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DOWNGRADED

In my few short years of life, I have been constantly reminded of the “goodness” of God. 

It was brought up immediately this morning when I awaited the last member of our group of men to arrive for our breakfast at the “golf club”, which serves the cheapest breakfast around town.

I walked over to pick up some condiments.  A man doing the same meant that I could use the time to advantage and dispense with an obligation and privilege.  I immediately spoke… “Isn’t it wonderful to have such a beautiful day to serve the Lord!”  His response was great and included: “Yes! It is!  At 80 years of age I was able to roll out of bed this morning and begin my day with God, as I always do.  I thanked Him and then presented my cares.”

Naturally, like a salesman, I shared back and forth of God’s love and goodness to us.  So often I get a blank stare and an end of conversation.

As I sat at the table, Ginny, the chef-waitress, brought me a cup of coffee and said: “Guys, give me your order and I will have it to you shortly!”  This being a short order place, it is not given to waitressing, however, both of the ladies give us above normal service, and we have shared back and forth the Word of God regularly.

Quite a contrast with the situation that Paul had encountered in that Roman prison and yet found the ability to: “Keep praying, praising and pegging away”! He also encouraged those of us a couple of years down the road to do the same.  “Be anxious (A dividing of the mind), in nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and   your minds in Christ Jesus!”

It is important for us, you and me, to realize that THANKSGIVING was instituted for the purpose of THANKING GOD!  Realizing that it has become anything but that, I challenge all of us to re-institute our thinking.  All too many of us will be celebrating; but not with a proper purpose as initially intended.

It is imperative that I remind us individually to read and refresh our intentions of celebrating this day and everyday!

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; again I say rejoice!” (v4)

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ON THE BEACH?

One can find the most unusual things on a beach! Recently a lady in Bermuda found a bottle with a message in it.

She was a photographer doing her “thing”. The bottle had been out there making its way across the Atlantic, over to Europe, down the coast of Africa, across the Atlantic again and finally wrapped in some sea-weed on the rocky shore of Bermuda.

Our grand-daughter, who lives on the shore line in Washington State, was so excited, an elephant seal, was on the beach where she worked. Because she is involved in “Marine Life” she was on her way to take a picture, which she acquired by using her camera and binoculars.

On the beach: the routine of bathers, sand-castles, sea-weed, jelly-fish, sea shells, foot-prints of every size, and those taking a nap, intending to get a “tan” and ending up burnt.

The Apostle Paul, on one of his voyages ended up at Tyre, because that was where they were to unload their cargo. They remained there for seven days, and during that time, Paul had looked up a group of disciples. Together they had a most enjoyable time of fellowship. Paul was headed for Jerusalem, and this group kept telling him not to go because they sensed that the Spirit of God was giving them insight that he would experience once there.

Paul answered them, “What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”(Acts 21:13) When they could not persuade him, they remained silent.

After their time together, and they were ready to leave, it is recorded: “When our days there were ended we left and started our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.” (Acts 21:5)

There it was; something different than a beach-party… a beach prayer meeting. Have you ever been to one of those? – Men, Women, Children having a prayer meeting on the Beach. I wonder how the general public would re-act. My home church always has the baptismal services at the beach. An excellent testimony!

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THE BREAD OF LIFE

In those by-gone years, my mother would often ask me to knead the bread for her.

Whether my ability or hers, circumstances guaranteed that we would not be the most successful bakers in the community. It was not “brick oven bread” although I might have used it as a brick.

Most of us are familiar with the idea that “Bread is the staff of life”. Let’s face it; a little flour can go a long way towards feeding a hungry person. A little butter and jelly on a slice of bread, almost anytime, sure does a lot to keep a child happy until “supper time”.

In Mark 6, Jesus took his apostles aside to “a secluded place”; however, the people were determined to follow Him, so many of them that they had not had time to eat. This became one of the occasions when the Lord made a decision to feed the crowd, only to be told that there was not enough food, specifically, five loaves and two fishes.

Between this and another occasion, we are told that the crowd numbered 4 and 7 thousand. When the feeding started, there was “five loaves and two fishes”; however, Jesus looking toward heaven, blessed the food and divided it up, but when the “picnic” was over, they gathered up “twelve full” baskets, and all the while Jesus “kept giving them to the disciples” who had been giving them to the disciples to give to five thousand .

If there was ever a demonstration of Bread being the staff of life, or of God fulfilling the needs of His children in a most unusual manner, this is certainly one of those occasions!

A further note of encouragement… “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

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FOCUS FOR SUCCESS

By, Linda DeSilva

When you are young, it can be very easy to let life drift by – especially today when there are so many distractions. So, it is great when a young person has succeeded in some field of endeavour, having had ambitions since childhood to become a nurse, doctor, lawyer, teacher, artist, plumber, builder, engineer, etc. Focus for the future is the key to success. ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!’

The people who succeed are those who have a life-plan. They have ambition and drive – a goal. It may be fame, prestige, money, etc. For the follower of Christ, the question will be, like Saul on the road to Damascus: “Lord, what do YOU want me to do?”

When we genuinely want to know and do God’s will, He will guide us on to the right path when we have taken a wrong turn. Saul thought he was doing God’s will as he hunted down the followers of Jesus and participated in the murder of Stephen. But, when Jesus confronted him as he made his way to Damascus to kill Christians, Saul recognized the error of his ways, turned to Christ and became the great Apostle Paul who laboured tirelessly for the Gospel. (See Acts chapter 9)

God evaluates success on a different scale from the world’s criteria. Money, wealth, and prestige are the world’s standard for success. Faithfulness to Him in our work – whatever that may be – is God’s measure. God has His witnesses in many walks of life – including sports.

The Bermuda Half Marathon has been our Island’s focus this week. Fittingly, the Christian life is described in the Bible as a race (Hebrews 12:1 & 2) so there is a link. Older Bermudians will recall Sir George Ratteray’s success and ‘Sir’ Stanley Burgess’s annual appearance. Statisticians tell us that on May 6, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes (3:59.4). In the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Eric Liddell (b.18.1.1902) won gold in the 400M and bronze in the 200M, but would not run in the 100M because heats were held on Sunday. Eric, when interviewed, said: ‘God’s glory is greater than gold’. Born in China, of missionary parents, after education in the U.K., Eric spent his adult life in Tientsin, spreading the gospel. In World War II, he was captured by the Japanese. In an internment camp, Eric ministered to his fellow prisoners, dying at the age of 43 (21:2:1945).


Eric Liddell’s focus: “God’s glory.” What is ours?

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LIVING ON CREDIT

When Credit Cards first entered the pocket-books of the public’s utilizing of their anticipation of forthcoming monies, it created a whole new area of how we would be living from that day on.

I recall my initial reaction!  We would be gradually living a minimum of thirty days, or thereabouts, for the remainder of our lives owing someone.  Gradual recognition, or at least acceptance, that it was owed to a business called a Bank who was the caretaker of other people’s money.  The thought of owing an individual, whom I might meet on the street, was removed.  There was no need for such an embarrassing moment.  He no longer knew that I was using his money.  My home was actually their home, even if they or I did not recognize it or acknowledge it.  It was concealed behind paper-work.

Have we become a people swamped in concealed debt?  Has it gradually enmeshed us to a point that we refuse to be aware that such indebtedness exists and obligations are a major part of our living?

All of these thoughts invaded my thinking when I read afresh: For what does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3-5)  According to verse 6, 7 “God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered.”

In these verses we are forced to recognize that what we owe God can only be cared for by His impartation of righteousness that is imputed to us through His Grace!  We cannot pay God for what we owe Him.  We must acknowledge that our inability was met through His ability.   He places the Blood of Jesus to my indebtedness and I am SAVED BY HIS GRACE!  My indebtedness is credited to my sinfulness … JESUS SAVES! … My indebtedness is removed!  His Grace is sufficient!

-Ted

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MAINTENANCE PREVENTS PROBLEMS

By, Linda DeSilva

Monday’s headline article in the Royal Gazette highlighted the need for review, repair and/or replacement of equipment and services at a residential care home. As every home-owner knows, appliances, as well as infrastructure, need to be inspected and repaired or replaced on a regular basis. The sooner problems are discovered, the quicker and less expensive are the repairs. Letting things slide, hoping they will right themselves, is foolish, fruitless, and financially unwise.


This also applies to our spiritual lives. It is all too easy to get ‘stuck in a rut’ or to let prayer and Bible study slide, thus losing the enthusiasm and spiritual ‘glow’ that we experienced when we first came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The world, the flesh, and the devil will all provide enticing alternatives to prayer and Bible study. This is not new to the 21st Century, but it has escalated with the increase of so many entertainment, athletic, and other options to captivate our interest.


So, how may followers of Christ maintain the spiritual glow? Regular, prayerful self-examination is necessary; but it is even better if one has an ‘accountability partner’ – someone who will encourage and advise with utmost confidentiality and prayerful support. This is not a new idea. Barnabas encouraged Paul. Paul mentored his protégé Timothy (1 Thess. 3: 2; Romans 16: 21); Aquila and Priscilla were two other spiritual advisors (Acts 18: 26; Romans 16: 3; 1 Corinthians 16:19). We ALL need encouragers – and we ALL need to BE encouragers to those who are striving to follow Christ.


What about those who fail? Condemnation is not helpful. Failure does NOT have to be final. John Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, but later became discouraged and left the team. Later, John Mark and Paul reconciled and worked together. (See 2 Timothy 4:11.) Failure is never irredeemable in the Lord’s work. (See 1 John 1:9.) It may mean a change of focus and ministry, but the Lord has a work for everyone who is committed to serve Him, whenever or wherever!


To achieve maximum joy and usefulness in Christ’s service –
SPIRITUAL MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST:
Daily Prayer _ Bible Reading _
Church fellowship _ Shared my faith _

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PARTICULAR “TIME” & “TIMES”

I am aware of the fact that I am to

study the Word of God;

I am also aware that I have a

tendency to select a word

and catch its meaning. 

I also find myself focusing on the context in which it appears because it solidifies the entire idea to which I need to focus at that moment.  Allow me to illustrate this in John chapter 7.

First of all, it takes place when Jesus was in His early thirties.  We read that His “brothers” seek to have Him demonstrate His abilities to heal by doing more things for His disciples and others to view in other locations.  It is the “nature” of people to have an element of boastfulness, and apparently these brothers wanted to gain a little notoriety themselves.  Obviously, there remained uncertainty in their minds that their “brother” was indeed who he claimed to be.

Jesus answered their request: “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.  Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”

The “Time” to which Jesus referred was the Feast of Booths, which was also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.  They made it a point to celebrate their 40 years of wilderness experience journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land.

Having been brought up in the same household, and still not having solidified their “faith” in Him as the Promised Messiah sounds strange.  Yet, our text clearly indicates that to be the case.  Speaking of “time”, let us note also that the Lord Jesus sends His disciples on but He remains in Galilee. 

“My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.  Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”  I would remind us of the fact that He accompanied them on those wilderness journeys.  He saw to it that they reached the Promised Land, and all of their needs were met because of His presence.  They were to celebrate Him; all the while they were ignorant of who was with them.

Another word arises in verse nine… “secret”.  Jesus went up, but not publicly.  While they were “seeking Him”, He was already present.  Many are caught in the same ignorance of those folk, not realizing who He was, even while He was present among them!

The “fear” of the Jews is a reminder of how many individuals have certain fears that will not allow them to recognize the fact that Jesus was truly the Promised Messiah!  Whether it is fear of acknowledging that truth before others or perhaps they have never acknowledged that to themselves?

Dispense with your fears!  He is all that He declared Himself to be and offers Himself to you, in that He says: “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.” (Matthew 11:28)

Be sure to notice that it was “not my time” to go up with them, but He manifests Himself to them and us, ON TIME! 

-Ted

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“TWICE MINE!”

By, Linda DeSilva

The boy hugged his model boat tightly. Some months earlier he had made it and sailed it on the large ornamental pool in the local park. Then, one day it broke loose from the string and drifted to the other side. He ran around as fast as he could, but it was gone! He grieved over his lost boat for several months. Then he saw it in a shop window – FOR SALE! He rushed in. ‘That’s my boat!’ he told the shopkeeper. ‘Sorry’, he replied. ‘It’s mine now; but you can buy it.’


The boy rushed home; counted the money in his piggy bank – not enough. Back he went to the shop. ‘I’ll buy my boat back when I save enough’, he said. ‘Will you hold it for me?’ The shopkeeper was sympathetic. ‘Give me all you have and you can have the boat,’ he said.


Gratefully, the boy handed over his money. As he left, he whispered to his boat: ‘I made you and now I’ve bought you. You’re twice mine!” (See 1 Corinthians 6: 20 – ‘Bought with a price.’)


I heard this story in my long-ago Sunday School days. Then, this week it was cited by a preacher on BBN. It illustrates the Bible message of creation, sin, and redemption so clearly that even a child can understand it. Simple – yes.

Nevertheless, the glorious truth of the greatest story ever told. Redemption from sin is offered freely through the sacrifice, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who believe and accept Him as Lord and Saviour.


Young and old, rich and poor, educated and illiterate – we all need the salvation from sin which Jesus alone is able to provide. There is no one good enough to stand on his or her own merits and enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus made that clear to a religious leader of the Jews who came to Him one night.


Nicodemus greeted Jesus with flattering words – which Jesus ignored and emphasized that no one can enter God’s kingdom without being born again. God loves each one in the world so much that He sent Jesus into the world to live, die, be buried, rise again and go to Heaven. If we confess our sins and place our lives under His control, we are saved eternally: REBORN! (Read John Ch. 3: 1 – 21.)


BORN ONCE: DIE FOREVER.
BORN TWICE: LIVE ETERNALLY!

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IS FAITH “NEW”?

I have “run into” numerous individuals, over the years, who inform me of my “blind faith”.

One of the most interesting experiences in my, almost eighty eight years, was when I comprehended the message from the Scriptures that God only accepts a person into “sonship” when that individual steps into a personal belief that must be established through faith. 

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Church in Galatia, brings the message of “faith” to them.  From Genesis to Revelation that message remained, and remains in effect to the present.

Recently I read that the majority of people now believe in “atheism”.  In effect, that rules out FAITH.   We have allowed the teaching of evolution for years and then we wonder why they have now concluded such a disastrous position which ultimately rules out God. 

My friends, as they draw away from the teachings of God and Holy Writ, they become individuals without an anchor and their ‘bearings’ unacceptable.

The highest point of the Book of Hebrews explains the comfort we have in FAITH in God, in Christ and in the Sacred Scriptures.   “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, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter 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 God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (12:1-3)

One who studies these verses concerning faith has every reason to rest their confidence in the present, as well as the future, the fulfilled program of God from Genesis to Revelation.

Remember, we have a multiplied number of “witnesses”, along with hundreds of prophecies fulfilled throughout Scripture that ultimately solidifies our FAITH in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior.

This is not a “blind” faith!  While some may wonder & even fear their ultimate, I REST!

-Ted

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FOCUS FOR SUCCESS

By, Linda DeSilva


When you are young, it can be very easy to let life drift by – especially today when there are so many distractions. So, it is great when a young person has succeeded in some field of endeavour, having had ambitions since childhood to become a nurse, doctor, lawyer, teacher, artist, plumber, builder, engineer, etc. Focus for the future is the key to success. ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!’


The people who succeed are those who have a life-plan. They have ambition and drive – a goal. It may be fame, prestige, money, etc. For the follower of Christ, the question will be, like Saul on the road to Damascus: “Lord, what do YOU want me to do?”


When we genuinely want to know and do God’s will, He will guide us on to the right path when we have taken a wrong turn. Saul thought he was doing God’s will as he hunted down the followers of Jesus and participated in the murder of Stephen. But, when Jesus confronted him as he made his way to Damascus to kill Christians, Saul recognized the error of his ways, turned to Christ and became the great Apostle Paul who laboured tirelessly for the Gospel. (See Acts chapter 9)


God evaluates success on a different scale from the world’s criteria. Money, wealth, and prestige are the world’s standard for success. Faithfulness to Him in our work – whatever that may be – is God’s measure. God has His witnesses in many walks of life – including sports.


The Bermuda Half Marathon has been our Island’s focus this week. Fittingly, the Christian life is described in the Bible as a race (Hebrews 12:1 & 2) so there is a link. Older Bermudians will recall Sir George Ratteray’s success and ‘Sir’ Stanley Burgess’s annual appearance. Statisticians tell us that on May 6, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes (3:59.4). In the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Eric Liddell (b.18.1.1902) won gold in the 400M and bronze in the 200M, but would not run in the 100M because heats were held on Sunday. Eric, when interviewed, said: ‘God’s glory is greater than gold’. Born in China, of missionary parents, after education in the U.K., Eric spent his adult life in Tientsin, spreading the gospel. In World War II, he was captured by the Japanese. In an internment camp, Eric ministered to his fellow prisoners, dying at the age of 43 (21:2:1945).


Eric Liddell’s focus: “God’s glory.” What is ours?

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MY DRIVER’S LICENSE

Recently I went to get my driver’s license renewed.

No accidents, no tickets and I was still certain that they would make me take a driving test because of my age.  However, that was not to be the case, and I walked out, good for another five years. 

What was most interesting was when the attendant looked up and said: “Your hair color?” Naturally, I replied: “grey”.  However, I could not resist and asked: “Why did you ask?”  He said, “I do this every day, all day.  You would be amazed at the answers I receive.  I look at all these ladies and they reply, “brown!”  It may be grey, blue, green, black or whatever, but I just put down “brown”.  With some men I want to put “bald”!  Pity the policeman who has to figure out the conflicts that might take place in some grey haired old-lady or bald headed man on the side of the highway!”

We all go through life with its many changes and do not acknowledge that they have taken place.  We endeavor to rest in the laurels of the past; most of the ones we hang on to are in the positives.  We do not spend much time reflecting on our failures.

I wrote that little booklet on “Forgiveness” (download here).  I have often thought of things that I have been FOREVER FORGIVEN of my wonderful, wonderworking Lord!  I have no business to ask again or repeat them to the Lord, or repeat them again and again.  He assured us in the “Lord’s Prayer” that we should forgive as we have been forgiven.  God does not recycle what He has forgiven and neither should we.

We all need to think carefully about the answers or the projected relationship that is presented when we deal with others.  Keep it honest!

Think deeply about the “Lord’s Prayer” and every word that we project to and about HIM!  (Matthew 6)

-Ted

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A POET’S CONCLUSION

It was such a blessing to read Psalm 104 and picture David reflecting on God’s creation.

I take the liberty of calling your attention to the New American Standard Version of the Word of God.  In the event you possess other versions, I suggest you read them also.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!  O Lord my God, You are very great;

You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,

Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot;

He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers,

Flaming fire His ministers.

He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.

You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains.

At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.

The mountains rose; the valleys sank down

To the place which You established for them.

You set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.

He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains;

They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches.

He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man,

So that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine which makes many heart glad,

So that he may make his face glisten with oil, and wood which sustains man’s heart.

The trees of the Lord drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Where the birds build their nests, and the stork, whose home is in the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.

He made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting.

You appoint darkness and it becomes night, in which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God.

When the sun rises they withdraw, and lie down in their dens.

Man goes forth to his work, and to his labor until evening.

O Lord, how many are Your works!

In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.

There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number,

Animal’s both small and great.

There the ships move along, and Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.

They all wait for You to give them their food in due season.

You give to them their food in due season.

You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.

You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire

And return to their dust.

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; let the Lord be glad in His works;

He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me; I shall be glad in the Lord.

Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, Praise the Lord!

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REDEMPTION AND REHABILITATION

By, Linda DeSilva

The note above the head-line in Monday’s paper caught my attention: ‘Redemption Farm, billed as a place for troubled youth drops all references to agriculture.”  What seemed like a viable plan appears to have been abandoned … just at a time when gang and individual youth violence is increasing! The situation is, or should be, of concern to every parent – indeed, of the whole Island.

Since the Government no longer regards Redemption Farm suitable for rescuing and rehabilitating unmotivated or rebellious youth, what next?  We already have the Endeavour programme, Sea Scouts, and many other opportunities, including Church/Faith-based youth organizations such as Vacation Bible School, Good News Clubs, and Word of Life – all of which have run successfully year by year. Could Government receive helpful advice from these?      

  ‘Redemption’ (so sorely needed) is not a new concept.  It has been in the mind of God since the Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve (whose family was certainly dysfunctional)!   Cain murdered Abel and there have been imperfect families ever since.  But, thankfully, there is evidence of redemption and rehabilitation throughout the Scriptures – and in our own generation – of those whom Christ has redeemed from the penalty and practice of sin.

  So, just what is ‘redemption’? Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: REDEMPTION: Deliverance by payment of a price. N.T. from sin, death, and the wrath of God. O.T. by a kinsman redeemer (e.g. Ruth 4:6); rescue or deliverance (Numbers 3:49); ransom (Ps 130:7)

   The New Testament emphasizes the tremendous cost involved in our redemption from sin’s penalty – Christ’s life, death, crucifixion and resurrection.  Our gratitude is (or should be) boundless. ‘Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”(Anon.) “Redeemed, How I love to proclaim it!”(Fanny J. Crosby)

   Rehabilitation is the next step:  Paul wrote: “I keep working towards that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No … I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing.” (Philippians 3: 12 & 13 NLT)  Like Paul, thankful for our redemption, let us forget the past and look to the future prize God is calling us to receive. 

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NEWS-WORTHY

As a youngster in Bermuda, which is about 20 miles in length, we used to joke about the fact that anything spoken of in Somerset could be learned about in St. George in less time that it took you to get to the other end of the Island.

Keep in mind, that was during the days of a very limited radio, telephone or a next day newspaper.

In Luke 24 we learn how two men, going to a village seven miles away, (Emmaus) from Jerusalem, on that very day, were discussing the events that had taken place relating to the resurrection.  How swiftly such news travels!

Granted, what we are reading about in Luke 24 is worthy of rapid distribution. That confrontation by the Savior had to be a historically significant moment.

They were endeavoring to inform the Savior, while He was opening the floodgates of truth concerning His manifestation and redemptive fulfillment.

Another exciting moment is having been invited by them we read in verse 30: “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.”

I dare you to be so bold as those brothers to follow up on that portion of the Scriptures and honestly ask the Lord to open to you the truth concerning His Messiah-ship, the truth about that death, burial and resurrection, along with His promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

-Ted

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GOD REMEMBERS!

The fleeting years become more pronounced. 

My friend and I were speaking each to the other about this thing of “old age and its accompaniment”.  We agreed on a number of “episodes” but we also agreed we could not remember some of the details of others for which we “purposefully” had placed in the cupboard of forgetfulness.  Because of our difference in age, mine appears to be a little more pronounced than his, but I will never admit that to be the case to him.

God did remind me of certain facts pertaining to promises He had made to Israel and how He would never forget them.  For instance, one of His methods of recall to His activities on their behalf is found in the one hundredth and fifth Psalm where He says: “Make known His deeds among the peoples.” (Verse 1)

While the majority of people in the world continue to display their ignorance to the sacred Scriptures, there are a few who continue to dig their sand-holes in the grounds of the past and expose the truths that our Bibles of the present have long ago reported.  You know, they are called archeologists?  Did you ever study the multitude of promises that are currently solidified by these “groundhogs”?

In that eighth thru the eleventh verses of Psalm 105 we read: “He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac.

Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance’.”

It is exciting to read on and see God give a promise to a “few people” and then go on to fulfill it gratuitously.  His re-memory is excellent! 

The world tries to change those promises… I suggest that they give up and watch as God remembers.

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BIRTHDAYS

(Natural, Ceremonial, and Spiritual)

By, Linda DeSilva

An approaching birthday leads to recalling the past and planning the future. Mine is this Sunday, so I have been doing just that. Now, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates two birthdays a year – doubtless with many memories. Her actual birth date is Wednesday, 21st April, 1926. As Sovereign, however, her official birthday is held in June, with much pomp and ceremony and, usually, more settled weather. Fortunately, two annual birthdays do not make her twice as old!
On one occasion, Jesus himself spoke of an all-important second birthday to a prominent religious leader who came to see Him. At this point in the life of Jesus, He was under much criticism from the Scribes and Pharisees, so it was advisable for this visitor to maintain anonymity. “After dark one evening, he (Nicodemus) came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi”, he said, “We all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” In response to this flattering approach, Jesus said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” When Nicodemus questioned Jesus as to how an old man could once again enter his mother’s womb and be born again, Jesus gave various illustrations from nature to explain that everyone who believes in the Son of God will have eternal, imperishable life – spiritual rebirth in a new dimension through faith in Him. Then, Jesus summed it up in the well-known words of John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (See John 3: 1 – 21.)
Queen Elizabeth’s ceremonial birthday does not change her age or rank. In contrast, the second birth which Jesus offers is the gift of eternal life – life which never ends – everlasting, imperishable life with Him in the Kingdom of God. This life in Christ which begins here on earth and continues throughout eternity is available to all who believe and receive Him as Saviour and Lord!
Born once – eternal death! Born twice – eternal life!
Have YOU accepted God’s gift of eternal life? If not, do so TODAY!

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WLDERNESS WANDERINGS

The opening words of this Psalm 63, create anticipation, mainly because it was the Psalmists (David) injecting the depths of his feelings even while He was in “retreat” mode. 

His preference would have been to be in the sanctuary in Jerusalem.  However, the likelihood of that possibility was negative, but the presence of God as the necessity of this experience surmounts the experience itself. 

We are reminded of the necessity of Jesus having to go immediately into the wilderness following His baptism; for what reason?  To be tempted of Satan!  Three times Satan struck at what he saw as a possible weakness, and three times we read of Christ’s rebuke.  There was the prospect of food, “turn the stones to bread”; 40 days, hungered, but “man cannot live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God!”

That was followed by a test of ego: From the pinnacle of the Temple he suggested, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You; and On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike your foot against a stone.’  It is to this that Jesus replies: ‘On the other hand, it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’”

The devil tests Christ by taking Him to a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written “you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY.” 

Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.  (Matthew 3)  It is then that we hear Him say, from Psalm 63, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.  Because your loving kindness is better than life.  My lips will praise You.  So I will bless You as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands in Your name, my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.”

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  My soul clings to You; you right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life to destroy it will go into the depths of the earth.  They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes.  But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.”

So, we have all been in wilderness journeys; they are not new.  But, to have a Psalm like this in readiness, is soul lifting.

-Ted

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HE WAS A CONTRADICTION

John has long been described as the Apostle of Love.  Unless I miscounted sometime ago, that word “love” can be found 52 times in the Epistle of 1 John.  I have to believe that the title accorded Him is justified.

First John 2:3-5 says: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.  By this we know that we are in Him:”

Jesus Christ was LOVE.  Every aspect of love was demonstrated during His earthly ministry.  When hanging on the cross, his words: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  As I mentioned in the title of the portion we have selected… “He was a contradiction!”

Everything that we know of Jesus was totally out of character of the average person.  He was the fulfillment of what had been said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”  What we saw in the Father was epitomized in God the Son…LOVE.

If we reflect on the 4th verse we discover that if “I have come to know Him,” He transfers His love to me so that I will then show His love through me.   If that action is not in effect I need to understand that I am a liar and that the truth is not in me.  If I have received Him, His love will now permeate every necessity of my life and I will show the love that He now occupies.

We often speak of the difference between the professing and the possessing of the Lord Jesus.  Reception of Him (Christ) will be accompanied by actions permeated with love!

A word that I neglected to mention was “propitiation”.  When Christ was crucified, God the Father was satisfied, and a reception of HIM produces sanctification.

Love in us personified Him and what His love represents!  Love reflects LOVE!                                  

-Ted

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OUTSIDE THE WALL

In the very beginning of the Word of God, there is a flow of information that unfolds, and yet is not understood initially.

As the centuries roll on, more and more is added, with some things understood, and others remaining buried from our thinking.  Naturally, there are individuals who determine they have insight beyond everyone else.  Even the Apostle Peter said that some things were “hard to understand.” (2 Peter 3:16)

Assuming that Paul the apostle wrote Hebrews, we can readily see that his training as a Pharisee experienced constantly the necessity of explaining as he met people from different backgrounds. 

Look for a moment at the verses in Hebrews 13:12, 13, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  So, let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”

To many individuals these verses may be confusing, but looking at what the apostle say’s, about the portion of the worship was “its preparation” outside the city.  That is exactly what took place with your representative and mine on Golgotha.

Minute details that were not readily understood as “the Apostle to the Gentiles” (Acts 13)   explained to those who might be unfamiliar with the simple but profound pictures that had been around for years.

The types, the vivid pictures in the Old Testament were graphic, but seldom clearly understood, especially when those involved the Gentiles.  By the way, in even such a small statement as we have looked at, we were included!  THANK YOU LORD!

-Ted

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APOSTLES IN ACTION

The Book of Acts is not written for the purpose of spreading Doctrine, although there is Doctrine in it.

Some have said that it should have been called: “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”  Still some have said that it would be equally proper if it carried the title: “Acts of the Disciples”.  I would not object if it was called: The Holy Spirit Unleashed!  What we see in this Book is the ministering work of the Holy Spirit of God working through the Disciples and God putting His hand of blessing on the one that would technically replace Judas Iscariot.   Several most exciting verses appear in chapter 1, verse 7, 8.  Jesus answers a question about when He would restore the kingdom to Israel… “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Chapter 2 of Acts tells of the Holy Spirit descending upon them on the day of Pentecost, thus the fulfilling of that promise.  While some made fun of HIS ministry at that moment, Peter clarified the matter, explaining what had been predicted by the prophet Joel.

From that point, in the Book of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit empowering not only the disciples that Christ had chosen, but others also.  The ministry of Paul was established and accepted, and the church exploded to fulfill that 8th verse … “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

From this point on, the Holy Spirit of God reveals His uniqueness by equipping the disciples, and others, in a variety of ways to spread the WORD to the World.  Did every disciple have all the same gifts? No!  The Book of Acts, along with other Books of the Bible shows different acts being performed by different disciples.  The single repeated act is distinctive of all of them; they were endowed with the Holy Spirit.  God does not want me to be a Paul, just Ted.  If I falter, and I do too often, seek forgiveness and move on.  No labor is in vain when done for Him under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

-Ted

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THE FUTILITY OF WORRY!

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

            Worry is an exercise in futility.  It accomplishes nothing – except to engender even greater anxiety.  Yet, in this pandemic, many (if not most) of us are setting ourselves up for more trouble by our fears for the future.  This should not be so for the Christian.  “Worry and worship are mutually exclusive.” …”Worry is usually a result of failure to commit things to God.” (Anon.)

            Why do those of us who trust God for salvation and eternal life, worry?  It demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s care: John Edmund Haggai puts it bluntly: “Worry is an intrusion into God’s providence.”  Before we berate ourselves for our lack of faith, we may be encouraged in the knowledge that Jesus addressed this weakness in His disciples and gave them and us His personal encouragement.  Jesus said: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:33 & 34 NLT)

            The Apostle Paul – who experienced more hardships than most of us ever will – told the Philippians: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything … Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand.  And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” (Phil. 4: 6 & 7 CEV)

            Oswald Chambers, author of the well-known devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” wrote: “Worrying always results in sin …Fretting rises from a determination to have our own way.  Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for the child of God.”

            In ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus told the crowd: “Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly father feeds them.  And aren’t you more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6: 26 & 27 NLT)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart …He will show you which path to take.”(Proverbs 3: 5 & 6). “Worry is sin against the loving care of the Father” (E. Stanley Jones)

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NECESSITY DRIVEN

On occasion I have met with individuals that know little or nothing about the Scriptures; however, they seem to recollect that Jesus went to a wedding feast and turned water into wine. (John 2)   Out of a twisted interpretation they take this miracle as an approval for drinking alcoholic beverages.  This particular word for wine, in the Greek, is what is considered “sweet wine”, or non fermented wine.  Throughout the Word of God, that same word in context is used for sweet wine.

What was so significant about this miracle, is that it was the first miracle that Christ performed; it was performed at a most embarrassing moment for the host; it is noted that “the mother of Jesus and His disciples were present, and the mother said to Jesus, ‘they have no wine’”. This is a most dramatic experience to them and to us.  I cannot recall Jesus mother ever giving her Son an order or request in the Scriptures.  That is the main reason I do not believe that any prayer should be made through Mary.  Jesus did say: “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

Another note is that Mary said only: “They have no wine.”  Jesus reply:  “What does that have to do with us?  Mine hour has not yet come.”  His blood had not been shed!  It is obvious that while she was aware of His ability, there was nothing in the statement that indicated she expected anything to be done.

When the miracle was performed, and they took it to the headwaiter, the taste was “superior”.  Any activity that allows Christ to assume control will always “taste” superior to a mere human effort.  Did you not catch that little statement, “but you have kept the good wine until now?”  (v10)

Necessity makes us cognizant of who can really meet us in our need to have our “water pots” filled, and Jesus will fill them to our satisfaction and beyond! 

-Ted

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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