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24-HOUR COVERAGE

It’s the way my brain works.  I see something small, and it might well be something of insignificance, but it “latches on” and turns into pondering.  Ultimately, it will relate itself to some thought from the Scriptures that behind it has multiplied thoughts from other portions of the Word of God, the Bible.

I was brushing my teeth, and I had left the cabinet door open so I did not have to look at that disheveled individual in the mirror.  My eye caught the small print on a deodorant container that said: “24-hour coverage”.  Sure enough, I had a spring board. 

It was not complicated to go back to those bygone days when we used gooey junk for that job that failed to achieve our goal rather quickly.  When the “stick” jobs arrived, we thought that we had “arrived”!  I have to believe that our friends thought much the same.

Two words drifted into my thinking as the Holy Spirit captivated my mind: insurance and assurance.  Almost daily we are reminded about insurance.  It’s cost, its coverage, and the Company’s reputation is their sales pitch.  Because I am satisfied with my research prior to what I have selected, it often does not make it past the re-cycle bin in my garage.  They promise this to be the last notice, and it is, until the next one.

A long time ago I discovered the joy and fulfillment that came to my heart when I discovered the word assurance.  People kept telling me how I could lose my salvation.  I knew the texts of Scripture that they propounded, and so I focused on the context of that portion of Scripture in Hebrews 6.  In the context, I noticed that the people referred to had never solidified in their minds and hearts the depth that had led them to continue, right from the beginning.  It was the type of thinking that was at the emotional level and that was the reason they had not continued on from day one and were lodged in the same type of thinking to this day.  Genuine conversion, with clear understanding of what Christ has done our behalf, will continue.  In addition to understanding that portion of Scripture and many others, such as Romans 8:38, 39, I have the ASSURANCE of my eternal salvation.

My Insurance policy is contained in what God has declared and we know as the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures.  Because He said it, I believe it, and it is His guarantee for all Eternity. 

Those little words: 24-Hour Coverage are truly applicable concerning our salvation.

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THRU MANY DANGERS, TOILS, & SNARES

A friend wrote recently, and quoted those words from Amazing Grace. (John Newton)  In comparison, I would like to believe that I never measured anything close to him by a fouled up life.  However, in our tendency to grade sin as bad, worse, or even so categorically as beyond the imagination, we would like to believe our sin is nothing as compared with the worse, or as those unimaginable.  You and I know that sin is sin, and therefore it violates the perfection of our wonderful Lord. 

Years ago I was starting a church.  To make ends meet, I took a job in a Dairy, bottling milk.  It was there that I acquired a greater understanding of “bacteria”.  It also helped me to understand the rapidity with which it could multiply and how the “old nature” that remains in man, even after salvation, can exert itself and spoil ones walk with the Lord and loss of a testimony.

What has been most gracious of our Lord is that in spite of exposures and weaknesses, “the dangers, toils and snares,” He has never thrown me into the garbage bin.  Each experience or obstacle has brought the realization that He was good to His promises in the Word.

I have been reminded of Psalm 30…v2 “O Lord, my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me….v5 “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

Someone said that all of this leads to contrasts…

Anger/ Favor

Weeping/ Joy

Lifetime / Moment

Night / Morning

Endureth / Cometh

THINK ON THESE THINGS!

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SAUL TO PAUL

Over the years I have been called some interesting names, but let’s face it, I remain the same person that my parents named me.  That name Edward could have come from a great grand-father who was gored to death by a bull, or possibly an uncle who fell on the job, gained gangrene in his leg, and lost his life.  No one could ever satisfy my thinking as to whom I was named after.

As I read the account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, and then the recap of his past in Corinthians – An explosive conversion on the Road to Damascus, trained at the feet of Gamaliel, (Acts 22:) and then persecution endured because he stood firm for Christ when accused unjustly with pettiness by some of the “saints”, I thought to myself, “what a stalwart”!

Then I read again Acts 9, thinking that my recognition of Christ as the Savior of the World was not as climactic as his.  Fortunately, only Saul of Tarsus was being dealt with by the Lord at that moment.  In all probability, you may have had a similar experience as God dealt with you. 

As you go farther into the story and read of his blindness, his journey of being led the rest of the way into Damascus, and then God confronting a disciple called Ananias, and instructing him to go to Saul at the Street called Straight, to a house owned by Judas, and he would find Saul of Tarsus praying.

All of these little details had to fall into place.  Ananias had to listen close to what God told him because it could not be happenstance.  The concern demonstrated by Ananias was justified; he knew already the reputation of Saul, but hearing was exceptional as he went to straighten Saul out, see him regain his vision.  Like we read, it was on Straight Street.

Just suppose that you knew all of the details of what God had in store for you in a situation such as this; do you think you would be quick to respond to what lay down the road ahead?  I will present what Ananias heard concerning Saul and his future.  “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15, 16)

Do you think that Saul, who later became known as Paul, ever forgot the gracious greeting that he received from Ananias?  “Brother Saul”? (Acts 9:17) A reminder here – Saul also known as Paul (Acts 13:9)   Or, would there be a greater act of service and friendship than that of Barnabas “who took hold of him (Paul) and brought him to the apostles…” (Acts 9:27)

From the moment that Saul/Paul received his encounter from God, we read of his efforts to make Christ known to all with whom he came in contact.  However, he immediately began to meet opposition in many forms; he was beat numerous times, stoned, ridiculed by some fellow believers, imprisoned, and even had to be let down over the walls of a city in a basket.  This is the same man who was warned that this would be his life-style until his dying day.  It never deterred him from his determination to follow the Lord in obedience!

Thanks be to God for the men involved in a man named “Saul of Tarsus” who became known as Paul the Apostle!   Also, look for a man that you might disciple for Christ.

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WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

Perhaps, at least let us hope, that the current crises has seen a few Bibles taken off the shelves, dusted off and read.  Many probably had a hard time finding the Easter Story, mainly because God and His Word have been relegated to “Emergency” situations only.  With the churches closed, at least the pastors did not see the person or persons that he last saw at Christmas!  I am not trying to be critical, just factual. 

Why does it take a crisis to shake us from our lethargy?  Whether the person is one who is beset with multiplied problems, or someone who, for the first time in a long time is awakened to their awareness of not having been engaged in another individuals need!

Thank the Lord for the good times and the bad.  The boat needs rocking on occasion!  It has been virtually impossible to envision the type of response that would come from people who themselves have been negatively affected during these most unusual situations.  With all of the monetary figures and mountainous medical emergencies that have beset people, it is hopeful that we might all experience a transition into a more balanced life-style! 

Awareness of our “cog” in the engine of life is a necessity that cannot be ignored.  There are inescapable opportunities to do something about the problems that beset our society without having to become the top-dog.  Over the years I have noticed that the top-dogs often create the problems, rather than resolve them.  

The simplicity of a solution lies in understanding the question that Jesus asked when told that His mother and brothers are “outside seeking to speak to You.”  “Who is My mother and who are My brothers? (Matthew 12:48)   Jesus stretched out his hand toward His disciples and said: “Behold My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:49,50)

Let us continue to do in accordance with what Jesus instructed!

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SEATED AT HIS FEET

We have oft read the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha!  You will find it in Luke 10, beginning at verse 38 and continuing through verse 42.

Reading through the Scriptures you become aware of the fact that numerous women often followed and supported the Lord Jesus as He ministered here upon the earth.  Another story in John 12:1 indicates that this was the home of Lazarus, whom He called forth from the grave.

Upon this particular visit, Mary was described as being seated and listening to the words of Jesus.  Martha was somewhat upset by this, even to the point of presenting her frustration to the Lord.  I cannot help but notice that Martha welcomed Him to their home.  I am not certain why she did this, seemingly alone.  Mary felt quite comfortable to let Martha prepare things as she sat at the feet of the Savior, listening. 

Mary is not involved in the preparations, and is obviously content with just “listening”.   The majority of us would be caught up in the preparations, just as Martha did.   You, like so many of us, can get caught up in side issues and be missing on the things that should be of priority.  Side tracked is what it is called!  Being the “perfect host/hostess” can become more important than sitting and listening to the Savior.  I would hate to tell you of how many times I have digressed to secondary things and lost sight of the important.

Have you ever been lovingly rebuked by the Holy Spirit of God for digressing? When He has said in effect: “Get with it!  You are in the wrong place!  You need spiritual refreshment, you need more time in the Scriptures!”

You are enveloped in worry and you are bothered in so many ways, but Mary “has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  Keeping our priorities in order and submitting ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit is the “good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Hopefully, we shall not sell ourselves short!

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FORGIVEN

I have never been a poet, yet my efforts were satisfying to my need.  I often jotted down notes on a multiplicity of subjects for fun, sometimes for spiritual truths, frequently for the love of my life, Patsy.  I seldom purchased a card, but so enjoyed writing to her and about her.

The poem today is also in my book, Forever Forgiving.  Hopefully you will read the Book at your convenience.  When you have finished reading today’s poem, just move to ETCetera.

FOREVER FORGIVEN   (E. Ted Cowen)

He hung between two thieves

The Christ of Calvary

Undeserving as He was

They nailed Him to a tree

The mob railed on that day

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him”

What they failed to know

He was dying for their sin.

Above the noise and din

Words He spoke rang through,

“Father, forgive them

They know not what they do.”

Such love, mercy, and grace

Displayed in condescension

God incarnate, Christ the Son,

Beyond our comprehension!

To you, to me, He speaks

‘Tis displayed upon His brow

“I want your love returned

Why not give it?  Do it now!”

“Father forgive them

They know not what they do.”

Parting words from the Savior

Grants us life anew!

I heard His plea to God

For this sinner and my need

Forgiven!  What a word!

Eternally FORGIVEN, He decreed!


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JACOB

Reading through Genesis we garner truths concerning parents showing partiality to one child above another.  In particular we refer to Isaac who had married Rebekah. Genesis 25:19 and following!  She had twins, Esau and Jacob.  Isaac favored Esau, and Rebekah favored Jacob. (You need to read the entire story.)

On an occasion when Esau came home and smelled the “pot” that Jacob cooked, he could not contain himself, and Jacob took the opportunity to trade food for Esau’s birthright.  Later, when Isaac was nearing death and had gone blind Rebekah encouraged Jacob to secure the “birthright” through manipulation.  In fact, she even assisted throughout the scheme.  He had to flee his home because Esau had threatened to kill him following Isaac’s death.

Obviously, one can only ascertain by what went on in these two instances, that there is many untold family rivalries.  When either parent shows partiality toward their children, it is not long before the effect of such actions begins, and sadly continues.

 The name “Jacob” carries with it several possible meanings, “supplanter” and “trickster” as well as “heel catcher” notes Dr. C. Ryrie.   He also notes: “The birthright of the eldest son gave him precedence over his brothers (cf. 43:33) and assured him a double share of his father’s inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17).  It could be forfeited by committing a serious sin (1 Chronicles 5:1) and it could be bartered as in this instance.  The agreement was solemnized by an oath (v33).

It is a sad situation that has developed.  However, taking the time to read the remainder of Genesis, you will find the manipulative character of Jacob repeated again and again.  It was a flaw that probably hindered him to the grave and limited his accomplishments.  However God did not “throw him out with the bath water.”  God sees fit to “fit us in” at other junctures of our lives and still use us in our weaknesses.  In fact, think of such people in Scripture and how God “Revived” them for a new venture of service.  They are many!  Be a part of that “many”!

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THE STONES CRY OUT

Undoubtedly you have read of some of the findings of archeologists, things they “dig up” from the most unexpected places.  I visited and viewed the Dead Sea scrolls, and came away knowing little more than when I arrived.  Admittedly, I was not totally ignorant of what to expect prior to that visit, yet, I realized how dependent I was on another’s intelligence and labors.

A friend, an engineer for RCA in those years, was trying to explain to me how some of these new found gadgets of those days worked.  After realizing I was not responding in an understanding way, he said: “It is like putting that information into a very, very small rock.”  I thanked him for his patience but told my beloved wife, Patsy, how I was as wise at the conclusion as I was at the beginning.

When Jesus was entering Jerusalem on what we celebrate as “Palm Sunday,” (Luke 19:38) the crowds were shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Naturally, there were those who found it objectionable and said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  Not only did they object, but notice how they made sure to disassociate themselves by saying, “Your disciples.”

Jesus responds: “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (v40)  I have thought often of what might be hidden in those stones that would allow them to “cry out”!  I am aware that our archeologists can learn much from the stones that they unearth, but to hear those “stones cry out” would be another thing!

That moment was surely one that would cause anyone to wonder, “Could this really happen?”  But something else is added by Dr. Luke that bears repeating; He was approaching Jerusalem and beholding it, “wept over it.  Saying, if you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

While He spoke about the stones that would “cry out”; He now speaks of the stones that would be demolished and speak in a different manner.  Those stones are still speaking and confirming the Word of God and the Savior of men, JESUS!

They did not recognize the time of His visitation then, but the stones carry the message to you and to me… Believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

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TO WHOM SHALL WE GO

Those words appear in John 6:68.  The context makes them stand out significantly, for Jesus had been attracting crowds who were listening to each word that He spoke, with many giving indication that they were so captivated that it was their intention of becoming one of His disciples.

We are accustomed to people giving a sense of approval to Jesus and His teachings, but when it comes to actual commitment, the numbers dwindle with such rapidity, that one wonders if they were threatened or finally came to a realization of choices demanded of them.  The people obviously loved the idea of serving under a king, and their benefits, but to follow one who would ultimately be crucified; that is a different matter!  It says that many of these so called “disciples, withdrew”. (v66)

Jesus approached those who remained, the twelve in particular; “Do you want to go away also, do you?” (v67)  Basically, these are the individuals who would suffer martyrdom ultimately. 

Peter, the one who seems to give me a springboard time after time, asks the question that we wrote earlier:  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life.  We have believed and have come to know that YOU are the Holy One of God.”

I have watched, all too often, those who walk away and refuse to believe what Jesus has declared.  In most cases, they have head knowledge but the “heart” has not been touched; they refuse to bend the knee and bow before the Monarch of the Universe, JESUS CHRIST!   To turn one’s back on the person of the Christ of Calvary reveals what one really thinks about HIM.

Until one narrows their thinking to “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that YOU are the Holy One of God,” and act upon that belief, you remain un-prepared for eternity future and have, like those who have “withdrawn” from Jesus!


A friend of years past, Bruce Parker, wrote the following:

GOD CAN DO IT

I believe that God can do things man can’t do at all

That He can displace mountains, cleave the rock for waterfall

Without limit is the power that He gives thru boundless grace

And this comes when Christians seek to live in Christ’s abiding place.

Abide in me, my words in you, then ask for what you will

My hand is not yet shortened and my voice is not yet still

For trusting Christian nobodies, I’ll see this promise thru

Yes, a simple faith will make my power available for you.

But in this very modern age of see, and then believe

That doubts and fears and wonderings make faith hard to receive

Hating every evil way but loving every sinner,

The promise of our blessed Lord is: Every saint a winner.

Man’s Faith in man is not the way to massive mountains move

But prayer, His Word and witnessing will all the Scripture prove

That God is just the same today as He has always been

And obedience bring miracles as Christ resides within

So if you have a wavering heart, a mind obsessed with worry

You trust His love and watch the devil leave you in a hurry

Now is God’s time for all the saints to take Him at His Word

And let this power work thru us till this whole globe is stirred.

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THE DEMONIAC OF GADARA

We are not always able to determine demonic oppression in an individual.  In our modern society we would probably desire an individual be sent to a Psychologist, or Psychiatrist, prior to acknowledging that the possibility exists that they may very well be experiencing demonic oppression, or even possession.  We have come a long way, but some of the problems in this area remain just that, problems!

There was no question in the minds and hearts of the people of Gerasenes, as to the origin of this man that met Jesus.  He had not put on clothing for a long time; nor had he lived in a house, but in the tombs.  When they endeavored to chain and shackle him, he broke the chains and shackles.  So violent was he that he was described as being “driven by the demon into the desert.”   When Jesus asked him his name, he replied: “Legion”; an explanation follows: “for many demons had entered him.” 

Further explanation of the event in Luke 8, illustrates how the demons knew the power of Jesus with simply His presence.  They also knew their ultimate demise and destination, the “abyss”, or hell itself.  The devil, and or demons, knew of their ultimate fate; yet they sought to delay it by entering the swine – their wish was granted.

Naturally this attracted much attention.  So much so, that numerous people wanted to confirm the end result: “they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; they became frightened.”  (v35) 

When I heard stories from the older folk of bygone years, “frightened” was a natural reaction.  In a modern concept we might say: “they were shook to the core.”  Tell it in whatever idiom you prefer, but when Jesus Christ enters the picture, in any person’s life, the transition is dramatic.

The simplicity of the Savior’s attention to the entire matter is as dramatic as the actual miracle: “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” (v39)  Examined closely, you see Christ claiming what and who He was in actuality… God Incarnate!

A closing thought!  His instruction was to “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.”  That man was not to be restricted; he went to the “whole city”.  I can understand his action and that of any individual who experiences the healing power of GOD!  Whether physical or spiritual healing, let us speak clearly and consistently “What God hath wrought!”

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MEN OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY

One reads the news, or listens to it, and discovers suddenly that here is a person mentioned that I never knew before.  At the conclusion, I either feel as though I would appreciate knowing more about the individual, or I find a certain disdain toward them.  However, I am supposed to conclude that the individual is sufficiently important to warrant the article, or I should have known their importance previously.

Some years ago, an individual wrote a letter to me and shared: “What I have learned recently about a guy named, Job!”  I have to admit that I was completely surprised that he had just learned about “this guy named Job”.  However, as I endeavored to communicate about “Job”, the subject was dropped.  Probably because I saw Job in a different light or level than he had discovered.  Who knows?  Many are they who know about the “patience of Job”, but do not know where it originated.

Looking through Hebrews 11, I was again reminded of: Abel, Cain, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel – The prophets.  I was also reminded of some of the things they accomplished or endured.  By faith they: conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, and were strengthened from weakness. They became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, and women received back their dead by resurrection. They were tortured, not accepting their release, mocked and scoured, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword, dressed in goatskins and sheepskins.  They were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, and wandered in deserts, mountains, caves and holes in the ground; and notice they “did not receive what was promised” BUT “THEY ALL DIED IN FAITH”! 

To put it and them in perspective before God, “so that they might obtain a better resurrection”!    Please note the 38th verse in particular, “men of whom the world was not worthy.”  Many of us would not fit into the category of these men who were “sold out” to the Lord, especially as it relates to how the world has seen them, and how the Lord has seen them.   God sees men and women in a whole different perspective, and we who love the Lord should be focused on hearing: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” from HIM as over and  against any praise from men.

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DECEASED LETTER

Has it ever occurred to you that someday you may receive a letter from a deceased individual?  Well, when that happened to me about thirty five years ago, initially I was shocked, but then I began to give it a lot thought.

My first thought was, “I am certain that there are few pastors who have ever received such a meaningful experience.”  We go through life enjoying the privilege of ministering to people under all types of situations; never expecting anything in return.  I am certain that far more would express their appreciation in advance if they knew for certain when the Lord was calling them home.

The second thought was, “of all the people I have known, the one to write me such a letter was the wife of a pastor friend.  She could not thank me enough for the close friendship that her husband and I shared.  In reality, he was the teacher and I the student.  However, she felt that I had been an encouragement to him in difficult situations.

Third in my thinking was how much she appreciated the position I held on interpretation of Scriptural truths.  She made it ever so clear how we agreed on some Bible teachers that we both held in great esteem.

In particular, I thought much about the fact that she felt the need to prepare this in advance, and have someone mail it on the day that the Lord called her HOME!

Many of the congregants to whom we have ministered over the years have expressed their appreciation for innumerable reasons, but to have it arrive purposely, immediately after she responded to God’s call to come home, stirred my heart afresh!

Behind my thinking about this dear saint of God was something that the Apostle Peter wrote about in 2 Peter 1.  He was determined to stir up the believers, assured of that necessity because he knew “that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”

Let’s face it; we all need to have our reminders activated on occasion.  Can I think of a more poignant manner than a letter from a departed friend or relative?  I don’t think so!  We are granted a copy of The Word of God, all 66 Books of the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit and protected in their unique fashion through the centuries, so that we may read and respond positively to this letter from HIM!

WHAT A LETTER!

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GOD GIVES ASSIGNMENTS

The Book of Exodus is just as the name suggests with the story of the Israelites being sent a man, Moses, to lead them from slavery to freedom.  From the very outset you gather the “incidents” that culminate in his leadership.  He has a couple of assistants in the likes of Aaron the Levite, and Joshua, in particular.  It is essential that we remember that he gets instructions directly from God.

Of course, Moses does not feel qualified for the position to which God assigned him.  God showed him that he was a mouthpiece thru the observance he had of the burning bush.  God impressed upon him the need of the Israelites. (Exodus 3:7) “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.”  Four hundred thirty years had marked their journey into Egypt, and the welcomed reception they were given when Joseph was serving under Pharaoh had turned into slavery and oppression.

As God gives Moses instructions, Moses has a ready retort with a multitude of reasons someone else would be more qualified than he.  I lack the ability to speak to our people; (3:11) I am not fit for such a responsibility; (4:1) I might be challenged as to my authority. (4:1) My speech lacks eloquence and power. (4:10) And finally he hears God say, in effect, I will send you and empower you until there is recognition: “This is the finger of God.” (8:19)

There are oodles of thought throughout the Exodus journey, but we have sought to focus only on the fact that God sends us on assignments and empowers us to accomplish them, and they cannot be duplicated by the magicians. (8:18) I am far from being alone on this thought!

Perhaps you have staggered at an assignment, like that of testifying directly to an individual about their need of Christ as Savior; maybe as simple as visiting someone and praying with them over a need in their life; mental, medical, shut in, or something that appears to be too big “for little me”.  During the Covid 19 pandemic is an ideal time to accept our challenge.  Remember, Moses obeyed and led Israel for forty years faithfully; he looked and saw the Promised Land, but Joshua had to finish the job.  Both found satisfaction in obedience!  

When one seeks direction from the Lord, and when that individual recognizes that God can enable them to perform His assignment, be it above and beyond something they envision as possible, He will provide!   Someone said, a mighty long time ago, “You and God make a majority!”

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SELECTIVE SEATING

Imagine for a moment that you are a part of the congregation of this newly established religious group that is called “Christian”.  You have listened closely to the message it has presented concerning Christ, and as a new found believer, you are made an “usher” in the church.  You are excited about your assignment, especially when you observe Mr. Prominence visiting your group for the first time ever.

Assured in your mind that you would be following the desires of the leadership of the congregation, you very quickly select a seat assignment that puts Mr. Prominence close to Mr. Noteworthy.  In doing so, you have to move the poor man into a location that identifies him as a “poor” man.  That amounts to the indication that you are looking at Mr. Prominence as more important.  It is repulsive that, even in the church, there are those who lack sufficient maturity to reveal equality.

James goes on to ask a very straightforward question: “Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?   In calling attention by the action taken, James makes a bold statement when he says to the believers: “If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9)

A little further in that 2nd chapter of James we read: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.”  The old saying: “Let your walk talk and your talk walk” should find a home in the heart of every believer. 

I am certain that you did not miss how James identified those who allow themselves to be en-snared by the devil’s activity as becoming “judges with evil motives”.  What seems but a simple snare, is sin before the Almighty!

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BEEN THERE – DONE THAT

In the work of the Lord we are constantly pursuing in our thinking “ways” to improve the effectiveness of our ministry; and I am not alone in this area.  I would be remiss if I did not admit to ending my thinking in the trash can far more often than continuing to pursue the idea as of the Lord.

We are faced with the truth that while many people are “church shopping”, there are an awful number of people, “church hopping”.   They have little knowledge of the Scriptures, and have less than average solidifying of doctrinal differences.  As for separation from worldly habits, there is little or no distinction whatsoever.   To what do we attribute this particular problem?  Little is said about it, and less is desired to hear about it.  One might conclude that an intimate walk with the Lord is lacking.  The Apostle Paul, addressing Timothy who was brought up under home tutelage, as well as being taught by the apostle himself, was instructed to: “Be diligent to present your-self approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)  Again, we might attribute this to a “quickie” in time spent with the Lord and His Word; too busy for God and His Word?  Too busy!

I love the words of Romans 1:1…”Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…”  How we need a fresh commitment to “who we are” and “how we represent Him 24-7!  How many of our friends know about our relationship to Christ?  “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Join me in thoughtful consideration as to how we can show separation as well as the “sweet aroma” to which we refer!

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BEEN TO A FUNERAL RECENTLY?

As a pastor over these many years, the number of funerals conducted has been extensive, and each one has some type of uniqueness to it.  I remember many of them, and recall what people wanted or did not want included.  The hardest was probably those of children; that does not surprise me, because I notice that when a statistic is mentioned on the news of the death of individuals, in qualified numbers they usually mention, with X number being children.

In most cases people will lay a flower on the casket before it is lowered.  Sometimes they will choose to drop the flower into the grave; on one occasion the family followed a tradition and gradually threw in pieces of a puzzle until the entire puzzle was on or next to the casket.  There are many other traditions involved related to Bibles being placed in a casket before it is closed, and some even opened to a particular portion of Scripture that was a favorite of the deceased.

There are numerous references to deaths and funerals in the Bible.  When David lost his child, he had been mourning because of the child’s illness, but upon the death of the child he came into the house of the Lord and worshipped.  Because of his manner of dealing with the result of his sin, we find him explaining to his servants his actions: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.  But now he has died; why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23)  Strong words of acceptance of God’s will in the matter.

Some of the Old Testament Prophets were involved in the restoration to life of individuals they encountered.  In the New Testament we have the restoration of life to Lazarus.  (John 11:1-44)  In the 35th verse we read the shortest verse in the Scriptures: “Jesus wept.”  Further we read the reason, “See how He loved him!”  It is reasonable that when death takes the life of one we love to be involved in a good “bawling session”.  Surely we rejoice in the confidence that we shall see them shortly, and that knowledge brings healing by the Holy Spirit of God… one remembrance at a time.  If you are like me, you will thank the Lord daily for the bond you had with that individual, child or adult, and for what the future holds in eternity with our transformed and glorified bodies.

We all have an appointment with death that God has determined.  The day remains uncertain, but the guarantee of our presence with HIM is determined by our attitude toward Him here and now!

A reminder:  “AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”  Acts 2:21

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MONEY

All of a sudden we are made aware of a crisis, and we presume that the solution to the whole matter is MONEY!  Manipulative processes are applied that appear to tentatively resolve the problem.   The real problem is much deeper than it first appears, and somewhere down the road, the chickens will come home to roost.

For a moment we need to be realistic about our need versus our greed.  There are obviously a large number of people who have befallen upon “hard times”, but there are those who have put themselves into this mess.  I refuse to individualize each person’s situation, but I can say that the Scripture warns, (and remember that Timothy, the preacher/pastor is being addressed as well as the congregants) : “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When greed replaces our need, it takes such a hold on our lives that our income and outlay clash.  I read recently, how in one particular country, the increase in family confrontations, as a result of families being at home for more hours, have placed exceptional demands on the police.  Here, in the Phoenix area, it is considered the most dangerous situation that a law officer may have to encounter.

I must commend the demonstrations of concern that we have seen displayed of recent.  It reminds me of the instruction God gave Moses to give to the people as they were engaged in journeying, and then residing in the Promised Land; these folk were under tight laws, even to caring for the “poor man”. (Exodus 20 thru 24)

The solution is obvious:  “Flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6: 11)  These are the things that form a balanced diet in regard to finances.

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NARCISSISM

You probably read it, just like many others.  President Obama’s step brother accused him of being a “narcissist”.  I have no intention of engaging in discussion on that apparent “family feud”. 

Sometime ago I was reading in Galatians 6, when a thought along those lines entered my brain; it dealt with a thought concerning a brother in the Lord caught in a “trespass”.  The more spiritual brother should “restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness.”  A Christian, dealing with another Christian brother, has no business in kicking him while he is down; he should be in the restoration business, and gentleness should prevail.  He is also assigned the obligation of “bearing one another’s burden.” (v2)

So far, so good!  Now comes an additional warning. “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  It is obvious that there is the element of narcissism imbedded in his thinking, because he obviously must have been singing his own praises, “How great I am!”  That type of unfortunate conduct becomes detrimental to a congregation of believers in short order.

If one is engaged in assisting a fallen brother, the element of boasting is repulsive!  He is told to recognize this, and to realize that such activity leaves him in a situation where he is only patting himself on the back.  That element of self-love will break your arm, and the trust that one had in you is negated.  We are to honor our trust!

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WHERE RIGHTEOUSNESS DWELLS

Try as we might, it is virtually impossible to talk about the throes of earth in the final days, without feeling that they are indescribable.   Even as early as the formation of the church following the resurrection of Jesus, they were aware that there would be a judgment that would destroy the entire earth and the heavens and the elements would melt with intense heat. 

Peter makes direct reference to it in his second Epistle.  However, he includes in his remarks that “According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (11 Peter 3:13)

Personally, I have seen some of the most beautiful places that one can imagine, and I have not seen everything created by our wonderful Lord.  I could not live the length of time it would require to do something of this magnitude.  Imagine, if possible, what it will be to see “New heavens and a new earth” without a curse upon it.  It is unimaginable with the limited abilities that we possess.  But is will be so, and because every believer and follower of the Lord Jesus will have been made a “spiritual” body, a perfect creation that was led by our Lord Jesus in His resurrection, will experience perfection for the first time. 

Accordingly, the aura of perfection will touch everything and everyone in that new creation.  I realize that there are those who give the rest of us the idea that they are “perfect”, I assure you that they will find great satisfaction when they live in that environment and experience the “promise” (v13) that is actualized.

There are those words “righteousness dwells” that stand out at the end of these promises.  Every day our “news casts” blurt out the tragedies, world- wide, that bespeak the works of unrighteousness of the world in which we live.  The tragedies are everywhere and man with his limited capacity, because of this body of clay that is marred since the beginning, cannot find any solution to such tragedies, and it becomes more and more frightful from a human standpoint.  We are “more intelligent” but frightfully more sinful.

Our hope can and will be realized only when God intervenes.  If the days of Peter were described as close to the “end time”, we are obviously very close to what God intends to do.  If righteousness in that day reigns, and we certainly agree with what Peter has said, let us: “Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;” (v14)

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THE WINGS OF A DOVE

I wrote recently about the many birds that come into our back yard.  They are all beautiful to watch and though we do not feed them, they must know how much they are appreciated by their daily return.

A number of them are doves; whenever I take time to sit and watch them I notice that each bird, or group, have preferences as far as what they want to indulge in.  We have lost a few young plants to their selectivity of approach, but we do not let it bother us.

The dove is mentioned frequently in the Bible.  Perhaps the most catching account is found in relationship to Noah sending one out of the Ark to test the levels of water. (Genesis 8)  For the romantic readers they probably love the reference in Song of Solomon where there is the reference to the lady who has eyes like those of a dove.  We all have our reasons for selected texts for moments that fit the occasion. 

The Psalmist writes of the weighty problems that beset him in Psalm 55.  At least he does the right thing he goes to God and cries out in the middle of his distress.  He speaks about his supplications and asks that God would not hide from him or fail to heed him and answer him.  He is desperate!

As one looks at his selection of words, I am conscious of Psalm 140:10 where we have the idea of “rolling mischief” on an individual. He has “hit bottom”!

It is then that we read: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.  I would hasten to my place of refuge, from the stormy wind and tempest.”

It is doubtful that there is not someone reading these words from Psalm 55 that has not questioned the sincerity of his friends, his colleagues, those who were his support who have now obviously turned against him.

I suggest you turn your thinking to the Lord, as was the case of David.  The words of v16 and some verses that follow are certainly the keys to the lock: “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.  He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which against me, for they are many who strive with me.  God will hear and answer them—even the one who sits enthroned from of old—with whom there is no change, and who do not fear God.”

I purposely left out one word after “old”—it is the word Selah!  It simply means “Think on these things!”

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RE-BIBLE

The story is told of the villager, who returning to his own village did so with excitement.  He told of his visit to the other village and proceeded to talk about what was taking place spiritually.  Excitedly he said: “They are having a Re-Bible!

In effect, he was right.  When the fires of revival began, one of the primary evidences was the excitement that had been generated toward the reading of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures.  In discharging my duties as a minister of the Gospel, there is little that can be explained during any resurgence on the part of the saints toward the reading of the Bible.  It gradually affects, not just a portion of the congregation, but every person in attendance at that church.  That is why I suspect they use the phrase: “The Fires of Revival!”

When the Word of God is read consistently, it brings with it a fresh understanding of Scriptural truth and the necessity of conforming to what God has revealed in His Word.   The need of a new found obedience to the Savior becomes a challenge.   There is the realization that much of what one desires can be achieved through association on a more “involved” basis with other saints who have equaled desires.  While there is such a desire, be certain that you co-ordinate through the pastor who will, in all probability have a list of individuals or programs that will encourage you in this fresh commitment.  If this is not done, it can turn into nothing more than a headache for all involved.

Remember that only six verses of Psalm 119 do not make mention of the Word of God in one aspect or the other.  In any situation, make sure that you stick with the WORD!  If others bring or suggest other books in your sequence of “get togethers”, graciously, but firmly stick with the Bible.

Let’s get back to the subject that we are ultimately tying together.  An old friend of mine said, years ago, “Revival is not worked up, it is sent down!”  As you are faithful, so God is faithful.

Hebrews 4:12  “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and Spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

“the Word of God is not imprisoned.”  2 Timothy 2:9

“I shall keep Your statutes.”  Psalm 119:8

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PARTIALITY

It is not unusual for children to acquire the idea of partiality at a very young age.  After all, they are surrounded with an audience of “important people” from the earliest remembrances of childhood.  Our news media, with all of its preponderance of ideas about “celebrities” and their life styles, can create an aura of duplicity that can be achieved with the end result of “high style” and financial achievements.  I must inject that we see it in little ones who show preferences of who gives them attention to satisfy them in a group of family members.

Even the early church had a problem in this area.  James the apostle addressed it when he spoke of those who, when entering the church, were quickly observed who they were and what they wore, and then seated them accordingly.  He spoke to the seating arrangement as being completely out of order inasmuch as the “ushers” of that era were prone to place people of “notoriety” in the more prominent positions. (James 2:14-26)  One church that I attended made it quite clear that certain people had purchased a particular pew. 

In observing the “preferred posture” of certain people in the church, I have noticed that some make choices on where they hear best, where the heat or Air Conditioner satisfies their comfort; and some even find “the family pew”.

The Scripture makes it clear that we “brought nothing into the world so we cannot take anything out of it either.  One young lady, responsible for her uncle’s funeral arrangement, asked if she could put her uncle’s fishing pole in the casket as it was “a love of his life.”  Naturally I would not object but have often wondered what I might find in other caskets if I were to dig them up.  I have noticed at funerals that the casket is as far to the front as some people will ever get.

My friends, we are enjoined not to show partiality when we are in the work of the Lord.  Basically, NONE of us is more important than another!  There are a few options as relating to the sick, the needy, the widows, but certainly not to someone who shows their robes of financial affluence.

We have so grossly equated prominence, financial successes, sports personalities, political accomplishments, and the list goes on (no matter how it was achieved), and dozens of other categorized successes, to the point that unless you reach one of these you are a nobody.  Shame on us!

James in his Epistle makes it clear. (Reference above) Brethren, these things should not be, and especially among God’s people.

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ANNA

Just suppose!  You had been married for only seven years when God called your husband home. 

You could be very angry, discouraged, depressed, or one bitter lady.  However, you could go the other direction, reach eighty four, and look back at what God had allowed you to do; you had “never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”

Because of my nature, prayer is not the easiest thing in my life.  The devil sees to it that I have to fight to get in time to pray.  My “busyness” becomes an imposition in my thinking and I have to fight to have a decent prayer life.  Think of a lady who has been praying for seventy seven years for basically the one particular prayer, “She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” (v37)  When she beheld the Christ child, note that it says  “at that very moment she came up, “and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Praying for something specific for seventy-seven years and suddenly walking up and seeing Jesus, knew her prayers were answered.  The Apostle Paul had a problem and after three times, He felt that the “thorn in the flesh” had been prayed for sufficiently and ended up saying, basically, God is going to use this for His glory.  That’s enough!

Now she continues to talk, first with THANKSGIVING!  She knew her prayers had been answered; she could not contain herself.  I think any of us would be excited to realize that prayer had been answered after all these years.  Further, this was just a “little handful” that would not be comprehended for at least thirty years down the road and even then, only by a small group.

While she was praying for the “redemption” of Jerusalem, she beheld someone even greater: “The Redeemer of mankind!” 

What a prayer warrior!   Hopefully this will become a challenge to you as it has been to me.  Take up a prayer challenge, and refuse to give up!!  God will answer!  Perhaps we all need to talk to Anna and have our hearts challenged afresh!

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A LITTLE LEAVEN

In our earliest childhood we experienced the toughest of times!  I have no regret that was the case; we recognized only that this was our fortune and misfortune. Some would have us believe it was only the latter.  

One thing we acquired from someone who was “moving up” from our status to a newer one was an old four burner kerosene stove, and it even had an oven that you could seat on the burners and bake items. 

As well as being a great seamstress, Mom could whip a meal together in short order.  As for salads, there was always the ability to put together something that would more than suffice on the spur of a moment; and she never ran out of ideas.

There was one problem that seemed to elude her; it was called “baking”.  It was not all her fault, because in Bermuda we had to fight high humidity.  When it was at its peak, it was virtually impossible to keep yeast for long. Those little square blocks would lose their ability to function properly and the bread and rolls would almost always come out of the old kerosene oven, close to looking like a pancake.  Some of you might well remember those days.  I had to keep telling myself that even though the slices of bread were quite a bit smaller, they still had the same nutrients.

Where am I going with this?  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” (Galatians 5:9)  Throughout the Scriptures you will find references to leaven.  When it is at its “peak” and working properly, it permeates the dough and causes it to rise, and after baking and buttered…  WOW!!

Because of its nature, it is also used in the Scriptures with the ability to permeate every last ounce of bread.  When looking at its negative qualities, we see how sin can enter a person’s life and gradually destroy the testimony that should radiate the joy of the believer’s faith in Christ.  It is also used to teach the necessity of cleaning out every iota of sin, or it will permeate and become destructive.  One of the accompaniments of instructions to the children of Israel as they prepared for the Passover in Exodus 12:15, is that they should remove every indication of leaven.

God wants every visage of sin removed or it will become destructive to your life and mine!

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BREAD SEEKERS

There are those cataclysmic moments when our only recourse causes us to cry out in language close to: “God I know that you are the only one who can help me, please bail me out?”

We may not use those exact words, but something close to it blurts across our lips that demonstrates our brain knows where to turn in those moments of impossible odds. Somewhere in your background you were made aware of God, and His many attributes. You undoubtedly exercised your dependence on Him in that moment; if never before you showed your wisdom concerning Him.

Jesus had served 5,000 people and still there were twelve baskets of fragments remaining. The disciples endeavored to cross the sea without Him, however strong winds descended, they were frightened, and He came to their rescue. What words from the Savior: “It is I; do not be afraid.” The next words sound like anyone of us might utter, “So they were willing to receive Him into the boat.” (John 6:21)

Meanwhile, those who had their bellies filled where wanting “more”, in their desires they too crossed to Capernaum, “seeking Jesus”. Jesus identifies their motives… “you ate of the loaves and were filled”. He then says: “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:24)

I have no idea what tragedy you may have encountered, nor do I know exactly the words that you called out to God in that moment, but I do know that He holds you accountable for your action, and I know He said, “work for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you”.

His love and grace follows and is sufficient for the supplicant!

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SEALED

As I recall, Ephesians 1:13 makes a reference to the believers there listened to the message of truth, which was the gospel of their salvation, believed and were therefore “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Years ago packages had to be “sealed”, if they were certified or insured. I recall using the wax and a brass instrument that was put into the hot wax and therefore guaranteed concerning its delivery.

Before the “wax” job, the seal was basically a ring that was impressed on the object and that gave indication who had issued an order; it also solidified that the item, an order or even an object, was legitimate. My grand-father used metal letters that were impressed upon his tools, anticipating that they stood a better chance of being returned.

Things have changed quite a bit. In fact when I go to the Post Office they usually ask if I want a “tracking number”, and that is satisfactory. They want the item sealed with “tape” and that is sufficient.

When the folk at Ephesus comprehended the message that had been preached to them, we read that they were “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Is it not a wonderful truth to possess? God “seals” (authenticates) our new found faith through the ministering work of the Holy Spirit. He guarantees our immediate and ultimate new birth. (John 3:3)

The Apostle Paul says something in chapter 4:30 that is exciting. One hears repeated that basic truth: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

When I received a package that had a “seal” on it, I immediately thought: “It has not been tampered with. It has been delivered and it was sufficiently important to have a “seal” on it.” My friend, God placed His seal on an individual through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and when the ultimate of the individuals redemption takes place and they are delivered from this old world and into His presence, they will continue to rejoice that “He which hath begun a good work in them has completed it.”

God be thanked!!! God be glorified!!!…We wait with Holy anticipation!

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HOLY DAYS OR HOLIDAYS?

Even I can remember when Christmas was a Holy Day – Not just another Holiday. Remember when the majority of Christmas Carols where related to the birth of Christ instead of the majority being related to another break in the calendar.

Can you recall when an emphasis was on the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, as over against presents, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, food in abundance, and indulgence of every kind and nature.

Something went wrong! It did so in a major fashion!

The business world squeezed out the spiritual world and we are but a shadow of what was once dominant. I hate to admit it, but our secularization is now the dominant factor. I can only imagine what is taking place in the minds of many as they read what I have written. If it crosses swords with people, even this old codger, it needs to be spoken.

We “graduated” in our thinking! We extended Christmas in two directions and in the process ended up with something that is a mish-mash of all levels of sports activities… football, basketball, soccer, vacations, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and no matter what I miss, I am up for criticism…oops I forgot to mention “Impeachment day”…

It is time for us to wake to our dilemma. Like our National Budget, while we think that we are becoming ingenious in dealing with it, a pay day is ahead. Our spiritual hey-day is around the corner.

Let us get back to some Holy Days and not so many holidays.

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RESURRECTION DAY 2020

It was just over twenty of us that had gathered under hushed conditions in the Garden where many of us believe the body of Jesus had been entombed. We knew that there are those who disagree with us; it made little difference as we reflected on the One who represented us on Calvary.

We took the bread and the cup in obedience to Jesus command that we “do this in remembrance of me”; there was not a dry eye. That was thirty plus years ago, but it is just as real today as then.

One does a little extra reflection this time of the year. Sad to say, it is not always celebrated in the manner it should be. We are more prone to think of “us” than of HIM! He is the reason that these days are placed on our calendars, but I dare say that there are comparatively few who will shed a tear of reflection or break the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of HIM.

Friend, I challenge you to think upon HIS death…a horrible demonstration of how corrupt the thinking of people can be. What love for the unlovely and unlovable!

Think about HIS resurrection! The grave sealed with hatred and emptied by LIFE HIMSELF!

Reflect…Reflect…Reflect!

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BY THE NAIL PRINTS

This morning I was awakened, (Thankfully singing to myself) “I shall know Him by the nail prints in His hands.” I shared with our daughter Cathy how I had not heard it in “ages”. She reminded me that she used to sing it frequently.

I spent some time trying to remember all of the words, but the memory is not as sharp as it was in yesteryear. Next, I rehearsed what I had been reading in Revelation yesterday and recalled how in Chapter 19: 13, we have these recorded words: “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called THE WORD OF GOD”. In 22:14 we read: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

It could not be any clearer than what we have just quoted, if one does not have robes that have been washed in the blood of our Savior and Lord Jesus, he is without the presence of the Lord for all eternity. If you recall at the beginning of this Book, it was a revelation to John, not revelations! Also, it was to the seven churches of Asia. Watch how John wraps up this Book, quoting from the revelation he had experienced from the Lord: “I, Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16) Whether we look at that last quoted verse or begin back in Genesis 1:1 to this point, all are drawn into the picture of needing their robes washed in the BLOOD.

I am uncertain about a lot of things as relating to eternity future, but of the washing of our robes in the Blood of Jesus I am CERTAIN. If need be, I to, like Thomas of old will be able to identify HIM by the nail-prints in HIS hands. Hopefully you have that guarantee in your heart and mind!

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MUCH MORE

Every now and again, someone comes up with a question such as this:  “Have you ever felt as though your decision to have Christ first and foremost in your life  was not your wisest choice; that you have missed out on much of the fun that you enjoyed prior to that decision and maybe, just maybe, you should have taken up a different profession?

I know, you probably think to yourself that people would not ask something like that!  Get with it, that one is mild as compared with others that have been spoken with what I term derision.  Answering such questions merely makes me silently ask the Lord to “give wisdom and congeniality as I present my answer”.  After all, I could have continued in my profession in banking, but this was a call from the Lord, through His Holy Spirit.  Nothing could have been more exciting!

As my “springboard”, I am going to solicit some thoughts from Romans 5.  I could easily have chosen other portions of the Scripture, this will suffice.  The Apostle Paul utilized the little phrase “much more” which says how I feel about my salvation and subsequent call to the ministry.

The first one I would note is in verse 9…”Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Second: (2) “Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (3) “Much more did the grace of God and the gift by the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”  (4) “Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”  (5) “The law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

It was His GRACE that imputed to me HIS righteousness,  and with it came all those subsequent accompaniments.  I must then ask simply: “To what in the world would I look back to that would equal this privilege or opportunity?”  The “bumps” in the road cannot compare with the mountain tops that have accompanied serving our Lord.

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LOOK AT THE BIRDS

At one point in our home in Sun City, Arizona, I put in a small waterfall in the back yard.  Admittedly, I was taken by surprise when I counted more than twenty two species of birds in the yard to quench their thirst.  We even had a parakeet flying around the area.

Recently, though I took out the waterfall and restructured the yard, we have the visit of a number of love birds.  There is the consistent presence of the humming birds.   I watched a hawk soaring around for approximately ten minutes one day last week, and on occasion hear the owl announcing its presence at night.

The birds paying us visits consistently make a most interesting adventure, without having to travel all over to see them.  I have to admit that every so often I have to chase away the woodpecker who loves the sound produced on our antenna about five ‘o-clock in the morning.  He has discovered also that the humming bird feeder is a good place for refreshment.

Perhaps the reference that Jesus made concerning the sparrow would be meaningful to us today, in light of that to which I have been referring.  Matthew 6 is where we have the recorded words: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  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.”  I must take a little longer: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

There is always the knowledge: GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE!

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HIS GLORY

On occasion I can be a little repetitive, and you will realize almost immediately that is the case with the verse of Scripture I have chosen today.  (Ephesians 1:12)  “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”

I often think of Heaven and what it must be like.  I recall what I have read on the subject and find it fascinating.  However, some of it I find to be beyond my comprehension level.  As I say so often, “Here, I have only known imperfection, whereas one day I shall experience perfection, (1 Corinthians 15:54,55)  “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory? “

A gentleman I knew did not like all of the words to that sacred score, “Oh that will be, glory for me!”  He disliked the thought that there would be any “glory” for us in eternity.  He felt that everything would be to “the praise of HIS (God’s) GLORY!” (Ephesians 1:12)

Reading that first chapter of Ephesians, and rehearsing what we read recently, there is contained in those verses the wonderful truth of how Christ undertook and gave to us redemption.  Is it not the epitome of love and grace spelled out in what Christ accomplished on our behalf?   Think!  God said to Adam/Eve, “When you eat from that tree, you will surely die!”  From that point on there is the work of Christ that eventuated in our redemption.  “He chose us – He predestined us – He adopted us – He redeemed us – He forgave us – He inherited us – He did whatever was necessary to free us from the “death” that had separated us from God! 

And, about our part in this wonderful plan!  He allowed us to simply “believe” that He did it all for us.  (John 1:12, 13)  When we experience the joy of our salvation, He alone will have all the GLORY.

(Check that word “Glory!” in Ephesians 1 and see why He alone deserves it.)

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PITY

We have all faced situations that can be described as piteous.  Jesus had been at the early stages of His ministry here upon the earth.  In Matthew 6 we find Him presenting truths relative to the Kingdom and also healing people who were experiencing physical problems.

We have almost little or no knowledge of why, from a human standpoint, He waited until almost 30 years of age to begin His ministry, although we know of the one incident at about 12 years; he stayed at the temple and when asked by His parents, why, His reply was simply that He was about His Father’s business.

Those sermons on almsgiving, prayer, fasting, money, anxiety, judging, treating people and proof of the Kingdom could only be described by the listeners, “the crowds were amazed at His teaching; He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:29)

“As He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him.” (Matthew 8:1)  Immediately He also is described as beginning His ministry of healing.  First,  He is described as healing a leper, then the servant of a centurion, then healing Peter’s mother.  Further there was the healing of many who were demon possessed; and He cast out spirits and healed all who were ill.  By that time there were so many enamored with His abilities that they wanted to be His disciples. Lovingly rebuking them He explained the cost of discipleship, you cannot have two masters.

When these things were accomplished He got into a boat, and His disciples joined Him.  As a storm arose and tossed that boat, the disciples were afraid and so He spoke and the sea became calm.

Much more is presented by Matthew as relates to His healing power.  The power over demons, and over paralysis, along with the extending of forgiveness to a tax-collector!  You cannot help but draw what the folk of that hour concluded—“the news of Him spread throughout the land.” (9:31)

Verse 36 opens to us the heart of the Savior as He beheld their sickness and disease – every kind of such things.  Even deeper than that, He beheld what we find described in verse 36: “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”  Pity, unequaled by any other than the Savior!

The story of the Good Shepherd is found in John 10:1-18.  Make time to read it as you will comprehend His PITY for them, for you, for me.

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A SYMBOL

Early in our move to Sun City Patsy said: “Honey!  Would you consider putting a bay window in the Living Room?”  Naturally, I consented!  She seldom asked for anything, so I usually made a special effort to accommodate. 

That window has been decorated with all types of things over the years. Since our daughter is an interior decorator, it gets changed a lot more often these days.  I know her mother would be thrilled to know how it is being utilized.

As I drove into the driveway recently I had to stop and admire the most recent display that had arrived.  Cathy had taken a back lighted cross that I had made, and next to it put a mahogany plate with the word JESUS in the middle.  A few colored silks and soft colored lighting effectively amplified the memory of CALVARY!

You and I see the cross displayed so frequently these days that we can pass it by with little or no reflection of what it represents.  It has taken on the appearance of a “good luck charm”!  One has to wonder about some of the answers I have received on occasion when I asked people why they use it as a necklace or broach, or even a tattoo.  Someone gave me one made by a young man in the jungles of Peru—a multiplicity of different woods from that area.  I have appreciated it!

While reading from Galatians 6:14 I noticed  “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  No one ever gave me an answer like that verse.  It could be described as a “Brand” mark if I follow the line of thought found in that verse.  The cross represents my identification with Jesus Christ in His death on Calvary, but it should represent my identification also as a life separated from the world and unto HIM.  People should see my “Brand” mark, I am no longer engaged in a life dictated by worldliness, but my sole desire is to be living with and thru Jesus Christ. 

“Jesus paid it all … all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!”

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ANGER

It does not take long to realize that anger can show itself in the very young.  Trying to discern when that little one needs caring for, or when they are already displaying a temper tantrum can become a challenge to every parent.  When they carry on with added emphasis as they grow older it becomes deeply concerting. 

We have no idea what it can lead to in an individual, but it soon displays itself and we read, or hear about it from the media.  I wonder sometimes if is just me or are we failing to deal with the matter properly in the early stages of life.  I believe the latter to be true, but I also think that simple Biblical principles have been discarded.

Solomon gave much solid advice in the Book of Proverbs; I will give an illustration from Chapter 22:24, 25 which indicates that the childhood training was lacking.  “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.”  One who lacks sensitivity about those with whom he associates will in the end be duplicating what he initially thought to be wrong.

How often have we been the recipient of someone’s anger?  The worst about it was that we begin initially to react to that person in the same manner in which they treat us; in that moment we loath our self!

Again and again we are instructed to, as the old saying goes, “bite your tongue”.  Only the grace of God will enable us to rise above the occasion and demonstrate who our “FRIEND”, our “associate” really is. 

If I am walking with the Lord, hopefully I will recognize His presence and also I will not be walking with a hot tempered person who would produce a negative influence on my conversation.

The songwriter put it this way: “I walk with the KING, Hallelujah!”

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IT IS ALL OF GRACE

Someone shared with me:

Saving Grace …   Ephesians 2:8, 9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.”

Standing Grace … Romans 5:1, 2

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

Serving Grace … Hebrews 12:28, 29

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”

Singing Grace … Colossians 3:16

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Sufficient Grace … 2 Corinthians 12:9

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

IT IS ALL OF GRACE!!!

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A RESURRECTION TRUMPET

People lay out their opinions about why they do or do not give credence to the Holy Scriptures.  Some of them prove interesting while others prove that the problem is conjured from negative experiences as early as childhood.  I am not an argumentative person, as I have mentioned before, so I allow it to remain in the other person’s brain and not allow it to impound my established conclusions.

Hopefully, you do not conclude that I think that person to be a “nut”; I am satisfied with my conclusions, my comfort zone, of a few years of exposure—85 to be exact.

There was someone who gave indication to Jesus that “I will follow you, wherever You go.”  That is, in actuality, a wonderful statement to make when it comes down to the thought of a person desirous of being a “disciple”!  In due time some of the experiences encountered will separate the talk from the walk!

Most of us have little or no problem recalling Peter sharing that same idea with and about the Lord Jesus.  Why, Peter even suggested, at the time of Jesus betrayal, “Lord!  I will even follow you to death”.   Immediately, Jesus searched the eyes of Peter and said the equivalent of: “Peter!  Before this very night is over you will have denied me three times.”  Then comes the trial of the Savior- What a farce that turned into!  As it progressed we read of a “rooster crowing”, and crowing again, and still crowing for round three; it is then we read how the memory of Peter crushed his thinking.  Peter went out and wept bitterly”. (The story in full- Matthew 26)

Here is an individual who wants to follow Jesus under his conditions.  He desires to go home and bury his father.  Jesus presents what he must be willing to do.  Are you willing to follow me, not knowing where you might lay your head at night?  About your father, are you conscious of the fact that you may never attend his funeral?  Please think about this when you talk about following Christ.  It has been said, “Do you need a sexton’s shovel or a resurrection trumpet”?

Perhaps it was at your parents knees that you finished: “Now I lay me down to sleep…” and you prayed for Christ to be your Savior and Lord, or in a Sunday School class, or a VBS, or a Church Service, or in a moment of great fear?  Perhaps as you read this, you will, like Peter, REMEMBER.  In recalling that moment, have you been aroused in your memory sufficient to, like Peter, weep for your failure?

Our reference in the outset of these thoughts was one who made a commitment that he was unable to keep.  Jesus knew him, and reminded him in advance of the cost of discipleship.

It would behoove you to make a fresh commitment and determine to follow HIM!  He is worthy and He will enable.

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IGNORANCE

We have all experienced knowing someone that we consider to be ignorant.  I would not ask them what they thought of me; I am not desirous of knowing their conclusions about dear old Ted.

Usually I am not quick to equate in my thinking that one is ignorant, but if you take time to read 2 Peter 2, you can see with validity why Peter draws such a conclusion about some of the people he is writing about and to.

For instance, Noah, the “great preacher of righteousness” had spent a hundred years building the ark before God destroyed the earth and its inhabitants for their ungodly living.  Lot is described as “righteous” and God protected him even though he chose to live amongst “sensual and unprincipled men”.   Ignorance led to him feeling “his righteous soul tormented day after day”.

While I might not be categorized with the intellects of this hour, I certainly have acquired enough common sense not to be entrenched in “corrupt desires and despise authority, daring, self-willed, or reviling angelic majesties.  As Peter continues to give descriptions of the ungodly—revelers, deceivers, enticers, greedy, and those who loved the wages of unrighteousness!  He uses Balaam as a further illustration, having been rebuked for his own transgression, received a word from a mute donkey.  You cannot help but conclude that one had to be ignorant to allow himself, with all his knowledge of the Lord, and His working, to end up being a “slave of corruption”.

Following such a description get a further glimpse into Peter’s rebuke to these scattered tribes –“After they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.   For it is better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed down to them.  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire”.

I have quoted at liberty from the New American Standard Bible, which I always use, and if you picture people as I envision them, this type of a person is ignorant.  Avoid falling into the same pit!

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IDEAL CONVERSATION

Some people are so easy to engage in conversation; you leave saying to yourself: “You know, that was a real good time of conversing.  I wish every conversation left me feeling as comfortable or informed as that one.”  And others…  “Surely wasted time on that one!”

How I wish I had been in a position to hear what Peter, James and John heard when present with the Lord on the Mountain!  Some of the words are recorded for us, but not all.  (Luke 9:28-31)

This was eight days after He, Jesus, had spoken about the value of life: “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” What a penetrating question, which should be considered by all of us systematically as we go through life.

Jesus had gone to the mountain to pray.  In the process of praying “His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.”  I am not certain your prayer life will accomplish an identical experience, but I am confident that a consistent attitude of prayer involving the relationship between you and the Lord Jesus Christ will change your life.  I do not know of anyone who so engaged did not experience change, most people radically and for the better.

Not only did this experience change the appearance of the Lord Jesus to these three, but they also had the privilege of two men appearing and conversing with Our Savior; they were Moses and Elijah.  Take time to read the context and you will discover that they were “speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

When reading other portions of Scripture that relate to this experience, we have to conclude with the author who said: “They were conversing on important things—the shadow of Calvary!”  When we get caught up in conversation with another individual, how much do we focus on the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do we make  time to inject something  about Calvary?  Do we see to it that our Savior is exalted in those few minutes or hours?  Hopefully that is the case.  It was so important that our Lord, Moses and Elijah took part in the conversation and Peter, James and John were allowed to be present.

How detailed was that conversation that ensued?  Perhaps it would be considered hard to describe, but we know that they were “overshadowed by a cloud”, “they were instructed to be silent” until all had taken place, and God spoke directly to them: “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”

Lest I leave you without another important fact from that portion of Scripture, “And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things they had seen.”  Ah!  But once He was crucified, buried, and risen; they could not contain themselves.   How important is it to share about Him and His Resurrection?

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LITTLE ZACC

As we entered Jericho I observed a few people doing some digging. It was a number of people engaged in excavation… what a tedious job. However, something else caught my attention, bougainvilleas everywhere. I have never seen anything to equal that display!

My mind immediately went back to the Scriptural story, in Luke 19 about Zaccheus, who was a tax collector, he was rich and he was small. Having heard about Jesus and his curiosity having been aroused, he wanted to find a place where Jesus might be observed.

Like I said, he was small, so he climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. This man, probably known to almost all the people in the crowd, was probably thinking that such a location would leave him un-observed.

We are reminded that as Jesus came to that location, He looked up and said to Zaccheus, “Hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Initially he almost fell, I would suspect. However, “he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.” (v6)

First, we have to be aware that Jesus sees all, He knows all. Zaccheus, or you or me, need not consider for a moment that He does not observe every detail of our lives.

No matter the circumstances in which Jesus placed himself, you can count that He would be open to criticism. We have all experienced the equivalent: “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” In so doing, they thought themselves a little above Zaccheus.

While they were patting themselves on the back, Zacc was in gear to do things God’s way. “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” When someone lets the pocketbook be the first thing hit, you know that Christ has done something in his life!

In summation of this story, first, Jesus said: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. I will refrain from going into a long explanation of the reason he called him “a son of Abraham”. However, the next verse is a beautiful truth for you and me: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” When that truth is acknowledged and you thank Him for making yours and our salvation possible, “Today salvation has come to you!”

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PSALM 24

On occasion I will quote a portion of Scripture that has been a blessing of recent. This is from the New American Standard Bible, (The Lockman Foundation)

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it.

For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah.

Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in!

Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in!

Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah!

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PUT ON CHARITY

There is a wealth of information in the Book of Colossians which needs emphasizing at this juncture in history. However, the lessons that are presented throughout the Word of God are foreign to the hearts of humanity. What God teaches and mans desires are in conflict from birth. One of the first words a person learns is “NO!” He / She stands in opposition to parents and there is obvious selfishness to even sharing he/she their toys.

Here and there we spot someone who rises above the norm of the hour. Thanks-giving and Christmas are excellent examples. Tons of food and toys flood the unfortunate who are “existing” on the meagerness that has beset them. Granted, some of it has been self imposed as a result of poor choices, but not all.

One of the many challenges that Paul the Apostle presents to the “saints and fellow brethren in Christ at Colossae”, (1:2) is to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (3:14) I find it interesting to review what he has already said about love or charity in the three chapters up to this point, but needs to be re-emphasized now.

If one needs an analogy, it behooves us to reflect on what happens when we arise from our beds and prepare for the day’s activities. We do not continue in our bed-clothes, we do what we see as mandatory. This preparatory work is an obligation to us and to those with whom we affiliate throughout the day.

When reading the entire chapter, (I suggest you should) there is an emphatic listing of additional graces that should fill our attire, but I have to admit that if I put on this one, the others will follow. Do not think for a moment that this is a “natural”, it comes with discipline, devotion, determination. We must recognize that if we slip somewhere, we need to immediately make a correction so that it does not become repetitious.

Charity can be in meeting people’s needs physically, but our days are filled with opportunities to show charity without it costing us a penny or a fortune. Put it in your think tank and utilize it twenty four seven. An action, a word of greeting, a thank-you, a driving courtesy, and the list is unending.

Put on CHARITY daily!

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HOW RICH I AM

When in Bermuda Commercial School, we had a teacher, an old fashioned Methodist, who was intent on teaching us a subject beyond accounting, etc… She began each day with Scripture and prayer and required that we memorize some of those verses. Admittedly, at that stage of my life I was not “into” such thinking.

Shortly thereafter I heard the gospel and embraced Christ as my Lord and Master. Within a short period, I was reading through the Book of Ephesians, and discovered that I was a rich person. I desire that you be as wealthy as I.

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (1:4)

“He predestined us (v5)

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, (1:7)

“The forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, (1:7)

“To adoption as sons through Jesus Christ Himself, (1:5)

“To an inheritance, (1:7)

And… After all those things, through His will, His purpose, I was sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise for HIS GLORY; and you? (Ephesians 1:1-13)

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FOOL’S GOLD

We were on a short getaway when I experienced my initial contact with “fool’s gold”. The experience was an interesting one, for I had no comprehension of what gold should look like. I was washing my face in the creek to get awake and asked my friend what I was looking at; for in those moments I thought that I might be a “rich man”.

A reality check made me realize that what I was seeing was almost worthless. Real riches I already possessed… Jesus Christ was my Savior; my redemption had been purchased with the shedding of His blood on Calvary; my sins had been forgiven; I was a child of God; Heaven was my home. And because I was a child of “The King”, He was waiting my guaranteed arrival. I left the creek a “richer” man simply by reflecting on real value.

You will probably tell me that I am forgetting what the Scripture says about Heaven and the “streets of gold”. Far be it that I should ever forget verses in Revelation that speak of “streets of gold”, or a city that is “pure gold”. (Revelation 21:18, 21). Frequently the writers of Scripture are exposed to things familiar to us because we are limited in our understanding of something of even greater beauty and value. Such grandeur awaits our arrival, with a new body.

I must adjure you, if I may? We can become so enamored with what is valuable, down here, that we forget that this is temporary and fleeting. Real value has to do with our Creator, The Savior (Jesus), and our future.

Jesus said:

“’Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, I will give you rest.’ Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

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RUN THE RACE

Have you ever competed in a race? I have! In the event you want to try to relive that race, I will not accommodate your desires, except to say I did not acquire (attain) my aspirations. I also concluded that running was not my forte.

The Apostle Paul, writing to his “son in the faith” Timothy, relates how the Christian life is likened to a race, and there is reason to follow the rules if (one is) determined to be a winner. Rules are made to be kept. (2 Timothy 2:5)

Our friends were visiting recently and we, in conversation, were sharing stories. She related how on one occasion she was watching her father and three brothers compete in a go cart race. Their successful team did not include a driver for a new ladies (Powder Puff) race, so they proceeded to convince her to participate – even though she had never raced (and barely driven a cart before). She was willing to try it out – after a brief explanation of the simple workings of the cart and was placed in row two, inside.

The race started well until, on the first corner, someone hit her back wheel and sent her careening through the tires delineating the track into the “No Man’s Land” inside the track. Realizing she had been “bumped” and that it was not her mistake, she continued on the path of the trajectory of her cart, deciding to continue across the inside of the course to re-enter the track on the far side – thus cutting off half of the first lap. She re-entered the track on the far side realizing she was now in the lead and that would “teach her bumper a lesson!” As she came around for completing the first lap, the crowd was on its feet shouted wildly and she briefly glanced at the area where her Pit Crew stood, and saw that they were also seemingly quite excited about her first race for them, and were “hosting” a growing crowd from the other Pit Crews. She thought they were egging her on and enthusiastically continued her race – “pedal to the medal” – remaining in the lead for the duration of the race. (In actuality, her father and brothers were laughing so hard about her faux pas, and the effect it had on the competition, that it might come across as encouragement from one who could not hear what was being shouted.) Not knowing the rules of go-kart racing (that you re-enter the course at the place of exit) was a problem for her, but not for the policing crowd watching this illicit turn of events.

Life is filled with illicit “racers”(of all kinds) and the raucous crowds are causing such a distraction that people are oblivious to realize that sometimes the crowd’s “enthusiasm” that they are interpreting as being a cheer for victory, is actually shock and outrage at the unexpected and illicit turn of events. Such confusion!

There is a right and a wrong way (to do many things). Ignorance of the rules will not justify our (one’s) stupidity. Jesus said that He was (/is) the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man could come to the Father, except through HIM. (John 14:6) No matter what we or our friends do that misleads us, the rules are the final word.

God’s Word is unmistakable. Other factors may cause us to be misled, but not the inspired and authoritative Word of God. He has spoken and His Word, the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, presents our need: We are sinners by nature and by choice; subservient to it and to Him is the only way to win the race that is set before us.

“AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

(Acts 2:21)

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THE BLOOD BANK

I was working for a bank in Bermuda when the lady asked: “Would you take me to my Safe Deposit Box?” After all of the normal procedures of clearance, I escorted her there. Then she asked: “Would you help me to sort through the items and find what I need?” My response was simple, “I am not allowed to do that.”

The years have slipped by, but I never forgot that request and my inability to respond to help her in the way she wanted. However, I have been enabled of the Lord to direct people to their Safe Deposit Box, time and again. It has been a spiritual journey.

Preparing for a sermon this week, I was impressed with how God had touched individuals of “celebrity status” and brought about their salvation. With that thought, another entered my mind, “no matter who we are, we all require the same amount of blood for salvation; we must come to the “safe deposit” box which contains the “blood” of the Savior, Jesus Christ.” Other blood will not suffice, it is HIS alone, and individuals, celebrity or peon, has access to it. Scripture makes it clear that sin has been atoned for in the offering of the blood of Jesus, but though I may lead you to it, you must open your heart and access it. From there you apply it and experience salvation. It is not just your head, it is the heart!

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

(1 Peter 1:24)

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TIME IS MONEY

Our father was somewhat of a fanatic as far as time was concerned. One of his philosophies was that “unless you were fifteen minutes early, you were not on time, you were late”. You could almost set your clock or watch by his programmed absorption with his attitude about time.

I was speaking with an older man who was endeavoring to ascertain just “who is your father”? Finally, he said: “I know him. He is mister clock! Dad used to take my mother to work daily and this gentleman watched consistently.

Another “hang up”, as I called them, was when he would see any of us “taking a break”. He would lament: “Time is money!” He did not die a rich man, but he did not die a poor man either. My family insists that I am a “chip off the old block”.

I recall the first occasion that I discovered Galatians 4:4…”But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” To think that God had every moment of every day marked on His calendar! Now, I already knew this from the Christmas story… the prophecies concerning the birth of Christ and their fulfillment, but I was impacted by what I read for myself and could see the weaving together of that and many other details. God was in charge! Nothing was haphazard.

Are you not glad to see the intricacies of our universe? That too is indicative of His hand. By the way, they still sell the Farmer’s Almanac.

In conclusion, about that four letter word called TIME …It is “TIME TO SEEK THE LORD!!! (Hosea 10:12)

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UNTIL

Here is another of those words that catch your attention in the context of Scripture. Moving through Psalm 73 you realize that what has been said in Psalm 1 about the “ungodly” is being contrasted with the godly.

In spite of all that has been recorded about her problems, Asaph is still able to say that God is “good to Israel”. Can we say less than that concerning the good old U.S.A.? I doubt it to be the case!

The Psalmist has been fraught with the feelings that he possesses about the ungodly and how it seems that they are not touched with the maladies that Israel has experienced. They have been arrogant, and yet prosperous. (v3, they seemed to be healthy, even up to death, and their bodies are fat. They appear to be without troubles from others and certainly they are not plagued with mankind. Pride is their necklace and a garment of violence covers them. Their eyes bulge from fatness. The imaginations of their heart run riot. They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high and set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth.

The thoughts are similar to those of ours about such people. We begin to wonder if God sees what is going on. Does He see? Does He have knowledge?

These are the wicked; they are always at ease and have increased their wealth. I have kept my heart pure, washed my hand in innocence; I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning. I had come close to stumbling and almost slipped. I had become arrogant of the wicked. I came close to betraying the generation of Your children.

“UNTIL I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely YOU set them in slippery places. You cast them down to destruction.” (Psalm 73)

Having come to his senses, says: “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” (NASB)

You read the UNTIL? Take heart my friend! The end is in God’s hand! You need not SLIP!

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WORRY

Sometimes I think that some of us worry that we will have nothing to worry about! We are almost forced into such negativity because of surroundings, whether it is health, time, work, family, finances… you name it!

We turn on the radio, T.V., computer, or read the newspaper, or other sources. There is sufficient turmoil locally, nationwide, or world news to make you want to shake some folk and ask whether it could all be true.

There is little to retain a positive outlook, save that we rest assured that God is on the THRONE and His will and way is under His direction. My daughter purchased a mug on it that said: “Why sleep when you can worry?” She assured me it was a joke because I can zonk out in just a few minutes.

Anxiety about things beyond our control, or worry about tomorrow makes little sense. Jesus said: “do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

He continues to relate about the birds and the manner in which God cares for them. He compares the lilies of the field with Solomon and adds: “Not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” By the way, as concerning food or drink: “for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things.” (v32)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33, 34)

While we may each be “concerned” and desire the best for our own, (Especially our family) we rest comfortably in the realization that God is in control of everything, everything that transpires. The truth of all of this is that I rest in confidence that He is more concerned about me than I about Him. I will follow the path which has its end with Him. I will rest in the assurance of His promises. I will anticipate His fulfillment of the Words He has spoken and I will refuse to yield to others who will endeavor to tear down the Promises of Christ my wonderful Savior and Lord! I refuse to worry when I can commit each day, each event, unto Him who has promised: “Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

LET GO AND LET GOD!