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A SYMBOL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ANGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IT IS ALL OF GRACE

Someone shared with me:

Saving Grace …   Ephesians 2:8, 9

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

Standing Grace … Romans 5:1, 2

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

Serving Grace … Hebrews 12:28, 29

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

Singing Grace … Colossians 3:16

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

Sufficient Grace … 2 Corinthians 12:9

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

IT IS ALL OF GRACE!!!

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A RESURRECTION TRUMPET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IGNORANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IDEAL CONVERSATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LITTLE ZACC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PSALM 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PUT ON CHARITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Put on CHARITY daily!

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HOW RICH I AM

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

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

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

“He predestined us (v5)

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

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

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

“To an inheritance, (1:7)

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

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FOOL’S GOLD

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

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

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

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

Jesus said:

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

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RUN THE RACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Acts 2:21)

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THE BLOOD BANK

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

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

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

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

(1 Peter 1:24)

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TIME IS MONEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNTIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WORRY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LET GO AND LET GOD!

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WORTHWHILE PONDERING

A dear friend from my past had multiple sayings that he utilized conveniently. Among the many was: “My minds made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

I loved it because in working together it became his method of re-evaluating a situation, seeking input that would justify pursuing another direction, and then resting in the conclusion reached. We seldom, if ever, argued and I made it a point to thank him for what I learned under his tutelage.

During my reading of recent, I focused on the statement Paul makes to Titus in 2:11 and the verses following. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

Following the apostles thought pattern, one is made aware of things that are an end result of comprehending the GRACE OF GOD that had “appeared” and extended to man an “about face” from the degraded position of sin, to the new life imparted through grace! Some have endeavored to tell us how they were “born again”, “saved”, but when there is no evidence of a transformation from “ungodliness and worldly desires” a large question arises, thus the instruction to “live sensibly, righteously and godly”. Further, there is the contrast with the past, and now to the life in Christ: Christ gave Himself for our redemption, for our purification, for His possession of us to be zealous of Him for good deeds.

So enamored with Him who did these things on our behalf, let us never be ashamed to speak of Him with authority. Encompassed in that thought is to be the living testimony, so much so that people find “no disregard for you”!

Hopefully, together, we will see the seed thoughts of the Apostle as worth pondering and profitably embracing.

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A CHOSEN INSTRUMENT

I was told that more books have been written on The Apostle Paul than any other individual. I have no idea on the accuracy of that statement, but it is easy to believe when you read of his life, accomplishments, and ultimately death under the hands of ruthless Roman leadership.

After his unique experience on the Damascus Road while intending to go to Damascus and destroy the believers in Christ, he is blinded and has to be led by others. For three days this continued and he neither ate nor drank anything.

Inserted into his intentions is a man named Ananias. He was a believer and God chose to give him a vision. God addressed him: “Ananias.” His immediate response is: “Here I am Lord.” God said: “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”

Ananias, like most of us in a similar situation relates what he knows about Saul. He is caught in a dilemma. Saul’s reputation has gone before him. Ananias has heard of Saul binding those that call on the name of the Lord. There is no excitement in this assignment.

God states clearly: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Can you imagine what might have gone through the mind of Ananias as he obeyed the instructions from God! Arriving there, things unfold as God had said, and we hear Ananias: “Brother Saul!” To hear those words we immediately understand the intimate relationship that Ananias had with Lord. Then to think beyond that to “the things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

When we read of the rest of Paul’s life and realize that is exactly what he experienced, I can assure you that I would not have been excited about an assignment of this nature. Paul never hesitated in his faithfulness to proclaim Christ, and he experienced exactly what God had called him to. He wrote to the Corinthians in his second epistle to them in Chapter 11:23 and following: “I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labor, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times with I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brethren: I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

God calls some people to one thing, some to another. It is a thrill to meet one like the Apostle Paul who knew from day one God was going to assign him to a ministry that involved suffering for the cause of Christ…only possible to accomplish through HIS enablement!

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DAILY MANNA

Recall with me the departure of Israel from Egypt. After years of living in slavery, these folks had been given the instructions to move into the Promised Land, and it would be under the leadership of Moses, who you recall had been brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter.

It took ten plagues to convince Pharaoh that he should send them forth, and he did so with a certain amount of reticence, knowing that he had lost his labor force.

They left, but without sufficient supplies to take them to the Promised Land. We have the record of how they crossed the Red Sea on “dry land”, took Jericho, and then journeyed to Kadesh Barnea. God in His providence knew of their need for water, bread and more, so He provided, in addition, quail; and provided in a most miraculous fashion. However, like all humans, they tired of the same meals and began to grumble. Someone said that when you grumble you are in effect saying: “I could have done this better than God!”

As God provided manna, which was like bread, the instructions were for them to gather only sufficient for one day. If they gathered more than needed, it went bad and it bred worms. Greediness prevailed and as the Sabbath came they wondered what would take place. Moses instructed them to gather twice as much on Friday; it did not go bad and they were able to rest on the Sabbath.

God had showed them (Exodus 16:10) “as they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud”. He had said to them: “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 16:12)

When one reads to the end of Exodus 16:35, “The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”

Many preachers have seen this entire scene as a picture of our need for daily bread that should come from our enjoying the “manna” of God’s Word on a daily basis. David certainly spoke highly of his own reflections upon God’s Word (The Book of Psalms), and that on a daily basis. One preacher of the past said: “No Bible, No Breakfast.” One cannot go wrong on that approach to each day with the Lord.

A friend memorized the entire Christmas Story, and each Christmas he was requested to recite it in its entirety before his home church. My beloved wife memorized large portions of the Book of Romans in her Vacation Bible School programs.

In our daily encounters, remember the “glory of God” as they “looked toward the wilderness.” See Him in His daily provisions.

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DEACONS

Various churches, denominations, have a structured organization that consists of Pastors, Elders, Deacons, and an assortment of titles that lend itself to their particular function.

Some pastors have no trouble adjusting to these structures; while for others there is the necessity of sticking as close as possible to words utilized in the Scriptures or their equivalents, to pastor a church that has titles that vary in the slightest. I have noticed over the years that you can gather where the church was founded, what were the circumstances, or who was its first pastor by those structures. Please do not hold me 100% accuracy on my observations.

In Acts 6 the growing church of that era was faced with, how do we handle this situation? The Pastors or Elders were struggling with the time element in interpreting the Scriptures that had been fulfilled with the coming of Christ, His death, resurrection, and application of those principles that emerged from an understanding of Grace versus Law. Then of course was the need for these things to be taught.

They therefore appointed Deacons. The criteria of obedience to the Scriptures were the first necessity. They were “Colaborers”, as one brother has designated them. Their responsibility would be explained by the words of Acts 6:2, “seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who we may put in charge of this task.” This would allow freedom on the part of the disciples from having “to serve food”, and also to “devote themselves prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Further in the Scriptures the work of the Deacons, the “Colaborers”, is fully engaged in pursuing that responsibility. In fact, the very word “deacon” has the idea of a man “kicking up the dust”. These guys were busy with their responsibility, running to a fro to meet the needs of these converts. It was no mean job. If you should be chosen for this labor of love, do not look at it as something that no one else wants, and certainly do not accept it if you cannot “kick up the dust” in service to those in need. Titles are a far cry from responsibility. A swelled head does not substitute for a servant’s towel.

Think on these things!!!

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FROM FEAR TO FAITH

The average newscast is enough to ask the old but simple question, “What in the world is going on?” It is constantly revealing the negatives of life that surround us.

Every area of our lives seems to be threatened, from the cradle to the grave! In fact, before birth we are threatened and approaching old age one wonders if eventually we will be politely told, “Goodbye!” You have become a burden to society! However, that will be fought more quietly on the basis of what effect it will have on our economy.

One look at the panic that is developing because of the coronavirus and one wonders if we will continue to look like we are from outer space contraptions for the rest of our lives. Panic has gripped our society! One notices the difference in almost every area of our lives; and it has not reached momentum at this specific hour. People are obviously fearful of death and the road that is entailed in that last gasp.

While we surround ourselves with the latest mediums to survive, a large majority of society has allowed itself to become devoid of God and therefore, have no hope beyond the grave. How many do you know, at this moment, which walk through this and other situations, content to let “come what may, the Sovereign God is in control and I will not fear but rather trust Him through it all!

The lady took a fall down the steps! She got up, dusted herself off and said: “Thank God, that is over with!” She was an old fashioned Presbyterian and took in stride that, “whatever will be, will be!”

I do not find myself in a frame of mind to be “fearful”! God is on the throne and I believe that He will call me home, when and how He desires. He told us in His Word: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for me to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:27, 28)

The Psalmist said: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid, what can mere man do to me?”

(Scripture – New American Standard Bible)

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LIFE’S GOAL

Giving credit where credit is due, I quote concerning “the famous words of Richard of Chichester’s prayer – to enable men and women ‘to know Jesus Christ more clearly, to love Him more dearly, to follow Him more nearly’.”

In reading William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series on Romans, the above quotation caught my attention immediately. I could hear that brother from years ago as he uttered those words.

We all have goals in life, some well directed and some misdirected. There are those who aspire to be “top dog” in their field and achieve it. Others find it far easier to just let things roll along and “flow with the tide”.

For the Christian, he recoils at remembrance of the life that engulfed him prior to that moment he recognized himself a sinner, estranged from God and without hope for eternity future; how he cried out to God for forgiveness and experienced the impartation of the new life in Christ. Everything changed! He now possessed a new nature and life’s objectives became different. Oh! The old nature had not left, but this new one had the desire and ability to overcome the old. A battle ensued and will continue until he enters the presence of God in Heaven — that perfect environment, with a spiritual body.

There is little more encouraging to the Christian than the words we find in the Epistle of 1 John. Remember, the apostle was the one that leaned on the breast of Jesus and love is his theme throughout his writings.

“See how great love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)

Read again what Richard of Chichester prayed!

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OLD FASHIONED, PURITANICAL

In 1986 we began the Commitment ministry. Together, Patsy and I had prayed and sought the Lord concerning our future. Her health and the weather had determined where we located…Arizona.

It allowed us thirty more years of music and Bible teaching together. There were opportunities to re-locate, but we were confident of God’s leading and remained as we knew He had placed us.

Perhaps it might have been our ingrained philosophy about the ministry of the Word and the style of music that helped us to remain confident of our Lord’s leadership. I have never enjoyed a ministry that did not allow me to know each parishioner closely. I also realize that may be a disadvantage while pastoring a church in this era.

I am certain that there are those who feel that I am Old Fashioned and even Puritanical in some ways. Out here there is an abundance of older folk, and sufficient, to appreciate us remaining that way. You would expect those younger folk to go in a different direction because of the confusion that ebbs out of our more modern approaches to the ministry. Most of the older folk still appreciate bringing their Bibles and checking me out. The big screens and songs that take me back to the “old life” before my salvation do not make me comfortable. But at the end of a service when someone says: “A great old fashion sermon!” I feel like singing: “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!” It is not praise that I seek, but it is a feeling of appreciation that I have not gone off target.

I say these things not to downgrade others. I have had my yea’s and nay’s over the years, and I am mindful that few of us bat 1000. Even the best struggle to get near 400. (Baseball batting averages)

After reading Galatians 5 and being alerted to the “fruit of the Spirit”, we all need reminding of the words of the Apostle Paul; “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with it passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (v24, 25)

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PLAYING ON OUR FEARS

I get tired of the advertisements that arrive in my mail. I realize that people need to make a living, however, the methods employed creates a multiplicity of frustrations. The individual writes me a letter, “Dear Ted,” like I was a long lost buddy. I immediately notice the picture has been taken by Google and it is the front of the house, which means they have no idea of the value.

Four years ago my wife went home to be with the Lord. I informed everyone that I knew might be interested in the information. Still, the Insurance companies, the banks, the hospitals continue with their efforts, even after I have sent notices. Sometimes she gets more mail than I.

Then, there are those who tell me about my risks if I fail to care for my family. It is aggravating to constantly be told how I need to care for everyone in the family when I know my financial limitations.

Then I read about the Post Office losing millions of dollars per year. If the advertising that arrives in the mail was paying the same rate as the rest of us, I dare say that it might be discovered that they are making a profit. After all, all of that advertising leads to their making a profit on their merchandise.

All of these things seem to produce an underlying guilt if I do not buy into their sales pitch. If one can suddenly give some large discount for an immediate purchase, I have to believe it was over priced to begin with.

This element of fear of which I am sharing only leads to frustration in an individual, or tensions within a family. I do not need, and we do not need, what everyone else thinks we need.

Then there are the spam calls on the telephone that you want to tell off, but as slick as greased lightning they leave a number for you to call back. Though I do not want to be rude, yet if only I could be a little discourteous, I might feel a little better, but only to have the Holy Spirit of God convict me for my behavior.

On occasion I have one that must be an amateur, and I get an opportunity to converse. I immediately let them know I appreciate their call and proceed to tell them of the Love of God that was in Christ Jesus. Later I might discover that I was talking to myself, but at least I made an effort and perhaps, just a word or two will remain with them before the cut off.

And this brief note that I have written? I trust that it will be sufficient to catch your attention and remind you that Christ died as a substitute for your sin, that He was buried and resurrected and offers the gift of eternal life if you would trust and follow Him. Pointed? Yes!

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PREPARED FOR DEATH

Most give thought to death at one point or other of their life. I could rattle off instances when I thought it was near.

There have been circumstances, ordained of God, where I was in such a situation that I was unable to think of death. As I get a little older and the elements of age invoke their obnoxious toils, on this frame that I have occupied these many years, death is realistic. In case you expect to hear of my decease shortly, forget it. I am living one day at a time and enjoying buying up every opportunity to present the Lord Jesus that I can. To my knowledge, the hearse is not at the door.

What went through your mind when you experienced the thought that you were about to die? If you have not experienced it, the day is coming. God says we have that appointment…”It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) If nothing else floods the mind, in all probability you have thought: “Am I ready?”

I take the liberty of quoting from God’s book, the Bible, the NASB Version:

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will deny him before My Father who is in heaven. “(Matt 10:30-33)

Those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and they are not uttered without deep concern and love for you and me. He is our guarantee for all eternity when our life and love revolve around Him alone. Jesus Saves!

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QUICK WITTED ANSWERS

Our friends had invited us to have dinner with them at a rather upscale restaurant. As the evening wore on, Patsy quietly said to him, “Do you realize that you have on two different socks.” Without flinching he calmly replied: “I have another pair just like them at home.”

We had many enjoyable times with them over the years. As a contractor he quoted a price on a job. The man, looking at him said: “Your price is too high! Another guy gave me a price much lower than yours.” His reply was classic: “He knows better than anyone what he is worth! By the way, when the other contractor fouled up the job, the guy returned to our friend and asked him to finish the job, to which he replied: “Because it is fouled up it is going to cost you more than my original price.”

I have always enjoyed some of those quick witted responses. Some people are more adept at tossing them out than others. Patsy always had some excellent ones.

Remember how there were Pharisees intent on destroying Jesus. (Matthew 22:15-21) They sent the Herodians, along with their disciples to trap Him. They begin with the obvious: “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”

Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” They brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

A quick and positive reply, all the while knowing that they had endeavored to set Him up so that they might have a clear cut answer to present against Him that would lead to action against Him.

You and I are aware that there are those who look for quick answers to their requested information, hoping all the time that we might say something that would go against the cause of Jesus. We have to be careful of our quips and the questions that are thrown at us. Seldom do we know in advance if they are genuine or filled with hypocrisy.

Keep that speech “seasoned with salt.”

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EASILY MISLED

So often someone will approach you with a “time-bomb” and present you with an argument that is as removed from Scripture as the East is from West. This is especially true when it comes to prophecy in the Scriptures.

In Matthew 24 there is much said about the return of Christ and there are those who purport to have answers that do not fit into the context of Scripture. I am taking only a few thoughts from the first eight verses because they have a time-line that is apparent.

The Lord, and his disciples, had just left the Temple area. The disciples came to Him and pointed “out the temple buildings to Him”. It is then that He says to them: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” The statement was such that they waited until He was sitting on the Mount of Olives and they could ask Him, privately what He meant by that. The question was three-fold… “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

He does not answer directly to the first part of the question, but refers back to what had been said when “they pointed out the temple buildings to Him”. That event, of not one stone being left upon another took place in 70 A.D. when Rome destroyed it.

Now, to the second part of the question: “What will be the sign of your coming?” Keep the emphasis where it should be, “sign”. Because the Church, which had been promised and would be established, (Acts 2) and the catching away of His Bride (The Church) unto Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) He refers now to the events of the Great Tribulation, wherein they would “hear of wars and rumors of war. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not the end.” A list of still more things is listed, nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes. Please note carefully: “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

More things follow in the succeeding verses but He never gives a direct answer concerning a date. The Church, having been raptured, will never have to undergo these things. We will see gradual decay, most possibly in high-speed, as indicators of His return prior to our Rapture, but we will not have to go through the Great Tribulation in all of its intensity.

We rest in His promises and await with excitement, Even so come, Lord Jesus!

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GOD PAVED A HIGHWAY

No matter where I have lived, it seems that there is constant complaining about the condition of our high-ways. They have too many holes; they do not pave these often enough, when they bring them up to date, the electric, telephone, sewage or water company decides to put something new underground. If live in Arizona, the summer heat creates problems, and if you live in Alaska, the winter is a problem. (Snow ploughs and salt.) There is a no win, win situation!

Joshua had sent spies into Jericho to bring back an analysis of what to expect if the Israelites decided to attack the city. They entered Jericho and confronted Rahab, a harlot, no less. She, who had never lost her love for her family, related how the people of Jericho had fear of Israel and if protection was accorded her family she would allow them to descend the wall on a rope, go into hiding outside of Jericho and keep it a secret.

It all took place as she pledged. The key to her protection was a scarlet ribbon that would be placed in the window of her home; this would be the key to the Israelites sparing her home and family when they entered Jericho. It was that scarlet ribbon that would protect the family. It was that scarlet ribbon, symbolic of the blood of Christ who “paved the way”.

When the spies returned to Joshua, they said: “Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

If one desires to talk about a God paved High Way, here you have it. The spies have confidence in Rahab, Rahab has confidence in the spies, and Joshua has confidence in both. Hence, “Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed.

The blood stained scarlet ribbon? Three days? All symbolic! “All the inhabitants melted away before them.” (Joshua 2, 3) A God paved high-way.

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HE CARES FOR ME

Over the years, one of the important parts of our ministry has been to endeavor to encourage people who are going through troubled waters, and there are far more than we can ever imagine. Even those who appear to be “on top of the world” are experiencing pressures from encounters they are experiencing that others would never suspect. Most dream of the day, or the situation that will free them from such confrontations: mental, physical …all.

As pressures increase from what we might refer to as a world in chaos, and it has all of those indications and satisfactions elude us, momentary solutions create additional problems down the line; we wonder what the future holds.

I have always enjoyed the Epistles of Peter. He in no way butters up those to whom he is writing. Many times in those two Epistles, some may conclude that his verbiage is a little curt, but to me he is forthright. He is an old fisherman, and some of the stigma of the past remains.

Peter, in addressing the twelve tribes scattered abroad, has given much instruction concerning the “shepherd” of the flock, and the humble manner that should be exercised; challenging them to be “examples” because “when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory”.

Things are not about to get easier, the pressures will become greater, the challenges more potent; but “cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Do not cast them on the Lord and then take them back, leave them with HIM, for “He Cares”. (1 Peter 5:7)

Peter reminds us again from where the pressures originate: “your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will HIMSELF perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

Remember, He will fully equip you for whatever comes your way… mental or physical. HE CARES!

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HUMILITY

Most of us can remember that little statement: “I will give you a copy of my latest book, “Humility and how I obtained it!” After all, there can be a secret ego trip within that statement; then again, it might be a cautionary rebuke to the person to whom it was uttered.

Much is said about people who are so humble that you feel as though they are walked over by others. You probably have stepped in to “protect” the humble person or at least have felt, “why did I not step in?” when I observed that unwarranted fiasco.

Another experience that has imbedded itself into my thinking every so often is: “You know, I wish I had the amount of humility that permeated that person’s response. They were so cool throughout that situation.” I left the environment of the moment and had the element of jealousy toward such capability. Do not get me wrong, I learned then, and I continue to learn from such people. My regret is that it takes me all too long to imbed it in my thinking when needed.

We know that “before honor is humility”. Also, any service rendered should be done with humility. I will never forget the injunction presented by the Apostle Peter: “be clothed with humility.” (1 Peter 5:5) I also remember that statement by Bill Gothard: PBPGINFWMY… “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”

We all know that the way up is down. When the young preacher candidated for a church and asked of the Board of Elders what type of a pastor they desired, one old-timer answered: “We want a man who, when on his knees, can reach Heaven!”

Humility is not often found in the young. It comes more so with age and a result of exposure to ego thinking. A few battle scars are usually indicative of having knocked a chip off the block. Someone said that the chip on the shoulder would indicate there is wood just above it.

Think for a moment: Humility is learned and earned.

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I LOVE YOU, STILL!

One should never tire of hearing the words of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

From the fall of Adam and Eve, recorded in Genesis 3, there is prophecy after prophecy that unfolds the story of redemption through Christ. God in a marvelous display of His love gave us that first prophecy: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (v15) God made a promise that eventuated in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the immediate He “clothed them”. (v21)

When Christ died on Calvary and declared: “It is finished!”, that work of the promised redemption was accomplished. Every person who accepts that love, displayed on Calvary, and the person of Christ as the substitute for his sin, will experience forgiveness of sin; the impartation of a new life and the hope of eternity with God/Christ/The Holy Spirit, and the joys of that new life here on earth until that moment when we are caught up into His presence forever.

While here on this earth one might fall into a sin or sins. Seek the forgiveness of God, and be immediately restored into fellowship with Him. This may happen numerous times, and the sin might be grievous to God, but He has promised forgiveness and restoration immediately.

All of this extension of love from our wonderful Lord is most re-assuring for every child of God. There are no bounds or limits as to how much God loves the individual, as we read in John 3:16.

As a result of the promises of John 3:16, and many other promises from the sacred Scriptures, I rest in His declarations that one day I am going to hear Him say, though my sins have been many and at times revolting to His righteousness, “Ted! I still love you; and it will be as I promised, an everlasting LOVE!”

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YOUR SINS FORGIVEN!

The Gospel of Mark is a must-read Book! Jesus is presented as the Servant. The servant goes about his business immediately. You will find that word, or its equivalent more than forty times in this Gospel. As the youngster would say, “He puts his pedal to the metal.

We have been to Capernaum and as I stood on the fringes of the synagogue, I had no problem envisioning some of the things that happened when Christ is at home. It did not take long for everyone to know when He was present…still does not! He arrives and they arrive…many of them! There was no room in the Inn when He was born and certainly not here, even close to the door.

Four men arrive with a paralytic on a pallet. So intent were they to get help for this man, that even while Jesus was speaking the word to them, they ascended to the roof, dug an opening, and let the pallet down where Christ was standing.

It is important that we understand the underlying love these men had for this paralytic. I do not know all that they endured to do what they did, but I guarantee everyone present understood. Most important, Jesus understood. He saw the faith of those men. They had carried this man there, they spotted a possible route, (through the roof) went up there and dug through a house that they did not own and let him down. It does not say that the paralytic expressed his faith, but it does say that “Jesus seeing their faith”. I know the feeling of that man for I too have experienced situations that the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ effectuated Christ’s response to my needs.

Whenever a need arises and prayer goes up to the Lord or action is taken to indicate one’s action toward another’s need, our Lord Jesus Christ responds. However, there are always a few “scribes” sitting on the sidelines with some negative comments. Jesus speaks to the occasion: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven; or to say, “Get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

They were “amazed” and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” Of course not! They were in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and He was asserting His power. He spoke again: “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

He does what he is instructed. He does not linger for the TV cameras, or for the applaud of those present; nor did he go back to the “scribes” who had berated what the Lord had done, and: “They were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Who knows what God might choose to do on your behalf or mine!

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SOUND IN SPEECH

Have you ever wished that you had bitten your tongue? In fact sometimes I have bitten mine as a reminder of what I had said indiscriminately. You can be sure I did not do it too hard; I wanted a reminder, not an emergency room treatment.

I know that the portion of Scripture to which I am referring shortly is addressing “young men”, nevertheless, I also know that sometimes, all too often, young men develop such patterns in their lives that it carry over to calloused old men; it is not just “outside” the church, it can be the caustic, the sarcastic “brother” within the Body of Christ. You have to admit, it can be very inclusive.

In the Pastoral Epistle of Titus, 2:6 and following, the young men are told to be “sensible”. When doing so they will be “an example”. What a challenge! Young men are quite impulsive, as you know. When one stands out as being “sensible” you cannot help but take notice, and if he does it with “good deeds”, it is even more noticeable.

I do not see a lot of evidence of this type of decorum inside or outside of our churches. Doctrine, to which the Apostle refers, is not put into action. There is “dignity” when a young man (or woman), puts their knowledge of the WORD into action. In fact, we are told to “be sound in speech which is beyond reproach”.

Many would prefer to address the next verse, which has to do with “bond slaves” trying to address the activity as to a “lower class”. As a young man I was walking with a lady and was unaware that what was taking place was insulting to her. She said: “You are walking on the inside of me. I am not for sale!” I had never heard of it, but I shifted my position in “high gear”. Also, that moment activated my practice to this day. While “beyond reproach” was directly referring to doctrine, it can easily encompass “dignity”.

Hopefully, this will make us more conscious of what and WHO we represent.

Praising, praying, and pegging away … Ted

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NOT JUST TWELVE

I noticed again that Jesus had multitudes, crowds that gathered to hear Him speak, to watch as He healed. They were enamored with His teaching because it was unlike that of the Scribes and Pharisees. How they were able to hear Him sufficiently to become followers is in itself one amazing fact. Yet our text, Luke 10:1, 2 says that he sent “seventy others in pairs of two, to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.”

Notice the unseemly way in which He sent them. They were to go with “no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way.” Picture oneself being given those instructions; however that was not the end, when you come to a house and enter, you first say: “Peace be to this house.”

“If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.”

Under the conditions set forth, do you think that the man of the house will be excited about welcoming such an individual? I have to believe that it would be a lot like welcoming a homeless individual, one living under a bridge or down by the river, under the trees. I have experienced many such individuals over the years and established a system of helping without being manipulated. Jesus gave these men some tough instructions, which they obeyed and returned later excited that the response was far beyond their expectation.

Sometimes we try to “out think” the Lord. We are assured in our thinking of the experience of rejection, which none of us appreciate. I guess that we wear our feelings on our coat-sleeves! These teams returned later with joy, because they obeyed the Lord and experienced something they had not envisioned. Listen to the words of our Savior: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the one who sent Me.” Is there not excitement in the succeeding verse: “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning?

While victory might come in various forms when we “obey” the Lord, and you and I will enjoy reveling in ecstasy, it will come. Christ was watching all the time and producing that victory.

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WISDOM

Years ago I heard Dr. Roger Andrus say: “Wisdom is getting to know things from God’s point of view.” An excellent statement!

In the Book of Wisdom, Proverbs, the “Wise man” places statement after statement indicative of the wisdom that originates from the heart of God.


2:1 “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you,

2:2 make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;

2:3 for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;

2:4 if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures;

2:5 then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.

2:6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

2:7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

2:8 Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.

2:9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.

2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;”


There is more to follow. More of what we need and I trust, desire. There is no substitute for the wisdom that comes from God. It is food for our thinking and guidance for our direction. God alone can give us wisdom. His WORD is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” (Psalm 119:105)

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WE KNOW BETTER

I guess I could use a different title for this, like, “Choosing the Best!” Everyone has their opinions about things of this nature; I try to acquire mine from the best source possible, the Tried and True that has remained so over the test of time…THE WORD OF GOD.

Doing a little analyzing I “happened” on the Prophet Zechariah 7! The prophets of old told it like it was, no “soft pedaling”. The question that was brought up was: “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” We live in much the same atmosphere, go to church on Saturday/Sunday, celebrate the special days of the year, (Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday, etc.) “Fasted on the fifth and seventh months”, but (That is a big BUT) “you did it for seventy years, was it actually for ME that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves?” (v 5-7)

My question is pointed, for consideration by all of us. We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 how to celebrate the remembrance of our Savior, not “it” but “Him”. For some, it is a mandatory time as was the case for Israel. The real reason, as explicitly set forth in Corinthians, “do this in remembrance of ME!” It is, and should be a personal relationship wherein it is focused on HIM, His incarnation (condescending to become human flesh), His substitution (His representative sacrifice on Calvary for our sins), and His resurrection (wherein He conquered death and the grave). Nothing shy of this is acceptable to our Lord!

Somehow we have missed what Israel missed. When they were abounding in prosperity (v7 and following) and forgot what God had given by way of instruction: “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.” At that time, they “refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing”. Zechariah says: “And it came about that just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and would not listen. Says the Lord of hosts; I scattered them …the land is desolated behind them… for they made the pleasant land desolate.”

The graphics were not pleasant then and they are not pleasant for our land as we behold the few that are listening.

Let us pray for a spiritual awakening!

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THE CHURCH IN TYPE

… Be filled with the Spirit

… Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord.

… Giving thanks for ALL THINGS in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the father

… Subject to one another in the fear of Christ

… Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord

… Christ is the head of all things to the Church

… He is Savior of the Body

… Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her

… So that He might sanctify her

… Cleansed her by the washing of water with the WORD

… That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory

… Having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing

… That she should be holy and blameless

… Love their wives as the own bodies

… He who loves his own wife loves himself

… Loves and cherishes

… Just as Christ also does the church

… For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and shall

… Be joined to His wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

(Ephesians 5:18-31)

Handle with care and prayer!

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BARNABAS

A situation develops of a disagreement in opinion, and sometimes it gets a little explosive. People who are intent that it is of significance; others are ready to say “let it go”. Then, there are those who feel that in time it will show itself to be either good or bad, just let it sit in the wings.

Saul of Tarsus had been gloriously saved on the Damascus Road. We read in Acts 8 the details of this highly educated, murderer persecuting the church. In Acts 9 we see him continuing his efforts to destroy the “disciples of the Lord”. (9:1) As he approached Damascus, we have the story of his conversion and his becoming a disciple of Christ. It was a traumatic experience as God spoke to him directly.

God confirms his experience through the “disciple in Damascus named Ananias;” With his background, Saul is able to visualize that prophecy has been fulfilled and that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. He immediately began to “proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God”.”

THEN, he makes a trip to Jerusalem! As he endeavors to associate with the disciples, “they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” (9:27)

Give us more men like Barnabas. He steps in where others would be afraid to speak. He shares what God has been doing through Paul. “He had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.”

Barnabas quietly presents Paul to the disciples. There is no more argument or fear, obviously the confidence displayed is such that the other disciples are moved by the word from Barnabas. That is testimony to the demeanor with which he spoke. When you look at the meaning of his name, “son of encouragement”, and then, Acts 11:22-23, “The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.”

What a steadfast testimony Barnabas had in the formation of the early church!

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ANOTHER BASKET CASE

Remember that we spoke of Moses in a basket; well now we have an adult and a basket. Paul the Apostle had been saved while preparing to destroy the church that was multiplying in Damascus, and he had letters certifying that he was on a legal assignment. Jesus appeared to him in the form of a great light and he fell to the ground. After a few pointed words, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”, he was blinded, led into Damascus to a man named Ananias who laid his hands on Paul, addressed him: “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

In the verse 18 and 19 of Acts 9, we read: “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus”. He immediately “began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

As the opposition to his newfound ministry strengthened, and his own background gave him deep insight into prophetic interpretation concerning the Messiah, more and more people were turning to Jesus. Naturally, in such an atmosphere, the Jewish leaders decided to rid themselves of this man, devising a plan to do away with him.

Paul was alerted to the plot even though they watched the gates day and night? God allowed the brethren to plan a way for his escape. They “took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.”

When the Lord provides a way of escape, it may not be the most stylish of the hour, but it is a way out. Remember what He did for the Hebrew spies when they searched out Jericho? God provided a sympathetic Rahab (Joshua 2) who let them down with a rope and told them what to do for their safety and then for the Israelites when they determined to take Jericho. If you plan to be involved in the work of the Lord, do not expect comfort.

I have swung in a bosons chair close to a hundred feet, (when younger) but never a basket. I am not certain that I would have my eyes open if I was forced to use that as a method of escape today. I have to admit that I have had enough encounters over the years that God gave me peace when I needed it.

God still had a lot of work for the apostle to do and so there was the elevator to the ground floor. I have often wondered how many things from which He has rescued me without my knowing. They tell me that more books are written about the Apostle Paul than any other individual. You see how it started and you have to believe what God said to Him at the outset!

To God Be the Glory!

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TAUGHT.HEARD.UNDERSTOOD

Our family had a FAMILY BIBLE! It had all the appearance of having been around since the inception of Bibles. You might understand it’s aged look if you ever lived in Bermuda and experienced the high humidity that constantly engulfs the island. I recall how, on occasion I would look at it, especially the pictures, but never grasping the importance of its message. Although many of the precepts that it presented were a part of our family, as an individual, it had no relevance to the life-style that I envisioned for my life.

After I became a Christian in accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the embracing of Christ as my Lord and Savior, I began to notice how many homes had a copy of the Scriptures, the Holy Bible, placed in conspicuous places. However, I also noticed that the life patterns within the home did not conform to the standards of what I was reading in THE BOOK. I began to also notice that many individuals made reference to it, but inaccurately.

One day, while reading the Book of Nehemiah, some thoughts surfaced that I had not understood previously. (8:1 and following) The people “gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate” and there they requested that Ezra “bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel.” Ezra listened to their request and brought it there. Then all who had “understanding” listened from early morning to “midday” and they were “attentive”. When he opened the Book, ALL the people “stood up”. He then “blessed the Lord, the great God”. And all the people “answered”, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

The sequence of events is stunning to envision, but it happened. “The Levites explained the law; they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading”. In verse 9, they “taught” and “when they heard the words of the law”, they were weeping!

When did you hear of such an experience in our own time? When they heard these words, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (v10) The next thought we catch is “because they understood the words which had been known to them.”

We know that many people have copies of the Bible, but do they read or listen to it being read; are they moved in their thinking because of what they hear; does it stimulate them into action?

Is it a dust catcher in your home, or an activator, because you read it and understand it?

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SLAVES TO COMPUTERIZATION

I recall so well in my teen years, in our carpentry shop, how one of our jobs required extensive work involving the preparation of a room to hold a computer. What a job! Naturally, the computer in those days required almost an entire room being prepped for this installation.

Gradually, we have mastered the computers and even small phones can do what once required large space. Often I make a request of a family member to research something for me, knowing the speed with which they can obtain it.

Our cars no longer have a computer that cares for all of our operations, they have multiple computers. With the effort to embrace driverless cars, one can see how people will become more irresponsible about driving, and lawsuits will extend dramatically to the manufacturers. It is hard to envision where all of this will lead because of our dependence on the computer.

It is a task for a cashier to give the correct change if they are without a machine that does all the work for them. Without a high grade calculator, many of our young people would never make it through College. In Business School we were required to know through our 20 times tables.

Please don’t get me wrong, in our present economy the computer is a necessity. However, it has made us lazy in our thinking. Our son, a pastor, told me that he does not want my Library because he can get what he needs “on line” and does not need to have books and shelves everywhere in his home. You know, he is right.

This morning I read that someone said: “I have read through my Bible.” Another individual shared how they had just finished reading through their Bible and was now engaged in reading it again. Still others have shared how they have been reading through their Bible each year for years. This is exciting to hear because with each reading of each chapter, I continue to learn more and discover some gems that I missed previously.

Also, I must say thank you to those who jot a note and inform me of their involvement in distribution of the great truths of Scripture, and that they read the Word of God daily…regularly!

A verse that is prominent in my thinking, and I do not need the computer to recall, is: Psalm 119:11…”Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against YOU!” The 16th verse is another gem: “I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your Word.” While I am at it, read the 119th Psalm in entirety!

God’s Word is a treasure! Because we are like horses without a bit and bridle, we need it constantly.

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RUNNING AWAY FROM GOD

I have spoken before of Jonah, but surely some Biblical encounters of people who endeavor to thwart the plan of God for their lives is worthy of additional consideration.

There have been experiences in all of our lives when we have felt like running. Like Jonah, we have sought other directions than that of the Holy Spirit. Though the reasons may be justified in our thinking, they invariably lead to difficulties, small or great. One of the greatest problems is that we might get comfortable in our present circumstances, and just plain do not want to listen to His leading into some endeavor that requires major adjustments in our thinking.

Jonah was like that! He “hated” to think that he was called of God to go to Nineveh and preach. His reasoning was that God would do something through his preaching that would bring about repentance to the Ninevihites, show them mercy, and not pronounce judgment on them. You talk about bitterness toward others and what its roots will produce!

Most preachers would be looking for such an encounter. It would raise their esteem before others, secure additional support, plus give them “legitimate bragging rights”, which we usually refer to as “justified pride”.

Oh! Oh! Jonah is in trouble, just like any who try to run from the Lord. He takes the opposite direction and heads for Tarshish, and “the presence of the Lord”. Most people in this quandary would recognize that such action is impossible, but when you endeavor to justify your decision with such ignorance, you can almost always justify it.

When Jonah tells them to throw him overboard, he now try’s to punish himself! However, God interrupts his plans and sends a life-boat in the form of a “great fish”, gets his attention, and sends him on his way to Ninevah. From what I read, that experience in the “great fish” was not an adjustable mattress or comfy pillow experience. It never is for anyone trying to thwart the will of God!

Three days of preaching and behold, REVIVAL! Jonah heads away, takes a nap and wakes to find it more comfortable than his “life boat” experience. Now He grumbles to God. Some people cannot be satisfied with God and His working! Jonah complains. (Take a look in the mirror!) God lets him reach the end of his rope.

At the end of Jonah’s experience, mumbling to himself, and God, in a shady spot he says in effect: “I knew you would do this! You never do things my way!”

And there you have it! “My way” always seems right!” God in His graciousness straightens us out with what He wants. But Oh the bumps along the road when one try’s to “run away” from Him and His instruction!

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GUNS

A topic of conversation, unquestionably! Yep! Left, right or in between, the opinions are “cemented” in our thinking, and anyone with an objection to my thinking is wrong.

I found a pistol in a burnt down house when a pre-teen and threw it away. During World War 2, when still a pre- teen-ager, we were digging trenches and crawling through fields with 303’s preparing to “defend” our little Island. Desperation filled everyone’s mind, and we were adamant about defense and victory. In Alaska, I was prepared for hunting and protection from an un-invited “animal” whose path we shared. When leaving Alaska, I saw no need to keep my 357 magnum or 8mm rifle; and now, at this stage of life me-thinks, do I need it? Yes? No?

My thinking changed from time to time because of circumstances; surroundings! My age, my motivation toward our surroundings, my value toward my life or another’s life, and probably my value toward death! After all, how important is it to survive this moment, which could be “death”, (Of which I am certain we are aware) as compared to that same moment for another? No easy moments, right?

Also, one might consider the era in which we attained enough “shoot ‘em up cowboy” films, who always won; and the TV (next week’s movie had to go on). The wars, the obvious solution to every problem or confrontation… a gun!

And now, the “games” available to “bump off”, to “erase” people with the finger on a mouse instead of a “trigger” of a gun! One has to observe that the gravity of a situation like this has impacted the thinking of our society. We are in trouble!

Life has become cheap! We treat it like these games, and fail to realize the impact on individuals… society in general. Accountability is a misnomer! Murderers, etc. are placed in confinement, not true Correctional institutions (another misnomer); and all at the expense of the taxpayer because we have allowed this gradual deterioration of our morals, and we are “worshiping” the “elite” of “accomplishments” and God has “become” a stranger in His created world.

Anyone can secure a gun without using the legal manner mandated. It reminds me of how I locked my keys in my truck. It was far from the most grandiose section of a city. I approached a man and said simply: “I know the reputation of this area; how long will it take to retrieve my keys? “Three minutes!”,was his reply. Sure enough, I was driving home in less than the three minutes.

The heart of the problem is the hearts of the people who use the weapons, and because that is basically rebellion toward God and His Word. Man, born with a sin nature remains that way unless he makes a decisive decision toward Jesus Christ, and continues to follow Him. Otherwise, he is subjective to his old nature, and there are no limits to what he determines to be acceptable.

Until God is paramount in our thinking in society, we can expect further deterioration. May I inject into your thinking a thought from yesteryear and every year: “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29) He can and will revolutionize our thinking. Him alone!

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DAILY DIGESTIVES

Is Jesus Christ part of the daily routine of your life?

While reading Luke 9 today, I was made aware of that little word “daily”. Thus, the reason for my question at the beginning!

Jesus had asked the question, “But, who do you say that I am? Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” It was a straightforward answer concerning Christ’s identity. It is a question that has been continued to this day, 2020 years later. It bears an answer to each of us today. It cannot be escaped! Who do you, I, believe that Jesus Christ is?

Jesus immediately identified Himself! However, in doing so, He made it known that the identity of the person prophesied in the Old Testament as the Christ to come was in their midst and that He was that person. Even so, as He proceeded to do this, there was obviously confusion in the minds of the disciples. They anticipated that the promised King would assume His reign at that time. They did not contemplate the mountain peak and valley that preceded that rule and reign.

Jesus then revealed many details of the coming three years concerning Himself! If they chose to follow Him, there was something that they would be required: “He must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This was not some simple activity to pursue, this was a DAILY COMMITMENT. It was following a person who would be an imposter in the minds of many. There would not be any accolades in their choice and thus that DAILY commitment. It would never be the most favorable choice. The end result would inevitably lead to a choice of “to save one’s life” or “lose his life. No easy choice.

The discussion continues with a very solemn presentation: “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26)

If one follows the Lord Jesus, it is because they have made a choice. They can look into the details of what to expect, but it will not be a “routine” choice of something well-accepted. However, it will invariably become the most significant choice of their life, and it will become the most popular person of history that a one can choose. It leads to a “DAILY” routine. It leads to a RISE and SHINE! It leads to eternal rewards.

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MARRIAGE CONCEPTS

Over the years it has been my privilege to conduct numerous weddings. It did not take long for me to realize that the majority of people had ideas about what they wanted included in the vows they were making. It took less time for me to decide what I would or would not accept. While I can appreciate the effort to make the wedding “unique”, this is not a time to make it into “show biz”. This is a time of public commitment before your friends, relatives, or associates of both man and woman to a life of oneness, till death would separate you.

I realize that some will immediately quote from the Scriptures, (Matthew 5:31, 32) that divorce is permitted for “unchastity” or sexual impurity. While that is true, it does not say that it cannot be forgiven and a marriage rebuilt. One of the greatest chapters on “love” is found in 1 Corinthians 13 (Please read) and anything that is “childish” (v11) should be put away and buried in “perfection”; (v10 that will eventually be ours). Forgiveness begins here and now, not just then. I read somewhere: “Forgiveness is not transitory!” …I also read, “Faith ends in sight, Hope ends in presence, Love never ends.”

There are other things we discuss at length that I see as relates to marriage, but I only mention these as being so prevalent in our society.

I used to ask that in the event your marriage has problems, I am the first that you should call. Will you promise that to be the case? After I discovered that I never received a call, and some went on to divorce, I gave up on that! However, I have retained, after explaining what I believe and what I will be saying in the ceremony, you may want to withdraw your request that I perform your ceremony. Some have, and I was glad. Some have not and I was distraught.

As the Apostle Paul said: “Love is the greatest!

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SO YOUR MEMORY IS SLIPPING

The memory “game” is most interesting… especially when your children and grandchildren say: “Pop! You are getting old; which is the truth! However, the cobwebs of aging that flirts the brain makes me go searching for what I should have remembered.

Of one thing I am certain. When in college a few years back, someone called my attention to Ecclesiastes 12 and like every young preacher, I knew I was going to have fun preaching about “old age” in due time. I will get to the end of the chapter when I have repeated some of those old fashioned, yet true, statements.

Verse 1 says to: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” because the time will creep up on you and you will say: “I have no delight in them.” I should realize my eyes will age a bit and the sun, moon, and stars will become darkened and clouds return after the rain; then the watchmen of the house tremble (hands and knees) and men stoop ( the spine), the grinding ones stand idle because they are few (teeth), the windows (eyes) grow dim, the doors (hearing) either mixes up what is said or do not hear at all, in fact, it becomes hard to converse and you end up saying “What did you say?” Terrors on the road (fear) and then comes the “sound of the bird sings softly” (hearing), the “grasshopper drags himself along”, (It will not stop with the walking cane) the “golden bowl is crushed”, (the skull) and the pitcher by the well shattered.”

Finally, death takes its toll and the mourners arrive, we return to dust” (as man was initially) and the Spirit to God who gave it.

Look what we “old timers” look forward to… but with Christ as our Savior and Lord, we exit here and arrive there with no more prescriptions!

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DISTORTION

As I write this, we are in the midst of the impeachment hearings. Everyone is right, so they say; you and me? We are supposed to decide who is telling the truth, and to do so by evaluating everything we hear, including the commentators of the news media. Let’s face it, we have established our liberal or conservative conclusions a long time ago, and we become the interpreters of what we hear from our “established criteria.”

When “Moses and the elders of Israel” charged all of the people in Deuteronomy 27 with their responsibilities before the Lord when crossing into the Promised Land, they spoke a cumulative account of laws to which the people replied: AMEN! It was more than a “swearing before the courts”, because it was before God. Usually we add to that: “So help me God!”

I have concluded that someone is being “deceptive” in these hearings, and I do not have the responsibility of determining who that might be. There are sufficient men in that room, to seek the help of God, to make that determination. If they could only seek the mind and heart of the Lord, I believe that like Israel, they could say a hearty AMEN to verse 19 of Deuteronomy 27.

There other injunctions, laws, to which they’ve agreed on that occasion. Try reading the entire chapter. Principles, principles, principles! Few are the people that I spoke with over the years who did not think that verse 25 is being applied: “Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.” And all the people shall say, “Amen!” needs application immediately. I do not want to imply that I present this as an accusation on what is current, but it is noticeable that people are elected to position on other people’s money; they are salaried with other people’s money; they retire on other people’s money; and they remain “questionable” to a large majority of our population.

The challenge to come out of this quandary in our current circumstances is one that remains a matter of prayer. Please do not “deceive” us!

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WHEN IS IT TOO FAR?

As I watched a portion of the State of the Union address, like many of you, I was appalled at the action taken by the Speaker of the House in shredding that speech. It was not what was in the speech; it was arrogance toward our governing system. While I understand the objections each party has toward the goals within the various parties, there is a time and a place toward implementing those goals. This was not the time or place! To invite someone as our president to share their view and then to besmirch them publicly was disgraceful.

This led me back to what I had envisioned when the invitation was extended. We all knew the possibilities and the timing. Weather there was an impeachment or not, it would be an awkward experience for all involved, politicians or the general public.

I have thought about some of the Biblical encounters which turned into fiascos because of a hardened heart. The account of David and Bathsheba would be illustrative. He saw her taking a bath and immediately lusted. Discovering that she was a married woman, he had her husband placed in the front lines of a battle, hoping for his death, and that would justify his having Bathsheba for his wife. (Entire story: 2 Samuel 11, 12) You do not play tootsie with God! What a story this entails!

The action toward Paul as he preached in Asia was repulsive. He had to be rescued via a basket; he was stoned and left for dead at another encounter; flogged with 40 lashings at an additional location. (2 Corinthians 1 & 2) Nothing swayed him from his commitment to honor Jesus Christ.

Bitterness is terrible! It becomes a corruption of an individual and knows no limits. I could address other situations from Holy Writ; this is sufficient!

Folks, let’s get back to Biblical principles and not be so vindictive with those who disagree with us. Luke 6:35 is a strong admonishment… “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”

For now, let’s hug them to death! It is Heaven’s measure!