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PAUSE IN BLOGS

Hello everyone,

Firstly, we want to say we apologize for the lapse in blog posts being uploaded.

Secondly, we want to explain why. On September 16th, Pastor Ted was doing wood working in his garage when he lost his balance and fell on the concrete floor. This resulted in a shattered femur. He underwent emergency surgery and had rods placed into his femur for reconstruction.

He has been home for a week now and is slowly getting better daily. However, attention has been turned towards him as his family is working to ensure he is comfortable and growing stronger.

Once he has healed enough, we will begin to create more blogs that you all love to read!

Thanks for the support and prayers during this time.

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F R I E N D

Dr. Luke writes extensively about the Wonderful Lord Jesus.  In particular, I refer to an account early in the ministry of the Savior, when some friends of a paralytic were taking him on a stretcher, hoping for Jesus to heal him. 

Realizing the situation to be almost impossible, they climbed on the roof of the house; let him down through the roof, into the middle of the crowd, and into the presence of the Savior.

There is immediate response on the part of Jesus, who saw their faith.  How would you like to be on a team of men who appreciated you so much that they resorted to bringing you to Jesus?  Initially, we are made aware of their faith.  Try as you might to envision the conversation as they arrived at his home, possibly already carrying the stretcher, and his being told, “We are taking you to see Jesus!”  A possible discussion ensued, but the trip was: “Let’s go!”

You arrive at where Jesus is located and it is virtually impossible to penetrate the crowd who are enamored with His teaching and healing.  Another brief discussion with the paralytic gentleman as they announce: “To the top of the house we go.”  You know that the crowd has to see what is going on, and the Savior is aware also.  He says nothing to or about the paralytic initially.  He looks at those men, who were probably standing up there looking down, and the record says: “Seeing their faith,” …You know, looking back you probably are aware of some individual, who seeing your need, exercised their faith…  They spoke to you concerning your need of Jesus, gave you literature, invited you to a meeting or church Service, and even picked you up in their car and brought you to church where they, in faith, knew in their heart that you needed and would find Jesus.  He took note of the faith being exercised on your part.  He honored it!

Then the explosion… Jesus looked at that man and His next word and words were ever so simple: “FRIEND, your sins are forgiven you.”   A more beautiful word or words could not be heard!  “FRIEND!”  In spite of the tragic experiences that might have been behind him, Jesus called him friend!   Then He adds: “your sins are forgiven you”.  If you are a Christian, you recall those words, as do I, when HE said those words or their equivalent to me!

Naturally, the scribes and Pharisees had something to say about what had happened.  You know as well as I, that someone, somewhere is going to challenge your experience.  Before that takes place outwardly Jesus says: “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?

“But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”

Jesus says in effect to you: “Friend!  I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”  From a spiritual application: Pick up your stretcher, go home and let it ever be a reminder of what Jesus said when you allowed Him to wash your sins away!

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TO BELITTLE IS TO BE LITTLE

When this thought came to my mind years ago, I was considering some thoughts on the tongue.  Naturally, (something I have shared previously) my mother’s comments came back: “Empty kettles make a lot of noise!”

The “Wise Man”, Solomon wrote some “masterful” advice in Proverbs 6.  “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:  Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers!”

So, if I recognize that he was as wise as accredited to him, to violate those words reveals my ignorance, as well as disobedience to the inspired Word of God.

We are living in an era when it is popular to decimate others, to see if our vocabulary contains a volume of words that we feel is most identifying of others, to reveal our intelligence and their ignorance.  Hatred is behind it and only reveals our own lack of discipline to say what needs to be said without descending to a lower level than those with whom we disagree.  The previous mentioned Scripture, practiced, shows the adaptation of the words of the Wise Man!

I understand completely what the Psalmist said in Psalm 57, “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breath forth fire, even sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword.  Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your Glory be above all the earth…My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing thy praises! …Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let your glory be above all the earth.”

TO BELITTLE IS TO BE LITTLE!

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JUSTIFICATION

You have heard that the word justification means “just as if I had never sinned”.  It has a little more to it than that.  Having heard Dr. Charles Woodbridge speak on this subject many years ago, I picked up his writing so that I might copy it for you. “Regeneration and justification are closely related doctrines. 

Regeneration has to do with the change which takes place in the believer’s heart; justification concerns the change in his standing before God.  Regeneration refers to the impartation of life; justification to his acceptance as righteous in the eyes of God.  Regeneration is the divine answer to the problem of spiritual death; justification is the divine answer to the problem of spiritual guilt.”

The youngest child will display his inherent propensity to sin, and it will continue to magnify itself as it grows older.  Unless the individual experiences the intervention of God through GRACE, they will continue to death and afterward to judgment.   When they invite Christ, the Savior of mankind, to be the Shepherd of their soul, and to cleanse them from sin, thru Grace God will embrace that individual into Sonship.  That act removes sin and its taint from the individual and God sees them as justified as to their new found and imputed righteousness.

Once you experience the knowledge of your sin forgiven, and how God has beckoned you into His family and has imparted, through grace, that imputed righteousness, you will desire to flee sin and its attachments.  Romans 3:23,24  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

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BETTER THINGS

I find it interesting that we have two groups of people, Democrats and Republicans, both promising that they have better programs for us in the future.  Some of those promises have been clarified; others are not defined; still others are your guess and mine. 

Maybe, just maybe, some of those will be detailed and some will be buried so deep that we will have to use our imagination to come up with an understanding of what they might mean.  The end of whatever is said will wend itself through the House and Senate, and finally we will only hope it to be the proper balance for America.

When you read the Book of Hebrews, whose authorship remains debatable, you discover that there need not be a debate about the authors understanding of the Hebrew background.  In fact, the opening verses clearly indicate how he saw a major transition from a promised Messiah to its fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.  I quote: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

Now, to some of those BETTER THINGS that He provided us as a result of the transition that occurred with the realization of the promised Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ.

Better Things (6:9)

A Better Hope (7:19)

A Better Covenant (8:6)

Better Promises (8:6)

Better Sacrifices (9:23)

Better Substance (10:34)

Better Resurrection (11:35)

Better Country (11:16)

Better Blood (12:24)

Let’s face it … Through Christ everything is BETTER!

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ONE YEAR LATER

The media is working every way possible to convince us how to vote in the forth coming election. Personally, I have retained that old fashioned manner of responding to the question of:  “How or for who have you planned to vote?” “That is my business and mine alone!” 

Admittedly, I have some things for which I could vote on either candidate and some for another.  The question is, “Which candidate out of my total feelings is worthy of my choice?”  As an immigrant of the 60’s, and naturalized, I have my leanings.

Some years ago, as I was reading concerning the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the thought entered my mind, “Look at that!  Less than a week ago these people were “hanging on every word He said”. (Luke 19:48)  How quickly people are prone to change their mind about others.  One week they “hang” on every word, and the next week they are engaged in crucifying Him.

Trying to “weed” through every statement made by the politicians is not easy.  Their script writers and the interpreters who want to make a little excitement for the readers, like you and me, are often “masters of deceit”, and you need to consider many sources in endeavoring to secure a satisfying conclusion.  You also have to remember that the polls of our readership, is the determining factor of their income.

As I mentioned previously, they were favorably impressed when examining the words spoken the previous week, but now they are “gobbling” up every word of the “chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people”.  They loved it when Jesus spoke the truth: “And my house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robbers den.” (Luke 19:40, 46)  However, when it dictated a change in their worship or life style, they “hung HIM on a cross.”  One week and they became “lopsided” in their thinking.

As we go to the polls, prayerfully seek the mind of the Lord!  Be sure your vote is backed by the overall teaching of the Word of God.  Fervently recall the words of David and the Parable of our Savior…”Thy WORD is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”… (Psalm 119:105, Luke 8:18)

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A HOUSE OF PRAYER

It is noticeable!  Many of our churches have acquired new names.  We are left with the challenge of determining if they are Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Charismatic, Independent, Presbyterian or just what!

Once we attend a Service or two, we soon discover the type of program or programs they “offer”, and the type of music or preaching that is prominent in their Services.  I asked a question or two about these areas of ministry and found that in many cases the folk attending have little idea of denominational distinctions.  It reminds me of the political arena where people claim an identification, but the organization is so befuddled that one has no basic idea if in reality they are one or the other.

Crossing swords is not a joy to me.  It is not that I have not tried, but so often it arrives when one least expects it.  In my case I usually try to find out a key element as described by Jesus in Luke 19:45-48.

Jesus arrived at the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling.  He said: It is written, “And My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robbers’ den.”  Many focus on the last part of that statement and I would have to admit that there is reason to raise that question.  However, the majority of churches and organizations are not in that category.  They are struggling to make ends meet.

That which is most disturbing is that Jesus quoted what had been said by Jeremiah and others: “My house shall be a called a house of prayer.”  Few are the churches that have a PRAYER MEETING!  In the event one is scheduled, you can probably count on both hands the attendance.  We are in trouble!  We are not acknowledging our responsibility of focusing on what the Savior noted as He entered that temple.  Probably, the manipulative processes that we use to attract people into the House of the Lord, is indicative of our lack of dependence on the Lord and our churches dependence on HIM.

Together, let us ask God to spike our realization of prayer’s importance.  Ask others to join you, and as many others as possible, to become a prayer band as the identification of God’s desire for your concern …A HOUSE OF PRAYER!

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DUMPING ENCUMBRANCES

Have ever tried swimming with a full set of clothing?  I have!  Not by choice, but as a result of being dumped off of a boat unprepared.  I cannot envision entering a race wearing all of that attire.  In fact, when we enter a race we make sure not to carry anything that would hinder our performance.

Sometime ago I wrote about Bermuda Fitted Dinghy Racing—there is nothing to equal it.  The dinghy crew is allowed to make “adjustments” in accordance with their size.  Then they can make their choice of which suite of sails they choose to use that day; 1, 2, 3, in accordance with their observance of the wind velocity.   Also, they have the option of which spinnaker they will use and the number of crew they will have on board.  Another factor is that no one has a priority on a given “tack”.  On what is an apparent collision or shallow water, there is a call for “water” and both racing vessels have to reposition their course immediately.

When the final “run” is on, and the wind is exceptionally light, they make a unique adjustment.  They can throw a crew member overboard.   Naturally, he launches himself off of the back of the dinghy, giving it an extra surge.  I have seen one man, the lightest, taking the dinghy across the line because four or five others have been ejected… un-necessary encumbrance.

When we enter the “race” that becomes ours upon the reception of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, (Hebrews 12:1-3) we are to abandon anything that would become a “hindrance”.  May I use an illustration?  When Paul wrote to Timothy, (2 Timothy) he noted that he should avoid any possibility of being a hindrance by engaging in things by which worldliness is identified.   To the church at Corinth he warned them about their conduct in the church.  To Ephesus there was how family relationships could hinder this “race” into which we have entered.  Without engaging in the “dirty dozen” that was emphasized in the past, it is obvious that we are to walk a sanctified Life.  Always remember that we serve the Lord, and are to put off anything that would lead to “questions” by the unsaved. About the dinghy race… Even the “skipper” can be useful by jumping overboard because he was determined to win the race.  The Apostle said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me….” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)

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A FUNERAL PROCESSION

We have conducted numerous funerals over the years, and I certainly refrain from interrupting one that is underway.  The folk involved would not be receptive to a complete stranger inserting himself into such an occasion.

The background of such a happening as this raises oodles of questions and initial reactions. (Luke 7:11-17)  The mother of a man, a widow, accompanied with a sizable crowd from the city of Nain, was buried in grief and weeping.

The Lord Jesus, upon seeing all that was taking placed, was deeply moved with compassion toward her.  He approaches her and says: “Do not weep!”  Try to envision that moment, you accompanying the body of your son being told: “Do not weep!”  Many of those present were probably thinking: “How inconsiderate!”

Not waiting for everyone’s expressions or opinions, our Savior touched the coffin; that brought the bearers to a halt.  With the simplest expression Jesus said: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The young man sat up and began to speak.  If you think that the crowd was any different than would be the case today, forget it!  First of all they were gripped with fear!  Then when they realized what had just transpired in their presence, “they began glorifying God!”  Next they began to glorifying God and concluded that a prophet had risen among them.  “God has visited His people!

One is aware that everything of this nature was a magnanimous moment for all present.  You sort of feel like: “I wish I had been there.”

Has this story from Luke 7 brought the thought to your mind, “I could minister to that lady or a family in that situation?”  It is something that we should consider!  A card, a letter, a lunch, something personal that would show love and concern for her moment of grief. 

I throw out this story and challenge to make us more aware of an opportunity of service for the Savior.  He will be honored and you will be blessed.

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ARCHAEOLOGISTS

Those guys fascinate me!  They dig around in the dirt to find something “fascinating” to make us have a better understanding of History… people, places, things.  They get as excited about some of their “discoveries” as the guys who dug up that enormous diamond recently.

Every shovel full of dirt is scrutinized.  It seems that one who loves to do such undertakings as this would get tired of it.  Instead, every one of them goes back for more.

After you visit Israel and Egypt you can appreciate how the sand storms can bury items and places.  In fact, visiting Yuma, Arizona, and looking at the dunes that folks had to cross to get to California, and learning how they put down planks of wood to cross the desert dunes, you realize what “dreams” can do to people.  I constantly marvel at those pioneers.  They say that some of those planks are still buried in the desert.

We have had a record amount of days over 110 and 115 degrees this summer and when I got home today and got out of my air-conditioned car, and when I lived in Alaska I recall heated cars…they all do quite well under “adverse” conditions. 

Back to my thoughts about the Shepherd who lost a sheep and the lady who lost a coin. (Luke 15)  It was not the thought that “I still have 99; it was the thought one was lost.  The shepherd gets someone to watch his flock as he seeks out the ONE that was lost, and comes home with it on his shoulders, rejoicing.   The woman loses one coin of ten.  She knows it’s worth, a day’s wages, and there is housecleaning until it is found.   In both cases, there is great rejoicing over the one that is found.

Jesus did not stop at that point; He spoke of a young man who had left home and family and went out to “do his thing”.  When he returned, the Father was waiting, saw him in the distance, and with open arms welcomed him.  Great rejoicing and celebrating took place.

A shepherd with 100 sheep; a lady with ten coins; a father with two sons, one a prodigal; but it is not what they possessed, but what they had lost.

The archeologist is looking for something that has been lost to history, buried under time, a value of the past.  No value equals something or someone, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

In summation, Jesus relates it back to His Father: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy “in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (v10)

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PRAYER

Many of us learned about prayer at our mother’s knees, and additionally beside our bed.  That act became “mighty handy” when we found our fragility in some unexpected experiences. 

That old saying: “There are no atheists in fox holes” becomes a revolutionary experience for many when the “chips are down”, as we face the unexpected and can think of no possibility of escape from that moment.

A few thoughts about prayer should prove to be refreshing for each of us as we face the dilemmas of life; whether they be physical, mental, emotional… whatever!  We have spoken previously about the armor of God and the necessity of “putting it on”.  Let us for a little further thinking do some analyzing.  What is prayer?

Prayer is adoration!  I cannot pray without acknowledging that the One to Whom I am praying is worthy and capable of my adoration.  After all, I have probably met my “wit’s end” at this point and I am “forced” to turn, with humility of heart, to the ONE and only who is worthy and possesses the possibility of hearing and answering.

Prayer is also confession!  It is an acknowledging that I have reached my limits. I not only recognize the Lord, but I want to make every object that stands between us be removed.  I seek His forgiveness so that my plea will find no obstruction.

Prayer is thanksgiving!  It is a reminder that I have not forgotten what He has done on my behalf previously, but also it is the very reason I am approaching Him again.  He is delighted that, as His child, I am sufficiently humbled to be thankful, and never just take Him for granted.

Naturally, prayer is petition!  I am beseeching Him to act on my behalf.  It does not exude He is responsible, but rather it displays my dependence that I am coming to Him because He invited me to do so.  It shows again a deeper sense of His ability and willingness to my dependency.

A final word for the moment!  Intercession!  It should be more than me, my, I, but recognition of others needs as equal to our own.  It is to reveal to Him as the One and only One on Whom I can depend; and so I plead my cause! For a reminder, I submit Romans 8:26, 27 – “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words… He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

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FULLY CONVINCED

Shortly after placing my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was ready to take on anybody and everybody about my discoveries as I read the Scriptures. Some of the things were quite simple to understand, but some of them did not seem to make sense with other things I read.  I was a long way from readiness to stand behind a pulpit and preach.  However, I was in “high gear” to share my recent experience and “save the world”.

Gradually things began to unravel in the areas that I found confusing.  I would even challenge my professors in College.  They were patient and understanding with this arrogant fellow, and would answer my questions and challenges.  My classmates had a much better background than I, so the debates would sometimes get a little exciting with our mixed, and mixed up, backgrounds.

While reading Romans 14 this week, I was reminded of a conflict that ensued between a friend of mine and my-self in the area of dispensations.  Our dispute reached a point where he asked: “Do you consider me a heretic?”  For a moment I was stumped!  How far was I removed from him and him from me, that he thought that I may feel that way.  The Holy Spirit came to my rescue as I sought a response. “In light of Romans 14:1, I consider you a weaker brother!  However, you probably feel the same about me being the weaker brother.”  In that moment we walked to each other and hugged.  Case closed!

Several ideas in Romans 14 are worthy of scrutiny.  There was a difference of opinion concerning the eating of meat or vegetables.  Again, some were arguing about which day of the week was to be set aside for worship.  The Apostle reminds them: “Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One person regards one day above another; and another regards every day alike.  Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.  He, who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God.  For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” EACH PERSON MUST BE FULLY CONVINCED (persuaded) IN HIS OWN MIND! (V5)

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UNDER HIS WINGS

This evening, I was laying on my bed listening to the recorded music of my wife who is “at home” in Heaven; she has been there almost four and a half years.  I had been reading from the Bible that I gave her many years ago. 

She had underlined many verses of Scripture that had been meaningful to her.  As I read from the 91st Psalm, I also heard the song: “Under His wings I am safely abiding”.

Naturally, I was moved emotionally, because I knew that it was another of her favorites, and while every verse gave personal approval, the fourth one was special in her thinking: “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”

If you have watched a mother hen guard her little ones, you realize how protective she can be.  Someone shared the story of finding a hen burned to death, but the little ones under her were safe.  Another said: “Feathers are His tender mercies”.

Understanding the opening of that Psalm makes us aware of the protective hand of God as we travel through this life.  If my dependence is on the Lord, I can rest in the knowledge that I am safe.  He is my “refuge and my fortress”.  He delivers me from the “snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.”

There are further promises regarding my relationship to the Lord!  “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.  He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.”

There is little as satisfying as the realization that “under His wings I am safely abiding”, except that right from the beginning of this Psalm there is that little thought: “will abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.  If there is a shadow it is because He, God, is so close that He is casting a shadow.  His presence is my portion.

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BACK WHEN

The “Old Timer” said: “Ted, I have a box of books for you!”  It was “boxes”… and tucked in there was one by W.H. Rogers, from which I quote what I believe to be a writing of Dr. W. Leon Tucker.

“Christ is the Center and the Circumference of the Scripture.  He is the Life of the Written Word.  All the highways of the Old Testament move majestically toward Him.  All the pathways of the New Testament proceed with Him.  In Him we have the explanation and interpretation of the Word of God.  The Living Word is the unfolding of the Written Word, and the Written Word is the unveiling of the Living Word.  (See Hebrews 10:7; Luke 24:44; Colossians 1:14-19).


The Mind of God is centered in Christ.

   All Divine Ministries are focused in Him.

   All Satanic antagonisms are directed against Him.

   All Worthy Hopes are dependent upon Him.

   All Worlds are held together by Him.

   All Scripture finds its summation in Him.

Christ is the Substance of all truth.

   He is the Solution to all human problems.

   He is the only Savior for the sinner.

   He is the Sustainer for the sufferers.

   He is the Source of all spiritual light.

   He is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

   He is the Sum of all Revelation.

Christ and the Bible stand or fall together.

    To believe the One is to believe the Other.

    To deny the One is to deny the Two.

    To question the Inspiration of the Book is to invalidate the testimony of Christ.

Christ is the Fact of facts, the Bible’s theme,

   Who stands alone, august, unique, supreme;

   The Bread of Life, who meets the need of men,

   Who come to all, o’er field and moor and fen;

   The Man of Pain, who feels all human pain,

   And slakes the thirst, and turns all loss to gain.

   He is the God, all Light from Him doth gleam,

   He is the Man of men, beyond all dream;

   He is the God of Love, all Love Divine,

   He is Hand of Power, all Strength sublime;

   From Him all things come forth, in Him consist,

   To Him all tend, and all by Him subsist;

   The Book, speaks of Him, the Christ reveals;

   The eye that’s closed to Him all truth conceals;

   He is the Gospel’s Theme—He died for all,

   His death alone can free from sin’s enthrall

   His resurrection Life, the Might of might,

   His Reign within the soul, the Life of right;

   His Peace within the heart, the calm of Love,

   His Joy untold, the thrill from realms above;

   His love the fire that burns within the fane,

   His promise in the Word’s refreshing rain;

   The Spirit came, the outcome of His death,

   The Power of God, His Grace and Living Breath.

   He’s All!   The Visibility of God!

   And so I sing of Him and onward plod!”

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MARRIAGE-LEGAL-RELIGIOUS

There has been arguments concerning whether it is a religious ceremony or a civic ceremony that takes place.  Naturally, there are those on both sides of the fence who choose to bemoan the others opinion, and I doubt that it will be satisfactory to either in any discussion.

Naturally, those of us on the religious side go back to God’s provision of a wife for Adam, and naturally see marriage as a “sacred” act that should be “till death do us part”.  Those on the civic side will note that the “license” comes from the government in one form or another, and therefore, it is a “legal” contract.   However, the majority of that group wants some type of “religious” attachment performed when the marriage takes place.

To keep everyone “happy”, there has been a compromise on both sides of the aisle.  With that, we see how the legal aspect and the religious aspect find something of “mutuality”.   In the counseling prior to the wedding, both aspects are covered.  The legal aspect has to be met by defining who can or cannot perform a marriage in a state, and in many cases, the preacher has to register with the state.  Personally, I have made it known what I would be saying in the ceremony, and they can agree with that concept being addressed during the ceremony, or they may choose to have another to conduct the service.

I might mention that in all the years I have been performing marriages, partners have always agreed to call me in the event there is the need of counsel.  I have never had one couple call me, although I know that they have parted company.   Another thing is that I have never had a judge call me and ask for input before he granted a divorce.

I have mentioned previously how the marriage relationship is addressed in Ephesians 5.  It gives us the criteria of a relationship that will remain healthy if it is practiced throughout the marriage.  I suggest that these qualities should begin even prior to the marriage, because they are the very qualities that Christ demonstrated in His relationship to the church.  They are: Loved – He Gave Himself for – Sanctified – Cleansed – Washed – Presented Himself – Preserves Her.  In every aspect there should be the demonstrating of these characteristics to each other. You have seen here previously: Reaction is basically negative.  Response is basically positive.  We give!  We give!  We give again!

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FULLY ARMED

Unaware of our enemy, or the armor that they utilize is usually a guarantee that we are about to lose the battle.  Preparations are necessary!  A large amount of Christians “miss the boat” on the victory that awaits them when faltering in that particular arena.

The war front lines can be savagely fought, but behind the scenes there has to be personal sacrifice on the part of thousands who, while not getting injured in the conflict directly, are equally important.

My father-in-law told, how as a welder in World War 2, he had to work on “oil tankers”, and with 13 Bays, they were putting out a tanker every six and a half days.  He told how the guys kept working against the most unpleasant situations. Nothing slowed them, because they were professional welders, and the “boys up front” needed them.

One of the most important things that we must have clearly defined in our life experience, is who we are battling and utilizing our abilities to maximum.  This was brought to my attention with exceptional force as I was reading Ephesians 5 this morning.  The 13th verse says: “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

The enemy has been defined previously, where we read of the schemes of the devil.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.”

Before we go further, try these areas that the devil works on and often through.  Chapter 1:18 “the eyes of your heart being enlightened…the hope of His calling…the riches of His inheritance in the saints.”  How about when GRACE stepped in and transformed our lives?  2:5, 6 “made us alive, raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  Because we are thus related to Him, and my brother in Christ is related to Him, is this an area that should be guarded against?

Are we aware of what is written about the Holy Spirit in 5:18 and following; or about the husband and wife relationship? Certainly we should go on to recognize the children, and the church, and to slaves and masters.  And do not forget that in the 6th Chapter, the whole reason for the idea with which we started, “the schemes of the devil”, for our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Inasmuch as we want to end up the victors, we have to put on the “full armor of God… the truth… the righteousness… peace… the helmet; and it is summed up in, “which is the Word of God”.  Then we read: “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

I am not as concerned about what others are doing, and using that as a reason to release my guard for a moment.  The question is am I putting on the “whole armor of God”?  That foregoing list is to be utilized against the real enemy… the devil.  Those “chinks” in my armor is where the battle is going to be waged.  He has more awareness of them than I.  His experience is superior!  My challenge and the challenge of every believer, is to utilize the armor that God has prepared; it is sufficient for every occasion… Put it on!

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PREPARE

I am certain that you have noticed how people make preparation for different events that are forthcoming.  Some do it meticulously, (Like our daughter) and then there are those like my sister (just throw it in the suitcase, stump on it and everything is A-OK.)  Take the smile off of your face when you decide into which category you find yourself.

Naturally, we determine our attitude toward preparation by a host of things: where we are going; what attire would be most becoming; who am I travelling with; what type of transportation am I using; do I need extras, just in case?  The list goes on, even though I might “throw” it all together.

Of one thing we are sure of in life is death!  One of my many doctors said that “we really do not need to talk about it.”  My friend, it is a trip that could be just around the corner, or in some later day in life.  But, because it is guaranteed to come, we need to be prepared for that eventuality.

One fellow I knew printed on the trunk of his car: “Prepare to meet thy God!” (Amos 4:12)  That may be annoying to some people, but you cannot fault him for being concerned about people being ready to meet God.  Amos certainly raised a few eyebrows when he declared to Israel, that they should make such preparation.  In the event that I was conducting your funeral, I would much prefer to know that you made proper preparation.

Again I must remind those reading that man is born into sin, (Romans 3:23) and that sin has been paid for by Jesus Christ, when He shed His blood as a sacrifice on Calvary.  The Scriptures are clear that preparation for eternity is accomplished through Faith, and faith alone in His sacrificial death.  Naturally, if you or I believe that, and act upon it by submitting ourselves to a life lived for Him; we have a guarantee of eternity with HIM. I take concern for those reading these thoughts.  1) There is one God!  2) We are accountable to Him.  3) One day we must meet Him.  4) We need preparation to meet Him!  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

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DEAR OLD JOB

Few are they, who cannot in one way or the other, identify with Job.  If I do not have the identical experiences, I have encountered some extended times of physical, mental or emotional frustrations that I thought would never end. 

Worse than anything was that in trying to identify the reasons behind them; I found that dear old Ted was the culprit.

For Job, it was different!  Satan wanted to make light of Job’s commitment to the Lord, and suggested that if Job was attacked sufficiently, he would undoubtedly turn his back on God.   In knowing Job’s commitment, God allowed him to attack Job, up to the point of death, but not death itself.  Satan’s attack included:  the destruction of Job’s sheep and other animals, the death of his children, and destruction of the house in which they gathered.  He challenged God further, saying: “Skin for skin!  Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.  Touch his bone, touch his flesh and he will curse You to Your face.” (Job 1 and 2)

When Job’s wife saw the boils on his flesh, she said: “Curse God and die!”  But we read in 2:10 Job’s reply: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

From that point we see and hear from Job’s friends and his response to them.  Try going through deep waters and see what your friends will do.  They were fully convinced of his sin, but so caught up with his appearance and pain, that initially they did not say anything for 7 days.  Job spoke finally: “Why is light given to him who suffers, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death, but there is none.” (Job 3:20, 21)

The debate continues between the three men and Job, chapter after chapter.  At one point Job (23:10) replies to Eliphaz “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, shall come forth as gold.”

Someone said: “God’s furnace burns continually – Physical suffering, mental distress.  Gold comes forth refined, pure, precious! ” (Malachi 3:3)

Finally Job answers his friends thusly: “Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.  I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.  My heart does not reproach any of my days.”

When the debate reaches its climax, we hear Job: “Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”  (42:6) He recognized the truth that his righteousness was as “filthy rags”.  God reminds Job’s friends that they had fallen short in their words to Job; they had not spoken to Job right, as was the case of Job to God. Through 43 chapters they had not spoken words that based their opinions on what God thought or declared.  Hopefully we have all learned a lesson from: “Dear old Job.”  What you and I think is one thing, but what God says is final.  We are born in sin and there is no forgiveness apart from the intervention of God and His application of the blood of Christ to our sin.  The words of Job in 42:6 clearly embraced the righteousness that God and God alone applied to sin, original or subsequent. 

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PLENARY VERBAL INSPIRATION

Has it ever been your experience to hear your pastor make a statement on the subject of the Inspiration of the Scriptures?  There are numerous theories out there concerning that subject. 

Some of you are probably “on target” as to the subject; however, there are many who are unaware that many individuals, including pastors, are about as confused over this issue as the politicians that have the responsibility of leading our country.

After being alerted to this problem within our churches, more than sixty years ago, I did a little “digging” as to what was meant in the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) about “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  After all, it was important that I had a good comprehension of the subject if I was desirous of leading people “to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus ;”( v15) Also, that I might be comfortable in teaching and preaching for the edifying of Jesus Christ.

It began with the idea of Illumination, Natural inspiration, inspired concepts, Plenary Inspiration, none of which were entirely satisfying.  Finally, I found that Plenary, Verbal Inspiration made the most sense.  It meant that “every word in the original manuscripts of the Bible is given by inspiration of God; or given by God through the Holy Spirit.” (Miller)  This, given under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit!  It was not dictation, it allowed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Each writer could write in his own style, while at the same time I could rest assured of the accuracy of what had been written.  Another aspect of this position allowed for understanding of the word plenary, which meant “God breathed”. Hopefully this will make all of us more solidly entrenched in discussing why we believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

In referring to one of these thoughts concerning the Word of God, I am reminded of someone saying: “The gold was His; the mold was theirs.”

In confidence one can say “Thank you Lord for your communication with us through the WORD and ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

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A NEEDED VISION

I receive numerous words of appreciation for these BLOGS.  My deepest appreciation for your comments, in the majority, positive!   Because of time limitations, we find it impossible to respond to you for on-line discussion.  I have but one purpose, TO MAKE YOU THINK.  If I am successful in that area, the Holy Spirit Himself will do the rest.  THANK YOU!

Have you had a chance to think about Isaiah 6 lately?  You have to admit that it contains a wealth of material.  I must share a few of those with you!

Though I have never had an experience as that of Isaiah, I have had some intimate conversations and ecstatic moments where we jostled back and forth, only to have Him come out the winner.

My dreams are certainly far from a “vision”.  In fact, most of them leave me exhausted, as over against blessed.  You know, I have yet to drive a golf ball in an accomplished fashion.  I wake with my arm having a muscle spasm.  That explains the entire dream.

Back to what took place in Isaiah’s vision.  King Uzziah had died!  I cannot understand the relationship between them, but it was close enough that it left an impression on the mind of Isaiah, perhaps a little negative.  God gave Isaiah a vision to counteract any negative feelings he might have.

“Isaiah, while Uzziah has died, I have not.  I am alive FOREVER, and there is not a situation that comes your way that you cannot be aware, I am on my throne and have not, nor will I abdicate, “lofty and exalted”.”

View the Seraphim as they call out one to another: “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”

Then, comes Isaiah’s reply: “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts”!  He views his wretchedness, before his and our most holy God.

God’s reply to Isaiah through the Seraphim as with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken off the altar with tongs: “He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.”

God has done what no man can do.  Isaiah is brought low, he views his sinfulness and those of the people among whom he lives, and he hears the words of God.  I take a little liberty at this point, but not to take away from what God has declared.  The coal on the altar (representing Christ on Calvary bearing the fires of judgment), has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven!

Have you that knowledge?  Have you pled with God to forgive your sins?  A sweeter word you will never hear when you have seen your sinfulness and God’s FORGIVENESS!  

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FAMILY TIES

Much is said throughout the Scriptures about family ties.  Their importance cannot be over emphasized.  Many a young person looks forward to rearing their own family, only to discover that it was not as easy as they thought.  Some believe their parents fell short, which they will not duplicate, while others thought them to be ideal and to be imitated.  In the midst of all of this challenge, we discover strengths and weaknesses that are offshoots of both.

One of the greatest challenges is brought to our attention when Jesus is told that His family is “standing outside”.  They had “sent word to Him and called Him!”

It is in a situation of this nature that an individual can be torn between choices!  We can examine our priorities as relating to our family, considering our age, our depth of responsibility to them, our relationship and responsibility to other believers, and our continuing commitment to the Lord to follow Him.  While these factors are to be considered in light of the Scriptures, how we approach them is of importance.  For instance, the crowd was sufficiently great that they “had to send word to Him”.  He could present His response initially without offence to His family.  Likewise, the cost of discipleship is impressed upon those present.

I have great recall of such commitment that the Lord honored.  I have momentary recollections where I faltered, and had to seek His forgiveness, and the family forgiveness, because I lost sight of that as a priority. There is need in this hour for the people who identify themselves as Christians to re-examine their pledge to follow Christ on His terms, not theirs.  If there has been faltering, seek His forgiveness, and family forgiveness, and move on.  Peter did!  Paul did!  David did!  Moses did!  The list goes on!

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LEARNING TO SING

In the event that you do not know me personally, I must inform you that I am not a musician, nor do I have the “greatest” voice in the world.  In fact, to cover my comments on my abilities, just ask my children.  Fortunately, that has not been the case with them.  Like so many others I give it a try as needed and like many of you, the shower still seems the best place for my renditions.

I am aware that the Apostle Paul went through many trying experiences, as I mentioned recently.  One of those came as a result of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was in complete opposition to what he had previously preached as a Pharisee.  He, along with a few others, was placed under confinement in a jail cell.  No matter how belittling the experience, he remained undaunted.

In the middle of the night they decided to sing and pray.  The praying was what most of us would do under such circumstances.  However, singing is not the norm for such confinement.  How good or bad it might have been, God used it as the catalyst to do something spectacular.

Whether other prisoners wanted to or not, they heard what was going on.  Obviously the guard heard, because when “suddenly, there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened”, he took his sword and was going to commit suicide, knowing what would be his punishment.

Paul and Silas responded to all of this by saying, “Do not harm your-self, for we are all here.”  It became a joyous occasion when the jailer “Fell down before Paul and Silas and asked: ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’”

In the shortest sermon possible they said: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  It is then that they taught him and his household more, with the result that they were all baptized.

When the morning came, the magistrate had them released.  How much he knew of their release from sin and experience of salvation prior to the arrival of those men may allow reflection, but he learned about it when Paul and Silas demanded that he come and release them himself.

There are many facets to all of this, but I focus at this moment that Paul and Silas knew how to sing in the most trying moments.  It is something that I have been working on for years.  God does something FOR US and THROUGH US when we allow Him to have the glory.  Though you or I may feel that we have limitations, let God surprise us.  Our tune and tone may not be the best, but God can use it in His way and time to bring about another’s salvation and assist them in maturing in Him.

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ADDING/SCATTERING

A large portion of my growing up days was in a house attached to a Lighthouse.  It made for interesting times.  Perhaps the most exciting of times, when a hurricane would “invade” the Island!

To describe all of the times would be unnecessary, because there was much that was alike, but not always.  The winds, the waves, the damages were momentous.  However, every so often, there were “tokens” of having been spared.  Depending on the direction of the hurricane, and the back side of it blowing from the opposite direction following the “frontal” attack, made a major difference.  One thing to remember is that heavy winds were not out of the ordinary… not quite up to hurricane force.

In the lighthouse there is a revolving lens around a lamp.  That lens floated on 1200 lbs. of mercury.  (In recent years it has been changed to roller bearings.)  Frequently, in heavy winds that mercury would splash out as the Lighthouse swayed more than 7 inches.  Prior to all of the scares about mercury, we would sweep it up with a dust broom, wipe off any accumulated dirt, and return it to its “trough”.  As children we always made it a habit to take a little of it to school to show our classmates.

One of the exciting things about mercury is that if you hit it, it spreads into innumerable tiny balls.  However, when it is brought back together, it joins in a single ball.  That would be what you saw in the dustpan after sweeping the floor.

When the Church was first formed, there was major persecution.  Rome was ruling; the Jewish folk were still abiding under most of the same system as previously and the Church was anathema.  Once the person of the Lord Jesus was embraced as the Messiah by the disciples, and they became evangelists of His resurrection, it became obnoxious to many.  But, because the Church was so dynamic in the setting, they drew deep criticism, and the persecution became like falling or stepping on mercury dispersing in every direction.

For instance, in Acts 2:41; 2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 9:42; 11:21; 11:24;  the words “adding” or “scattered” show the extent of development, especially because they were like mercury (Quick Silver).

We have a message that needs to be dispersed.  Do not be surprised when it scatters like it did two thousand years ago.  It caused the disciples their lives, so do not be astonished when it happens again.

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WHAT AND WHEN

Years ago, I came across a little pamphlet distributed by The Pocket Testament League.  I share it with you hoping that you will find it helpful.  What to Read When.   You can always order from them from their Web Site.

In Sorrow                                           

In Danger                                             

God Seems Distant                           

Discouraged                                        

Faith Fails                                             

You Are “Blue”                                   

Need Companionship                       

You Are Worried                                

You Need Forgiveness                      

Life Seems Empty                               

You Feel Cheated                              

Friends Fail You                                 

Sleepless                                             

You Are Bored                                   

You Are Jealous                                 

You Are Angry                                   

Growing Old                                      

John 14

Psalm 91

Psalm 139

Isaiah 40

Hebrews 11

Psalm 34

Psalm 23

Mathew 6:19-34

Psalm 51

Psalm 15

Psalm 103

Psalm 27

Psalm 4:4-8

Psalm 104:23, 24, 33, 34

James 3:13-18

Matthew 5:9, 22

Psalm 71

In the event you find this helpful, there are many additional Jewels on that pamphlet… Ready References

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ASCENSION

We live in perilous times!  How often I hear that or its equivalent!  It originated in Eden, following the “fall” of Adam and Eve, and has continued to this day.  Most people, with whom we communicate, are quick to equate our current “crisis” as though it was something new.  There is an element of truth at their conclusion because God is still in control and either brings into existence an event that creates in our minds that it is “new”, or some others conclude that “History repeats itself”.

Get this picture for a moment!  “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem”.  (John 9:51) and following.  The focus here is not on His death, but on His ascension!  Thus we continue reading and discover that even after three plus years of ministering to His disciples, they become defensive and through their approach to the situation, they immediately want to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  He was travelling toward Jerusalem!

How often we allow ourselves to become confused by what God is doing and want to take the situation into our own hands.  I doubt that the political and moral moment has seemed worse at any juncture of our lives, although we are prone to believe that to be the case.

While they become engaged in the defense of Him, who needed no defense, they lost sight of “the days of His ascension were approaching”.  In our current crisis, we lose sight of the ultimate and focus on the human aspect of things.  Obviously, they had no clarity on what they had heard for three plus years and did not remember the step of “the cross”, the resurrection from the grave, or His ascension to the “right hand of the Father”.

If there was ever a time when we needed to focus on the total program of God and that of Jesus Christ, it is NOW!

The words of the Savior bear repeating at this moment in History: “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Let us look beyond Calvary and focus on the ultimate, “He is risen—He has ascended – He is seated at the right hand of the Father – He is interceding on our behalf—He is coming again.  All that we need to do is in FAITH, trust Him and His finished work at Calvary.  There is nothing transpiring that is beyond His control!

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DO YOU RECALL?

Yesterday, I received a letter from Bermuda that was mailed on May 6th, just two and a half months later.  Of course, this is, like everything else, linked to Covid 19.

I could have flown there in less than 24 hours.  Had I actually been a patient of Covid 19, I probably would have been in and out of the hospital in less time!  Of course, there could have been other results.

Years ago, 1955 to be exact, when Patsy and I were showing our affection for each other, she was upstate New York and I was in Bermuda for the summer.  She would write me a letter early in the afternoon and would pick it up in the Hamilton, Bermuda Post Office the next afternoon by 2.00 p.m.  Then, the Postal Department decided to change its method of mail to a more modern method of delivery; ZIP Codes were introduced!  Remember?

A letter came to me recently that was not mine, and so I wrote on it: “Not at this address.”  A few days later it showed up in my mail box again.  I asked my post-person why?  I was informed that I had not blotted out the address, in particular the Zip Code.  If I did not do that, it would continue to make it to the same address as previously, mine!  That is how the automatic machines work.

It was time to put my thinking cap on.  If I had not scratched out my Zip Code and notified them, I would be lost in the Postal System.  I did not have to do that with the Lord, He has been with me through all of my moves… every moment of every day.

Here is what the Psalmist had to say: “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.  With Your counsel You will guide me, 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. (Psalm 73:23-28)

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UNJUSTLY?

Over the years you read of people who have been arrested for crimes that they have reportedly committed.  The “police blotter”, as it was called in yesteryear, suddenly gives you a run down on the crimes that were supposedly committed.  Time slips by while the individual remains incarcerated.  Finally, it makes its way to the court and a “plea bargain” is negotiated, where the prosecutor and the attorney conclude that a “minimum” sentence is negotiated.  The judge feels that this has been brought to an “agreeable” conclusion and pronounces a sentence. Case closed… or so it seems.

No matter the sentence, it affects the entire family from multiplied directions.  We become aware that somehow this is not a just conclusion, but should the entire family be punished for the act or acts of one person?    While we might find agreement that the individual should be punished, there has to be a way where the family does not bear undue punishment.

In noticing the advertisements of attorney’s of recent, the obvious is that they are specialists in certain areas.  Proficiency is the name of the “game”.  Some years ago I was speaking with an attorney and he commented: “I started out as a criminal lawyer.  “My first case involved a man whom I knew to be guilty, and yet I was able to deliver him from a conviction.  I decided there and then that I would not continue in that ‘arena’.”

Romans 1 and 2 are great in presenting the fact that God, being a righteous judge, will adjudicate a case and do so righteously, because He is righteous!  He also will utilize “kindness” as a tool in exercising his responsibility as a judge.  And further in the chapter, we read of another aspect of His character: “no partiality”.  (Verses 4 and 11)

The apostle says that “they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, the conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (vs. 15-16) In reading this portion of God’s Word, we recognize some of the principals that should apply in dealing with un-principled people.

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A PLUMB LINE

Over the years I have thanked the Lord for the men who taught me the importance of a “plumb line”.  Its importance was tested with frequency, especially when involved on construction sites.   Those roof rafters, or studs, had to be exact, or problems galore would show themselves as the job progressed.

In thinking about life in general, it does not take a genius to realize that childhood is the time to develop a proper attitude toward character.  A child that is brought up slipshod is going to lead to many regrets.  There are exceptions to this rule, but I speak of the majority.  There are so many positives, as well as negatives, that come from outside sources, of which we are unaware, that it is hard to pin down the origins.  Many times we fail to realize that some of the things that we practiced were influencing children, and given freedom, they show up in their life direction.

There has been a gradual erosion of what was once a solid adherence to the principles that originated from the Holy Scriptures.  Some will endeavor to deny that, obviously with the general decay of those principles, our society is in a corrupted condition.  While we won World War 2, we have gradually declined in so many areas as a stable society.

Marriages have deteriorated.  The home life has become anything but stable for the average child.  Some of the things taught in our schools cut across simple common decency.  Babies are aborted… murdered.  Teens are shooting teens.  Our politicians have given the appearance that corruption is the accepted mode.

Am I surprised?  No!  Why?  Because God in His Word, through the Lord Jesus and subsequently his apostles and disciples, warned us that time would come.  We were warned about this decay being progressive until He has had sufficient, and will bring judgment on this old world.

When reading Romans chapter 1, and the picture of a society like ours reaching its zenith, He will bring judgment upon it.  He did it previously… “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”  Idolatry became rampant.  “Women and men exchanged their natural functions.  God gave them over to a depraved mind.”  Further we read: “filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, un-trustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;  and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

None of us bat a thousand, but with God’s help we confess, receive His forgiveness, and by His help forsake further action or actions of that sin or other sins.

Hold up the plumb line of God’s Word; it will expose our sin, but most gloriously it will show us the path of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

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TOO PROUD TO ASK

Over the years a preacher is approached with all types of questions, sometimes they are legitimate, and other times they come from pre-conceived ideas.  When they originate I try to determine the apparent legitimacy; or is it for the purpose of arguing.  I hate debating, and thus I find myself in a defensive mode, even though I am comfortable with my convictions.

Many are they who come “with a chip on the shoulder”.  When that is the case I am reminded of the guy who said: “I never said you are a block head, I said watch out for the wood-pecker.”  My job is to present Jesus Christ and His substitution as atonement for the sins of mankind.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make that message meaningful! 

On one occasion Jesus asked the disciples who people said that the Son of Man was.  In reply they said: “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  Jesus then asked a more pointed question: “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus began to tell them about His ministry here on earth and its details, which it says that “they did not understand.”  (Mark 9:27-32)  What we read next is where I am focusing for a moment.  “They did not understand this statement and they were afraid to ask Him.” (v32) 

The message of His ministry will always remain a question until the Holy Spirit makes it meaningful.  That took three to three and a half years to become understandable.  It probably took that much time to allow my ignorance to become something to understand.  In failing to ask Him in that moment, their pride was not about to be penetrated.  Mentally they preferred ignorance to revealing the limits of their comprehension.

Many have followed the mentality of those disciples.  If you are one of those, just approach the Lord in prayer and ask Him to give you personal understanding to the message of Calvary.  It may come immediately or it may take a little time as He unfolds your understanding, but He will!  When He first presented to those twelve the unfolding of His personal reason for coming, the message of timing was not perfect, but it is quite clear today with the availability of Scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

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JESUS WEPT

Have you run into someone who tells you that they know what the shortest verse in the Bible is?  Sure enough they will quote John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”  The fun part follows when you ask them for the entire story surrounding that verse.  Few can address the context with the story of Lazarus.

This verse brings into focus what is called a theanthropos.  Jesus Christ was perfect man and perfect God.  Later in the story we read the words: “Lazarus, come forth”; which is indicative of the fact that He had to be God to command a man who had been dead for “four days” to come forth from the grave.

Recently someone said that Jesus was not perfect.  With due respect to the individual, he is limited in his understanding of who Jesus was.  

In reading through the Scriptures we are made aware of the fact that Jesus was God incarnate.  To believe that Jesus Christ sinned, you must also believe that God Himself sinned and that the Holy Spirit sinned.  Such thinking is far removed from what the Scriptures teach.

I must go a little further.  The content and context of that statement in John 11:35 demands that we look at the entire story.  In particular I must quote from the next verse, “So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”  The entire account of the life of Jesus Christ is basically that: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

God so loved those who listened that day, and you and me, that He reached out in His love, and made it possible through the sacrifice of His perfect Son, theanthropos, to offer salvation to those who would believe.

I remember so well hearing a gentleman say: “We only believe that which activates us!”  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!

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POINTED AND PERSONAL

Over a period of time I will insert portions of The Book of Proverbs, the reason being that the “Wise Man”, Solomon, had something of which to remind us.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, one for each day of the month.  They are like reins on a horse or a steering wheel on a car.  Failure to use them, and that right properly, we end up in trouble with God and with men. 

We begin with Chapter 1:1-6.

  1.  The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:                                                             
  2.   To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding,
  3.   To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;
  4.   To give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion,
  5.    A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
  6.   To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
  7.    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Review … Reflect … REJOICE!

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GOD FOUND HIM

As I was sharing how God had provided in a most unusual manner for a bus for our church, the individual with whom I was sharing said: “What a coincidence!” I immediately thought: “He missed the whole point of what I was endeavoring to communicate.  However, it did not take from the facts that I was conveying, because I knew that the only explanation was God had provided.

God has done things in the most unusual manner over the years, and so when He does it again, I am not in the least surprised.  At the launching of the Church we discover, while reading the Book of Acts, how God left us a record in the Book of Acts, when multitudes were saved on particular days.  We also discover He did not show partiality when we read of individuals being exposed to the Gospel.  Acts 8 is illustrative.

Philip was instructed of God the Holy Spirit to go on the desert road that leads to Gaza.  A most unlikely direction!  As he made his action of obedience, we read that God had placed on that road “an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.”  My friend would have called it coincidence!

As I read on, a little more of his “coincidence” manifests itself.  “The spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”  Philip “ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 

“And he said, ‘Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?’  And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open is mouth.’  In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate His generation?  For His life is removed from the earth.”

When the Eunuch confronted Philip he said, “Please tell me, of who does the prophet say this; of himself or of someone else?” 

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

When the Eunuch said: “Look!  Water!  What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

“Both went into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8)

You cannot help not examine this portion and recognize that the disciples did not isolate themselves to “crowds”.  God is equally concerned about the individuals as well as the multitudes.  Salvation remains a personal encounter where one, with an open heart says in effect: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  From that moment on they endeavor to follow Him in obedience.

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WELCOMED NEWS

When working with wood in my garage, I often see the post person arriving with the mail.  Naturally, we greet each other and I ask: “Anything special today or just ‘junk mail’.”  They usually respond with a negative or positive expression.  We may or may not comment on the weather, but I realize their schedule is a tight one, and so a wish for a good day or a good weekend sends them on their way.

Everyone looks for a fulfillment of Proverbs 25:25, “Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.”  Admittedly, I have already checked my e-mail earlier in the day, so most of the news has arrived via the computer.  I have a friend who does not enjoy computers any more than I, and if he wants to chat, it is on the telephone.  My home church in Bermuda keeps me abreast of happenings weekly, and thus we see our fulfillment of “good news from a distant land”.

On occasion someone will get to thinking about our times together, and though it may be a long way back, they will drop a note.  I look forward to such notes, and try to respond with a brief note ASAP.  Sometimes those notes are family updates.  At other times it might be a request for prayer.  (Those I take to the Lord immediately, lest they get buried in forgetfulness.)   In these tumultuous times it might be requests for opinion of Doctrine.  The list is without end!

The fact that someone took the time to remind me that they had not forgotten this “old boy” is very meaningful, and as the saying goes: “It is like a shot in the arm.”  It becomes even more exciting when they bring the tidings of “good news”; that is not too plentiful these days.

I have shared with you what it means to me to get “good news from a far country”.  What I hope you will do is to fulfill that to someone else.  Let them know that they have not been forgotten and that they remain lodged in your brain.  Modern communication makes it reasonable and exciting for you and for them.  (ASAP)

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REMARKABLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN

No matter our backgrounds, the moment one meets the Lord Jesus and embraces Him as their Lord and Savior, everything changes.  All of our previous exposures begin to gradually, some immediately, melt into a revamped thinking.  It happens because we read the Scriptures and consider the approaches God used and subsequently the Lord Jesus.

From the outset of Jesus visit to our earth, we see the uniqueness of His personage.  His birth, from a Virgin!  His recognition by the wise men!  His protection from Herod and time spent in Egypt!  His encounter with the teachers in the Temple at 12 years of age!  His obscurity until approximately 30 years of age!  All of these that were recorded, along with many others, with my leaving out the details!

Then His ministry, which took on dimensions that could not be understood by the majority of people because they had already formed their conclusions about who the Messiah would be and how He would affect them!  Their minds were solidified through the erroneous teaching of their superiors.

So it was that when He saw a tax collector, named Matthew, in his booth and said: “Follow Me.” (Luke 5:27)  Matthew did not debate that order, but “Left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.”  (Any person who has heard that call of Jesus should be ready to FOLLOW HIM!)

Obviously Matthew experienced an immediate transformation; he had a great reception in his house, and a large number of tax collectors and others were present. (He invited his friends and colleagues.)

To be sure, the Pharisees and their scribes began to grumble.  “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” (That would have included me!)

Of course, Our Savior had an answer for them: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Both groups are addressed and it would not be exactly politically correct today… The “righteous” Pharisees and the “sinning Tax-collectors).

Matthew was for real.  He did all of this to share his new-found Savior.  He confronted his friends.  He went on to follow the Savior as one of the twelve and he left us the Gospel of Matthew!

When you hear His call:  FOLLOW HIM!

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DIRT OR DISEASE

The number of you who will remember this will be quite limited.   Our teacher would check to see if you brushed your teeth this morning; she also checked your ears to see if the wash-cloth had made a visit of recent.  Let’s face it; it was a different time in History.  Things were different, to say the least.

Some years back while reading 2 Timothy 4, I found the phrase: “they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth”.  You are right; I had a “springboard” for a sermon.

As a preacher, I have the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I try to be sure that my congregation gets something to chew on from each sermon.  Of this I was confident; there would not be a group of “sleepers” in the congregation that morning.  My concern was that “possibly”, there might be some who would prefer to have their “ears tickled” or “turn away their ears from the truth”.

It is a struggle in every congregation not to have some in the category mentioned!  Some come for entertainment; some for the music; some come out of habit or because they have not missed a Sunday in 20 or more years.

I was tempted to have the ushers give out Q-tips with the bulletins.  However, I knew a few of the “prudish” individuals would be offended, even though I would have succeeded in placing it in the brain until death.

The Apostle had just shared with Timothy that he should “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”   The pastor does not have the easiest job; and though some of those things might be handled “gingerly”, those who wear their feelings on their sleeves become offended, and fail to realize that it is part of our responsibility.

Just keep those ears open, cleaned and receptive to Scriptural instruction!

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HOMESICK FOR HEAVEN

You might have been exposed to my saying that God declared in His Word that basically, a man’s life expectancy would be 70 years, and if he lives to 80, “yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:9, 10). Interestingly the 12th verse of that Psalm says: “So teach us to number our days that we may present to YOU a heart of wisdom.”

One thing for sure is the accuracy of the Word of God.  We notice that the addition of age gradually is accompanied with getting to know more doctors on a consistent basis.  With the addition of specialists, you sometimes end up visiting numerous physicians for the same problem.  Subsequently we start to look forward to the time when all of this that we have experienced will be gone, and we will have entered the glories of eternity.

A friend of ours wrote this week that: “Jeanie started her Heavenly journey venture on the 8th at 7:15 P.M.  Her funeral is tomorrow.”  I had never heard it put in those exact words, but you have to admit, they were unique and meaningful.

When the Apostle wrote to the Corinthian believers about the ultimate of their faith in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, he said: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.  For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but be clothed so what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)

Numerous tidbits in the verses that follow!  Our body is currently but a “tent”.  We will not be limited to 70 years, plus or minus.  We will be in “heaven” and not upon this earth, which is under the curse.  We will not have to “groan”.  We will be “clothed” in a “new body”.  Mortality will give way to “life”.  We will be absent from the body and present with the LORD!

This is God’s PROMISE to those who Love HIM and Serve HIM!

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SOON! VERY SOON!

Every now and again, I take another “gander” at what is taking place, and think to myself, “Can it get any worse?”  Then I conclude: “You know, after Noah started to build the ark, it took him quite an extended time to complete, 100 years.  (That “gopher wood”, probably cypress or cedar) was exceptional.

One of the things that catches our attention as we move through the Scriptures is that the Lord Jesus said that: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” (Matthew 24:37)  It is impossible to imagine things getting any worse, but they will until the Day of His return.

I am aware that one might be a Pre-, a Mid- or a Post-Tribulationist; however it is impossible to by-pass the truth that Jesus said that He would return and that things would be in a moral world-wide mess prior His return.  It leads us to conclude that man is acting more and more like His statement.  One cannot erase that fact.

In light of these warnings, what should we do?

  1.  We need to pray to the Lord God Almighty that many may turn to Him in these perilous days.
  2.  We need to personally apply the principles of Holy Writ, the Bible, to our own living with the anticipation that it will encourage others to do likewise.

Recently I read concerning the Word of God:

“Know it in your head, stow it in your heart, show it in your life and sow it in the world.”

Well put for the hour in which we live!

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READING, READING, READING

The book looked interesting enough, and so I decided I would read it and perhaps gain some information on the Royal Psalms.  It was written by a gentleman, Keith Crim, back in the 50’s.  At this juncture, I was reading some of his comments on Psalm 20.

It is clear in the explanation of his name in Exodus 3:13-15, where God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel that Yahweh is the name of the one who sent Him and that He is the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Furthermore, God promised in Exodus 20:24 that in every place where He caused his name to be remembered He would come to the people and give his blessing.  It was only natural that after Solomon built the Temple on Zion this promise would be attached in particular way to the Temple as the place where God said, “My Name shall be there” (1 Kings 8:29) Solomon’s dedicatory prayer full of references to the fact that while God’s name dwells in the Temple, He Himself is so great, that “Heaven and the Heaven of Heavens” cannot contain him.  In this way God could be thought of as present on Zion in a special way without being limited to a house made with hands. 

“Many Israelites were undoubtedly tempted to pervert the divine promise to be present where His name was called upon and follow the heathen practice of using the name of God as magic in order to try to force Him to do their bidding.  But, this was clearly prohibited in the third commandment, Exodus 20:7.  Instead, the Old Testament concept of calling on the name of Yahweh meant invoking his presence (Psalm 20:5, 7) and honoring Him in worship (Psalm 7:17; 9:10; 18:49; 68:4).   God is sovereign, and while He honors His promise, He is not bound by the mere recitation of forms and empty phrases.” 

Grim has worded it nicely, reminding me again of what I have written previously in an article entitled “Tag-On’s”.  When Jesus said: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (Matthew 14:13, 14)  If it becomes a “tag-on” it never reaches the portals of Heaven.  It must bring GLORY TO THE FATHER AND SON.

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POSSESSING OUR POSSESSIONS

Over the years, the newspaper will on occasion, print a long list of people to which the State of Arizona owes money.  These folk have never been aware of their due, or they think it too much trouble to go through the process of proving who they are and what and why they are to be the recipients.  It will not be necessary for me to go into the details of how this occurred, except to say the State cannot find them.  Noticeable is that my name has never been on the list.

In reading Philippians 3, I read how Paul the Apostle listed his background that he had previously thought was a great credit to his relationship to God: “circumcision, an Israelite, a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee, a persecutor of the church, and as to the Law, found blameless”; quite the pedigree in that location and time.

Having his conversion on the Road to Damascus, (Acts 9) he suddenly realizes that those very things were “loss” as compared to “the sake of Christ”.  In fact he goes on to say: “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”  Taking everything into account, he states further: “that I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Several things are evident in the Apostles thinking that stand out starkly.  First, is that FAITH in Jesus Christ demands a transition in life.  All the accepted things of the world for a “first class citizen” will be moved to oblivion.  Everything is now “tuned” around HIM.  Secondly, what you or I thought to be to our credit was actually “rubbish” before God.  Third, what the world thought to be victory was defeated by His resurrection.  Fourth, one cannot have both the old standard and the new standard.  When the apostle says “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” it is clear, that everything takes on new meaning when one receives Christ as the substitute for his sin. Value takes on new meaning.  What I have now, and in the future, is far more valuable than those things I previously thought to be “valuable”.  Together we are to strive to possess our possessions.

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JEALOUSY

Jealousy is, without doubt, a horrible adaption for anyone.  It can start in the youngest individual and grow into an absolute plague to one as they grow older.  Never finding satisfaction in their current status it gradually eats away and reacts to what others achieve or procure as a result of their status.

I have watched how some individuals can never be satisfied with what they possess.  They always want more, no matter the comfort zone in which they are living.  The money spent on “throw away toys” in the electronic field is often the result of jealousy.  In fact, a trip to Goodwill is really an eye-opener.  The shelves are filled with items that were once “necessary”.

There was a day when we could be happy to get four wheels under us to travel to far-away places.  Now we are sucked into more elaborate and comfy cars.  We are suckers for all of the possible gadgets and gizmos that are available.  It has little to do with transportation, it is part of our modified bragging and only creates jealousy in the person to whom we show it.

When Jesus Christ had been resurrected, the disciples went around preaching and performing many different types of miracles.  By the way, they had been advised in advance that such ability would be theirs.  Also, a gradual cessation of many of these “gifts” became apparent as the apostles became the martyr’s of the first century A.D.

During this early period we read: “At the hands of the Apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people.”(Acts 5:12)  One group dared not associate with the apostles, while another group was enamored, “holding them in high esteem.”  Multitudes of people were added to their number.  As a result, they were sought out by large numbers to be healed.

“The high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees) and they were filled with jealousy.  They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.” (Acts 5:17, 18)

There is that word, jealousy!  It is amazing just how far an individual can deteriorate when he allows himself to be set ablaze with such repulsiveness.  We must learn early in life to deal with it; later in life it becomes harder, but with the help of the Lord it can be conquered.  If it is one of your battles, secure the help of the Savior.  Scripture indicates that He will respond to our honest requests and help us to be victorious.  A reminder from Holy Writ is for our attention: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)  We may be hard nuts to crack, but God can and will enable us to conquer jealousy!!

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H I S – S T O R Y

Many are they who will react to the way I titled this; in fact it will make them bristle a little because they do not agree with the idea of history being His Story.  They would think that things just evolved over a period of time and that there was no rhyme or reason that we should believe that God has superintended every event since before time began.

If one takes the time to study the Scriptures they will discover that each activity unfolds like a puzzle, and that a picture emerges how God is the operating force behind each occurrence.  There is no other acceptable explanation for what and how that transpires.  I personally find it exciting to read a verse of Scripture like this one: “This is the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!”  He makes them and I enjoy them!  In addition, I wonder at what He has planned next that I will see unfold, and I will enjoy?

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GOD’S INTERVENTION

In these days when the corona-virus is raking our country and the world, there is a light here and there that becomes a testimony to the GRACE of GOD!  It is not the many that are healed, as much as the attitude toward their experience.  Some confidently faced death with the assurance of their salvation.  Others gave every indication that they would be completely satisfied with the outcome of life or death.  Granted, there were those who were terrified to face the future and those who were “too young to die”!  The attitudes are far multiplied from what I have mentioned.

When imprisoned and then transported to Rome, the “ship” that carried Paul, the Apostle, ran into difficult circumstances.  The storm that they encountered was breaking the ship apart and it finally ran aground.  With the captain ordering for its abandonment; with no other choice, he ordered those who could swim to do so, and those who could not to grab a piece of wood and use it to hold them afloat as they made for the shore-line.  All were saved!  An unusual occurrence, but a predicted one by the apostle Paul who had that assurance from the Lord!

I have lost several friends to the ocean depths, having left Bermuda and never heard from again.  Numerous others have obviously experienced identical encounters.  A cousin was rescued as the yacht went to its grave.

What caught my attention in this encounter, mentioned in Acts 27, was the fact that they were on the island of Malta and that “The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that set in, and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.” (Acts 28:2)

There was a display of “EXTRAORDINARY  KINDNESS” and in addition to kindling a fire, they “received them all.”  God allowed us to be shown kindness by others and frequently to be privileged to show kindness to others.  I love that phrase: “and received them all”.  No partiality, in spite of the backgrounds!  Hopefully our message has clarity and engagement!

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SERVANT IS DEAD

In the opening verses of Joshua, Moses has died and the leadership of the children of Israel is placed in the hands of Joshua.  That 2nd verse of Joshua 1 has a sense of alarm attached to it: “Moses my servant is dead”. 

This great leader, upon whom the entire Israelite nation depended to lead them into the Promised Land is dead.  Forty years of wandering and wondering and that moment of promise is placed in the hands of an untested individual, Joshua.  Untested?  In a certain sense he was just that, but in another sense his tutelage has been mirrored in close association with Moses and his appointment is of God.

God speaks with authority: “Now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all these people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”(v2)  This is the same man who had come back from spying out the Land and had his advice nullified by others.  Personally, I cannot envision being placed in that position, but like Moses, he sought only what God wanted.

Moses was dead, but not God!  When you read the context of Scripture you can hear the Lord speaking and that is sufficient!  Although this hard headed people would not realize God’s undertaking, the promise had been made and the people gradually followed in obedience.

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I WILL FOLLOW THEE

Having watched Jesus perform numerous miracles, a scribe approaches Him and volunteers to follow Jesus.  There are many who fall into the category that this man volunteered for.

Impressed with what Jesus had performed it is quite possible that he being a “scribe” might have lots to write about.  What is to be considered with this action is that Jesus did not just take volunteers; He selected each of the twelve.

Another observation is that although a crowd was present, Jesus “gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.” (Matthew 8:18)  He obviously was not impressed with having a crowd.  Each miracle was performed on selective people in selected places.  When we reach the record of His life here upon this earth, you cannot help but be impressed with its uniqueness as over against the false prophets that roam our globe.

Years ago, I read something of Dr. DeHaan which said: “He was born in a stable, depended on the charity of friends, rode a borrowed colt, died on a sinner’s cross, laid in another’s tomb.”  You have to admit that when Jesus said to that scribe: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” He was weeding out, not just this man, but all who were present.  I am glad that the disciple who was following Him and said: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” was not identified for we would be quick to tag him with something not needed for these last 2,000 years.

Invariably, when we read something like this, we have to ask ourselves: Do I fit into the category of those men?  Did I promise the Lord something that I have failed to perform?  Do I just talk big, but when the road gets rough, or steep, just plain burdensome in some way, do I fail to live up to my intentions?

We all need to do periodic inspections as to what we said to Him, not only recently, but long ago.  “Lord I will be or do, count me in!”  Something or someone interrupted that promise –seek forgiveness and move on.

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GALILEE

I love the ocean and miss it, even after these many years.  Just to look at it in its calm, or storm.  To listen to it as it pounds the breakers, or smell the salt air that punctures your sinus and clears your head in seconds.  The list goes on with the dreams drifting hurriedly.

As we crossed the Sea of Galilee, my mind was not on the ocean, but on the multiplied times that it became the center of attraction because the Savior of the World was present on it or on its shores.  One of the earliest recordings was when He chose Simon who was called Peter to be two of his twelve disciples.  So commanding was He that they left their nets and followed Him.   What a magnetic personality He must have displayed to choose two fishermen to begin His ministry, not some intellects. (Matthew 4:20)

Matthew records that “going on from there He saw two brothers, James and John the sons of Zebedee in a boat with their father”.  They were mending nets.  He called them and they left the boat and their Father and followed Jesus. (Matt. 4:22)

Recall how some, determined to find something against the Savior, asked Peter if Christ paid taxes.  The Lord knew what was going on and told Peter to get a fish, remove the coin from its mouth and pay the taxes.  Think of all the ins and outs attached to that experience on Galilee. (17:24-27)

And then there was the night that Jesus walked on the water in the midst of a mighty storm.  Of course, the disciples were alarmed!  Would you be the “cool” one who was not shook somewhat?  (Matthew 14:25-32)

I thought of how the disciples fished all night, caught nothing and He said to them: “Cast on the other side of the boat!”  They caught so many fish that the boat began to sink.  Only then did they turn their attention back to HIM.  We are so caught up in such things that we forget to honor Him for His provision. (John 21:4-8)

I am still reflecting on some of these things when we reached the other shore of Galilee, however I am thinking of those disciples coming ashore and finding cooked fish awaiting them.  And, naturally they discover that He has prepared it for them. (21:9-14)

Take a reflective trip on Galilee with the Savior.  I am convinced you will find it one of the best boat rides you have ever experienced!

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DUSTING OFF A BOOK

God has blessed me with a library of hundreds of books, mostly commentaries.  I love to read some of those that are long out of print.  I admit that some of the old English writings are a challenge.

I read one commentary on the Song of Solomon sometime ago, and in the process of considering it and some of my notes, (I am uncertain where they came from so I cannot give credit) I caught something I had forgotten I wrote in my Bible, concerning Chapter 2:15 “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”  The Book probably concerns a relationship between Solomon and a Shulammite woman.  The title is literally: A Song of Songs.

So, in dusting off this book, I refreshed my thinking with the following thoughts:  From Song of Solomon 2:15…

Selfishness spoils love

Discontent spoils Joy

Anxious thoughts spoils peace

Impatience spoils longsuffering

Bitter words spoils gentleness

Indolence spoils goodness

Doubt spoils faith

Pride spoils meekness

Love of pleasure spoils temperance

Those “Little foxes” … 2:15 … “Catch them.”

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ANOTHER UNUSUAL OCCURRENCE

Much ado is made about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.  Research after research has been done to prove or disprove such an occurrence took place.

Every effort of digging at various locations and even an effort to call it the Sea of Reeds, so it would make it less of a miracle!  While such effort has been exerted, little is said about what took place forty years later when Israel crossed the Jordan River.  In either occurrence, a miracle had to be performed for such a mass of humanity to cross either place.

This time as Israel faced the impossibility of such a feat, they were being led by Joshua.  He had such a commitment to the Lord, which full confidence in his leader-ship was done as he instructed.  Again, as at the Red Sea, he was determined to do everything in accordance with God’s direction.

The first instruction seemed simple enough – “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people to prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan.”

Meanwhile Joshua had sent spies to check out Jericho.  It was a precaution to find out what the people of Jericho might do in the event they saw Israel crossing the River Jordan.  That was a unique move because they learned of the terror that existed in Jericho as to what God had done in Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea.  These spies took the words of a harlot and brought them to Joshua.  They also had her put a red scarf in the window of her home, on the wall of Jericho, so that she and her family would be saved.   Amazingly, the word of a harlot was acceptable to Joshua and his army.  Next he commanded that “when you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and after it.”

The Ark was a symbol of the presence of God.  The Priests were to come to the water’s edge and then “stand still” as the people crossed over.  It had to have been a magnificent moment.  God was conveying to the Israelites His power and authority in that moment, but also to history His Omnipotence.

“And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:17)

Try to imagine taking the words of a prostitute as one hundred percent accurate and then becoming the shareholder in that experience.   Israel not only crossed, it was on “dry ground”.  To add to that is that little statement in the 16th verse: “So the people crossed opposite Jericho.”  The world has yet to see what God has done and can do.

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BLESSING BECOMES SIN

Perhaps you have caught this in the past, however just in case you might have missed the idea of a blessing can easily become a blight; sin if you did not observe the connection!

When Israel left Egypt, after 400 years and ten plagues had battered them under Moses leadership, (Exodus 7-11) a most interesting thing occurred… Pharaoh rose in the night, called Moses and Aaron, and said: “Rise up, get out from among my people… we shall all be dead.” (Exodus 12:30-33)  “The children of Israel requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request.  Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (Ex. 12:35-36)

As they moved toward the Promised Land, God gave them the Ten Commandments and a multiplicity of Laws.  You will probably remember the eruption that took place as Moses came down from the Mountain and discovered that the people had melted all the golden jewelry that the Egyptians had given them, (Exodus 32) and had made a golden calf and were worshiping it.  It is described as “corrupted themselves”. (Exodus 32:7)  Here they were, violating the Ten Commandments with the gold procured from the Egyptians when God had caused the Egyptians to gladly lavish upon them when they left Egypt.

We are a strange group!  We find it “convenient” to allow the “old nature” to ascend, to revert to sinful practices because God did not jump in our time frame.  Remember, Moses had been on the mountain for 40 days and this is his “reception committee”.

Friends, we need to re-examine the reasons we allow ourselves to be violators of those commandments, “written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other.  The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:15, 16)

Wealth, turned to idolatry!

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A CONTENTIOUS WOMAN

While reading I came across the 13th verse of Proverbs 19.  I thought to myself: “Ted!  You were a most fortunate individual.  In fact you rate amongst the few in history that can make that claim!”

I would have a hard time to recall that Patsy ever displayed being “contentious”.  She was the epitome of graciousness, and manifested it, not only in public, but in her very private life.  I must quote the verse: “A foolish son is destruction to his father, and the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.”

Inasmuch as I had been having trouble with a faucet that was hard to shut off or on, when it started to do a constant dripping, I knew I had to do something about it.  I proceeded to pull it apart and put new washers and “O” rings in it.  I also made sure that ample grease was in it.  Guess what?  It worked!

When a marriage has deteriorated, it could possibly be that part of the problem relates to contentiousness on the part of the woman, it might also be the “hang-ups” of a man.  Both parties need to stand back and see what would be needed to correct the problem or problems.  The “mirror” of God’s Word would illuminate, probably reveal some contentiousness of which you were unawares.

Far too many individuals are quick to quote parts of Ephesians 5.  Read all of it, because it also says: “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.”  To quote part of it, and not all of it, creates a reason for contention.  Both parties need humbling!!! 

No need for drip, drip, drip!  If either (probably both) is creating the problem, get it fixed immediately!  Do not give up the ship!