll around the lake, I paused to observe the colorful ducks and lily pads along the shore.  I thought to myself, God sure does love to clothe our world in beauty.  The contrast between green, brown, grays and the stark white of the lily pad flowers was striking.

   My walk took on a new dimension as I began to take a closer look at the creative beauty around me.  The stately pines, the colorful Red Maples, and the Orange Sweet Gums all reflected the glory of our creator God.  I thought, how can I help others to see this beauty?  A still small voice seemed to say plant a flower garden.  Immediately plans began to form in my mind.  I decided to plant colorful flowers around the house, and put a small sign in front saying, "God created all things beautiful -- enjoy."  Neighbors walking by pause to take in the beauty that only God could create.  To Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen!

   You, too, see God's creation every day.  Do you relish the glory and beauty of all that you see?  Do you praise God for his majesty and creative powers?  

Thought for the Day: Let's take time to observe God's beauty all around us.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clinging to Life

Jesus said to her, Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.' (John 20:17)

   The morning sun is peeking over the horizon with a beautiful orange glow.  As I look out the dining room window, I see a few leaves still clinging to the trees fluttering gently in the breeze.   Most of the fall foliage has fallen, but a few leaves are desperately clinging to life.  Soon the trees will be bare as winter lays its claim upon them, and dormancy takes over.  Six months will lapse before we see newness of life again.  In the meantime, they stand like sentinels to remind us that life remains within.

   The women came to the tomb on the first day of the week clinging to hope.  Hope that somehow a miracle would take place.  When they arrived and found the tomb empty, it seemed that their hope vanished.  He was gone!  As Mary Magdalene lingered at the empty tomb, two angels appeared and questioned her, "Woman, why are you crying?"  "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."  (John 20:13 NIV)  Her hope was at a low point until she turned and saw Jesus.  She thought maybe he was the gardener, but when he spoke her name, "Mary," she realized that Jesus truly was alive.  Immediately she fell at his feet and wrapped her arms around his legs.  At that point, she wanted to cling to him forever but Jesus said to her, "Don't cling to me."

   As believers, we tend to cling to the word of God as if it is our personal treasure.  The Bible was meant to be shared with others.  Others need the treasure that lies within its pages.  Jesus told Mary to go tell the disciples that he was alive and coming to meet with them.  When Mary obeyed and ran to the disciples with the good news, her hope was put into action.

   As true believers, we have a living hope that needs to be seen by the rest of the world.  Paul says, "How will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher." (Romans 10:14 ASV)  You and I are the preachers that God wants to send with the good news.  We need to stop clinging and start preaching.

Thought for the Day: God gave his word for the entire world to hear and read.




Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm Just Sayin

So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience. (Romans 13:5 NLT)

   It was almost daybreak, but the people were already up complaining at the tent door of Moses.  As he emerged, they closed in upon him crying," We have no water, (God gave them water out of a rock),no food,(He gave them manna) no shade, (He provided a cloud), and we're tired of moving all the time.  Day after day all Moses heard was gripping and bellyaching about something.  The poor guy was worn to a frazzle.

   Does any of the above sound familiar?  Are we any different than the children of Israel in the wilderness?  We complain about the weather (it's too hot or it's too cold), the government (they aren't working for us -- only looking our for themselves), the taxes, privacy, and freedom (what's left of it).

   The Apostle Paul gave us his "two cents worth" about this subject.  In Philippians 2:14 -15 Paul says, in everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you... let your lives shine brightly before them.

   Moses said, "...yes, your complaints are against the Lord, not against us."  (Exodus 16:8b NLT)

     Have you complained lately?  Sure!  We are all guilty at one time or another.  Just remember that any complaint you make is really against the LORD.    I'M JUST SAYIN!

Thought for the Day: God would have to have an enormous books if all the complaints are recorded in heaven.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Broken Record

After Ehud's death, the Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord's sight.  Judges 4:1

   The history of the book of Judges reads like a broken record.  God raises up an individual to act as Judge over Israel.  Her enemies are subdued and the oppression ceases, but as soon as the Judge dies, Israel returns to her evil ways.

   Do you see any difference between the way the Israelites behaved and our present generation?  During a crises we make great promises -- only to break them and return to status quo as soon as things turn to normal.

   We elect promising candidates to public office with great hopes of changing the political climate in Washington D.C. -- only to find out that everything is business as usual once the election is over.  Promises are made -- promises broken.  Hopes are dashed.  Elected officials ignore the wishes of the people who got them where they are, and instead, they succumb to the wishes of special interest groups.  Will things ever change?  Is there any hope?

   Israel was guilty of living a lifestyle that wanted favor from God without responsibility.  That is the way many of us want to live our lives.  We want all the blessings that God can give, but aren't willing to make the changes necessary to warrant those blessings.

   Blessings come to those who are willing to live in obedience to His will.

Thought for the Day: God's blessings are available to those who walk by faith.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Getting our Attention

And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see the great sight, why the bush is not burnt. (Exo. 3:3)

   Amazing!  Moses said to himself, Why isn't the bush burning up?  I must go over to see this.  When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses' attention, He called to him from the bush.  (Exodus 3:3-4)

   What would it take for the Lord to get your attention?  Would an unexplainable event do it?  Would it take a miracle?  Would something spectacular suffice?

   In the case of Moses, it took "all of the above."  Moses was sauntering along with his flock of sheep when all of a sudden he saw a bush burst into flame.  This wasn't just a small flicker, but a flame reaching upwards like a sword.  He stood mesmerized by the sight.  As he stared at this amazing sight, the thought came to him, why is the bush burning, yet not being burned up?  Where are the ashes, he thought.  Why isn't it turning black and disintegrating?  Once the surprise and shock wore off he said to himself, I've got to go over and check this out.  That was just what God was waiting to hear.  He used this miracle to get Moses' attention and it worked.  

   What has God used to get your attention?  It may not be as spectacular as a burning bush, but just as effective.  God uses those actions and circumstances that he knows will cause us to stop and listen.

   Whatever means God uses to get your attention -- turn aside like Moses and listen for his voice.  It may take the stillness of a desert, or the seclusion of a room or closet, but learn to be still and quiet because he speaks in a still small voice.

Thought for the Day: God doesn't always shout -- sometimes it is just a whisper.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fear versus Faith

As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them.  The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help.  (Exo. 14:10)

   When my boys were young we loved to go camping at Big Spring State Park in Missouri.  In the evening we sat around our campfire watching the flickering flames and listened to the chirping of crickets, the hooting of owls, and the yapping of coyotes.  Sounds at night always seem closer than they really are, and noises in the forest are especially scary.  Ghostlike shadows make the hair on the back of one's neck rise and often a certain level of fear emerges.  Darkness has a way of doing this to a person.

   That's what happened to Israel when they left Egypt for the promised land.  Pharaoh allowed them to go, but then God changed Pharaoh's mind.  God purposely entrapped Israel between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army.  Why did God do that?  He tells us why in Exodus 14:3-4:

   I have planned this so I will receive glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies.  After this, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.  (Exodus 14:4 NLT)

   The purpose of God's glory is to show that God is God.  Our trials and tribulations are intended to bring God glory.  Each difficulty we face gives us an opportunity to show the watching world that God is greater than any adversity we encounters.

   Has God boxed you into a corner?  Are trials overwhelming you?  Does the future seem uncertain?  Are you fearful?  Listen to Jesus saying:

    "...fear not for I am with you.  I will never leave you.  I will never forsake you."  (Heb. 13:5). 

Thought for the Day: Walk with God where no fear can abound.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Music Stirs the Heart

But you, O heaven, rejoice over her (Babylon) fate.  And you also rejoice, O holy people of God and apostles and prophets!  For at last God has judged her (Babylon) on your behalf.  Never again will the sound of music be heard there -- no more harps, songs, flutes, or trumpets.  (Revelation 18:20 & 22)

   Music is a powerful medium.  A few notes can swell your chest with pride and bring you to your feet.  Tunes such as the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America bring me to my feet along with shed tears.

   Some musical rhythms cause me to tap my feet and clap my hands to the beat.  Other songs bring back nostalgic memories of the good old days and the simple lifestyle of yesteryear.

   I have two sons who own and operate a contemporary Christian music business.  My oldest son was a "first chair" trumpet player on his high school band, and my other son loves to play the steel guitar.  Together they read young people with the lyrics of the gospel in a musical format.

   Music played a large part in the lives of Old Testament people groups.  They used musical instruments to call people to assembly, to worship, to arms, and for entertainment.  The Psalms served as Israel's hymnal and singers gathered to chant and sing songs of praise and adoration.

   When David was a young lad he was called upon to play his harp when Kind Saul was tormented by a spirit sent from god. (1 Samuel 16:23)  After David killed the giant Goliath and saved Israel's army from defeat, women came out from all the towns and danced for joy using tambourines and cymbals. (1 Samuel 18:6)

   Music played a major role in the formation and protection of our country.  Who can forget the"fife and drum" of the Revolutionary War,

 or the tune Yankee Doodle Dandy and the Battle Hymn of the Republic during the Civil War.  Other tunes such as Over There and It's a Long Way to Tipperary were sung during World War I, and the white Cliffs of Dover in World War 2.  The Korean war brought to popularity the soundtrack of MASH.  Rock and Roll soundtracks became popular during the Vietnam War, and the troops top forty included such songs as Five Hundred Miles and Leaving on a Jet Plane.  

   Needless to say, music has infiltrated every fabric of American life.  It is the engine that drives business, pleasure, and worship.

Thought for the Day: God is an expert musician and can play all instruments with perfection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Clogged Fuel Line

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Hebrews 12:1 NLT

   I thought to myself, it's time to mow the lawn again.  Out came the self-propelled Lawn Boy mower.  I checked the gas, oil, and spark plug.  All was in readiness.  I held the safety lever and pulled the starter cord.  NOTHING!  I primed it a few more times and pulled again. NOTHING.  Again and again I tried until my arm about fell off -- all to no avail.  Something had clogged up the carburetor.

   This incident reminds me of my spiritual life.  Like my lawn mower, my spiritual life gets clogged with dirt from the cares of this world.  The little sins that go unconfessed keep me from functioning spiritually. Outwardly I appear calm, but within, a raging fire is burning.  The joy of the Lord is blocked and no matter how much effort I put forth, my faith engine shuts down.  Nothing is so discouraging as a spiritual engine that won't function.

   What will it take for your spiritual engine to run smoothly?  Do you need a complete overhaul or just a little tune-up?  Rest assured that God is able to meet your needs whatever they may be.

Thought for the Day: God has a special price for a complete overhaul or tune-up.  it's called confession.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zero Tolerance Policy

Why then, have you disobeyed my command?  Since you have done this, I will no longer drive out the people living in your land.   (Judges 2:2-3)

   Various schools have adopted a zero tolerance policy toward drugs and guns.  This is a policy of punishing any infractions of a rule established by the school, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances.  In addition to schools, zero tolerance policies are in force in businesses and sports.

   Shootings on college campuses, drive-by shootings in neighborhoods, rampages by disgruntled employees, drug cartels, gangs in major cities, and domestic violence reveal that nothing much has changed since the 1999 Columbine massacre.  It seems we are living in the days of the Judges where it says, "...everyone did what was right in his own eyes."  (Judges 21:25)  

   Turning to the Scriptures, we find that God operated a zero tolerance policy with the children of Israel.  As Sovereign, God establishes the rules by which people are to live.  They are recorded in our rule book, the Bible.  Israel had access to these rules, yet chose to disobey and God's zero tolerance policy was put into motion.

   How does God operate during this present generation?  Is his zero tolerance policy still in effect today?  Will He punish those who break the rules?  Some, who see God only as a God of love say, "No!"  Others who believe God is also a God of wrath say, "Yes!"  How do we determine who is right and who is wrong?

    The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians: Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. (Ephesians 5:6 NLT)

    What do you think?

Thought for the Day: God's zero tolerance policy is applied equally to all.