Monday, December 31, 2012

Scraps Have Value

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”  (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT)
            In Paul’s day when a vessel of clay was broken the scraps and shards were cast aside as useless.  Archaeologists spend many hours in search of shards of pottery and bones from ancient civilizations to piece together a story of a lost colony, city, or nation.
            What do you do with a garment that has become tattered and torn?  Most people will discard the old for a new one.  These scraps are looked upon as having “seen their best day,” and are thrown aside as worthless.
            My quilter wife, on the other hand, is always on the lookout for scraps of material.  When the need is made known her neighbors and friends save material scraps for her.  Last year we were in Townsend, Montana and passed a quilting shop.  There in the window was a sign which read: BAG OF SCRAPS $2.00.  You guess it!  I had to stop and allow her time to satisfy her curiosity and look for a bargain.  After waiting for what seemed like hours (probably thirty minutes), I went in to the shop to find her sorting through the bags of scraps to find the best bargain. 
            One year my wife took a “Log Cabin” double bed size hand sewn quilt down to Wycliffe Associates to donate for their annual auction.  During the live auction two parties began bidding on it and much to our amazement it sold for a little over $2,000. 
            It never ceases to amaze me how a person can take scraps of material that our “throwaway” society has discarded as worthless, and fashion an item of great value.  This pictures how God, the Master Quilter, takes the scraps of broken lives and human failures that are turned over to him and fashions a purposeful life with great value that ultimately brings glory to His name.
            King David was a miserable broken man until he repented and became a comfort to millions of others who look for value in their own bad choices.  Paul who persecuted Christians became the apostle of grace. 
            What about the bad choices we have made?  Can God do anything with the worthless scraps of our lives?  Absolutely!  By repenting and turning them over to the Master Quilter, God can create a garment that will radiate his glory.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bits and Pieces

God has handed me over to sinners.  He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.  I was living quietly until he shattered me.  He took me by the nick and broke me in pieces.”  (Job 16:11-12 NLT)
            What’s in your closet?  My closet contains shirts, sweaters, coats, shoes, blankets, quilts, luggage, and an assortment of puzzles and games.  Out of all the “stuff” that inhabits my closet, not one single item is made from a single piece of material.  Every item is fashioned either from bits and pieces of fabric, leather, vinyl, or other materials. 
            My wife, Elaine, is an excellent quilter.  Every one of her quilts is a collage of bits and pieces of fabric sewn together with random seams.  I don’t have a single item in my closet that is seamless and flawless.  If a close inspection is made each item will reveal some kind of flaw.  None of them are perfect.
            What is true of garments can also be applied to our lives as well.  None of us can claim to be seamless and perfect.  We are a collection of bits and pieces – broken relationships, shattered dreams, unfulfilled promises, dashed hopes, and sinful practices. 
            Jesus faced his share of trials and difficulties: brothers who denied his deity, religious leaders who accused him of blasphemy and plotted against him, one of his chosen disciples who betrayed him, and one who denied that he even knew him, while the rest ran away in a blatant act of desertion.  Yet, like us, Jesus took the bits and pieces of their lives and fashioned them into a worthy garment.  We are Jesus’ “Opus!”
            The only perfect seamless garment ever made was worn by Jesus: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.”  (John 19:23 NASB)  This seamless garment was symbolic of his life – a life lived with perfection, a life uncomplicated by sin, a life void of bad choices, a life without broken dreams, and a life that was well pleasing to the Father. 
            This same Jesus is busy shaping the bits and pieces of our lives into a beautiful, seamless image of him that the Bible says he will keep from stumbling, and present in his glory faultless with great joy. (Jude 24)
            Jesus is the master tailor who is fashioning the garment we call “You.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Unexpected Gift

He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.”            Luke 2:5 NLT
            Have you ever received a strange gift?  One that was a shocker – totally unexpected!
            It happened to me one year while teaching fifth and sixth graders.  Children love to give a gift to their teacher at Christmas: a hankie, a tie, an ornament, or some other trinket.  But on this one occasion I received a shoe box wrapped in Christmas paper (newspaper comics).  It felt rather heavy and I wondered what possibly could be inside.  It rattled when I shook it, and my curiosity was rising by the minute.  It was given to me by a small boy that I knew came from a very poor family.   As I opened the box, I steeled myself for the unexpected.  Inside was a small bundle of black coal.  Without hesitation, I smiled and said, “This is the most practical gift I’ve ever received.”  Little Jimmy gave me the most valuable possession he could find in his home. 
            When God gave us His Christmas gift it took people by surprise and came in a totally unexpected manner. 
            Who would have expected a Holy Righteous God to choose a young virgin teenager to bear his long awaited Messiah?  When the angel Gabriel came to Mary at Nazareth he said, “Greeting favored one!  The LORD is with you.”  (Luke 1:27)  This greeting caught Mary by surprise and she was confused and disturbed.  I’m sure she wondered, “What kind of greeting is this and what does it mean.”  Fortunately, Gabriel didn’t leave her in that state of mind, but said, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the son of the Most High.  The LORD will give him the throne of his ancestor David.”  (Luke 1:31-32 NLT).
            Was Mary shocked at this announcement?  Yes!  Did she consider herself worthy?  No!  What kind of thoughts entered her mind?  Did she wonder, “Why me?”  Don’t we tend to utter the “why God” questions when the unexpected happens?  To think that God would entrust his most valuable possession to an inexperienced young Jewish teenager baffles the mind.  But we learn from history that Mary did a remarkable job of raising Jesus from babyhood to manhood.
            What will you do with the unexpected gift of Jesus Christ this Christmas?  Will you keep his Messianic birth to yourself or share it with others?  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Unwanted Gift

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”  (Matthew 1:18-19)
            Have you ever received an “unwanted” gift?  How did you respond?  Did you send it back or dash to the gift exchange as quick as possible?  Or did you put it away where no one would see it?  What do you do with an “unwanted” gift?
            Joseph of Nazareth came face to face with a similar problem.  He had chosen a young Jewish girl to be his wife.  A formal contract was drafted between families and was considered legally binding.  Many cultures enforce stiff penalties for breaking the contract.  In Jewish tradition, for instance, breaking the contract is considered to be equal to divorce.  The betrothal is often referred to as “erusin,” can only be broken via an official divorce decree. 
            When Mary came to Joseph and said, “I am pregnant,” a huge problem surfaced.  I’m sure Joseph did not want a child out of wedlock, so he was faced with an insurmountable problem.  What would he do?  What could he do?  By Jewish law, if Mary were unfaithful and found to be pregnant with child by a man other than her husband she could be taken and stoned to death.  When the news came Joseph was stunned, but being a righteous man he decided rather than disgracing her he would dispose of the “unwanted gift” by “sending her away secretly.” (Matthew 1:18)  He wanted a “secret” break-up because getting an official divorce decree would set off severe repercussions in the community.  They both would be ostracized or perhaps something even worse. 
            Before Joseph could execute his plan, an angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). 
            Joseph obeyed the message from the Lord and he and Mary were married.  The “unwanted gift” now became a “wanted gift.”  That which he wanted to cast aside as unworthy turned out to be Jesus, the Savior of the world.  Where would we be today if Joseph had disobeyed the voice of the angel and had Mary disposed of secretly? 
            Aren’t you glad that God saw to it that events turned out the way they did?  We received a Savior, and God was glorified.  I can’t think of any better gift than that. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Has the wall been breached?

"Because of the multitude of his horses, the dust raised by them will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the calvary and wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city that is breached." (Ezekiel 26:10 NASB)

   Since it's founding by our forefathers who came seeking religious freedom and a batter way of life, American has not experienced a threat from without, until the devastation of the twin towers on 9/11.

   Our nation had erected an impregnable wall supported by its military might that no nations dared to challenge.  Many believe that Almighty God had placed a protective hedge around America.  Now that the impregnable wall has been breached, we wonder has God removed that protective hedge and left us vulnerable?

   Following the aftermath of 9/11, people asked: Where was God?  Why did he allow this to happen?  
Just to refresh your memory consider these facts:
1. The courts abolished prayer and Scripture in the public schools.
2. The ten commandments were no longer allowed in public placed and were removed from walls by government decree.
3. The mention of God or Jesus Christ has become Taboo.
4. Military chaplains are restrained from using the name of Jesus Christ.
5. The sacred is being replaced by the profane.
6. The nation has legalized the killing of the unborn.

   Where is God, you ask?  The answer is:  We drove him out and his protective hedge went with him.

   The warning signs are evident, but no one is paying attention to them.  Is it too late for America?  Is judgment on the horizon?  Only God knows the answer, but I do believe that we need to put into practice the advice of 2 Chronicles 7:14.  Only a national great awakening will get us back on the right track.  

Thought for the day:  God's judgment is swift and sure.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help each one of us to be willing to confess our sins and seek God's mercy and grace.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Perfect Gift

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  (Micah 6:8 NASB)

    Jesus was born in a lowly stable (or cave) with nothing but straw for a bed, but as the Christ child he had everything.  The Bible says that he was perfect in every way and owned the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine.  What kind of gift can I get God who has everything?  What could God possible want from us this Christmas?

   Don't you just love it when someone gives you a Christmas wish list?  When you contemplate what to get for someone who seems to have everything -- up pops a list.  Not to be outdone, God has given us a list.  It is found in Micah 6:8.  He desires from us justice, kindness, and humility.  There are two aspects to justice: (1) inward character of right and goodness, (2) outward actions that show it.  Love or kindness involves our willingness to show mercy to others.  Both justice and love are connected and operate together.  See Psalm 89:14; Deuteronomy 10:18, and Zechariah 7:8-10.  Humility involves submission and honor. This is our ultimate purpose in life.

   Are you willing to give God these perfect gifts?  They must be genuine and useful.  God will be looking to see them practiced in your thought life, family life, work life, and friendships.   




Monday, November 26, 2012

Prayer is the Key

When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.  (Acts 12:12 NLT)

  Prayer is the key that opens the door to the heart of God.  When needs arise, prayer is our means of getting  with the one who can help.

   The disciples learned the value of prayer by observing the life of Jesus.  Jesus went alone up the mountain to pray, but he also got together to pray in small groups.  The disciples saw this and asked him, "Lord teach us to pray..."  (Luke 11:1)

   There is a sense of togetherness when small groups get together to pray.  Praying together over common needs draws people closer into a community relationship.  Why not find someone to pray with today?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Making Concessions

"The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD'S anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his hand and the jug of water, and let us go."  (1 Samuel 26:11)

   As parents, we made many small concessions when the children were growing up.  Little things, like what flavor of ice cream to buy, or what kind of cake to bake.  Should we take a relaxing ride into the country (riding in the car with five kids is never relaxing), or take them to the park and turn them loose?

   Making concessions for the benefit of family, work, or the Lord is not a sign of weakness, but of love.  We have never regretted making concessions to bring joy to the hearts of our children.  What made them happy also made us happy.

   God made a gigantic concession in sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you and me on Calvary's cross.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Slippery Path

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, and out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  (Psalm 40:2 NLT)

   Many times God has kept me from falling while on a slippery path.  Oftentimes I have gotten bogged down in the mire of sin because of my own wrongdoing.  I ignored the road side warning signs in the Word of God and skidded off the proven path onto a slippery one.  Once confession is made God is right there to reach out his hand and lift us back up onto solid ground.

   I remember one time driving my daughter home from a flute lesson.  We were coming over a hill when you couldn't see the other side until you reached the top.  As I crested the hill and started down the other side, I saw a man walking toward us in my lane.  I swerved to avoid striking him and miraculously missed running into the ditch.  To this day I don't know how we avoided an accident except that God must have dispatched an angel to watch over us.  I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Thank you Jesus!"

   Aren't you glad that God has his angels watching over you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Concealing Sin

"People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy."  (Proverbs 28:13 NLT)

  King David tried to conceal his act of adultery and went so far as to murder the husband of Bathsheba, but eventually his sin was revealed.  God used the prophet, Nathan to confront David with his sin.  Fortunately, David was willing to repent and confess his sin, but the consequence was the death of his and Bathsheba's son.

   It is never wise to conceal sin.  Sweeping it under the rug will not remove the dirt or make the floor clean.  No matter how great our sin, if we repent and confess it openly to God, he will forgive and cleanse our hearts. Keeping short accounts with God will result in freedom from worry and promote spiritual growth.  1 John 1:9)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who cares?

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai:  "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.  Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are."  But Jonah go up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3a NLT)

    God called Jonah to take a message to the people of Neneveh, but Jonah ran away from the Lord.  He didn't run away because he didn't like God; he ran because he hated the Assyrians.  He knew they were an evil people, but he was also aware that God was a gracious and forgiving God.  He was afraid that God might want to give them a chance to repent, and he didn't want that to happen.

   What does this teach us about being a follower of God?  When you are a follower of Christ, you lose the right to choose whom you will love.  The whole message of John 3:16 is that God loves everyone, and sent his son to die so that everyone will have the opportunity to choose eternal life rather than death.  The bible specifically says, "Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:13)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jeremiah's Complaint to God

Lord you always give me justice when I bring a case before you.  So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous?  Why are evil people so happy?”  (Jeremiah 12:1 NLT)
            Jeremiah faced an inner struggle that has puzzled people for centuries.  “Why do bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people?”  Jeremiah wasn’t the only servant of God who has struggled with this theological dilemma.  Righteous Job wrestled with this same problem, “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (Job 21:7 NLT)  Psalmists David and Asaph (Ps. 49 and 73), along with the prophets Habakkuk (Heb. 1:16-17) and Malachi (Mal. 2:17;3:15) grappled with the same problem.  
            Jeremiah saw the land being desolated and innocent people suffering while the leaders who caused the problem prospered and lived in luxury.  In verse 3 of chapter 12, Jeremiah expresses how he thinks God should deal with these evil people, “Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered!  Set them aside to be slaughtered!”  Jeremiah sounded a lot like James and John who wanted Jesus to allow them to “call down fire from heaven to burn up” the Samaritans for not allowing them to pass through their village. (Luke 9:54)
            Jeremiah asked the same question that many of us ask when difficult circumstances arise.  How long do I have to endure this pain?  Why did this happen?  “Why?” and “How long?” are questions that are easy to ask and difficult to answer. 
            God’s reply to Jeremiah wasn’t what he expected to hear.  Instead of focusing his attention upon the wicked, God turned his attention upon Jeremiah.  Three truths are revealed that can also be applied to our lives today. (1) Living a godly life isn’t easy; it’s like running a race (12:5).  We are running a marathon; not a sprint. (2) A servant’s life becomes harder, not easier.  It is not easy when your own family turns against you (12:6). (3) Maturity makes our life of service enjoyable.
            Warren Wiersbe in his commentary “Be Decisive”, page 72 says, “God’s servants don’t live by explanations; they live by promises.”  You may become smarter with explanations, but you build character by trusting in God’s promises.  Instead of asking, “How can I get out of this,” we should ask “What can I get out of this.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Silence is Golden

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words made tempers flare.  The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.  (Proverbs 15:1-2 NLT)

   How quick we are to accuse, defend, criticize, judge, and complain!  Harsh words cut to shreds the dignity and character of the recipient.

   James 3:1-5 likens a person's tongue to a ship driven by ;a hurricane force wind and to a forest fire out of control.  How many marriages end up in the divorce court because unruly tongues?  How many churches split over the issues of unruly tongues, harsh words, lack of cooperation, or ego driven personalities?

   Have you ever wished you had not said something?  I'm sure that is the case for one our senate candidates in Missouri.  Words hastily spoken without considering the ramifications can haunt you for a long time, and cause severe damage.  Let us be diligent in guarding our tongues, and ask the Lord to help us put a positive spin on all our words.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Drawing the Short Straw

Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"  Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You follow me."   (John 21:21-22)

  Have you ever faced a difficult situation and drew the "short straw?"

   Through his own ignorance and impetuosity Peter found himself holding the short straw on more than one occasion.  On the mount of Transfiguration Peter wanted to build three tabernacles: one each for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, but God intervened and said, "This is my beloved son, listen to him."  On another occasion he proclaimed he'd rather die than deny the Lord, and then went into the courtyard and denied Jesus three times.  Finally, the Lord told Peter how he would suffer and die, but Peter wanted to know what would happen to John.  Jesus rebuked him and told him to concentrate his efforts on following the Savior.  It's obvious that Peter felt he had drawn the short straw.

   Comparing our lives to someone else's only leads to discontent.  If we look at other people's skills, abilities, and position in life and compare them to our own, the door is opened to allow jealousy and envy to enter.  This is one of Satan's ploys to take our attention off the true object of our affection -- the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our goal should be to follow the model that Jesus left for us in the gospels.

   Do your feel that you have drawn the short straw?  Stop comparing yourself to others and give your best to the master.  He alone is deserving of our allegiance.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Lord said, "Return to Me"

   It must have been a horrible experience for the prophet Jeremiah to preach sermons that warned of destruction of his people.  In the midst of their rejection and faithlessness, God pleaded with the people to put away their wickedness and "return to Him."  But they just wouldn't listen to the truth.  They continued to spurn his love and disobey his laws.  In fact, he told them, "you don't even have any shame."

   Reading the book of Jeremiah is like reading today's headlines.  Our society is not much different from that of Jeremiah's day.  Governments are doing everything they can to rule God out of our society.  Here's a few things to remind us of what has happened over the past fifty years. First they tried to claim that God was dead. Then prayer and the Bible were eliminated from the local schools, Jesus' name could not be mentioned at graduation ceremonies, the ten commandments couldn't be displayed in public places, and the list goes on and on.  It just seems strange to me that Christians can't exercise their right to pray publicly, but the Muslim followers can pray openly five times a day.

   What's wrong with our culture?  By and large our society has rejected Jesus Christ as Lord.  Humankind refuses to recognize or be responsible for their sins.  They want a god of their own making.  That's exactly what the Israel and Judah wanted and look what happened to them.  Do we want the same thing to happen to our beloved America?  It will unless we humble ourselves and pray asking God to forgive our sins and heal our land.  We have a choice to make and it starts on November 6th.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Praying in Strange Places

   Have you every thought of some of the strange places where you've had the opportunity to pray?

   My most meaningful prayer took place while kneeling on the steel deck of a ship back in November 1953.  That's when I received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  Since that time I have had the privilege to pray in a number of strange places.

   One time I ran into a friend at a Walmart store.  He shared with me some of the difficulties he was facing with his family and right there in the middle of busy Walmart I put my arm around him and we prayed together.   Another time I was shopping in the Value City furniture store at Mid-Rivers and the saleslady shared how her husband had deserted her.  We stopped in the aisle and I prayed for her.

   The latest occurrence took place at the Home Depot store in O'Fallon.  My handicapped grandson (who can't speak) and I were getting some paint supplies.  Mr. Jim, the paint man, saw the tractor picture on Jonathan's T-shirt and pulled out a couple pictures of his own tractor to show him.   As we were about to leave the store, Mr. Jim came over and asked, "Would you mind if I said a prayer for Jonathan?"  We stopped and Mr. Jim put his hand on Jonathan's shoulder and asked God to bless him.

    You never know when or where God will open the door of opportunity to pray for someone in need  Be prepared -- it may happen in a very strange place.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sharing Christ

It is more blessed to give than to receive -- Acts 20:35

   One of the gifts of the Spirit is the ministry of helps.  God has a special blessing for those who go out of their way to help others.  It doesn't have to be dramatic or eye-catching.  Nobody need to see you do it.  Sharing Christ by giving used clothing, furniture, or foodstuffs to the poor is a blessing to others.  No big splash.  No headlines.  No picture in the paper.  No recognition.  No appearance on TV.  Just sharing Christ in a humble, non-descript manner honors the Lord. You receive the joy and blessing of giving, and the recipients receive much needed help.

   What can you do to bring joy into another person's life?  Maybe it's bringing a can of food to a food pantry, or visiting someone in a nursing home or hospital.  No matter what you do God will bless you as you bless others.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Set Apart

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself.  I promised you as a pure bride to one husband -- Christ.  (2 Corinthians 11:2 NLT)

  A favorite pastime at my home in Colorado was to sit on the deck and watch the clouds slowly drift across the mountains.  One day a male mule deer came down the hill to a bush at the corner of my driveway.  I watched him shake the bush with his antlers and then lift his leg and make his mark.  He was staking his claim and saying to all other male deer, "Stay clear, this is my territory."

   Sixty years ago I staked my claim on Elaine Almgren by putting a ring on her finger.  That ring said to all other males, hands off, this person is set apart solely for me.  Do you know that God does the same to all who come to him by faith?  Pay close attention to what God says in Romans 1:1, "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."  Did you see those words set apart?  God wants you and me for himself.  He has claimed us as his very own children.

   What God wants more than anything else is a love relationship with his children.  That's why he had set us apart and given us to his son, Jesus Christ, for a bride.  Are you one of his set apart ones?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Separation is Painful

When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  (John 14:3)

   One of the most agonizing and painful experiences in a person's life is separation.  

   When I was a kid growing up I had a cocker spaniel named Captain Midnight.  She was my closest companion and best friend.  She cried when I left for school, and licked me to death when I came home.  One day when I came home Captain Midnight was no where to be found.  I searched and called throughout the neighborhood, but no one had seen her.  I was devastated.  I felt as if my little world had suddenly been turned upside down.  Who would play with me now?

   This must have been how Jesus' disciples felt as they watched him ascend up to heaven on the Day of Pentecost.  How would they survive without him?  Who would meet their needs now?  Did they, like many people, feel abandoned, hopeless, forlorn, and lonely without his presence?  I believe they felt must like I did at the loss of my best friend.

   Separation from the ones you love won't eliminate the longing for their presence, but that emptiness can be filled with God's promise that one day you will be reunited with them for all eternity.  In the meantime, let's get on about the business of living and serving.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self Dies Hard

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, evil desire, and greed which amounts to idolatry.  (Colossians 3:5 NASB)

   Whenever a person comes to Jesus Christ and receives forgiveness of sins, he is given a new heart (Ezek. 36:26,27), a new spirit (John 3:3-6), and a new supernatural will power (Matt. 22:37).  The one area that is left unregenerated is the body -- the flesh.

   Satan cannot touch our new heart and spirit because that is where God resides, but he sure can play havoc with the flesh.  When problems arise, our minds shift into a processing mode.  As long as I process and face my sins honestly, all goes well, but if I suppress and shove them down into the subconscious mind (thinking no one sees, no one knows), they are easy targets for Satan's ploys.

   You and I have the option to either make faith choices (Godly decisions) or emotional choices (Self decisions).  Emotional choices lead us into sin and are used by Satan to defeat us; whereas faith choices lead us into the paths of righteousness.

   What kind of choices will you make today?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Secret Places

Then he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images?"  For they say, "The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land."  (Ezekiel 8:12 NASB)

  The hidden chambers of Solomon's temple were designed to hold the articles of worship and the temple treasures; instead they held the idolatrous articles of the priests.  They thought no one will see, no one will know, ignoring the all seeing eye of God.

   We also have hidden chambers that are filled with unresolved hurts, doubts, animosities, and fears.  We shove them down into the subconscious and pretend they don't exist.  Countless numbers of people including believers are burdened down with spiritual garbage.  Satan can't get to the new spirit or heart, but he can concentrate on digging up unresolved issues that reside in the subconscious part of man.  How do we deal with all the spiritual garbage that plagues our soul?

   A good old fashioned spiritual housecleaning would be a first step.  David knew this when he said, "Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin...purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean..."  (Psalm 51:2,3)   Spiritual housecleaning takes place when we honestly confess our sins to God, receive his forgiveness, and fill the void with the word of God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Secondhand Truth

Pilate said, "So you are a king?"  Jesus responded, "You say I am a king.  Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.  All who love truth recognizes that what I say is true."  John 18:37 NLT

   On my book shelves are many books written by world renown writers, but they are merely secondhand truth.  They contain facts not originating with the writer and opinions that are flawed by human reasoning.  The only way to get firsthand truth is to go to the originating source.  The bible is the only book that contains truth from an original source -- God.

   When Jesus was arrested and taken before Pilate, he tried to explain that he was the embodiment of truth, but Pilate didn't get it.  People today still don't get it.  Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"  Isn't it strange that all the while Pilate was asking this question that the TRUTH was standing before him?  In an earlier exchange with his disciples Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

   Instead of relying on secondhand truth from books, newspapers, TV, or radio, why not go to the originator of truth and check it out in his source book -- the Bible.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bullying Tactics

But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”  (Matthew 12:2 NASB)
            Outside my living room window are two birdfeeders.  One is filled with sweetened red liquid for hummingbirds, and the other with seeds for song birds. 
            I love to watch the various birds coming to the two feeders.  Over the course of time, I have noticed some aggressive behavior at the hummingbird feeder.  There is one hummingbird that loves to sit in a nearby tree and dive at the others when they come to get a drink.  His bullying tactics cause these little creatures to tear away at lightning speeds only to return and try again.  The same thing occurs with the other birds.  There always seems to be one bird that wants it all for himself.  The larger birds force away the smaller ones and a virtual battle takes place for the right to eat from the feeder. 
            We see this same scenario played out in society over the years.  Since the beginning of time angelic and human beings have set upon a course to rule over others by forceful (bullying) methods to gain supremacy.  It began with Lucifer (a created angelic being) who one day decided to force his will upon the entire angelic realm and take over the throne from the great Creator God.  His bullying tactics went for naught as God Almighty subdued and cast him and his army out of heaven.  (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-15) 
            The Old and New Testaments are filled with accounts of men and women who have attempted to follow in Satan’s footsteps.  History reveals that individual men and governments have been successful in “bullying” their way over others, but there is always someone standing in the wings ready to subdue them and take over at the slightest sign of weakness. 
            Jesus came into this world to offer an alternative solution to the problem of sin, aggression, and violence, but he was rejected.  The Pharisees made every attempt to bully him and his followers into adhering to their traditions and interpretation of the law, but were unsuccessful.  They finally managed to have Jesus crucified, but even that was a part of his plan of redemption.
            Believers today who desire to walk according to Jesus’ teachings are harassed and bullied to remain silent about their faith.  Threats, intimidation, false accusations, mis-leading statements, and outright slander are some of the bullying tactics used by those who want to suppress the freedom of religion. 
            We must ask ourselves – where and to whom do we owe our allegiance?  Is it to man or God?  It all boils down to who is the “object of our affections?”  God is calling upon us to take a stand for righteousness.  Are you and I willing to make the necessary sacrifices to remain true and loyal to Him?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sea of Glass

In front of the throne was shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.  (Revelation 4:6 NLT)

   When I think of a sea of glass, a picture of emerald green Lake Louise in Banff, Canada comes to mind.  However, you and I know that everyday life is anything but smooth.  We face financial difficulties, family unrests, employee rivalries, job losses, foreclosures, and uncertainties.  The Psalmist says, "My life is full of troubles" (Psalm 88:3 NASB).  Navigating the waters of life bring challenges we are hard pressed to circumvent.  We seek solutions, but often don't know where to turn for help.

   I have found the only way to smooth the troubled water is by taking all my anxieties and turning them over to the master helmsman, Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Peter encouraged us by saying, "Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus), because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7 NASB).  The Psalmist also reminds us to "Cast your burden upon the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken" (Psalm 55:22 NASB).

   If you are burdened down with anxieties and circumstances, follow the advice of the Psalmist David, "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in him, and he will do it" (Psalm 37:5 NASB).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Running Scared

He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword.  And I alone am left, and they seek my life, to take it away."  (1 Kings 19:10 NASB)

   I ran for my life down the hill into a small grove of pine trees.  Alone and scared, I crawled under the low hanging branches and waited breathlessly.  Would the neighborhood kids find me and beat me up again?  It seemed like an eternity passed before I found the courage to emerge and find my way home to safety.

   This must have been how the prophet Elijah felt when he ran in fear from the threat of Jezebel on his life.  He thought that he alone was left of the prophets, but God said, "I have 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18 NASB).  

   If you are facing difficult circumstances today, turn to the Lord for courage and strength to continue on.  He will be just as faithful in providing your needs as he was Elijah.  God is your refuge and strength.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Root of Bitterness

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.  That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many are defiled.  (Hebrews 12:15 NASB)

   When I lived in Colorado, I loved observing the majestic beauty of the stately pines.  During the winter months the snow covered branches would sparkle in the sunlight.  At the same time the weight of the snow caused the branches to sag and nearly touch the ground.

   These snow-covered branches remind me of what often happens to us when tragedy strikes.  We often allow anger and resentment with God to grow into bitterness.  Satan uses bitterness to draw us away from the love of God.  The snow-covered pines looked sad and lonely with their bows hanging to the ground, but warm sun finally melted the snow and they sprang back up full of life.  Unlike the trees, we have a choice to make when tragic events occur.  We can succumb to the effects of bitterness, or we can make a faith choice to trust in God's Sovereign love.  Which choice will you make?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roller Skates Taught Me a Life Lesson

....for as long as you practice these things, you will never fall.  (2 Peter 1:10)

   My new pair of roller skates made my ninth birthday the happiest day of my young life.  My parents probably never knew what a treasure of childhood memories those skates brought.  Nor could they have known the valuable life lesson that my first-and-only fall taught me.  I learned that no matter how many times I fell, it is vital to get back up and try again.

   Perhaps you have fallen and need support to get up and try again.  No matter how many times we sin, if we take them to the Lord in prayer and repentance, he is willing to forgive and set our feet back on solid ground.

   God is able to take every issue of life and give it a divine twist.  Nothing is too hard for him.  No problem too difficult, no injury beyond his capability to cure, no sinful act that he cannot forgive.  Isn't He worthy of your trust?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Perception Becomes Reality

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…(Proverbs 23:7a KJV)
            Our world is undergoing constant change.  It is difficult to keep abreast of all the new technical advances.  Every day another announcement is made of a new advanced software, I-pad, smart phone, android gadget that is better than the old one.  The internet is overloaded with blogs, social networks, and information devices seeking to gain your interest and attention.  Nearly 90 percent of the world’s population has a mobile phone that can send and receive messages, pictures, and video. 
            What conclusion can be drawn from all this technology?  Simply, that the world is rapidly shrinking.  No longer do you have to wait days and weeks to receive “snail” mail; it is right at your fingertips.  Millions and trillions of dollars are transacted with the push of a “key.”  The global marketplace provides instant access to worldwide products.  Isolation is a thing of the past as no country can afford to go it alone anymore.  We are all involved in the world’s affairs whether we want to or not. 
            The instability of world governments causes a feeling of fear in the hearts of many.  This perception of fear then becomes a reality.  Whether real or imagined this fear causes people to grasp for a means of deliverance.  They reach out for someone or something that can ease their fear and feeling of hopelessness.  Some try to find security in drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, or crime.  Others give up all hope and turn to suicide.  What is the answer?
            Those of us who have encountered this feeling of fear and hopelessness know that Jesus Christ is the only source of deliverance.  He came as light to a dark world and offers hope, encouragement, and security to a lost society. 
            What is man’s greatest need?  The answer is: to love and be loved.  Jesus brings to us the love of God as demonstrated by laying down his life for us. (Romans 5:8) 
            We have a golden opportunity to bring hope to a fearful people by assuring them that God is still on the throne, and in complete control.  Nothing takes him by surprise.  He is the author of history and knows the end from the beginning. 
            To those who may be rattled and fearful in light of today’s headlines, we urge you to turn to Jesus Christ to find hope and salvation.  Jesus paid it all, all to him we owe, sin hath left and crimson stain, but he washed it white as snow.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preventing Earthquakes from Becoming Lifequakes

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  (Romans 8;22 NLT)
            This devotion was inspired and developed from comments made in Dr. David Jeremiah’s May 2012 Turning Points. 
            The movement of tectonic plates against one another creates tremendous pressure to build until one of the plates slides over or under the other causing an earthquake.  The magnitude of the eruption or explosion determines the extent of the damage along the fault line. The greatest damage occurs at the epicenter of the quake. 
            A similar occurrence takes place in the lives of believers worldwide.  Due to the presence of the sinful nature in us, we all possess fault lines that must be controlled in order to present earthquakes from becoming “lifequakes.”  There is nothing scientists can do to prevent earthquakes, but there are steps we can take to keep lifequakes from happening in our lives. 
            First, we need to recognize and accept the fact that we all possess fault lines – not one of us is perfect.  The bible says, ”For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  (Romans 3:23 NLT). 
            Second, we need to take responsibility for the fault lines and stop “blaming our parents, our genes, our environment, our socio-economic status, our lack of education – anything but ourselves.”  (Turning Points, May 2012, p.7)
            What are some of the common excuses that people use to avoid taking responsibility for their negative behavior?  Several that Dr. Jeremiah mentions are “the devil made me do it” (popularized by Flip Wilson in the seventies), the blame game (started by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they blamed the serpent, each other, and God for their fall into sin), and pointing the finger.  Have you ever noticed that when you point your finger at someone else, there are still four left that point that to you? 
            How do we control the pressures of sin and overcome the tendency to yield causing an earthquake that disrupts the body of Christ?  One way is to immerse ourselves in the word of God that will help us resist the temptations thrown our way.  Another is to develop a regular prayer life with an accountability partner who shares our concerns.  If left unattended, earthquakes can erupt into lifequakes that cause irreparable damage.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Searching for the Meaning of Life

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”  (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NLT)
            For ages people young and old have been asking the question: “What is the meaning of life?”  Many books have been written on the subject including Rick Warren’s book--The Purpose Driven Life, Dr. Hugh Moorhead’s – The Meaning of Life, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s –Man’s Search for Meaning.  Who of us hasn’t at one point in time inquired into the why of our existence? 
             Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, was born with a “silver spoon in his mouth” as the saying goes.  His father, David was a noted politician and military leader.  His popularity in Israel was unquestioned, and his achievement unmatched.  After his death all this was passed down to his son, Solomon who became Israel’s second king. 
The wisdom displayed by the King during his reigning years was unsurpassed.  His fame and fortune brought rulers from many countries to hear of his wisdom including the Queen of Sheba.  His crowning achievement was the completion and dedication of the glorious Temple of Israel.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pronounce a “happy ever after” ending to Solomon’s life and the golden age of Israel, but it wasn’t to be.   
            Solomon’s devotion to God cooled as he indulged in creating a harem of foreign wives (700) and concubines (300) many of whom worshipped gods of wood and stone forbidden by God. 
            Ecclesiastes begins with a question and an answer: What is the meaning of life?  He could just as easily have asked: Is life worth living?  As he looks at the problem of life apart from God he comes to the conclusion from a human perspective that “Everything is meaningless…utterly meaningless!”
            Ecclesiastes teaches us that life apart from Jesus Christ is lonely, empty, and filled with guilt.  Only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide faith, forgiveness, belief, and eternal life.  Anyone who lives his/her life apart from Jesus Christ will be asking the same question: What is the meaning of life?  And receiving the same answer:  Life is meaningless and empty.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Vanity -- All is Vanity

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”  What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?                  (Ecclesiastes 1:1,2 NKJV)
            The word vanity catches our attention in the book of Ecclesiastes, and appears over 30 times. 
            Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, etc.”  A person who is vain has a lack of real value.  The word carries the connotation of hollowness, worthlessness, and selfishness.  Activities related to vanity are trivial and pointless.  “In its modern sense, vanity is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of his own image, thereby divorcing himself from the graces of God. (Wikipedia, article on Vanity)
            Solomon’s use of the term vanity refers to emptiness like a vapor that appears and soon vanishes.  The Message paraphrases verse 1 and 2 as follows: 
            These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem.  “Smoke, nothing but smoke (That’s what the Quester says.)  There’s nothing to anything – it’s all smoke.”

            Can you imagine the great King Solomon reaching the pinnacle of his career and finding that the meaning of life to be nothing but smoke, illusion, vapor, nothingness, and emptiness? 
            Dr. David Jeremiah asks the question in his book “Searching for Heaven on Earth,” What did you find at the Everest of your own life?  Perhaps you received a promotion, won the lottery, made the dream vacation, got the book published – all for the thorny crown of unexpected despondency.”  (xxi) 
            I remember the feeling of exultation and let-down after self-publishing my first devotional book, “A-Z Daily Devotional Journal” back in 2010.  Joy is often followed by emptiness after reaching a climatic experience.  That is apparently what happened to Solomon as his sensual appetites pulled his attention away from God, and focused it upon worldly things.  “The drifting came slowly, deceptively, but the further he moved from the Lord and Creator, the greater became his emptiness, frustration, and confusion.”  (Searching for Heaven on Earth, Dr. David Jeremiah, p. xviii)
            How many are there in this world who feel life is worthless and empty – nothing but smoke?  Jesus is the only answer to the true meaning of life.  Do you know him?  Have you claimed his promise of salvation through faith in his work on the cross?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Shall They Hear and Believe?

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?    (Romans 10:14-15 NLT)
            The Scripture verses cited above are an enigma to many people.  What is the Apostle Paul trying to convey in these verses?  Is it the urgency of the call to go or is it the message itself?  Or is it a little of both?  Is Paul referring to the gospel message in general terms, or does he have specific truths about the gospel in mind? 
            Let us deal first with the question: “How shall they hear?  There seems to be a sense of urgency behind the use of this question.  This sense of urgency is felt in other New Testament passages, namely: Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few…” (Matthew 9:37a NLT)  (See also: 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:17)
            Jesus came down from heaven on a search and rescue mission.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who were lost.”  (Luke 19:10)  Jesus also so said, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  (Luke 15:4 NLT)
            God has deputized every believer to be a part of his search and rescue mission.  Each one of us has to answer the question posed to Isaiah by the Lord of Hosts, “Who will go for us?”  The Lord expects us to answer as Isaiah did, “Here am I.  Send me.”  (Isaiah 6:8)
            The second crucial question is: “How shall they believe?”  There are specific truths contained in the gospel that must be communicated.  In order for a person to be saved, they must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)  It is our responsibility to present these truths in a believable  format.  They must be clearly stated so that no one can go away saying, “I didn’t understand the presentation.”  Jesus said, “The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it.”  (Matthew 19:13a NLT)
            The search and rescue mission Jesus set in motion is now up to us to carry out.  The lost of this world are counting on us to go, pray, give, and preach the gospel.  Are you fully involved in this process?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Helping the Helpless

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing.  Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, see that they get justice.    Proverbs 31:8,9 NLT
            Where in the Bible does it say, “The Lord helps those who help themselves?”  You won’t find that statement in “The Beatitudes.”  In fact, you won’t find it anywhere in the Scriptures.  What is the source of this commonly held proverb?  You’ll find it in Ben Franklin’s Poor Richards Almanac, 1757.  I doubt that Ole Ben was inspired by God to make that statement. 
            The teaching of Scripture is totally opposite of Mr. Franklin’s teaching.  The overall theme of the Beatitudes is to provide “help to the helpless.”  (Matthew 5:2-12)
            Another good example of helping the helpless is found in Proverbs 31:1-9.  In this passage the Queen mother of King Lemuel advises her son to give justice to those who are oppressed.  She urges him to rule with compassion and mercy to help the helpless. 
            The Psalmist Asaph’s instruction is: “Give fair judgment to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and destitute.  Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”  (Psalm 82:3-4 NLT)
            When a disastrous tornado struck Joplin, Missouri thousands of volunteers from all walks of life not only responded by giving money, food, and supplies, but also gave  their time and energy to go down and lend a helping hand in the cleanup. 
            Jesus had a warm place in his heart for the poor and needy.  He never turned anyone away who came to him for help.  The Scriptural record shows that he feed the hungry, healed the blind, lame, and helpless. 
            We say all this to point out that acts of service are a form of worship.  Worship is not just sitting in a church building singing and praying.  Worship is a mindset  It is a way of life.  Worship is having a heart for God and involving ourselves in spreading his message of love and forgiveness to a lost and dying world. 
            What are you doing to help the helpless?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Responding to God's Call

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you."  (Jonah 3:1-2)

   God has a plan and a calling for every believer.  None of us will be completely satisfied until we find out what God's purpose is for our lives.  It took me many years before I finally had peace of mind about service for the Lord.  I tried all kinds of so-called Christian activities, and wasted many hours going in circles, thinking that being busy for the Lord was equated with God's call.

   All the while God was trying to tell me, "All I want is a love relationship with you."  I don't need your service, but I do want to spend time with you.  I was created for that purpose.  Whatever I do today, I do out of compelling love for my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

   You will notice in the command for Jonah to go to Nineveh that God gave him the message.  God has given us a message and declared that we are his ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20)  When God calls us to a work, he also equips us for the task.  Have you responded to his call?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Resisting the Bait

Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7 NASB)

   Successful fishing requires patience and the right kind of bait. Two fish came up to my disguised bait.  One sniffed at it and swam away, but the other grabbed it and tried to swim away.  I yanked on the pole and yelled, "I got you this time."

   My fishing experience reminds me of temptation in a believer's life.  Satan lures Christians into sin by baiting his hooks with curiosity, pride, passion, and lust.  He dangled the bait of curiosity before Peter as he stood among the soldiers around the fire.  Instead of leaving the scene, Peter exploded in falsehood and cursing.

   In Joseph's case, Satan used the bait of sexual passion to try and lure him into sin, but Joseph refused to take the bait.  Instead he ran from the presence of sin.

   What should we do when Satan dangles his bait in front of us?  It looks so enticing and innocent, but the results of taking the bait are broken homes, failed marriages, scarred children, lost faith, and misplaced trust.  How can we guard against the temptations he places before us?  We can follow the Biblical principles outlined in 1 Peter 5:9; "Resist the devil and he will flee from you," and 2 Timothy 2:22; "Flee youthful lusts..."


Friday, August 3, 2012

Repetition: Is it Necessary?

You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices.  Instead you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars.  (Exodus 23:24 NLT)

  "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times...!"  Does that statement sound familiar?  How many times have I uttered that to one of my children over the years?

   Repetition is one of the seven laws of learning and the Lord repeatedly said to Israel -- no other gods -- no carved images.  Unfortunately for them they failed to heed his warnings and eventually were turned over to the devices of their enemies.

   The same holds true for you and me today.  Whatever commands our attention becomes our god.  When was the last time you stooped to take inventory?  Have you taken out the garbage lately?  As I search my heart, I see a ton of garbage that needs to be confessed and thrown out.

   Be careful not to allow anything to come between you and your love relationship with your heavenly Father.  That's my goal today!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Do You Remember When?

But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send my my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  (John 14:26 NASB)

   The children of Israel established the Passover as an everlasting memorial to remember God's deliverance from Egypt.  A memorial was need because of the feebleness of their own memories.  The Holy Spirit was given to help remind us of God's goodness.

   Do you have objects in your home that serve to remind you of God's faithfulness?  In our house, we have pictures on the walls, magnets on the refrigerator door, and appointments and notes on wall calendars.  Reminders help us when our memories fail.

   Reach back into your memory bank and choose a particular mighty act of God that took place in your life to give God the glory for today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reformation or Transformation

Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?  (Romans 7:24)

   While walking in a Florida subdivision, I noticed alongside the sidewalk a four foot snake skin.  Snakes cast off their outer garment by a process called molting.  Over the years people have tried a similar process to gain access to heaven.  That process is called reformation.  

   The problem with a snake shedding its outer skin is that it is still a snake.  All the self-help books on the market won't change what you are on the inside.  Reformation will never get you one step closer to God.  What, then, is necessary to bridge the gap?

   The answer lies in the message given to Nicodemus by Jesus himself.  In John 3:3 Jesus says to Nicodemus; "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God."  You may clean up your act -- look better, dress better, talk better, act better, even think better, but without regeneration of your inner man, you are still a poor lost sinner.  It's not about what you do, but what Jesus has done for you on the Cross of Calvary.  Only through transformation can you ever hope to gain entrance to heaven's glory.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  (1 Corinthians 15:9)

  The world hungers for recognition.  In the workplace employees step over each other to get ahead -- be recognized.  In Hollywood glamour and recognition are everyone's goal.  The same is true in school, on the playground, in the sporting world, and in churches.  The Scriptures teach a different philosophy.

   God chooses to exalt the lowly, the least among the saints.  John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).  John displays an attitude contrary to human nature.

   Are you willing to step aside and allow another to take the bows, get the recognition, and be first in line?  Those who are willing to be least are the humble, the selfless, and the blessed of God.

   How would you rate yourself?

Rebel with a Cause

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven for people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.  (Matthew 23:13)

   I well remember the rebellious times of the 50s and 60s because I had two teenage sons who overtly expressed their displeasure with government, police, and other authority figures including their father.  What difficult years those were!  With the Lord's help, we managed to survive and now as a senior citizen I can reflect back and admit that I was a rebel myself.

   When I accepted Christ as Savior and aligned my life with his, I became a rebel.  Why?  Because Jesus was the world's greatest rebel.  He opposed the rule of the scribes and Pharisees calling them hypocrites, blind fools, snakes, and a brood of vipers.  Don't those words sound like they are coming from a rebel?  the Son of righteousness opposed the acts of the unrighteous.  Jesus was truly a rebel with a cause.

   Are you a rebel with a cause -- following the greatest rebel of all times -- Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Qualities You Want to See in a Friend

"And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God.  (James 2:23 NASB)

   What kind of qualities do you want to see in a friend?  For me, it would be honesty, loyalty, and wisdom.
I want someone who will tell it like it is and will stick by me even when I stumble and fall.  I need a person who has the Godly wisdom that provides the kind of counsel I need when tough decisions confront me.

   Friends should be able to have good times together -- laughing, singing, and weeping with the joy of the Lord.  I also need a friend that challenges and encourage me to deepen my walk with the Lord.  For the past 60 years my wife, Elaine along with the Lord Jesus have fulfilled all the requirements of a true friend.

   Do you need a friend -- one who will stick closer than a brother.  I would recommend that you seek a love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is a friend worth seeking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quality Time

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:15-16 NASB)

  What is meant by "quality time," and how do we go about establishing it?

   Quality time requires just that -- time.  If you want to enjoy quality time with your children, a set time  needs to be reserved just for them.  They need to know that you consider their needs more important than your own.  Whenever they come to you with a need, put down the paper or book, turn off the TV and --- listen.  Listening is the most important skill you can develop with children.

   The same procedure applies to our relationship with the Lord.  God wants to spend time with you in a love relationship.  Maintaining a quiet time is quality time.  It is a time to read and meditate on God's word.  Time given to prayer.  Time to hide his word in your heart.  Or just time to wait quietly and listen to his voice.

   Do you desire quality time with the Lord?  Set aside a portion of your day to spend in a love relationship with your Heavenly Father.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Is Anyone Seeking the Truth

There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.  (Proverbs 6:16 NLT)
            Where are the truth seekers?  Today’s culture is literally riddled with falsehood.  From false advertising, false claims, false identifications, false promises, to false accusations; there seems to be a lack of desire to seek the truth.  Those in the highest offices of government feel no compunction, if telling a lie garners them an advantage over an opponent.  Others make no apologies for exaggerating or stretching the truth.  We are quick to label these half-truths as “little white lies”. 
            Here are a list of “little white lies” that are on common use today:
·        You look wonderful!
·        Don’t worry.  He doesn’t bite.
·        A child can assemble it.  All that’s needed is a screwdriver.
·        Guaranteed for life.
·        Of course I remember you.
·        This won’t hurt. You’ll just feel a little discomfort.
·        Drop in any time.  You’re always welcome.
·        The doctor will be with you in just a moment.
·        You don’t need an umbrella.  It’s not going to rain.
·        The car has low mileage.
Let me share in interesting experience I had with the computer.  I went on the internet and asked:  “When is a lie, not a lie?”  I thought the computer would have a heart attack.  It got all befuddled and in the end accused me of deception.
            Isn’t that one of the problems with lying?  When we lie not only is the truth being suppressed, but we are leading someone else astray.  To say the least, this is deception. 
            Why do people resort to lying instead of facing up to the truth?  A few suggestions come to mind:
·        To save face in light of a revealing truth.
·        To cast doubt on another person’s reputation or character.
·        To try and elevate ourselves in front of others.
·        To put someone down.
·        To gain an advantage.
·        To avoid a setback.  
I’m sure you can come up a few more reasons, none of which are valid in the eyes of God.
            How does God view these so-called “little white lies?”  The writer of Proverbs is quite clear when he says that God “hates,” or “detests” – a lying tongue and a false witness.   “When is a lie not a lie?”  -- Ans: There is never a time when a lie is not a lie. 
            We must be very careful when accusing individuals of being a “liar.”  To do so in my opinion makes us judgmental.  I can say to a person, “You are not telling the truth,” or “I believe you are lying,” but I’m not going to be judgmental and label you as a “liar.”
            To me the term “liar” refers to someone that is incapable of telling the truth.  God placed Satan in that category when he said, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does.  He was a murderer from the beginning.  He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 NLT)
            Let it be said of each of us that we are “truth seekers” and always ready to be bearers of the truth of the word of God.