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‘THE DIVINE GARDENER’

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

I have a favourite coffee mug with the slogan ‘The Royal Gardener’.  It was made for Hampton Court Palace and presumably was sold to raise funds.  The mug is decorated with various gardening implements against a background of green foliage.  I guess there is nothing remarkable about it, except that it set me thinking about another gardener – not merely ‘Royal’ but ‘Divine’!

            In John chapter fifteen, Jesus refers to Himself as the true vine, to us as the branches, and God the Father as the vine-dresser – ‘The Divine Gardener’.  Like every good gardener, God takes away every unproductive branch and prunes the productive ones so that they bear more fruit.   The human side of us balks at the idea of being subjected to pruning, but, as every Christian who has been through the pruning process with various kinds of trials will testify, although it was not pleasant “nevertheless afterwards it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness,” when we submitted to God’s training. (See Hebrews 12:11 NKJV.)

            March marks the beginning of Spring and we enjoy the results of the autumn pruning in the garden as our eyes now revel in the lovely flowers and foliage, while those areas that were neglected and are now overgrown detract from the beauty all around. They are a parable of those who would not submit to God’s discipline and, having failed to profit by it, hinder the unity and growth of the body of believers – God’s garden – the Church. (See John 15: 5 – 8.)

            As we submit willingly and wholeheartedly – mind, body, soul and spirit – to the skillful hands of our ‘Divine Gardener’, we shall understand more fully what the Lord Jesus Christ endured for us.

The Divine Gardener’ lovingly ‘prunes’ us so that we may grow strong, healthy branches bearing abundant fruit for His glory and the increase of His ‘vineyard’.

(See John 15:8)

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BAPTIZE OR BURN

We were discussing the subject of what might be acceptable or unacceptable at this point in history, as it relates to evangelism.  It was always debatable; but since our society has acquired “ better education” than our parents, the “you can’t tell me”, or “get with it and get up to date” has turned our thinking concerning the Holy Bible as unbecoming, out of date, no longer the final standard for Christianity. The theologians jumped into the fray years ago and offered thoughts contradicted by Scripture.

Try to imagine people going into the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’.”

To make things even more interesting, “In the desert, wearing clothes that were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist.  His food was locusts and wild honey.  People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance’.” (Matthew 3:1-8)

A stinging rebuke that probably excited the audience! John was saying what they thought and were now about to practice.   In fact, he even said a little more in his stinging reproach: “His winnowing fork is in his hand and He will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (v12)  In effect he was saying, “baptize or burn”.

Please note, it was not being baptized that would produce their salvation, it involved: “Confessing their sins!”, then they were baptized.  I remember vividly that as I read this Scripture, I realized that my childhood baptism was entirely represented by others, and that I needed to do publicly what my new birth in Christ represented.  Shortly thereafter, I was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean.  I was overjoyed knowing I had followed the Scriptures on my own volition.

-Ted

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A BALANCE CHECK

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

Not a financial check-up (although that is important) but a review of one’s life.   This came to mind this week as I faced a laundry problem.  My six-year old washer went crazy when it reached the spin cycle.  When the technician checked with a spirit level, he discovered it was way off-balance.  After making the needed adjustments, he successfully washed a small load.  I have no idea of how or when this imbalance occurred …it must have been gradual.

            Like my washer, life can become unbalanced. Sometimes it is almost imperceptible, while at other times it is sudden and cataclysmic. This is probably truer now than it has ever been.  Life with COVID-19 and its many variants has upset the balance of life for people everywhere – mentally, physically and spiritually.  Whatever the circumstances, our personal relationship with God is the only sure foundation of life. If He is at the hub of our lives, all other relationships and events relate to Him.

            Now, perhaps more than ever before, we need to re-evaluate our priorities in life.  We can no longer continue with the regular daily routine.  It may be loss of a job, a family, financial or health issues, etc., but there has to be a re-alignment from what was the ‘status quo’.  We need an anchor – a faith firmly anchored to the Rock of Ages – God the Father, Who never grows weary.

            We who have committed our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, now is the time for learning His will in our current situation.  Many saints in the Bible had to do just that.  Abram learned from God that he had to leave his homeland and wander from place to place as God directed. (See Genesis Ch. 12.); Jonah reluctantly learned that there was no escaping God’s call to preach to Nineveh (See Jonah Chs. 1 – 4.); the Apostle Paul had to change his plans on more than one occasion. (See Acts 16.9, etc.)

            When we do not know what to do, life is unpredictable and the way ahead is uncertain, we need a fixed focal point (person) … in fact, the eternal, changeless One – God Himself – revealed to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.   “He (Jesus) is the same (whether in pandemic, fire, flood, earthquake, or whatever life brings us) “yesterday, and today and forever.”(See Hebrews 13: 8.)

Check your balance:

Is Jesus Christ the hub of YOUR wheel of life?

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AN INTERESTING GENEALOGY

Our daughter, Cathy, recently acquired an interest in the family genealogy.  I know little about my family background, but when she started asking questions, I realized I knew less than I thought.

For instance, in the past it is obvious that folks were quick to name the new child out of the family history of the past.  I was born at my grand-parents home and registered at the local post-office.  I think it is right because there were so many Edwards and Thomas’s in the family.  On my mother’s side it was a little confusing because there are still differences of opinion.  Bless their hearts, I am here and one day I will confuse the list even more.

In reading the genealogy of the Lord Jesus, you cannot help but notice that there are four women mentioned, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba.  While some of their backgrounds were not squeaky clean, God still used them, and they are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

Before we start throwing rocks or wielding a machete, let us realize that none of us is “without sin”.  Jesus said to those intent on destroying the life of a prostitute that “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8)  When every one of the crowd had departed, Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?”  NO ONE, Lord!  I do not condemn you either.  Go.  From now on sin no more.”  The next verse explains exactly what had taken place… “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  In that moment the woman saw the LIGHT.  That person, Jesus illuminated her need, and His willingness to accept her unconditionally as His follower.

We need to refresh our thinking about the power of Christ to not only forgive her in totality, but to instruct her to “sin no more!”

If one reads further in the passage, we discover how Jesus rebukes those involved and says: “You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.”  Still further:  “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.  Therefore I said to you that you will die in you sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

For further study, take a good look at the four women that God chose to use and who were listed in the genealogy of Jesus!  God forgives in totality, and then uses us as He sees fit!

-Ted

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‘THE REAL JOY-GIVER!’

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

In these days, when joy seems to be in short supply, the title words above (from verse 3 of ‘As the Deer’ -Psalm 42- by Martin Nystrom) have been a reminder to me of Jesus’ preparation of His disciples for His approaching departure, as recorded in John chapter 15.  There we read that Jesus reassured them of His love and promised that they would be filled with His joy, even though He would no longer be with them.  But, to ensure they got the message they could not fully understand, Jesus repeated it: “Yes, your joy will overflow!” (Verse 11.)

            There is only one ‘real joy-giver’ – The Lord Jesus Christ.  Happiness is not in the same dimension. It is ephemeral – brief, changing with circumstances.  In contrast, joy is an experience we choose! At a seminar, a woman told the presenter: “I never realized that I don’t have to be happy to be joyful!” A children’s chorus of the past explains it like this:   ‘Happiness happens, but joy abides, in the heart that belongs to Jesus!”

             Long ago, when Christians in Rome were led into the Colosseum to face the ravenous lions, their joy-filled eyes looked beyond the present to the eternal.  It is equally true of the many martyrs today, suffering torture and death for Christ in many parts of the world.  Hebrews chapter 11 with its list of godly men and women who suffered for their faith, concludes with the statement (v. 39 & 40) that they have yet to receive their reward. They are waiting until ALL followers of Christ (including this and succeeding generations) have finished our race of life and receive our reward.

            “You and I were created for joy, and if we miss it, we miss the reason for our existence … If our joy is honest joy, however, it must somehow be congruous with human tragedy.  This is the test of joy’s integrity; is it compatible with pain?  Only the heart that hurts has a right to joy.” (Lewis Smedes quoted by Tim Hansel in “The Hidden Adventure”)  The Apostle Paul, writing from a Roman Jail, told the Philippians: “Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy!” (Ch.3: 1 NLT)

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

JESUS: THE REAL JOY-GIVER!

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JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

Some years ago, W.E. Blackstone, in his book “Jesus Is Coming” wrote…

“WATCH

therefore; for we know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

-Matthew 24:42

“WATCH

therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour.”

-Matthew 25:13

“Take ye heed,

WATCH

and pray; for ye know not when the time is.”

“WATCH

ye therefore; for ye know not when the Master of the

house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the

cock crowing, or in the morning, lest, coming suddenly,

He find you sleeping.   And what I say unto you I say unto

ALL, WATCH.”

-Mark   13:33-37

Blessed is he that WATCHETH, and keepeth his garments.

-Rev. 16:15

“If therefore thou shalt not

WATCH

I come on thee as a thief.”

“BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY.”

-Rev. 3:3, 11

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NO GATECRASHERS!

Used with Permission by Linda DeSilva

            Several years ago, there was an incident at the WHITE HOUSE when a well-dressed couple gained admission to a function, mingled with the guests and generally enjoyed themselves – until their ‘gate-crashing’ was discovered and they were unceremoniously ushered out!

            On another occasion, a singer and her husband had been invited to a very select wedding reception – THE social event of the year.   With great anticipation, they arrived at the venue – only to be refused entry and escorted out. Why?  Their names were not on the guest list. Although they had received a legitimate RSVP (invitation) they had neglected to signify their acceptance!

            Everybody enjoys stories about love, weddings, and fabulous feasts.  Jesus, whose parables enthralled His listeners, in this way taught people one day about the Kingdom of Heaven. The scene Jesus described in Matthew chapter 22 was that of a royal wedding feast. A King was honouring the marriage of his Son. The prospective guests, however, rudely refused his invitations for frivolous reasons. Others actually killed the King’s messengers, so the King sent an army to deal with them.  A wedding feast without guests would be a very bleak affair, so the King sent his servants to invite everyone – rich or poor.  When the King entered the banquet hall, it was full of guests.  One, however, caught the King’s eye.  He was not suitably dressed in a wedding garment.  A gate-crasher!  He was quickly bound and bundled off into utter darkness … there to mourn and weep for eternity.

            The first two stories are an interesting commentary on life – but Jesus’ parable has a message for everyone today, just as it did in His generation.    God invites everyone to come to Christ for salvation and an eternity with Him in heaven.   Some will try to come in their own way: living a ‘good’ life, doing kind deeds, obeying the Law, etc.  It sounds feasible – but is unacceptable!  There is only One who has ever lived a perfect life.   It is in Christ alone, through His sacrifice for the sins of the world, that we are invited by God the Father to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.(See Romans 10: 13.)

God has invited you!  Have you accepted?

THERE ARE NO GATECRASHERS IN HEAVEN!

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SIGNS EVERYWHERE!

In reading Mathew 24, I understand what so many are conversing about these days, “WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR”. (24:6)

I am of the age that I can recall WW2 and many things since then.  I recall much of the details of fear that constantly plagued our little Island of Bermuda, and how we were engaged in every angle of protection.  Even at that young age, we had to help dig trenches around our school property.  They taught us to shoot a gun, a 303 that was almost as heavy as ourselves.  The hotel and golf-course where the Princess Hotel now stands was an army camp that tested their readiness with guns that shot they said, as much as twenty miles. (It was probably a little exaggeration, but when you are seven years of age, there was immediate fear.)

Fear has been generated constantly since those days.  I know that we basically live in a “bird cage” as compared with other parts of the world.  There has seldom been a day in the last 80 years when I did not hear of “wars and rumors of war”.  One of the most obvious wars that we hear about each day is that of personal wars in our own society.  Listening to the news daily is like the old days of the “police blotter”.  

If one is estranged to Jesus Christ, they wonder for their safety, in and out of the home.  It is a challenge to be at peace when you hear what is taking place; “Wars and rumors of war” locally and internationally.

When Jesus spoke those words in Matthew 24, one would have thought they were probably “far- fetched”.  Who would have thought the Temple that had just been called to His attention, would be in ruins shortly? 

In the 2000 years since Jesus Christ said those words, “the world shall never know peace.”

Thankfully, when one explores the words of Holy Writ, we hear what He declared in John 14:27… “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

These are exciting words in light of what we can expect.  “Wars and rumors of war”, but God is Sovereign and in control!     Put your hand in His and allow Him to be your Savior and Lord, and face your future in peace!

-Ted

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“BUT GOD …”

(When God intervened)

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

Looking through my library, the book-title “BUT GOD …” by Tony Bennett (pub. DAYONE – 2016) reminded me of the relevance of these two words in today’s uncertain world.  I leafed through the chapter titles. The graphic studies of the Bible characters to whom these two words refer are inspirational. Usually, the accounts begin with a retrospective look at the subject’s life-story.  Joseph’s story for example, revisits the traumatic events of his life from his current vantage point as second-in-command to Pharaoh – at that time probably the greatest ruler in the world. (Genesis 45: 7 & 8)  Joseph’s long prison experiences seemed destined to continue for who knows how long?   BUT GOD …

The men and women of Bible times whose lives were marked in some way by these two words: countless followers of Christ through the ages, including believers in this 21st Century; all testify that they can now trace God’s hand at work although they could not understand at the time.  During hard times when we also have been faced with sickness, loss, unemployment, or other disappointment, have we been tempted to think that God had forgotten us?   But, looking back from the other side of the trial, can we now say …”But God worked it out for my good and His glory.”? (See Romans 8:28)

Elisabeth Elliot (widow of missionary martyr Jim Elliot) wrote: “God knows what He is doing and He is not under any obligation to make us any explanation.”   Similarly: “He who believes that God is in control of the universe need never fear what happens below.” (Anon) “We live fascinating lives if we are living in the centre of God’s will.   All the attacks that Satan hurls at us through the sins of others are not only powerless to harm us but are transformed into blessings along the way.” (Hannah Whitall Smith)

In the challenges we meet to-day, remember: “BUT GOD … is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

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RUTH THE MOABITESS

Have you read the Book of Ruth lately?  It is such a refreshing story. 

Naomi goes to Moab with her husband, Elimelech and their two sons.  Things did not go well with them; Elimelech died and both sons married ladies from Moab.  Then Naomi decides, after learning that God had provided food for her homeland, and her two sons had died, that she was going back home to the land of Judah.   One of her son’s wives, RUTH, said she was going to accompany her while the other daughter-in-law, at Ruth’s urging, returned to Moab.

Many have been the bride who selected the words of Ruth to Naomi at their marriage.  “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.  Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.   Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

May I step aside for a moment and allow Ruth’s words to penetrate our minds and hearts?  First, she had left Moab.  Second, she leaves her god for Ruth’s God. Third, she committed herself alone to Naomi; death alone would part them. 

Next, verse 18 says: “that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.”  Some things should be said each to the other and then SILENCE.   Be sure to read the entire story.

I refer to the beautiful efforts made on behalf of Naomi as she dutifully sought to provide food in a legitimate manner in the fields of Boaz.  He, though older, was still a man with “good vision”.  He made a “proposal” in the fashion of that day and shortly they married.

One can only imagine the comments from his men as the met at the gate of the city.  Like I said, everything was done in accordance with the customs of the hour.  Ruth becomes his wife, and the old-codger and his young wife are blessed with a child who is named Obed.  “To Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David. (Ruth 4:21-22)

I must inject:  Obed means “worshipper”.    David means “beloved”.

Lest I forget the end of the story, let us look to Ruth 4:13 and following: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her.  And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.  Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.   May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you then seven sons, has given birth to Him.’  Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.”

What a story!  Hopefully you are aware that Obed was in the genealogy of CHRIST!

-Ted

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“CAN’T SLEEP?”

(“Don’t count sheep; talk to the Shepherd!”)

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

Sleeplessness is a problem for many people.  On the very rare occasions when I can’t sleep, I pray for insomniacs known to me. The hands (or digits) on the clock move almost imperceptibly; pain continues for sleepless sufferers; the long night seems endless.  Today, hospitals have sleep clinics; medical professionals specialize in this field; while pharmaceutical companies produce pills, powders and various devices.  Some patients find relief; others continue to suffer.

            Pain, worry, fear and guilt are just a few of the factors in sleeplessness.  The good, the great, the weak, the weary, the wealthy; indeed, probably anyone can have a time when sleep eludes them.   So, what does the Bible have to say about this very real and distressing problem?

            First of all, sleeplessness is not always a bad thing.   The Bible has many examples of sleep being withheld for a specific good purpose.  Pharaoh’s distressing dreams, interpreted by Joseph, resulted in saving the lives of otherwise starving people;  the boy, Samuel, wakened from sleep, to deliver a message to Eli, the High Priest;  the Wise Men warned in a dream not to return to Herod; Joseph, the husband of Mary, awakened from a dream to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt.

            David, in Psalm 139, writes of God’s full and complete knowledge (v. 1 – 6); His constant presence (v. 7 – 12); His creative power (v. 13 – 16); and God’s love and care (v. 17 & 18): “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” (NKJV)

            Asaph, another Psalmist, writes Psalm 77 from a troubled heart.  He tells God his woes – and so may we.   He writes: “You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” (v.4) Then, Asaph gains courage as he remembers God’s powerful works in the past (See v. 10b – 20.) We can too!

David’s testimony (Psalm 23) in the midst of his enemies: “The Lord is MY Shepherd, I shall not want.” Is He YOURS?

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WEEDS, WEEDS, WEEDS

In good old Bermuda we have a regular challenge to keep the lawns in A-One shape.  It was always fun to take a visitor out golfing, which I gave up after my back created enough problems to announce that common sense would demand such action. 

When we engaged a new-comer to play golf, we waited, with anticipation, for his ball to get stuck on a milk weed.  We knew that weed has developed little to no tolerance for a golf club, in spite of what some non Bermudians are prone to think.  I recall how my Father would have us go around our home, on bended knee and cut out any milk-weed that had survived the last mowing. I cannot recall anything that was more annoying.

Over the years I have changed our back yard every so often.  When the water pond drew too many pigeons, we replaced it with a rock garden and lighting.  Then we put in “wild flower” seeding, and it did well.

The only problem was that the birds decided that it was so enjoyable that we had to put netting over it to hinder their desires above ours.  Now another crop of plants are emerging and I notice some items that are not familiar.  I must wait patiently to determine what and when they must be removed and what should be left.

Jesus told the parable (Matthew 13) of how a man sowed seed and in the middle of the night; another sowed “tares among the wheat”. His men were sleeping, justifiably, from their days work. However, the enemy never sleeps! 

Man is born with a sinful nature as a result of Adam and Eve’s action in Eden.  He is easily groomed by the devil, Satan, to follow that sinful nature!

You and I would become His servants through life and into death, except we are born-again by the Spirit of God. It was what Jesus said to Nicodemus and definitely applies to us.  (Read the appropriate passage in John 3)  Someone said: “Born once, die twice!  Born twice, die once.  Better never born than never born again!”

I must make a suggestion and an appeal; the devil is intent on you or me retaining that sinful nature, and we will, BUT God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit desire to impart a NEW NATURE.  Taking Christ as Savior and Lord, and inviting the Triune Lord to adopt you as His child and willingly follow Him, is your guarantee of Salvation.  He imparts new life… SONSHIP, and when we ultimately face Him in eternity future we will be separated from the tares!

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NEVER ALONE!

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

The music on last Sunday’s BBN radio presentation of ‘SONGS IN THE NIGHT’ was different from the norm.  Usually there is a male soloist and a ladies’ ensemble.  This time, the Moody Church Choir sang a selection in which one group chanted in unison “YOU ARE NOT ALONE!” repeatedlywhile the majority sang other words tunefully.   It was very impressive and certainly made abundantly clear that when we are ‘in Christ’ we are never alone.

This apparently endless pandemic has caused depression and isolation to many for well over a year and we have no assurance of its end.  At the outset, people adapted, masks were fun (for a while).   But, novelty soon wore off and the ‘same old … same old’ – plus even more restrictive measures – has become an insupportable burden to many.  Lawbreaking has increased and people have become increasingly weary of what has become the ‘normal’ pandemic way of life.

For the Christian, we have the assurance of God’s abiding presence in the midst of the uncertainties of life.  Christ has promised His followers, as He did the first disciples: “Be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20 NLT)  Christ’s promise, made some two thousand years ago is still true.  The writer to the Hebrews also reminds us that “God has said: ‘I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.’”(Ch. 13: 5 NLT) and in verse 8:“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

These promises of the Lord Jesus Christ are addressed to those who have accepted Him as Lord and Saviour of their lives – but they are meaningless to those who ignore Him. He alone is the “Way, the Truth and the Life.”  (John 14: 6) No one can come to God the Father, except through Jesus. Do YOU have a personal, saving relationship with Him?   If not, why not?  Jesus promised to receive those who come to Him.  (See John 3: 16 – 18; 6: 37 – 40)  Jesus is waiting today; don’t delay!

Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR Saviour and Lord.

You, too, will enjoy His continual presence!

Never alone forever!

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A PEARL OF GREAT PRICE

I had been in College for 9 months when a friend asked: “Do you have a date for the banquet?”  I admit that I had many reasons for not going, but my friend looked me in the eye and said: “She is in the Snack Shop.  Go and ask her NOW.”

I will not get into the discussion, but before long we agreed to attend the banquet together.  As we enjoyed each other’s company, we even managed a couple of dates prior to the banquet.

By the time Christmas arrived, I was invited to spend it with her family.  It was a beautiful time.  Included was a trip into Philadelphia to listen to that great Organ in Wanamaker’s.  At some point during those days, I had managed to buy her a pearl ring which I hung on the Christmas tree. 

These many years later, I still remember the look on her face when we made her search the tree until she found a small box with her name on it.  Tears of joy!  It contained a pearl ring!

It was shortly after that, when listening to a scientist, he began talking about pearls.   His opening statement was close to this:  “A pearl is an object of beauty woven around a garment of irritation”.  I thought, “That is perfect!”  After just shy of 60 years before God called her home, I recall those moments as vividly as though she is here.

I recall how that scientist described that pearl with its object of irritation, and how it is woven together with individual pieces covered with a secretion in a mollusk.  The color is bluish gray and is considered as being precious. 

As the scientist proceeded he mentioned how, in our selected Scripture of the day, Jesus was speaking of the church as the body of Christ.  We have symbols to represent our faith in Jesus Christ, the cross being one in particular.  It was and is the object of irritation clothed in the blood of our Savior Jesus.  His irritation covered the sin of a repentant individual.  A most beautiful picture of His Love!

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LEARNING TO SING AND PRAY

Acts 16:24-27 “and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks.  But about midnight…”

I recall how when I first read this, I found it a little confusing… How in the world could a couple of men who had just been beaten, on their bare backs “with many blows” find it an ideal moment, “midnight”, to pray and sing? (v25)

As the story unfolded I noticed that I had to go back to Acts 9 to understand what had transpired in the Apostles life that enhanced this victorious moment; he had met Jesus Christ in the process of endeavoring to destroy every inkling of the resurrection of Jesus, and the expansion of this understanding they had relative to Scripture having been fulfilled.  His training in the old school of the Pharisees was no longer his commitment.  The Damascus road encounter with Jesus was the dynamic of this moment and intended future.  Christ must be the theme of this occasion, and his minute by minute life in the future.

Everyone does not have an experience such as Paul’s, but there must be the comprehension of Christ being the Savior of mankind, and the dependence upon Him to have become their sin-bearer.  That little word “believe” in John 1:12 is the key… “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name!”

Only could my dependence upon HIM (Jesus) and His right and reason produce my confidence of a new birth, (Spiritual) to enable me to sing and pray at midnight, in a prison, with a bleeding back and multiple aches and pains.

My question to all of us is quite simple:  “How important has the death and resurrection of Christ become to me/us if faced with a similar experience?” 

Things are happening worldwide, and in our own society that gives credence to similar experiences becoming ours in the not too distant future!   

Challenging?

-Ted

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THE BLAME GAME

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

Excuses! From infancy, we use them to ‘pass the buck’.  “The dog ate my homework.” (BC – before computers!)   “Sorry – project’s not complete – computer problems!” “The alarm clock didn’t go off.”  “It wasn’t my idea! He made me do it!”   I guess we have all played ‘The Blame Game’ at some point. Currently, the world-wide pandemic and unavailability of testing results, miscalculations/missteps of those in leadership/Government, Police, gang violence, traffic violations, etc. – are all being blamed for our Island’s economic and social woes.

This is not a new phenomenon.  It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam was confronted by God and answered Him: “The woman You gave me … she offered me the fruit and I ate it.” Then Eve blamed the serpent.  It has continued ever since, as seen in this quote from a book on the early Church:  “In one of his writings, Tertullian describes how the Christians were blamed for everything:  “… if there is an earthquake or famine or plague, straight away the cry arises: “The Christians to the lions.” (John Legg – The Footsteps of God) Nero even blamed them for burning Rome!

When life goes awry, it is so much easier (but fruitless) to find a scapegoat for our failures and misfortunes than it is to take responsibility and work towards a solution.    Likewise, in the spiritual realm, when we try to excuse our sin or blame it on someone else (including the devil) we add to our guilt and shame.  Forgiveness requires confession. ‘If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9 NIV)

“Everyone has sinned…but by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with Him through Christ who sets them free.” (Romans 3:23 & 24 NIV)

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A LOWLY NAZARENE

It is not something that happens often, but on occasion I make contact with an individual who wants no part in “the lowly Nazarene”.

In fact, they may lose their “cool” in an effort to destroy any allegiance that I might possess in acknowledging Christ as my Lord and Savior.  They wonder why I might show allegiance to a “made up story” about an illegitimate child who is purportedly God in flesh.  Of course they address it as a “fable” and probably have already solidified their arguments to their own satisfaction.  When I present some thoughts on fulfilled prophecy, the weight of evidence in our discussion usually comes to an abrupt halt.

History is filled with evidence of Jesus and His ministry, but people usually revert to some speculative arguments they heard in childhood, or just allow the desires of their heart, which is controlled by their “old nature”, to supersede the authority of Scripture.

When the accounts of Scripture clash with opinions, they simply say: “He was a lowly Nazarene!”   They have quoted from the very same portion of Scripture which said, “His name is Immanuel!” which actually means “God with us”.   (Matthew 1:23)

No matter what others say, Joseph was told by the Holy Spirit of God: “She will have a son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)  Your hope and mine rests in Jesus Christ!

 -Ted

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THE HIGHEST POINT IN HEBREWS

Not being the greatest athlete in history, as I have mentioned previously; I never acquired a desire to be the guy to “break the tape”. 

Playing soccer was enjoyable, but I have to admit that I was not the first guy picked on the team.  With that much out of the way we will move on.

The Olympics are not my priority to view.  While I admire the accomplishments of the athletes, and wonder in my mind how in the world they accomplish the things that they do the necessity of training and discipline required makes me ask again and again, “How in the world can they keep that goal with such intensity for the duration that is necessary?”

The walls of our home are already bedecked with so many “reminders” of goals and accomplishments, that the space needed for a gold/bronze or silver metal would be out of the question.  I must admit that those with a scriptural thought are predominant.

The opening of Hebrews 12 is probably the highest point of that Book!  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

It is obvious that the limitations on clothing, which would be a hindrance on any persons accomplishments is probably the first thing we notice.  I am made to understand that even the material of what is necessary is taken into consideration.  In the swimming they noted the position of the foot as they launch into the water can be pivotal.

When a person makes a decision of commitment to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, the work of “putting off and putting on” can be challenging.  Our desire to keep Christ first and foremost means discarding many of the hindrances to a love for the Lord. 

We now desire to uplift the Christ of Calvary, and in so doing, some of the things are harder to leave behind than others.

One of the goals of every “competitor” in this Christian Race for the gold is to keep their eyes on the Savior.  Roger Bannister said that when he heard John Landy edging abreast of him; he glanced sideways, and that momentary glance cost him that race.

Lord!  Help us to keep our eyes on the “author and finisher” of our FAITH – JESUS!

-Ted

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SEPARATING EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY

Living in an earthly setting, and then reading 1 Corinthians 15, makes for a challenge! 

We are all faced with the realization, as we wake each morning, I have all of these things to get accomplished.  They could be the simplest of challenges, and they could be monumental in our thinking.  The tug of war begins.  What is first on my agenda and what can wait?

As a believer, I know that my first allegiance is to the Lord. Naturally, I remind myself that I am dealing with eternal and earthly decisions.  The earthly things will, in God’s timing, move into obscurity, but not always.  Some of them are more than temporal; they overlap and therefore I have to move them into priority, because they are also spiritual in nature and have a more important role in God’s ultimate program.

The “last enemy that will be abolished” is death.  God is putting all things under His feet according to the Scripture.  Naturally, I am to put every activity subjected to HIM!

“When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”  By the time we reach verse 31 of First Corinthians, we get a vivid picture about our daily battle: “I die daily!” In reality, though I might picture in my mind that I can separate the two – Spiritual and earthly, that is not really the case.  In the resurrection, according to verse 43 and following: “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Someone said: “Death – A physical incident in an immortal career.”  We must remember: We have been bought with a price… therefore, Glorify God in our body and spirit!  Nothing less!

-Ted

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THE FRINGE OF HIS CLOAK

Over the year’s people, enamored with the thought, have all types of things that they have endeavored to “link” to Jesus! 

After I visited the Holy Land, I was more than convinced how some use the items for profit, for support of their fantasies, for notoriety, the list is endless.  I fully expect them to find sufficient pieces of wood from the cross to build another Noah’s ark.

The thought that has lingered in my mind of recent is the occasion that is spoken of in Matthew 9.  Jesus had just answered a question concerning John, the Baptizer, the Pharisees, and the wineskins.

A man approaches Him and says: “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”  Here is a crowd of people to whom he could minister, but Jesus began to follow this individual, along with His disciples.  We sometimes get our priorities mixed up, but our Lord does not get His mixed up. If you look back you will see that Jesus had power over leprosy, over sickness, over diseases, over His disciples, over demons, over a paralytic, a tax-collector and now He deals with death.

The Savior is in route to this little girl, but there is an interruption.  A woman who has had a hemorrhage problem for 12 years is in the crowd that was following.  She does not ask for attention, in her thinking she says: “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” And so, she does exactly that.

Imagine, in that crowd that was pushing and shoving it appears that only a single individual touches the Savior in faith.  He turns, and obviously knows the answer but says: “Daughter, take courage, your faith has made you well.” 

That lady did not request anything; she just knew that to “touch the garment” was sufficient. Try to imagine all of this and realize what must have been going through the minds of those people, the man who was taking Jesus to his daughter, and the disciples who were accompanying Him.

It is important that we comprehend this moment. There is nothing that you or I can do to acquire spiritual healing except to place our faith in the Lord Jesus.  He invites us to “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  It is touching the hem of His garment in faith!  When we do that, we experience spiritual healing and His promise continues: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)                           

-Ted

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NIGH

“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near!”  James 5:8.

I have shared with you consistently, that I am not the most patient person on the face of the globe.  For some reason I was born to be a “pusher”.  Waiting on the Lord to accomplish His purpose, to me, is like “wasted time”.  It is that old nature that will haunt me to my dying day. 

The verse selected, James 5:8, issues a very strong injunction, that because the coming of the Lord is “NEAR”, I must learn to live in readiness for that grand occasion.  Further in the context James says: “Behold, the judge is standing right at the door!” (v9)  Most of us have been “standing at the door” on some occasion waiting.  When the person who answers, may or may not be, attired as expecting our call.

It does not take long to determine whether they were expecting us, or if there has been confusion about the time we were to be there.  Those can be very embarrassing moments as to what to do next.

In the event we have not grasped that description to which James refers, read the Book of Job.  You remember how Job and his friends debated endlessly?  Job eventually is able to tie it all together.  He is able to take that puzzle and fit the pieces into an understanding of what God was doing.  It ends with a masterpiece of God’s timing.

Another thought that James introduces is in that 11th verse where He says: “We count those blessed who have endured” and ultimately we see His mercy instead of our stubbornness, our impatience.

Just what do you see here that we might have missed right from the start…The coming of the Lord is near…be patient, strengthen our hearts, for the coming of the Lord is “at the door!”

-Ted

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ON DEALING WITH REJECTION

Between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, there was sufficient ridicule to make anyone feel that they had been rejected by God and man.

With their bickering, the average individual found himself in a quandary about what he really believed.  This loaned itself to the crowds that went to listen to Jesus.  What He declared made sense and coincided with the average man’s interpretation of the Scriptures that existed in that day.

His, Jesus’, initial presentation was specifically to the disciples.  He spoke with authority: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”.  He goes further when He says:

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be known; Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.  I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes I tell you, fear Him!”

Jesus clearly indicates to those present: that it is not the Pharisees who have twisted the Scriptures who they should fear, but it is the One who has given them the Scriptures and lives by them.  He is naturally referring to Himself!  He has just told them that the most they can do is take their life, but then: “they have no more that they can do.”  Keep in mind that eternal values are always prominent.

He gives us the tenderest and consoling words that a man or woman who lives for Him could ever hear:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?  Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows!”

The believer recognizes his worth before God.  God never has any intention of our living in fear and rejection, He has declared (John 1:12) that when you receive HIM, He receives you as a son, and nothing can separate you from HIM!  Nothing!  A SON IS BORN INTO THE FAMILY!

-Ted

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THE ENGRAVERS HAMMER

My grand-parents lived a very short distance from us.  In the mind of a young child, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Because “Pa” was not in the best of health, it meant we mowed his grass, along with the other necessities that became our routine.  It was often my duty to shave him on Sunday morning, early, so he could look his best as he went to church.  I look back today on the privilege that afforded me to assist him. (I was not allowed to accept any reimbursement.)

Pa was a hard worker in his healthy years.  He built a whaling rig that was a beauty, but like many other Bermudians they were never able to bring one home, although they harpooned one but lost it when well out of sight of Bermuda.  He was a lighthouse keeper, and in his off times did a lot of other odd jobs.

I loved to go in his “cellar” and mosey around.  He had an array of tools, and of course, all of the whaling necessities.   I was enamored with the fact that all of his tools were stamped with JC, James Cowen.  They were all readily identified.  I guess that people would borrow and never bring them back, and this way it was easier to avoid arguments.

I recall how I saw my father coming down from one fellows home with the wheelbarrow filled with tools.  Naturally, I said: “Dad, where have you been?”   His reply was typical of my father… “I knew Stuart was not home, so I went up to gather all of my tools.”  I said: “Some of those are not yours, they are Stuart’s.”  He said: “I know!  I brought some of his, so I have a head start on him when he comes to borrow some more of mine.”

I have not gotten lost.  “Value is improved by the engravers hammer!”  I read it years a go and have never forgotten.  God wants His very best for us!  He sometimes has to remind us that carefully hammered is an identification mark, and that identification mark is there, reminding us who we are and where we live! 

“For those whom He loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  For all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:6-11)

-Ted

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A TESTIMONY?

When things seem to go in the opposite direction from your intention, and persecution develops, how is it approached?  Reading Luke 21:13, it says that “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.”  In fairness, let me quote the surrounding portion.  “See to it that you are not misled: for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.  “When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”  Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven, but before all these things, they will lay hands on you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My names sake.  It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.  So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.  But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death and you will hated by all because of My name.”

More is said in the following verses, but we have to be reminded that things, as bad as they are presently, are going to get worse.  You can take the attitude of “poor me” or you can determine that this is an opportunity for your testimony. God, the Holy Spirit, will give wisdom in those moments… it is HIS PROMISE!

In the event that God is going to allow the unfolding of these events very shortly, BE PREPARED.

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WHEAT AND TARES

As Matthew recorded numerous parables that Jesus had presented to the listening crowd, he mentions this one in the list. 

In reality, it bespeaks the time in which we currently reside as much as it called attention to kingdom preaching.  (Matthew 13:24-30)

Whenever Christ declared His message about the Kingdom, there was no problem in realizing that since Adam and Eve, we live exposed to living side by side, wheat and tares.   Since, Jesus had just presented the parable of the sower and how under a variety of exposures, the devil had made an effort to destroy the seed that had been planted.

As a child, I recall how we had our own garden, and we planted quite a variety of vegetables, but never wheat.

We had to pull up many a weed… you probably remember how my old farmer friend said: “You never have to plant a weed.”  Such was the problem here! 

When the wheat was planted, the tares, (which look identical) came up.  (In our garden, we had a weed that looked identical to a carrot.)  There was not a matter of choice, you did the same as the farmer and his situation…let them grow together until they were readily identifiable.

As we consider this parable, you cannot help but imagine the frustration that a farmer in this situation must have experienced.  I know I would have been somewhat frustrated, but the Lord tells how this frustration was handled.  “Let them dwell together.  When harvest comes, we remove the darnell first; we burn it, then the wheat.”

One does not have to be a genius to recognize the legitimacy of this method, especially in that era of history. 

The farmer speaks:  “The enemy probably did it but there is a solution.”  He did not re-act, he responded!  As we would have said as children: “Cool, calm, and collected!”

Who might we recognize as the winner in this Parable?   “Gather the wheat into my barn.” (v30)  Getting even may be lowering yourself to the level of the enemy, but the wheat in the barn says it all!

-Ted

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TAKING SECOND PLACE

Some things are hard to digest, and I am not referring to food. 

I have been alerted frequently over the years, how on occasion in a church there is some individual who aspires to be in a position where you know that, in that position there will be the development of problems.  Such a situation demands action, but it must meet both Scriptural and Constitution/By Law accommodation.

A few thoughts entered my mind as I read John 1 on the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  First, was the thought that these men, from a human stand-point, were cousins.  Jesus went to where John was baptizing.  John was questioned about what he was doing by the Priests and Levites sent from Jerusalem.  John made it quite clear about why he was baptizing. 

His reply was simple: “I am not the Christ.”  Then they had additional questions.  “Are you Elijah?”  “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” “No.”  “Who are you? Because we have to tell those who sent us.” “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the Prophet said.”

John recognized the presence of Jesus but did not identify Him.  He mentioned the difference of their baptizing and his own feeling on the matter.  However, it was not until the following day that he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” John also said:  “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 

I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit’. I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

All of this involved Jesus and John.  I am reminded that not once did John ever try to take anything but “second place”.   Naturally, Jesus is first!  Jesus must always remain first.  Actually, second place is a “high calling” when Jesus is FIRST!

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NAHUM, WHO?

Every now and again God shows us someone who was a “nobody”, as far as the world was concerned, but mightily used of God in some out of the way place, and some tangible manner to reach people for Christ.  Nahum was such a man.

Nahum was “unknown”, except that you could not help but wonder why the meaning of his name: consolation.  Another anomaly may catch our attention, that being he was from Elkosh.  (That was possibly, Capernaum.)  Having stood on some of the ruins of Capernaum, probably makes me a “little proud”, forgive me, for it was supposedly the “headquarters” of our Savior.  It was also the place where Jesus cast the demons out of the pigs and they were destroyed.

Try that background and become a Prophetic Preacher to Nineveh.  Not an easy task under any circumstance.  He certainly had not held any close ties to Nineveh, and now he comes preaching what they might say was negative.

However, he is careful to present the attributes of the Almighty before he presents what God is going to do to Nineveh.  “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” (v3)  He does not leave out the power of the Almighty… (v6) “Who can stand before His indignation?  Who can endure the burning of His anger?”

However, v7 says: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” 

It was one of the verses that our children learned early in life, and I trust it will carry them through, no matter what befalls them or you!

-Ted

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THE HOLY SPIRIT

A city full of churches; Great preachers, lettered men!

Grand music, choirs and organs; if these all fail, what then?

Good workers, eager, earnest; who labor hour by hour,

But where, oh where, my brother; Is God’s almighty power?

It is the Holy Spirit, that quickeneth the soul;

God will not take man-worship, nor bow to man’s control.

No human innovation, no skill, or worldly art,

Can give a true repentance, or break the sinners’ heart.

We may have human wisdom; grand singing, great success.

There may be fine equipment, but these things do not bless

God wants a pure vessel, anointed lips and true,

A man filled with the Spirit, to speak His message through.

– Author Unknown

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BETRAYED WITH A KISS

Much has been said about the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but never enough.  Those last hours, leading up to His arrest, and what followed, can never be considered more often than necessary. 

The burden on the heart of our Savior is tell-tale.  Here He has entered the final days of His earthly and heavenly mission and the disciples were arguing, first about who would betray Him and next, which of them would be regarded as greatest. Grown men arguing about who was to be considered the most important!  Pathetic!  I have to admit that I have seen individuals projecting among themselves this identical behavior.

I love how Jesus turns the tables and points out how the Gentiles have a name for those with such individual aspirations… “Benefactors!”  To you, disciples, there is something to always remember: “The one who is greatest among you is the one who takes the place of the servant …” ‘I am the one who serves!’”

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat: but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Simon obviously felt guilt, and the other disciples probably felt that Jesus was indicating Simon was the one with a major problem.  He immediately said to the Lord: “Lord, with You I am ready to go to prison and to death.”  Jesus said to Peter those words that will ever echo into in the minds and hearts of men and women:  “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Peter dug his hole in the ground as he pledged: “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And only Jesus knew at that moment exactly what to say to them, “It is ENOUGH.”

Moments later, as they knelt and Jesus prayed with such depth as to sweat as though drops dripped from Him like blood.  The disciples slept!  That’s right, they were worn out; and like many of us today, they slept.  How we need to learn to pray!

Then, and only then, in the program of God… Judas made his way to the Savior, who said: “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  The disciples in readiness would offer defense with those swords, one removing the ear of the slave of the high priest.  True to His character, Jesus healed him.

Yes, a kiss!   I do not know about you, but I hear Jesus saying, ENOUGH! 

(Ted)

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A COUPLE OF YEARS

It was two years ago that we began writing this Blog. 

It is with thanks to the Lord and to you that it has continued.  Our intention is to keep writing until the Lord sees fit to call us home… today, tomorrow, or ?

This has only been possible through the help of my daughter and grand-daughter.  Our pattern is to present things in “short” order, trusting that the Lord will work through the Holy Spirit, and time our writings in accordance with individual needs.

To those of you, from around the world, who have expressed appreciation, we say THANKS!   It is impossible to respond because of our limitations.  The Lord knows that we write, that others read, and the Holy Spirit will cause people to be ministered to in ways that are beyond our limitations.

To the folk who God addresses, we encourage you to read the Scriptures daily.  In the event you have never trusted Christ as your Savior and Lord,

God loves you… John 3:16

Christ died for you …

Acceptance of His redemptive work on Calvary, on your behalf…

And submitting your dependence on Him constantly…

Is His guarantee to you of Eternal Life!

In the bonds of Calvary’s Love,

From all three of us! (Ted, Cathy, Crista)

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WHAT IS NEXT ON THE AGENDA?

The “agenda” can be awfully confusing.

Every time I think I have covered what the Scriptures have declared, some brother purposely throws a wrench into my bucket of beliefs, and I have to take time to sort through his ideas.  A very high percent of the time, I have covered most of them long ago, but I try to show or grant interest, short that it may be.

Haggai is a good example of how to handle the individuals who brazenly try to make light of what God is doing.  He begins by first identifying what is being said by the people, and next He presents what God is saying.  They say, in effect, it is not time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt, but Haggai speaks boldly and says: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?  Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!  You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes’.”  

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!  Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.”

A Pastor said: “This has been a burdensome time for the Church as a whole.  Naturally, attendance is down, the older folk who are the consistent givers are not able to contribute, the younger folk are so up to debt themselves that they cannot afford to give, sickness is prevalent, and the list goes on!”

Hear Haggai again: “You look for much, but behold, it comes too little; when you bring it home I blow it away.  Why?” declares the Lord of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.  Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and earth has withheld its produce. 

“I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.”

What happened next?  1:12 of Haggai… “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him.  And the people showed reverence for the Lord.”

What we have observed can be duplicated… and will be repeated when we follow the same principle!                                                          

-Ted

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CORRUPT LEADERSHIP

As I read the first verse of the first chapter of Isaiah, I realized afresh that this was not just about “Judah”, but also “Jerusalem” and it’s kings…Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.

Reading on through those opening verses, you cannot help but catch that this was an expanded period of “revolt” against the Almighty, and God sees the corruption against himself.  He compares them to the “ox and the donkey”, assuring Israel that even those two animals have more common sense than “my people”.

The descriptive words that is used are ten in number – revolted, no knowledge, no understanding, sinful, iniquitous, offspring of evildoers, sons of corruption, abandoning the Lord, despised the Holy One of Israel, turned away from HIM!  It was enough, as they would say in the “old days”, enough to break God’s mirror.

Thankfully, the last of those Kings, Hezekiah, realized he had to do something to correct the direction of Judah/Jerusalem.  Thus, as we proceed through Isaiah, we see him gradually dealing with that corruption until there is an “about face” on the part of Israel. 

He questions them about their condition; he stresses that “the heart is faint, from head to foot, no effort whatsoever has been applied to this sinfulness and he likens them to “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

The words of verse 9 are tremendous; “Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a few survivors…”  God always has a “few survivors”!  Those catch our attention in the next few verses; they are not part and parcel to the corruption that exists in the name of, the imitation of worshiping the Lord!  On such He declares that He will be “relieved of My adversaries and avenge Myself on My foes.  I will also turn My hand against you, and smelt away your dross as with lye and will remove all your alloy.  THEN, I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called the city of righteousness.”

When Hezekiah begins to deal with the things that are against the Lord and His principles of life for his people, and moving toward God, God shows His approval and great things begin to happen in Judah and Jerusalem.

If that picture is not sufficient to jostle the hearts of the leadership in our country, nothing will and God must judge.  We have been slipping and sliding for years with little or no opposition from us; the time has come to stand up and be counted!

I am old enough to remember WW2 and the free world on its knees.  Obviously, it has not happened since then and until we take a fresh commitment to Him and His Word, the HOLY BIBLE, our deterioration will continue.  Let us do what we did in the past!  Storm the gates of Heaven in prayer, and dedicate ourselves afresh to the principles of God and His Word.  HE said: “ASK and you shall receive!”

-Ted

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REDUCED CHRISTIANITY

I use those words with slight caution, for many folk with which I fellowship might think that I categorize them thusly!  I speak again of the levity, the laxity, which has filled the, so called Christianity, in this day and age.

There was assignment of that title at Antioch as the disciples were teaching about the resurrected Christ.  They were there for at least a year. (Acts 11:26)  It is interesting to note that they taught “considerable numbers”.  People are not always favorable to the teachings concerning Christ, because it places demands on them concerning their acceptance of Christ.  Having heard the teachings of Jesus, a person is bound by what they have heard.  Failure is rejection!

Currently we are faced with a generation of individuals who want an identification of being Christian, but it is on their terms.  We find more and more of these individuals avoiding a literal adherence to Scripture. 

I have heard many of the arguments that hinge on being selective, meaning that they feel some things are outmoded and inappropriate for a modern day and age.  God recorded for us His desires, and less than total obedience to them is the assumption that one believes he knows more than God.

Did you ever make a list of the places where it is recorded that Barnabas was there and was teaching total adherence to the prophecies and doctrines of the Savior?  He was not a compromiser!  He was unbending in his adherence to what Christ had taught.  He obviously was a stalwart among the disciples and early believers.  He was the type that every pastor wants in his congregation.

Oh that God would give us men and women with the commitment that these early believers adhered to.  James was ordered killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) but Peter was delivered from prison. 

Give up trying to figure out why God does things or allows them in the manner He does.  As has been said so often, “inscrutable” is the only acceptable definition.

I am certain that I am not alone in trying to understand the workings of the Lord!  At the same time I realize that listening to Him, and obeying Him, will lead to additional avenues of service and approval from Him.

May we bend and yield to what God wants from us, knowing ultimately that this is the only acceptable way of serving Him.  Remember He does not change His Word on “sound doctrine”.

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IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL

By, Esther Kerr Rusthoi, © 1941 by New Spring (ASCAP)

(admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

The song-writer said:               

 It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
          Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
          So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

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A NEW NAME

by, Linda DeSilva

The Government (in Bermuda) is planning to rename Corkscrew Hill and the Sports Stadium in honour of our Olympian Champion, Flora Duffy. This is in keeping with the policy of recent years, when various other locations have been renamed in recognition of heroes and heroines of the past… a fitting tribute to those who have contributed to Bermuda’s heritage.

Not only locations, however, but people receive new names or designations, achieved by various means: marriage, promotion, educational accomplishments, or elevation to a higher professional status, etc. These are welcomed by the recipients who have often studied and worked diligently to reach a higher level. 

Unfortunately, however, there are some whose names are well-known for dubious activities. Wise parents teach their children early in life to develop good values. “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1 a)


By the grace of God, reputations (good and bad) are not set in stone. Change is possible. In the course of history, we see examples of both.  Rulers who started out well, changed course and became tyrants. Conversely, people of dubious reputation repented and became examples of good and godly behaviour.   In this life, it is not too late to change course. ‘God permits U-turns.’

Paul, the persecutor, met Christ and became ‘The Apostle Paul’. The repentant infidel slave trader, John Newton, preached the Gospel and encouraged William Wilberforce in his fight to end slavery.

A redeemed Charles Colson, of Watergate notoriety, founded Prison Fellowship, which God blessed to bring new hope and life to prisoners in many countries.


New life is available to all who repent and commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. A new name is given – no longer a ‘sinner’ bound for a lost eternity; each one who comes to Christ is designated a ‘saint’ (Christ-follower). ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17a. NIV)  Each overcomer will receive a secret new name. (Revelation 2:17)

“There’s a new name written down in glory. And it’s mine, Oh, yes, it’s mine. With my sins forgiven, I am bound for heaven, Nevermore to roam!” (C.A.M.)


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THE ‘NEW’ VOCABULARY

By Linda De Silva

A friend was delighted to tell me that she and her sister have ‘Safe Keys’ so they are able to dine inside a restaurant rather than eat at an outside table or take the meal home.  How phrases have changed their meaning! Until recently, ‘Safe Key’ meant ‘key to the safe’ where money or documents were stored! I suspect that in a year or so, dictionaries will add a new definition to the two-word phrase.

Now, a safe key may take you inside a store or restaurant, but it won’t get you into heaven. That will depend upon your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Do you know Him as your Saviour and Lord?  If not, you have no right of admission to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Your request for entry will be denied!  Your ‘Safe Key’ – ensuring eternal admission is available NOW (no wait time necessary!) Salvation and entry into the Kingdom of God are yours through the Lord Jesus Christ when you come by faith. (See John 3:16)

‘Contact tracing’ is another ‘new’ phrase. It involves locating everyone with whom a COVID patient has had recent contact. One infected person can spread COVID to many more, so every close acquaintance or relative who had spent time together with that one recently is officially quarantined.             

Just a thought! What if every follower of Christ was ‘contact traced’ to see whether they had extended to others the message of salvation through faith in Christ? Actually, something akin to this happens routinely in countries antagonistic to the Gospel.  When a believer in Christ is apprehended and incarcerated, frequently family and friends are also interrogated and/or imprisoned. How about those of us who claim to be Christians?  Do we share Christ with those we meet?

In the midst of this Pandemic, let us consider seriously our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the troubled, confused, lost world around us. MARANATHA! The Lord is coming!

SAFE KEY: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
CONTACT TRACING: “They continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage.” (Acts 4:31 Ampl.)

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Christmas Thanks

People may move from one place to another, but memories stay in the same place forever, that is in our hearts. It’s those memories that keep us connected forever!

To My Card givers and Care givers:

Many thanks for all of you remembering me, and other family members at this momentous occasion… the Birth of our Blessed Savior!  Our gratitude goes out to every person involved in the support of our Commitment Ministry!  We continue to acknowledge that prayer is the most essential element; THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSISTENCY IN REMEMBERING US!  We deeply appreciate the gifts toward our outreach.  We have scaled back a bit, and sometimes feel that we are doing too little, yet God continues to use us for His glory.

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!

Ted Cowen

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OUR EVERY DAY, EVERYWHERE GOD!

By, Linda De Silva

Tucked in the middle of a sentence, these words from the TV speaker caught my attention, and I recalled God’s amazing grace experienced over many decades.  Reminiscences flooded my mind and I paused to whisper my thanks to the One who is with me all the time … every day, everywhere, in life’s trials as well as its triumphs.

God’s presence is not limited to one day a week and one location.  Those who are in close fellowship with our omnipresent God through personal, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, will know what I mean – they experience the everyday, everywhere presence of God; while those who do not will find it a mystery.   But it is NOT unknowable, or beyond our grasp.  The Gospel (good news) is that the Lord Jesus came to this earth, helping and healing the sick, the sinful, and the suffering. He lived and loved, was cruelly crucified, died, was buried and rose again. (Romans 5: 8) He is in Heaven, interceding on behalf of all who entrust their lives to Him by faith, that they might know Him personally, and enjoy the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence as comforter, guide, and advocate. (SeeRomans 3:23; 6:23:10:13)

Today, many observers, religious and secular, note the world’s problems – ecological, relational (family, national and international) and express their concerns.  In fact, it is obvious to any thinking person, that the world is becoming a more dangerous place.  As predicted in the Bible, wars, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis and lawlessness are increasing.   Facing the future without a personal saving relationship with the Creator, Sustainer, and Saviour of the world is an immensely dangerous (and unnecessary) situation, when He is so patiently waiting to save all who come to Him by faith.

After the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven, St. Peter warned of the horrors to come in the Last Days.  They are outlined in Acts 2: 16 – 21.  But, there is still time!  Salvation is offered TODAY: “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (v.21) 


Call on the Lord for salvation, TODAY!
Then, live every day, everywhere for God!”

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TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY

The preacher was not one that you would go out of your way to hear; in fact he was a bore!   The organist was giving it everything that she could, but that revealed quickly that she did not have much to give.

It was hard on the ears to listen to the choir squeaking and squawking, and of course there was one dominant voice, intent on proving their need of her.  The building itself was in need of attention, and as for me, I was convinced that I was probably the only one who was given over to proper worship.  Even the offering plate looked like it had hardly ever been used, and maybe they had dusted it off to make sure they did not lose the possibility of a visitor’s generosity. 

You can tell that the devil was intent on making sure that I was not to feel a positive outlook as we began the Service that morning.  I was certain that they were desirous of observing an unusual gift, so I put it in an envelope to keep attention away from the offering plate.

Finally, that “boring preacher” began to preach on the holiness of God, and I found myself bobbing and weaving like I was in a boxing ring.  My justifying mind kept saying, “Look around, you are not alone”.   I was concerned that the pastor might fall asleep himself.  It was time for the closing hymn.

We sang together, “Take Time to be holy, Speak oft with thy Lord, Abide in Him always, And feed on His Word. Make friends with God’ children; Help those who are weak, For-get-ting in nothing His blessing to seek.”  That was the first verse and God the Holy Spirit nudged me with every word!  Verses 2, 3 and 4 were equal to my needs.  2) “Take time to be holy, The world rushes on, Spend much time in secret With Jesus alone, By looking to Jesus, Like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see. 

3) Take time to be holy, Let Him be thy Guide, And run not before Him, Whatever betide, In joy or in sorrow, Still follow thy Lord, And looking to Jesus, Still trust in His word. 4) Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each tho’t and each motive Beneath His control; Thus led by His Spirit To fountains of love, Thou soon shalt be fitted For service above.”

In moments of reflection I have oft been rebuked for my thought processes.  God had allowed me to be rebuked, and I have been allowed to be corrected.  I needed that sequence of events to prick the bladder of pride, to realize the conditions under which that group of believers was ministering and to help pick up the pieces of their faithful labors.  God took care of ministering to their needs and mine through the simple words of a GREAT HYMN!

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FOR JUST A MOMENT

I have related previously how on one occasion my father decided that it would be helpful for us as a family to take a trip to the West Indies.

He went to the city of Hamilton and purchased tickets for our family, his mother and a cousin to spend 28 days on the Lady Nelson.  There was probably about 30 to 40 passengers total and those were the days when the ships carried both passengers and freight. 

Each moment of that cruise was phenomenal.  Because the Captains table was the biggest, most of our meals were with him.  Hidden in the back of my mind was the knowledge that my parents had mortgaged our home to make this possible.  I realized that this was the epitome of sacrifice.

Watching the flying fish was always exciting, and visiting places, 9 stops down and on the return trip, 8 of them again.  Many of the humorous, as well as historical experiences made for memories I shall never forget.

When Patsy and I were dating, and after our marriage, I often said: “There is something I long for you to see, but the years slipped by and that “something” remained at a distance but always out of reach.

One day, I spotted an advertisement that became irresistible.  We were off to a cruise in the West Indies.  She never asked questions about “why”, she just enjoyed every moment of every day.

One evening as we stood on deck conversing, I said, “look above us”.  Within seconds she said: “It’s a CROSS!”  “That is what I told you I wanted you to see: The Southern Cross!  It was indelibly impressed on my mind from my trip as a youngster. 

It took a few years for me to appreciate it as I do today.  I know what it means to you!”  Rather than ruin those moments by my singing, we hummed together: The Old Rugged Cross!

Another songwriter penned the words: “The CROSS, upon which Jesus died, is a shelter in which we can hide… I will cherish that Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.”  I know it will be undeserved, but it is reserved for those who fall in love with the one who hung on Calvary for our Sin!  The only sacrifice that would satisfy God for our sin!  In those moments He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Finally: “It is finished!”

 -Ted

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RECONCILIATION

Every day brings with it the problems of yesteryear, which were not resolved as previously thought. 

Individuals have their “hurts” that need healing, but reaction has replaced response, and we are revealing more and more of the “old-nature”, of which the Scriptures teaches us is inherited at birth.

The Apostle reminds the Ephesian believers of the bitterness that existed between those Gentiles, referred to as the “Uncircumcision”, whose identity related to “that which is performed in the flesh by human hands”.  (Ephesians 2:12)  How difficult it is to cross human barriers that are strictly fleshly!  In fact, it is totally unacceptable for Christians.

Most of the problems that exist in these “fleshly areas” are the results of long ago prejudices that have been continued, or magnified to end in violence.  It is a pathetic development.

There is a definite solution, who some thought could be conquered through violence, which is nothing short of a figment of the imagination.  That thought pattern which originated in the minds of people who were “far off”, or as they envision, “less than” the circumcised is totally outside of the concept that Christ and the “believers” of that day concluded.

Look closely at the thought pattern established by Christ and adapted by the early Christians: “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

Further, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might RECONCILE them both into one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the ENMITY.” (Eph. 2:14)

The solution to this enmity that exists can only find a full manifestation when we adhere to the principle established in Scripture.  Christ alone has done the job of reconciliation!  A Christian is now: “a fellow citizen with the saints, and are of God’s household…in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (2:19-22)

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WRONG DIRECTION

We miss much of the account of Jonah if we do not see where his personal feelings toward the people of Nineveh led him.  Bitterness, turned into hatred, led to manipulations that not only affected him, but others. 

When you read what he said to the Lord in 4: l and following, “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.  He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country?  Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.  Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me; for death is better to me than life’.” 

Need we point out how, though understanding the heart of God to a people who had turned from Him, Jonah allows that personal hatred to drive him into action that affected many others not involved with Nineveh.  How ridiculous for anyone to think that he can out-think God! 

He was acquiring a ticket on a boat, when he should have purchased a donkey or a camel.

There is desperation in Jonah.  He wants God to take his life, and I have to believe that it was so great, but he was fearful of the account that he would have to give to the Lord for a suicidal action.  If God took his life, Jonah would be history from a different direction.

It took a little “persuasive action” on the part of the Lord to get Jonah heading in the proper direction.  There was the storm, a group of God fearing seamen, a large fish and a “throw-up”, a time of bitterness and moping because of the people that he hated turning to the Lord, a plant growing overnight, a worm destroying that plant, and finally God’s rebuke: Jonah!  You had more concern for a worm and a plant than you had for people that you “hated”.

The final rebuke to Jonah is one that none of us should ever forget, especially when it comes to the problem of “bitterness or hatred!”  God Loves people!  He is not tolerant of our intolerance.  Never forget the worth of a soul in need of our Savior!

“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.”  (John 3:16)

-Ted

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QUICKIE LICKITY

People wonder why I write these short, pointed, messages! 

These, in all probability, catch more attention than long, drawn out dissertations.  Of course some individuals are really not interested in what another says on any given subject. 

I must illustrate:  From Psalm 103—“He has not dealt with us according to our sin, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Verses 10-14 – David)

THINK – THINK – THINK

-Ted

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IN A MESS!

I arrived in the United States in 1954, and as soon as acceptable, I became a U.S. citizen.

Admittedly I was, as they say, as proud as a peacock!  From that moment I remember how, I had respect and appreciation for OUR FLAG, the Stars and Stripes.  I also found myself shedding quite a few tears when a patriotic song was sung, and at times I could not sing because of my emotions.  I have never lost my respect or pride to be an American.

There have been times that I wished some things were different in our country.  In fact, I struggle with the antics of numerous groups that indicate their bitterness or opposition to significant problems in multiplied areas. 

Cool heads and warm hearts would accomplish much more, and do so much quicker.  Rabble rousing is repulsive and produces reaction.  Negativity, as we have observed of recent, can only degrade all involved, and the problems go unresolved.

As has been said in the past, “Can we raise ourselves from the ashes of defeat?”  Of course!  However, it must be done thru congeniality!  While combative efforts are necessary, whether in politics, or sports, or other multiplied areas, it does not mean that we should utilize tactics that are “outside” of acceptable guidelines.  While we all have disagreements, common sense applied will quickly negate any “tool” that would produce greater friction.

In the lighthouse, in which my father was a keeper, there is a five faced lens that harvests the light from a lamp in the middle, and projects that light up to hundreds of miles from Bermuda. 

(Aircraft pilots report this)  That lens weighs 1 and ¾ ton. I can move it with one finger, because it floats on a bed of mercury.

All too often we forget the principle presented to us in Holy Writ: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.”  (Proverbs 15:1, 2)

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OUT OF A NEED

There has been unlimited numbers of people with whom I have stopped to minister to, because I sensed or saw them in some type of need.

I cannot recall being told that I could not pray with them or assist them in some way.  I can assert that a few times, I discovered later that I was “ripped off”, but that simply made me more cautious in subsequent experiences.

The very first miracle that is recorded as having been performed by the Lord Jesus Christ was that recorded in John 4.  He went to a wedding and at the celebration of the occasion, someone drew his mother’s attention to the fact that they had run out of wine.  She turned to Jesus and informed Him, “They have no wine!”

It is important that we notice His reply, “Woman, what does that have to do with us?  My hour has not yet come.”  When we review the life of our Lord, we notice that His blood had not yet been shed.  He was intent, even at this stage that there was clarity to her as to why He had come. (7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 12:27; 13:1; 17:1)

She understands the fullness of that statement and then informs the servants: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  There is obviously total submission on the part of Mary to Jesus!  That submissiveness remains in effect, even at Calvary.

The Jewish custom of water pots for purification; (6) which held approximately 30 to 40 gallons apiece were there.  Jesus said: “Fill the water pots with water.”  They, in obedience filled them “to the brim”.  Then He said: “Draw some out now and take it to the head-waiter.”  They obeyed!

“When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew,) the headwaiter “called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now’.” (4:9-10)

Again and again in the few years of His ministry, Jesus showed that when we wait for God to perform the miraculous it is obvious He will not only give us His very best, but it will come in His time, for our benefit!

The performance of this miracle and many subsequent miracles should suffice as examples that we must adhere to the realization that He will be there to intervene on our behalf.  He is aware of exposures in advance.   We claim His promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

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PRECIOUS STONES

In his book, “Speak, Precious Stones” Robert Barr writes concerning the carnelian stone:

This carnelian stone is remarkable for its transparency.  Hold it up to the light, and one can see right through it.   Again this is eloquent of Jesus.  He has nothing to hide.  There was nothing shady in His character.   He had no dark secrets in His bosom.  He was pure through and through.  His motives, His words, and His deeds were absolutely clean.  Never a breath of scandal touched Him.   His whole life was sweet as the winds of the morning across the Judean hills.  No less wonderful was the transparency He gave to all who through Him received the new life.  “Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you,” He said to His disciples in the upper room.  John reiterates the marvelous fact of cleansing.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9)  Do you long to be clean?   Christ can do it.

-Ted

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A DISCIPLINED TONGUE

Quite a few years ago I developed a problem with a cough.  The Dr’s found that they could not bring it under control, so they decided that I should have a biopsy taken.  I remember well the insertion of that tube which felt like a four inch sewer pipe going down my throat.  His comment was: “That is the strongest tongue I have ever felt.”  When I was able to converse I reminded him that I was a preacher and that tongue was exercised constantly.  To this day, I remain uncertain of his response, but I have little trouble envisioning what it might have been!

James reminds us how we all stumble in many ways.  He also reminds us that the tongue, uncontrolled, is probably the worst part of the body to be controlled.  While some people have trouble in multiplied areas, it appears that James knew that devious devil of a tongue is a vagrant, which runs rampant all too often.  As a result, we will incur stricter judgment on that undisciplined rascal.

Another observation, and recorded by James, is the truth that “we all stumble”, and we do so in different ways.  Remember that little ditty we used to repeat-
“I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with the girls who do?”

It was another of those dumb things we endeavor to use to justify our “stumbles”.  Honesty is the best policy, and taming the tongue is a challenge, which I sometimes feel is one of the greatest disciplines one faces.

The continuing thought in this passage whereby we are challenged: “If I can bridle the tongue, I can bridle the whole body as well.”  The next illustration sent me back to my childhood when I would try to bridle my pony!  It is a challenge for anyone, but when I was as short as I was, it became a major challenge.  However, trying to bridle that pony was indeed a challenge of challenges!  Without which I was in for trouble!

James adds just a few more words that are quite understandable; if you have ever tried steering a boat…It takes little action on a steering wheel to change the course of a ship. 

He finalizes all of this…the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity!

My prayer: “Lord!  Help me as I strive to discipline every word I say

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RESURRECTED SAINTS

More and more we hear people speaking of the “end of the world”, and there is little question that we are in high gear toward the “end” of this age.  In the language of the prognostics we are on a downward trend that will eventually see everything falling into disarray and collapse.  They see no recovery!

Following the “marriage supper of the Lamb”, (Rev. 19:1-16) we are told that John beheld “heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name if called The Word of God.” A couple of verses later we read “He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’.”

There are things indicated in the verses that follow that has to do with Armageddon; that is followed in Chapter 20 of Revelation with the promise of a Millennium of peace.  If one notes carefully the quality of what follows, you will read with mixed emotions. “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand, and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

To rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years – Back to verse 4 to see who qualifies… “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus…”   QUITE A QUALITY!