Many are they who will react to the way I titled this; in fact it will make them bristle a little because they do not agree with the idea of history being His Story. They would think that things just evolved over a period of time and that there was no rhyme or reason that we should believe that God has superintended every event since before time began.
If one takes the time to study the Scriptures they will discover that each activity unfolds like a puzzle, and that a picture emerges how God is the operating force behind each occurrence. There is no other acceptable explanation for what and how that transpires. I personally find it exciting to read a verse of Scripture like this one: “This is the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” He makes them and I enjoy them! In addition, I wonder at what He has planned next that I will see unfold, and I will enjoy?
In these days when the corona-virus is raking our country and the world, there is a light here and there that becomes a testimony to the GRACE of GOD! It is not the many that are healed, as much as the attitude toward their experience. Some confidently faced death with the assurance of their salvation. Others gave every indication that they would be completely satisfied with the outcome of life or death. Granted, there were those who were terrified to face the future and those who were “too young to die”! The attitudes are far multiplied from what I have mentioned.
When imprisoned and then transported to Rome, the “ship” that carried Paul, the Apostle, ran into difficult circumstances. The storm that they encountered was breaking the ship apart and it finally ran aground. With the captain ordering for its abandonment; with no other choice, he ordered those who could swim to do so, and those who could not to grab a piece of wood and use it to hold them afloat as they made for the shore-line. All were saved! An unusual occurrence, but a predicted one by the apostle Paul who had that assurance from the Lord!
I have lost several friends to the ocean depths, having left Bermuda and never heard from again. Numerous others have obviously experienced identical encounters. A cousin was rescued as the yacht went to its grave.
What caught my attention in this encounter, mentioned in Acts 27, was the fact that they were on the island of Malta and that “The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that set in, and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.” (Acts 28:2)
There was a display of “EXTRAORDINARY KINDNESS” and in addition to kindling a fire, they “received them all.” God allowed us to be shown kindness by others and frequently to be privileged to show kindness to others. I love that phrase: “and received them all”. No partiality, in spite of the backgrounds! Hopefully our message has clarity and engagement!
In the opening verses of Joshua, Moses has died and the leadership of the children of Israel is placed in the hands of Joshua. That 2nd verse of Joshua 1 has a sense of alarm attached to it: “Moses my servant is dead”.
This great leader, upon whom the entire Israelite nation depended to lead them into the Promised Land is dead. Forty years of wandering and wondering and that moment of promise is placed in the hands of an untested individual, Joshua. Untested? In a certain sense he was just that, but in another sense his tutelage has been mirrored in close association with Moses and his appointment is of God.
God speaks with authority: “Now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all these people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”(v2) This is the same man who had come back from spying out the Land and had his advice nullified by others. Personally, I cannot envision being placed in that position, but like Moses, he sought only what God wanted.
Moses was dead, but not God! When you read the context of Scripture you can hear the Lord speaking and that is sufficient! Although this hard headed people would not realize God’s undertaking, the promise had been made and the people gradually followed in obedience.
Having watched Jesus perform numerous miracles, a scribe approaches Him and volunteers to follow Jesus. There are many who fall into the category that this man volunteered for.
Impressed with what Jesus had performed it is quite possible that he being a “scribe” might have lots to write about. What is to be considered with this action is that Jesus did not just take volunteers; He selected each of the twelve.
Another observation is that although a crowd was present, Jesus “gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.” (Matthew 8:18) He obviously was not impressed with having a crowd. Each miracle was performed on selective people in selected places. When we reach the record of His life here upon this earth, you cannot help but be impressed with its uniqueness as over against the false prophets that roam our globe.
Years ago, I read something of Dr. DeHaan which said: “He was born in a stable, depended on the charity of friends, rode a borrowed colt, died on a sinner’s cross, laid in another’s tomb.” You have to admit that when Jesus said to that scribe: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” He was weeding out, not just this man, but all who were present. I am glad that the disciple who was following Him and said: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” was not identified for we would be quick to tag him with something not needed for these last 2,000 years.
Invariably, when we read something like this, we have to ask ourselves: Do I fit into the category of those men? Did I promise the Lord something that I have failed to perform? Do I just talk big, but when the road gets rough, or steep, just plain burdensome in some way, do I fail to live up to my intentions?
We all need to do periodic inspections as to what we said to Him, not only recently, but long ago. “Lord I will be or do, count me in!” Something or someone interrupted that promise –seek forgiveness and move on.
I love the ocean and miss it, even after these many years. Just to look at it in its calm, or storm. To listen to it as it pounds the breakers, or smell the salt air that punctures your sinus and clears your head in seconds. The list goes on with the dreams drifting hurriedly.
As we crossed the Sea of Galilee, my mind was not on the ocean, but on the multiplied times that it became the center of attraction because the Savior of the World was present on it or on its shores. One of the earliest recordings was when He chose Simon who was called Peter to be two of his twelve disciples. So commanding was He that they left their nets and followed Him. What a magnetic personality He must have displayed to choose two fishermen to begin His ministry, not some intellects. (Matthew 4:20)
Matthew records that “going on from there He saw two brothers, James and John the sons of Zebedee in a boat with their father”. They were mending nets. He called them and they left the boat and their Father and followed Jesus. (Matt. 4:22)
Recall how some, determined to find something against the Savior, asked Peter if Christ paid taxes. The Lord knew what was going on and told Peter to get a fish, remove the coin from its mouth and pay the taxes. Think of all the ins and outs attached to that experience on Galilee. (17:24-27)
And then there was the night that Jesus walked on the water in the midst of a mighty storm. Of course, the disciples were alarmed! Would you be the “cool” one who was not shook somewhat? (Matthew 14:25-32)
I thought of how the disciples fished all night, caught nothing and He said to them: “Cast on the other side of the boat!” They caught so many fish that the boat began to sink. Only then did they turn their attention back to HIM. We are so caught up in such things that we forget to honor Him for His provision. (John 21:4-8)
I am still reflecting on some of these things when we reached the other shore of Galilee, however I am thinking of those disciples coming ashore and finding cooked fish awaiting them. And, naturally they discover that He has prepared it for them. (21:9-14)
Take a reflective trip on Galilee with the Savior. I am convinced you will find it one of the best boat rides you have ever experienced!
God has blessed me with a library of hundreds of books, mostly commentaries. I love to read some of those that are long out of print. I admit that some of the old English writings are a challenge.
I read one commentary on the Song of Solomon sometime ago, and in the process of considering it and some of my notes, (I am uncertain where they came from so I cannot give credit) I caught something I had forgotten I wrote in my Bible, concerning Chapter 2:15 “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.” The Book probably concerns a relationship between Solomon and a Shulammite woman. The title is literally: A Song of Songs.
So, in dusting off this book, I refreshed my thinking with the following thoughts: From Song of Solomon 2:15…
Much ado is made about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Research after research has been done to prove or disprove such an occurrence took place.
Every effort of digging at various locations and even an effort to call it the Sea of Reeds, so it would make it less of a miracle! While such effort has been exerted, little is said about what took place forty years later when Israel crossed the Jordan River. In either occurrence, a miracle had to be performed for such a mass of humanity to cross either place.
This time as Israel faced the impossibility of such a feat, they were being led by Joshua. He had such a commitment to the Lord, which full confidence in his leader-ship was done as he instructed. Again, as at the Red Sea, he was determined to do everything in accordance with God’s direction.
The first instruction seemed simple enough – “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people to prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan.”
Meanwhile Joshua had sent spies to check out Jericho. It was a precaution to find out what the people of Jericho might do in the event they saw Israel crossing the River Jordan. That was a unique move because they learned of the terror that existed in Jericho as to what God had done in Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea. These spies took the words of a harlot and brought them to Joshua. They also had her put a red scarf in the window of her home, on the wall of Jericho, so that she and her family would be saved. Amazingly, the word of a harlot was acceptable to Joshua and his army. Next he commanded that “when you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and after it.”
The Ark was a symbol of the presence of God. The Priests were to come to the water’s edge and then “stand still” as the people crossed over. It had to have been a magnificent moment. God was conveying to the Israelites His power and authority in that moment, but also to history His Omnipotence.
“And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:17)
Try to imagine taking the words of a prostitute as one hundred percent accurate and then becoming the shareholder in that experience. Israel not only crossed, it was on “dry ground”. To add to that is that little statement in the 16th verse: “So the people crossed opposite Jericho.” The world has yet to see what God has done and can do.
Perhaps you have caught this in the past, however just in case you might have missed the idea of a blessing can easily become a blight; sin if you did not observe the connection!
When Israel left Egypt, after 400 years and ten plagues had battered them under Moses leadership, (Exodus 7-11) a most interesting thing occurred… Pharaoh rose in the night, called Moses and Aaron, and said: “Rise up, get out from among my people… we shall all be dead.” (Exodus 12:30-33) “The children of Israel requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (Ex. 12:35-36)
As they moved toward the Promised Land, God gave them the Ten Commandments and a multiplicity of Laws. You will probably remember the eruption that took place as Moses came down from the Mountain and discovered that the people had melted all the golden jewelry that the Egyptians had given them, (Exodus 32) and had made a golden calf and were worshiping it. It is described as “corrupted themselves”. (Exodus 32:7) Here they were, violating the Ten Commandments with the gold procured from the Egyptians when God had caused the Egyptians to gladly lavish upon them when they left Egypt.
We are a strange group! We find it “convenient” to allow the “old nature” to ascend, to revert to sinful practices because God did not jump in our time frame. Remember, Moses had been on the mountain for 40 days and this is his “reception committee”.
Friends, we need to re-examine the reasons we allow ourselves to be violators of those commandments, “written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:15, 16)
While reading I came across the 13th verse of Proverbs 19. I thought to myself: “Ted! You were a most fortunate individual. In fact you rate amongst the few in history that can make that claim!”
I would have a hard time to recall that Patsy ever displayed being “contentious”. She was the epitome of graciousness, and manifested it, not only in public, but in her very private life. I must quote the verse: “A foolish son is destruction to his father, and the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.”
Inasmuch as I had been having trouble with a faucet that was hard to shut off or on, when it started to do a constant dripping, I knew I had to do something about it. I proceeded to pull it apart and put new washers and “O” rings in it. I also made sure that ample grease was in it. Guess what? It worked!
When a marriage has deteriorated, it could possibly be that part of the problem relates to contentiousness on the part of the woman, it might also be the “hang-ups” of a man. Both parties need to stand back and see what would be needed to correct the problem or problems. The “mirror” of God’s Word would illuminate, probably reveal some contentiousness of which you were unawares.
Far too many individuals are quick to quote parts of Ephesians 5. Read all of it, because it also says: “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” To quote part of it, and not all of it, creates a reason for contention. Both parties need humbling!!!
No need for drip, drip, drip! If either (probably both) is creating the problem, get it fixed immediately! Do not give up the ship!
The question was quite simple: “Why so many denominations?” While that question was simple, the answer was not as easy as one might suppose.
In my library there about five books on Church History, most of them give insight from different angles while endeavoring to be 100% accurate. However, I find that they are basically supportive of each other; identifying various stages of history and how many of the church Father’s where effected by the era in which they labored.
May I use the subject of “healing” as an example? James writes about this in his Epistle. (5:13-18) If I refer back to the verses that involve brother Job, or the prophets I can already realize that some sickness has behind it the activity of the Lord Himself. You will recognize how the devil attacked Job because he had permission from God; he had accused God of putting a hedge around Job and saying that was the only reason Job was faithful to God. In spite of the entire account, which encompasses the entire Book of Job, James asks a simple question concerning this event: “have you seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealing, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful?” (v11) Also, there is the option of one may “not fall under judgment”. (v12)
One of the first things we need to endeavor to discover is “can I recognize that God is in this? Can it be that He is demonstrating just to the devil concerning our blameless walk before God? Might it be a rebuke from the Lord that we are not walking in agreement with His desires? The first part of this whole text can be interpreted from the standpoint: “I must not complain! Though I might be suffering, I am to avoid complaining and endure with patience!
In the event that the sickness continues, following one’s own assessment, I am to then “call for the elders of the church”. If you are in association with a local assembly of believers, you are to call for the elders of the church, to come and pray with you on the matter. In light of what we have seen previously, they should carefully seek to find the reason behind the sickness. Then, they are to listen to the confession of what you believe, or what they might have observed to be the cause. With this determined, they are to anoint with oil and pray over you for healing. This is the procedure that was to be used, not some “healing” meeting with a “healer”.
The verses following, confirm that the outline presented is simple and plain for all of us. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)
When reading and studying your Bible… use Contextual Interpretation.
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed with receive condemnation upon themselves.
. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it a minister of God to you for good. But is you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except o love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:1-14) NASB.
Let us actively pursue the solutions to our dilemma!
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen
Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:1-21) NASB. (More tomorrow!)
How long does one hold something over another person’s head? You are in a conversation, in a group more-so, and a name is mentioned, someone quickly inserts an incident that took place or was supposed to have taken place thirty years previously. It may be an insinuation with no accuracy, and yet the expression on the individuals face says it all.
As a pastor, I have lived with such succinct individuals who obviously cherished those juicy morsels and were rotting inside because they refused to forgive. One can be quick to say that they forgive, but the devil sees to it that one does not forget. The opening words of Acts 8 caught my attention: “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.”
Forgiving and forgetting must be considered by all of us. Forgiving is obligatory to the Christian. The words of Ephesians 5:32 ring loud and long: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Forgetting is virtually impossible. Circumstances can easily arouse a by-gone incident. What then is a proper response to the “forgiven” or properly adjudicated incident? Zip the lip! In all probability we have not been the recipients of all the details. People give only the information that makes them appear to “look” as best possible, even when found guilty.
What makes the verse I referred to in Acts 8:1 is that Saul, later called Paul, did what he did in agreement with local acceptance; however, after his conversion he found it a most repulsive engagement. He had watched as Stephen was stoned to death. It became an acknowledgement that his “acceptable” sin was un-acceptable before the Almighty. I have to believe that he probably not only saw the repulsiveness of his action, but also felt the magnanimous forgiveness of the Lord. When becoming a believer, (Acts 9), he probably felt that the suffering he experienced in serving the Lord was a “just dessert”.
Sooo! If something is recalled, as I said previously, treat it in a fashion that you would want to be treated… Zip the lip! Treat it as a by-gone and refuse to discuss the matter. The young man said to his mother: “I think you would find something positive to say, even about the devil.” Her reply was simple: “He is persistent.”
Having lived in New Jersey for a number of years, it was my privilege to have in the congregation numerous individuals involved in multiplied areas of research. They were brilliant individuals in their fields. They were also solid in their convictions as relating to the Word of God, admirably so!
There is so much difference between those who do research from their understanding of Scripture, and those who are devoid of Scriptural instruction. In particular, how they approach creation as the pre thought of the Lord, and what He did so long ago that they are just now “discovering”.
After Paul began writing to the church at Rome, he indicated how he desired to come there to preach. He understood the situation! There were those who had already received the Word concerning Jesus Christ and those who had not only rejected it, but were persecuting Christians. He makes it clear as to his call of God to preach to “Greeks and to barbarians”. The possibility of death did not lessen his enthusiasm; his FAITH was solidified in God, and in Jesus Christ. As we move through Romans 1, we also catch clear comprehension of things in creation that, in it-self, should have been sufficient to see such as evidence that would turn them to God and ultimately Jesus Christ.
The saddest part in what Paul says is that: “Therefore God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity… they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” There was not a “gradual” downgrade of thinking, but a violent eruption of the brain that “exchanged the truth of God for a lie”. The extent of such thinking is elaborated in the verses that follow.
It was from this chapter of Scripture that the Reformation took place. Read afresh the 17th verse. It should immediately suffice to solidify your faith in our wonderful Lord and His creation of which we discover more each day.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:17)
It is seldom in that we are not experiencing some type of a problem. It may appear to be major or minor, depending on which side of the fence we are on.
It then becomes apparent to us that the other person should jump the fence and come over to our side, and that would solve the problem. It may, and it may not! The other person may bring their problems with them, or we may move to the other side and create more problems for them.
Naturally, we both need to explore how each is thinking and why. We must also realize that “explosiveness” does not need to be the answer. It might be effective under certain circumstances, but it only creates reaction in a majority of people. If I may encourage “patient endurance” in dealing with problems, instead of disaster, I will be heading in the right direction. It may take a little longer, but will be more enduring.
Moses was leading the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. Not only had the Egyptians driven them out, but they parted company with their jewels as well. Get rid of those Israelites as fast as possible was their “battle cry”. Even wealth seemed to be a solution; it always does!
Israel headed for the Promised Land! The Red Sea seemed to be a problem as the Egyptians followed close on their heels. However, the waters parted and they crossed undamaged with the Egyptian army being destroyed.
The wilderness journey turned into a trying time and they began to grumble. It seemed as though it was Moses who had led them, and let them down. However, God was “shaping” them. Even the jewels became an idol when water and bread was not obtainable. Neither you, nor I have ever heard such grumbling as was issued against “this Moses”.
Now is the axe applied to the root! It is exemplified in the words of Psalm 106:15-“So He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.” In another version we read, “He gave them their request but sent leanness to their soul.” Was it worth the price to do it their way instead of God’s way?
There is need for changes in every age and every society, but not at the price of “leanness to the soul”. I have watched people die in “leanness” and I have watched them die with “justified pride”! I would prefer to see the latter any day of the week. Together, let us seek to do it in a God fearing, God honoring way! It starts with the simplest prayer: “Lord! Nothing but Thy will be done!”
Remember: Never accept Fat in body but Lean in soul!
It has to be an opportunity to present the Gospel when a preacher gets behind the pulpit. I sometimes sensed that the congregation might have felt that it was a monologue rather than a sermon; hopefully that was not the case, realizing that circumstances might have brought you together at an inopportune moment. Who knows?
What really catches ones attention when reading the Book of Acts and the circumstances that accompanied the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, is how objectionable it became to both Jew and Gentile.
Peter was obviously the most outspoken of the Apostles. He appeared to put his foot in his mouth constantly. As the years have passed, we feel obligated to him; he brought forth many answers from the Savior that others neglected to ask.
Peter had gone up to the housetop in which he was staying. While there he saw, as it were, a sheet come down with all kinds of four footed animals and crawling creatures, as well as birds. A voice came to him: “Peter, kill and eat!” He sensed it to be the Lord and so he said: “Lord, I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” A voice answered: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
It took the experience to happen three times before Peter had a clear understanding of God’s message to him. Finally, when the messengers from Cornelius arrived, it all added up. God saw Jew and Gentile on equal terms. Each needed the Savior, Jesus, in order to be saved. There was no difference before God! Salvation was for all men. After a night of rest, they went to the home of Cornelius, (A two day journey) who had already brought his household together to hear what Peter had to say.
First, Peter made it clear that he was not to be worshiped. Next he presented the claims of God upon the Gentiles as well as the Jews; all are equal and Jesus Christ alone is Savior… “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
This is no monologue, this is a narrowed down fact: I quote the words of Jesus from John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’.” Invite HIM to be your Savior and Lord of your life!
“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NASB)
From an unknown source:
“He became Son of Man that we might become sons of God. He came from Heaven, where winds never blow, flowers never fade. They never ‘phone for a doctor’, for there no one is ever sick. No undertakers and no graveyards for no one ever dies — no one is ever buried.
He lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He had neither wealth nor influence and had neither training nor education. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential.
In infancy He startled a king; in boyhood He puzzled the doctors; in manhood He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book, yet not all the libraries of the country could hold all the books that could be written about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme of more songs than all the songwriters combined. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. Great men have come and gone, yet He lives on. Death could not destroy Him; the grave could not hold Him.
He laid aside His purple robe for a peasant’s gown. He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor. How poor? Ask Mary! Ask the Wise Men! He slept in another’s manger. He cruised the lake in another’s boat. He rode on another man’s donkey. He was buried in another man’s tomb. All failed, but He never. The ever-Perfect One, He is the Chief among ten thousand. He is altogether lovely.”
As the “altogether lovely one”… We recommend Him to you.
Enjoying the beautiful weather that is ours this time of the year, just prior to the burning summer that will follow, we sat on our patio enjoying dinner. As usual, the birds arrived to enjoy their meal also.
You will recall how I have been frustrated on occasion watching their actions while endeavoring to gorge themselves. We acquired a new feeder that made it almost impossible for the bigger birds to dominate, allowing the finches to eat uninterrupted. The first few days we noticed that a sense of pandemonium spread through the birds; everyone wanted to get to the food and yet it was not possible. Finally, the finches discovered that the other birds could not get into the small areas set aside for them and they could remain at liberty to eat without fear. Another development was that when the finches ate, they were knocking enough seed out to feed the larger birds below.
Gradually the doves, quail and a few other species recognized that if they left the finches alone, ample food would drop for them. This seemed to work good until this evening. Some felt that they were not getting sufficient and so they spent most of their energy trying to get the other birds removed from the area so that they could enjoy the food from above. Wings were flapping in every direction as they tried to jockey for position. Oh the price of greed! The insatiable quest to be at the top of the pack and deserving of recognition was a constant struggle for some.
The longer I watched the birds, the more I realized that they were not much different than people, and this tendency is not limited to the business world. Far too frequently it surfaces in our churches and in our church boards and organizations within the assembly. The position of a disciple as servant was not limited to a suggestion by Jesus; it is an explicit command. Matthew 10:24-40 is an excellent illustration of what Jesus had to say on the subject. More is said in Matthew 19:27-30. One will find much on the subject in Romans 12 with special emphasis on the 10th verse… ”Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor”.
Over the years I have discovered that it is the little dogs that are constantly barking and snipping. You ask, “Are you insinuating…?” Right on! When one spends more effort and time promoting himself than doing the job or entrustment that God has given him, it becomes a sad commentary on Christianity.
Here is something I recently read: “A humble saint looks like a citizen of Heaven.” We all need to learn afresh that jockeying for position is not glorifying to God; it is divisive in the church and it falls into the category of, “the world, the flesh and the Devil”. I know, it is a tough subject and it is for the birds, but not for servants of the most high God.
As a child, I recall a certain fascination in standing on the first floor of the Gibbs Hill lighthouse in Bermuda and looking at the huge crack in the brick created by a hurricane in the late 1920s.
The lighthouse was constructed of cast-iron; however, the base and the first floor have seven feet of brick on the inside of the cast-iron. The brick continues for two more floors but not at that thickness.
I was taught in childhood about that hurricane that passed over the island from southwest to northeast. Later, it swept back from the northeast with increased tenacity, and it was during that time that the crack appeared in the brick. Having learned a little more about hurricanes in the ensuing years, I am prone to believe that, in actuality, the center of the storm passed directly over the Island and because of the extensiveness of the hurricane, the ensuing calm was its center. As it continued the winds would have resumed from the opposite direction. In either case, calm prevailed in the middle of that storm.
In the early 50’s, a dear friend of mine was a navigator for the U.S. Air Force. He flew in the “Hurricane Hunters” out of Bermuda. He shared often the intrigue that accompanied their entrance into a hurricane and finally reaching the center where calm prevailed. Most of us would not choose to fly into a hurricane, knowing full well the battering that must be endured before entering the calm of its center. However, we appreciate those who carry on this informative responsibility to help better prepare us for hurricanes arriving in our vicinity.
Always arresting is the calm that is centered in a hurricane. It seems almost unbelievable that in the midst of such ferocity there should be calm; but it is true! It reminds me of the hymn writer’s words: “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.” A couple of years ago, when a monster of a hurricane hit Bermuda while we were visiting, we sat around a table and played games. We had prepared everything in the home, as best possible, and, fully relaxed, we enjoyed each other’s company. It was all in God’s hands.
Prior to becoming a Christian, life was filled with storms… the biggest one being between God and myself. But then: “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) I then discovered John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” That is what He said at the beginning of the chapter and here it is repeated: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Peace in the hurricane’s center… available through the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the process of fulfilling my responsibilities, quite frequently I pass a home with a most interesting display in the front yard. There is this old wagon from another era sitting on the corner of the front yard.
As you travel through our area of the country, you run into this scene quite frequently. Perhaps people relish the dream of returning to another era of history; maybe a few of these old-timers remember some rough and tough times living in isolated parts of our country that remain as realistic as the sunrise each morning. Who knows the exact reason for a worn out wagon in the middle of a well-known retirement community?
This particular display always draws my attention because it exceeds the normal; it even sports a complete saddle from bygone years. I put one of these wheels from a wagon in the yard of one home. Quite often you will notice that many of the parts are no longer joined together, but are positioned as they would have been if they had not succumbed to time and the normal wear and tear of service.
Most obvious to these old eyes is that the hub, spokes and rim of the wheel have long since been separated one from the other.
Have you ever noticed this as a spiritual truth that bespeaks the times in which we live? I see lots of “wheels” that have become disjointed. Christ, the hub, is no longer allowed to control the spokes or the rim; it is true of churches and true of individuals. Everyone appears to be doing his own thing with fragmented periods when you are made to think that he has gotten his act together. The churches have disjointed spokes; programs abound that look as though they are joined to the hub, but closely examined they are more like pacifiers, ever helping people to think that they are the real thing. Let’s be realistic! Of what worth are those old disjointed wheels, spokes and hubs except to remind us of days when things were much better than our busyness, and businesslike approach to our service for Christ.
Some verses that have been floating in my brain are worth considering. “For in Him we live and move and exist”, (Acts 17:28) and “all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:16-18)
Let us return to the emphasis being placed on the centrality of Jesus Christ. Everything moves around HIM…Jesus!
Lying on the table in the surgical room, an assistant to the surgical doctor introduced herself. I do not recall all that was said, I was half out of it from medication.
However, I do remember these words: “I am the harvester. It describes my responsibilities. My job is to harvest some veins for Dr. Florendo to use to replace the arteries to your heart.” It was about at that point that I decided to take a nap until they had completed their fun.
Had I not been already half out of it, my attention would have probably been diverted to the “grim reaper” with his sickle or scythe cutting short my life. Thankfully, that did not cross my mind. It would have added to all the other hallucinations I endured for several days when the medications applied were reacting to this old body.
That word “harvester” has meandered through my brain on numerous occasions of recent. It was the title to our yearbook at College. Thankfully, it had a completely different connotation. In that context it carried the thought of a world without a saving faith in Jesus Christ, needing to hear the simple message of salvation. It has been my wife and my ambitions through life… tell people about Jesus; to trust the Holy Spirit to “woo them to God through His moving.”
I think often of my classmates that went to different parts of the globe to “harvest: Brazil, Liberia, Iceland, Sweden, Great Britain, The Arab community of Washington, D.C., a predominantly black community in Chicago, Jewish people around the world, New Guinea, Chile, Alaska, along with other countries. Many scattered across this country laboring faithfully, full-time or part time, to “harvest” for Christ. There were only 25 or so to graduate that year, but our group, as a whole, has been “harvesters”.
We want you to know that there is only one way to Heaven and eternity with God. It is the way He provided through His Son, Jesus. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB) Forget the idea that “all religions lead to heaven”; there is only one way and it is through the LordJesus Christ. “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35b) Believe and be saved!
That big blue “H” seems to be everywhere as we drive the highways. It is readily recognizable as an indicator of where one should be headed if in need of immediate medical attention.
From where we see it, the “H” indicates the shortest route to a hospital. When one lives in an area for a period of time, it is easy to be aware of the route to the hospital, but have no inkling that a sign is posted in particular areas.
I cannot recall as we travel that I have ever had to utilize the big “H”; never-the-less, I am aware of its existence. Sometimes, as we traveled extensive distances to preach, or just in our every day travels, I would see such signs out in the middle of nowhere, or so I thought. A check of the map would indicate that emergency medical care was on a nearby road, in an isolated town much closer than I realized.
We wonder, from a spiritual standpoint, how many people are aware of the big “H”, Holy Bible, with its simple, yet, poignant directions that would lead them to healing through the Great Physician. Many are those, some of whom I am aware of personally, have copies of The Book, but have never acknowledged their spiritual need. It contains the instructions for the only way to Heaven. Its availability and their personal need have not become solidified, in their thinking. In fact, it is like the signs that exist around our communities, of which we are no longer aware.
Have you given much thought to your spiritual trouble? Are you uncomfortable with the knowledge that your sin has separated you from God? You should be! Eternity is in contrast with the 70 plus years that we spend on this old terra firma. The Holy Bible has been given as a directive to God. Jesus said: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Those are strong non-debatable words from God incarnate.
Narrow it down to this; to come to God, we must acknowledge our need (Romans 3:23); we must acknowledge that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19); with head and heart we must acknowledge His love and reciprocate with our love (1 John 4:19).
The signs are there. Help is available. The Great Physician beckons and awaits your arrival. “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A friend of ours of Hawaiian descent was the recipient of a telephone call, informing her that a sister had just suffered a major heart attack, and it was questionable concerning her survival.
If you have experienced such an encounter, you can well imagine the mental turmoil of those succeeding hours. You are in Arizona and your sister is in Hawaii. Your family is close knit, and therefore there are telephone calls in every direction to keep all abreast of what is taking place with the patient and the family.
Decisions must be made hastily; airline tickets booked, and packing arranged for short or long-term stays. At home, things must be arranged for your house and its maintenance while you are absent. Finally, you are in route to her bedside, but there is the anxiously wondering whether she will survive or not; in particular whether she will be alive when you arrive.
The family begins to arrive from various locations. While individuals have been praying for the heart attack patient, it is agreed that corporate prayer would be important to her recovery. However, it is further agreed that, according to Hawaiian custom, there should first be a searching of each soul and, if anything were amiss in the family, it should be confessed and forgiven, or God would not hear their prayers. An emotional time followed as family problems were dealt with. In some cases, things were dealt with that had not even been known to each other previously. Now, and only now, it was time for that corporate prayer.
There was concerted prayer, and God saw fit to answer it with a touch of His healing power. Two months later, I had the joy of meeting this lady who had flown to Arizona to celebrate her mother’s seventy-fifth birthday. A celebration with multiplied rewards of physical healing, spiritual healing within the family, and Mom having reached this stage of life.
Through all of this, my mind and heart continually reverted to the Book of James. In the fifth chapter we read some important teachings about prayer. How about the 9th verse… ”Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” Then there is the 13th through the 16th verses where sin must be dealt with if healing is to be experienced. Do not get caught up in the oil being olive, 3 in 1, or 10/40, the oil of the Holy Spirit is most important to the occasion. His presence will suffice and be experienced when sin has been dealt with. “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Well! Was this a “Hawaiian custom” or a Biblical principle adapted so beautifully by the Hawaiian Christians? Has this little story created a resolve in your own heart?
Traffic was at a “crawl”; “the good old days” of driving up Grand Avenue with one lane in each direction, without much by way of interruption, has long gone.
This snail pace because of development all around us has become a gigantic problem that worsens each day. Since boredom set in, I began reading all of the license plates, bumper stickers and window decals; one of them caught my eye: “God answers knee mail.”
I said to myself: “I wish I could have thought of something like that!” Some people have a way of projecting a thought with clarity and challenge in just a few words. This one seemed to incorporate an entire sermon into four words.
The mind traversed more than half a century when we were kneeling to pray beside old home-made benches in the Evangelical Church in Bermuda. In those days, Prayer Meetings were conducted on our knees. Just as quickly, my mind went to an Evangelical United Brethren Church in Milton, PA in 1955. I had gone there to preach. When it came time for the “pastoral prayer” in Sunday Morning Worship, the entire congregation went to their knees to pray. In another preaching engagement in a Pentecostal Assembly, I was asked to lead in prayer. We all gathered at the front, on our knees, and prayed. Each of these experiences left an indelible impression in my mind and heart.
Here I was on Grand Ave being made aware of the blessedness of bowing the knee before our Wonderful Lord. True, the words were a play on e-mail, but they were coming through loud and clear… we need to, if possible, get down on our knees and do business with God. Encompassed in that act is a demonstration of subservience to the Almighty.
I am oft reminded of the old deacon, addressing the young man being considered for pastor of their church. The young man asked: “How big a man do you want?” to which the deacon replied: “We want a man who, on his knees, can reach heaven.”
The bended knee is often repeated in Scripture. In Philippians 2:9-10, we read: “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Wouldn’t it be more sensible to here and now bend the knee before the Almighty in humility rather than to be forced to do so in eternity future?
The fact that a hypnotist would be performing and we would have opportunity to observe him in action got my attention. Patsy and I agreed that we could use the hour advantageously in some fashion later.
I had read books on the subject of hypnosis, so it was not without a little knowledge that we exercised our option to be in attendance. Its dangers and its benefits have found room to exercise my brain from time to time.
The hypnotist spent time explaining the “what and how” of his procedures. He also explained how the people in the audience could avoid being hypnotized. Finally, he explained how some of those selected would be especially good subjects while others would have to be removed from the “game”.
Twelve people immediately volunteered. In fact, many more made the mad dash to the platform; only twelve found chairs. It was hard to comprehend the simplicity of the technique applied and the abruptness with which these folk went “under”. Ultimately, four had to be removed with two being replaced by people from the audience who had become hypnotized. We wanted to believe that this was a show and that the people had been prepped; however, as a suggestion made minutes before was performed simultaneously, you knew that this was legitimate.
There was an enormous amount of responses… from the sublime to the ridiculous, all under the control of the hypnotist. The ages of those involved were varied. We spent some time with one of the participants later who had acted out being Elvis. He had been hypnotized many times prior to this for medical reasons. He remembers nothing of his antics except, that when he came out of the state, he was standing before hundreds of people and thought himself to be addressing a realtor’s convention.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, God brought to my mind a verse of Scripture from Romans 6… ”Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) The entire chapter of Romans 6 deals with the subject regarding whose servant we belong and to what extreme does a master exert control over your life?
That is a pointed question for all of us. We either submit ourselves to Christ as His servants, or, we become the servant’s of sin and of the devil. For instance, verse 20 speaks of “slaves of sin”, whereas the 22nd verse speaks of being “enslaved to God”. Personally, I have enough trouble keeping my mind on track for God and His Word without abandoning it to someone else to manipulate.
The unsaved person, and perhaps you may be such a one, needs to recognize that the brain is being manipulated by Satan. Rather, he needs to yield it up in subservience to the God of all eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ. In so doing, you will be “freed from sin, and became the slaves of righteousness”; like those folk to whom Paul refers in Romans 6:18.
“Basil Cell Carcinoma”; if you have to have cancer, it is the best type to have.” That was the way my doctor described it. If your doctor is your friend, and it is aggressive, you are blessed in yet another way.
The specialist said: “Let’s shoot for 99% effective versus 85% effective.” The surgeon said: “You are young and I want the procedure to look as good as possible. I will remove it and the plastic surgeon will repair it the following day.” The plastic surgeon said: “We meet again.” (He had repaired my hand ten years earlier following an accident.) “I will determine the procedure when I see the end result of the micrographic surgery.”
As I sat in the chair for the surgery, they covered every exposed area, save that small area of the nose to be treated. The needles isolated the area to pain and in a few minutes the job was completed. The process of waiting to see if a further surgery is needed took almost two hours. I returned to the repeated process to isolate the problem and remove it. This time they added support within the nose. Throughout the procedure every effort was made to never extend beyond what was mandatory.
It was the day following and the plastic surgeon quickly removed the bandage just as I was ready for surgery. In seconds his decision was made. Again I experienced all of the thoughtfulness that could be exerted, but the thing that caught my attention was that all of the other things were secondary to the primary. The ears and eyes were protected, the arms were made comfortable, a pillow was placed under the knees, a warm blanket was in place and I was ready for the hour and half surgery. Everything was focused and isolated to a remedial correction of a sick-looking situation.
There it is! This illustration is paramount to all of this. When Jesus talked about forgiveness in Matthew 18, He endeavored to utilize the idea of focused, isolated, and remedial. In 1 Corinthians, Paul dealt with the problems and narrowed them to necessity. You disclose to whom and what is mandatory. If it is broadened, it is because of the individual’s refusal to follow Scriptural principles.
Personal sin should be dealt with personally before you arrive at “The Table of the Lord”. (Chapter 11) Don’t exploit a problem, even at the pretense of “praying for the situation”. My doctors never let other weaknesses of the body detract them from the cancerous and remedial problem that they set out to correct.
As one reviews the Gospels, we are made aware of a few times when our Lord went up onto the mountain to find solitude.
As one reviews the Gospels, we are made aware of a few times when our Lord went up onto the mountain to find solitude. He was exhausted from the heaviness of crowds that constantly came to Him with their problems; be they physical, mental, filial, or spiritual. These had to have been burdensome! That type of exposure is not dumped from the mind easily.
Think with me on Luke 6:12 for just a moment. He did not have a “home” to which he could retreat, or a closet on which He might close the door. What might appear to be a problem was isolating himself in a manner that the crowds did not follow. There on that mountain He prayed! You might wonder “why should the second part of the Triune God pray”? In coming to earth, He condescended to the likeness of human flesh. In that process Jesus exposed himself to every weakness of mankind and felt the need of constant communion with the Father. His destiny was determined. He would become the perfect substitute for mankind by offering himself as a sin offering to the Father. He communed with God the Father for strengthening that he would never be deterred from His destiny. We cannot help but be reminded of the particular statement He made from the Cross—“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
In the process of “taking a rest”, we speed off to our toys, to our other toys, and figuratively, we leave God behind. We “huff and puff” about the problems we encounter en-route; our toys have problems and we invariably arrive at home, having concluded: “I will not do that again.” Next week—repeat performance! Did we rest? Who are you kidding?
If you went to the mountain and spent the weekend communing with the Lord, your profiting would be obvious to you, your family, and your friends! You would have thought I was important. My daughter, a gem of gems, made all the arrangements, took me to the airport, checked me in, arranged a wheel-chair, picked my seat and checked that “the package” had arrived in Texas.
My niece and her husband provided superb accommodations for an entire week, and my sister and I talked, and talked, about things of yesteryear, and of course our relationship to the Lord.
Then, there was much time for prayer and study of the Scriptures!!
The trip back home was perfect! Everything was arranged as per Cathy’s instructions, with her and Cris meeting me at the airport. An excellent Mountain Top experience! If Jesus needed a “rest”, how much more we need one! My friend said: “Leave on Monday and return on Friday and you avoid the crowds.” While that is an excellent instruction, make sure you Go to the Mountain and refresh your soul in time spent with the Lord!
One of our returns to my homeland, the Island of Bermuda, produced much by way of reflection. As the plane began its descent, the Captain announced the arrival time in Bermuda to be in approximately thirty minutes.
As the minutes slipped by, we were aware of the color changes in the ocean. We viewed the reefs with the waves rolling over them causing patches of white water. We heard the undertow of exclamations from passengers viewing it all for the first time, and were reminded afresh of what those reefs represent to this Island paradise.
Over the years, hundreds of boats and ships have perished in their endeavor to maneuver through the reefs. Many a pleasant day has ended in tragedy when all maneuvering was to no avail.
In contrast, as children, we swam around the reefs and enjoyed the marine life in its entire splendor. We sensed a feeling of protection during World War II. Certainly the location of the forts on the Island testify to the fact that the early settlers enjoyed a similar feeling with the reefs producing a natural safeguard to the island.
Jesus Christ is the “Comforter” spoken of in John 14, the bearer of heavy laden in Matthew 11:28, and love epitomized in John 15:13. (There are hosts of other terms used throughout Scripture that describe His love toward lost mankind). In contrast, He is also the One who declared that He came to bring judgment, a sword, and condemnation to a world who rejected Him. (John 9:39; Matthew 10:34)
Christ can and will be a HAZARD to those “outside” the encompassing of His love… those who reject the gift of His salvation. However, He is a HAVEN to those, who in faith, trust Him as Savior and acknowledge His blood as the only protection for eternity.
I have many dear friends in Bermuda, my place of birth a few years back. Among them have been Joel and Jane Madeiros. Their home has been our home whenever we return. Jane went “home” to be with the Lord, and I returned for her funeral.
At the funeral I mentioned how Jane always prepared a “Sponge Cake” for our visit. Hers were “the best”. On our last visit together, prior to her “home going”, she expressed disappointment in “the finished product”. I can guarantee that it was far from anything noticeable to me, and I made sure it was consumed before it obtained any indication of age.
After some disclosure of her discontent, she exclaimed: “It had to be the eggs! I always use duck eggs, but there was none available.”
If you fall into the category of being an extraordinary chef, you can understand her feeling. The duck eggs are bigger and the taste is definitely different.
Where in the world am I going with all of this? Some of us embrace Christ as Savior, but fail to reach beyond the “life ring” status; whereas the Scriptures give clear indication that we should move on to “maturity” level.
Inasmuch as we are “partakers of the divine nature”, Peter continues in his second Epistle, (1:4) and the verses that follow, “applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (1:5-9)
The years slip by, but I notice that there is always room for lots and lots of improvement. I accept the challenge and will be pursuing the goals, plus others, that Peter set forth.
In addition to the Scriptures, I can hear Jane saying: “It had to be the eggs!”
We cannot help but notice people who carry massive numbers of keys hanging from their belt. I sometimes think how amazing it is that they are not bent to one side with the weight. I know that often the one key I need is the one that I do not possess or it has been misplaced momentarily.
After having some keys made at the locksmith recently, I noticed that several keys failed to work properly. Placing the new key next to the original I compared them and was initially convinced that they were identical. I became more critical of the comparison and suddenly there emerged the problem. The shoulders of the keys were ever so slightly different. To me it appeared insignificant but I went back to the locksmith. A long discussion ensued and he assured me that it should not make any difference because the key on the Titan lock worked off of the shoulder that hit the tumbler first. The key was accurate for the lock into which I was placing it.
When we hit a snag like this it makes us feel like an idiot because we are the laymen not the professional. Nevertheless, I suggested that the locksmith cut the shoulder the 32nd of an inch and we would see if it worked. Reluctantly he made the cut. When I tried it in the lock, it was obvious that what was insignificant was actually a major problem. This time it worked perfectly.
A deceased friend had a program called: WORD KEYS THAT UNLOCK THE SCRIPTURES. Dr. Spencer recognized how significant each word was that had been embraced as “Inspired of God”. As I familiarized myself with his studies, it became ever so much easier to understand passages of Sacred Writ.
To unlock the beautiful truths of God’s Word, let us remember first, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NASB) Faith in God and faith in the Bible as His communication to us is essential. It is out of it that we find that list just quoted put into practice, making the keys to a fulfilling life.
God and His Word are “adequate” when used as the keys to every situation in life. Likewise, they make us “adequate”. Key in on these truths! Life in the present and in eternity will become more meaningful — more enjoyable.
I shared with my wife how the snowstorm, fog, and ice had left my hunting pal and I stranded on a lake thirty miles from the highway in Alaska’s interior;
how when we left, we took off from the lake going in a circle on one pontoon breaking a thin layer of ice. Her immediate question was, “Weren’t you afraid?” I replied: “I was in capable hands.”
That type of experience had been my lot on numerous occasions while pastoring and doing missionary work in Alaska. It had caused me to say often, “I would rather be in the hands of the “bush pilots” under crash-conditions than in the hands of a normal pilot under routine conditions.” I honestly felt that way.
Another time, we were flying a 185 Cessna over the Wrangell Mountains and preparing for a descent into the crater of the volcano when observation of our altimeter suggested that we might reconsider. The arrow indicated swift ascent and then descent; the blowing snow on nearby Mount Drum clearly indicated questionable weather conditions for such a descent into the mouth of the crater. A quick calculation indicated we were virtually acting like an elevator at that point… no forward progress, just straight up and straight down. I could honestly say that knowing the “bush pilots” experience, I never felt uncomfortable or concerned for “I was in capable hands.”
Many has been the varied experiences of life that has placed me in sometimes “capable” and sometimes “in-capable” hands. Yet, I have always felt as a Christian, “I am incapable Hands.” That assurance comes out of verses like: “My times are in thy hand…” (Psalm 31:15) or John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever “.
Traveling the highway north and preparing for a visit with folk that I had not seen for several months, I came suddenly upon a large mark in the highway, immediately identifiable as a place where a large animal, probably a deer or steer, had been hit by a vehicle.
My mind was reflecting on the possibilities from that encounter when I saw a second such marking, expanding those possibilities.
By now I was in gear, thinking of the near misses over the years — caribou, moose, and deer. It was not until later that I realized I had thought little about the smaller animals that had succumbed to my vehicle as I traveled across our country — rabbits, a snow owl, numerous other birds, two dogs, and obviously some I had long forgotten. I found myself asking why some seemed so significant and others not so? Was it the size of the animal that added impact to my experience or had allowed me to all but forget some of the “smaller” incidents along the highways?
Life’s highway seems filled with experiences that are significant, or more significant, than some of the encounters that are long forgotten. We seem to identify them according to the effect, or near effect, on us personally. Somehow we do not think in terms of the effect on others that might fit into the reverse category. The idea that the rabbit had little ones left without a mother drifts to obscurity as the fact that the deer antler left my truck marked down the entire side.
Most of our lives have “scars” left from the “thuds” and impacts somewhere along the way. Some we live with day by day because they are indelibly implanted in obvious places. Some are hidden deeply enough that they are known about only on a personal level and seem to effect only “me” as an individual. Some are looked upon as lessons learned, but all of them are “scars”.
In one way or another, the “scars” of sin affect us. Sure, I have experienced the forgiveness of God and know that He holds it against me no more. But, those past experiences and encounters continue to hold a psychological, physical, emotional, tinge of the past that harasses others and me. When they plague me, I have but one recourse — go back to the Lord in prayer and remind Him and myself that they are “nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O, my soul.” (P.P. Bliss)
So, with no better mirror for the soul than the Word of God, it is imperative that I look into its pages for dealing with the “scars” of my past that will always have impact on my “present”. I turn to Psalm 51. Our compassionate God confirms His cleansing power and creates in me a clean heart. He converts others as a result of my forgiven past and uses my scars to keep my heart contrite.
Now and again you hear a story that seems too perfect to believe. However, the element of truth springs forward in your thinking like an athlete on a trampoline.
This one came from a group of guys, sitting around a fire, eating their lunch. “Last night my son and I were in a heated discussion. He left and ascended the staircase only to return shortly with suitcase in hand. ‘Dad, I am leaving this house. I cannot live here under your orders. Goodbye!’”
The heart-broken father looked his son in the eye and said: “Take off your jacket and leave it. I paid for it.” The process continued as the father made claim to the suitcase and clothing. Finally, the young man looked at his father and said: “Dad, you are hopeless!” With that, he gathered everything and ascended the steps to his room.
With so many young people returning to live with their parents, one has to wonder if they ever intend to become sufficiently mature to accept the responsibilities that accompany adult status. Just who was “hopeless” in the a-fore mentioned story?
My thinking spins to the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He had everything he needed or even in that economy, deserved. Yet his greed sent him on the downward path. The heavy-hearted Father could have said: “You are on your own!” Instead he gives him his portion and waits patiently!
The story of the young man is spelled out for us as he heads to the “slop kettle”. He is finally humbled! The young man squandered it all… and left destitute he heads home, content to become a laborer under his father.
Meanwhile, back home, obviously the father is ever waiting; eyes glued on the horizon. The question is not “if”, but “when” will the young man return. From the reaction of the other son, there is little question in my mind that the subject was ever discussed.
There is rejoicing, great rejoicing, at the young man’s return. Few are those who understand the individual’s turmoil in such a situation. The most exciting thing possible has taken place. The other son does not fully comprehend the moment! Mixed emotions are present as to what the future holds; but at that moment, what matters is the Father is saying: “My son has returned!” May I put it in perspective: My son walked up the staircase!
Recently I had my ire aroused by what I consider statements on the fringe of Idolatry; and perhaps, actual idolatry.
While helping a friend with a problem, a visitor who says he too is a Christian, arrived on the scene. We were introduced and my friend made it a point to share with the visitor a little about our ministry of helping small churches and keeping the website operating. They continued their conversation and I my chore.
My friend, who has been through trying experiences of recent with his son being injured, has done exceptionally well in trusting the Lord throughout this time. He remains confident that God is going to do something special in all of his family as a result of this accident. As he sang in church last week, my heart was especially blessed, knowing all of this background.
As the conversation progressed, my antennae locked in. The visitor asked: “Has your son been listening to Christian radio or TV?” My friend: “I really do not know for certain.” Visitor: “What he really needs is to listen to [a particular Network].” My friend: “If he listens to anything in the area in which he is located, it would probably be [a different Network].” Visitor: “If he would listen to [such and such], he wouldn’t even have to read his Bible, the Scriptures anymore.”
I was aghast to believe that this was coming from a brother in Christ. Needless to say, I could no longer contain myself. With firmness I began: “My brother, I am appalled to think that you actually believe a man or a woman to whom you listen is above and beyond the Scriptures.” He made his defense, which by now had me irritated beyond measure. I do not recall all that ensued, but he was not long in bidding his goodbye.
There appears to be an awful lot of “people worship” in Christian circles these days, to the extent that believers, irrespective of what the Scriptures teach, are sufficiently ignorant to believe their teachings above the Word of God. It is time for us to get back to passages like 2 Peter 3:17-18 (NASB):
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
It is not modern-day man but the Scriptures that are God breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Some time back, the ladies of the family… my wife, daughter, and two of my granddaughters, went on a shopping trip at a group of outlet stores. When they arrived home that evening, everyone had to show off their wares.
At the close of the session, our older granddaughter, with eyes wide and a look of extreme satisfaction said, “Poppy! It was like Heaven!”
With my lack of appreciation about shopping, I am glad that she was not accurate in that regard. However, it is with confidence that I await the moment of entrance into Heaven, for there I shall be satisfied.
Heaven has been described as “the abode of God” (Deuteronomy 26:15) as well as the future home of the saints. It is a place where the redeemed of all nations shall be assembled. (Revelation 7:9 & 21:1) It is built by the hand of God. (2 Corinthians 5:1 and Colossians 1:5) It is described as containing the “tree of life”, the place where we store treasures, a place of many mansions, and multiplied other phrases depict the essence of the ultimate.
Most importantly is that Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Those invited to occupy it, and those who will be present there, are those who have given positive response to the one who is seated there, at the right hand of the Father. (John 14:2)
Everything that I know of today is limited by the finite. There everything will be in the infinite. Because of our limitations in comprehending that sphere of reality, God promises a “glorified body” that will not have the restraints currently embracing us. However, access is limited to those who are obedient to His commandments. (Revelation 22:14) This, then, is your invitation to renounce your sin and, by faith, accept Him as your Savior. You, too, can look forward to your Heavenly home.
A relaxing evening seemed ideal. It had been hot and humid and the forecast was for monsoon weather and thunderstorms across the valley. As I stood on the patio, it was obvious that this was not going to be “run of the mill” dust storm.
It was picking up momentum rapidly; the wind was increasing, and as it moved through, we were now being deluged with rain. It was exciting to be able to take it all in without so much as a drop of water on my clothing.
As the storm subsided I shared with my wife concerning the quickness with which the birds had returned following the storm. As we conversed, the phone rang. That same storm had poured hail on an area not far from us and major damage had resulted. The lady was deeply concerned because her skylights had been severely damaged and there was nothing to stop further water from continuing to pour in. With tarps in tow, I was on my way.
She was not alone as dozens of skylights had been damaged, patio roofs had been completely removed, windows were broken, screens were torn out, and trees and branches were strewn everywhere. Rushing to beat another advancing storm, with lightning all around, I still felt compelled to stop for a moment and look at the large amount of hail that still remained in the area. At the first home I could have shoveled buckets full.
Recalling a storm in Northern Minnesota in the spring of 1976, I studied the difference in the types of hail. There I had picked up some hail the size of tennis balls. It had splattered more than these ice-cubes. These had appeared to be more like one-half to three-quarter inch pieces of gravel. The damage was significant to say the least.
As a child, sitting in our home and watching a hailstorm in progress, I was hit by a piece of a fuse that came from our electrical meter area. It never slowed up my fascination to sit in the midst of storms. There was such an abundance of hail on that occasion that we picked it up, poured syrup over it, and enjoyed our own “natural snow cones”.
Most of the verses of Scripture that use the word “hail” appear in the 9th chapter of Exodus. God used that judgment to bring Pharaoh to his knees. The devastation was so great that it got the attention of an entire nation. It was not the only judgment, but it was one of ten that God used in freeing His people.
The final judgments to be dealt on this earth will include earthquakes and “hail”. (Revelation 8:7; 11:19; 16:20, 21)
We saw how a few minutes of hail could upset a community, and how the “vultures” of humanity can play upon hurts of others by charging exorbitant fees and raising the level of their fears. We have witnessed how people can “justify” much higher costs if insurance is involved. It was a pleasure and joy to assure them that we do business as unto the Lord and our principles remain unchanged from day to day.
I am reminded that the storms of life can be enjoyed by one and endured by another, and that the distances between blessing and judgment are but a step at most. Nothing can touch us without His approval. His love is “new every morning” and this being “the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”.
The other evening I was stretched out on my bed reading The Book of Numbers.
One begins reading, and immediately encounters that statement: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of Egypt…” As you read on you cannot help but notice that phrase occurs about 50 times in the Book… approximately 50 times in 40 years.
I am conscious that God approaches us in the Person of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with His promise in John 14, 15, 16, along with other portions of the Word. I am reminded often of my wife’s words—“God speaks to us through the Scriptures, He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, and He speaks to us in giving opportunities and peace as we seek His will!” To these words we found agreement as to what, when, and where we ministered.
In the midst of the walk that Moses had with the Lord, we catch the phrase, “in the wilderness of Sinai”. God had spoken to Moses previously, but these experiences in “the wilderness of Sinai” continued throughout their forty years of trekking one day, one footstep at a time. Sometimes he had to go up the Mountain of Sinai to be refreshed and get new or renewed instructions. He needed a break from the pressures of leadership. I notice that he always came back with a glow on his face, except when he was greeted with a boisterous group of partiers worshiping a golden calf.
There is not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ who has not been through a jaunt in the wilderness. Further, we have all encountered experiences of disappointment from ourselves or others, and need some refreshment from the Lord on a personal, “You and Me Lord!” basis. Who in the world are we listening to or for? He has something personal for our need or needs.
The Book of Numbers may seem somewhat boring as compared with the Book of Acts, or some other portion of Scripture. However, there are many “seed thoughts” just waiting for yours and my attention.
Always, until He welcomes us home in the Promised Land! Ted
Those words “jumped out” of the 14th verse of Romans 1; at least that is how they appeared to me during my reading of that chapter of the Word of God.
The Lord Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit would be sent, and that His disciples would experience a whole new relationship to God the Father, through Him, once He descended and took up residence in them. Acts 2 solidified that promise!
In Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9), God not only touched him relative to his salvation, but He impressed upon him that He would become entrusted to share His message to the Gentile world of that day. Paul, when speaking to Felix, Agrippa and Bernice, (Acts 26) rehearsed to them concerning that experience and how God had impressed upon him how he would be sent to the Gentiles, and before such people as themselves, the people would have their eyes opened “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, and they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in ME.” (26:18)
We need to catch afresh Romans 1:14 how God does not beckon us to Himself to sit in a rocking chair and be waited on, but He brings with salvation, an “obligation” of responsibility of service. He not only gave that responsibility to the apostle, but God sent him to minister to the people that he most literally despised. In fact, as he was sent to Rome and encountered one “mishap” or the other he could say to those on a ship in a storm tossed ocean, we will all be saved because God has given me a mission that will eventuate in my presenting the message of salvation to Caesar “Do not be afraid Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.” (Acts 27:24)
The depth of that “obligation” never ceased in the mind of the Apostle! He saw with clarity what he related to the church, in the opening words of Romans, He was a “bond-servant” of Jesus Christ”.
As we read through the Scriptures and discover their accuracy and survival through the ages, I pause prayerfully, and ask God to alert us afresh to our personal obligation to HIM and to a world in need of HIM! Let us not be deterred from that entrustment, but rather, let it melt our hearts in obedience.
There has to be something meaningful in this Corona-virus contagion! That was my thinking in the middle of the night. Gradually, it began to unfold one step at a time.
With all of the churches having to close their doors to the general public, no matter their size, popularity, or extensive outreach, they became the victims of a virus generated under questionable circumstances. One of the early reports noted that it will affect the contributions in a most devastating fashion and that pastors will take a major “hit”. In the event that they are serving the Lord and not tied to a business operation under a religious flag, God has made a promise that exceeds anything that our Government can envision. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Back to my midnight reflections! A study of the Book of Acts confirms that those twelve disciples knew what it was to proclaim Christ. They also knew what it was to have experiences with small groups of people, as well as multiplied thousands. Their “orders from headquarters” was clear cut: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
A most interesting aspect of their ministry had been to travel with Jesus into that immediate area of the world and then to recall what they had heard and put it into action. One of the things that is recorded that they heard was this: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20) The corona-virus has forced, especially families, to be confined to their homes. Naturally, it has become a method that God would have us reflect upon. Hopefully I can achieve that from my midnight and later reflections.
It is being reported nation-wide, and in other nations, that more “family feuds” have forced law-enforcement to spend far more time trying to get “peace” restored in homes than previously. Most of the problems have involved money.
Instead of all this fighting and bickering, think about the opportunity that we have to follow the advice of the Savior. Gather the family together and spend some time in a “two or three” situation. Read the Scripture and reflect upon what God is saying in His Word, the Holy Bible! Start with Psalm 23, follow it with John 1 and then chapter by chapter daily. Discuss it to the best of your ability and then pray together…each one individually!
Make corona-virus profitable for you and your family! Never forget: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
In our modern society it is called “music”, and for that reason I find little reason to enjoy what comes over the airwaves. I gave up listening to it about the time Elvis was singing “You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog”.
My wife, who was a extraordinary musician, had said so often: “I am glad that we are at the end of our ministry and not the beginning!” That “off- beat” does not lend itself to “quality”, rather, it lends itself to frustration in the mind of the listener to which our psychic is not attuned! That is why it has been found that Care centers have found that soft quality music lends itself to less care and medication than “modern mayhem”.
While reading the account of the people of Israel and the “golden calf” in Exodus 32, I found many interesting facts. Moses had gone up the mountain with Joshua and the people below said to Aaron, after 40 days, “this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” They had lost sight of God’s leadership through “this man” Moses.
God had already told Moses what to expect when he descended from the mountain, but it was Joshua who heard the noise and thought it to be “war in the camp”. Moses knew immediately that it was “dancing…the sound of singing”. It was worship of the “golden calf”. Two godly men with different interpretations of what was taking place! Then there was Aaron making excuses as to why and how it had developed; he lied to Moses and Joshua and to himself. Try as they might, one cannot justify themselves for such bedlam that derived out of those ill fated developments.
Moses got to the bottom of it all. The anger of his younger years surfaced, and he not only sought God’s forgiveness and intercession on behalf of Israel, but he melted the golden calf, put it in the water and made them drink it.
Leadership can be a blessing or a blunder. With Aaron, at that moment it became a major blunder. His thinking was erroneously guided by people’s thinking, the majority no longer sought the leadership of Moses; “this man Moses” who had led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, around the city of Jericho, had disappeared. Forty days can make an awful difference…from hero to villain.
Folks, the future holds some uncertain times for which we are ill prepared that will surface ultimately, and the price of our embellishments, and approvals, will be costly! Recall what I say so often: “Reaction is basically negative! Response if basically positive!
It is not without the providence of God that this subject follows upon the “two or three” message from Christ. In fact, it all turns into one unfolding message!
Jesus had spoken in the 15th and verses that follow concerning forgiveness. Failure to deal with a matter means very simply that it will be dealt with in eternity future. Imagine having to deal with something in heaven because it was not dealt with here. (v18)
All of this leads up to Peter asking: “How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him; Up to seven times?” I have to assume that Peter had something bothering him to have sought such an answer. Because of the question, “seven times”, it appears that in his thinking, it was most significant.
Jesus uses this opportunity to present a timely message to all listening, and of course, to Peter in particular. In effect, He gradually unfolds a telltale truth. While they are thinking this over in their minds, they are all probably thinking on the level that relates to earth, Christ answers Peter’s question from the standpoint of Heaven.
Read these words carefully: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) If our thinking is earthly, we might probably think with Peter “I have forgiven this man over and over; perhaps I am encouraging him in his behavior.” Then again, would it be to answer in a Christ like fashion, knowing all the while that it is recorded in Heaven?
In its simplest understanding of the Scriptural setting before us, we need to keep focused. It is necessary to approach each situation with the attitude that Sheldon used in his book: “What Would Jesus Do?” I certainly want others to forgive me, thus it behooves me to FORGIVE!
One cannot look at Calvary without being reminded of the words of our Savior: “Father! Forgive them for they know not what they do!” We only know the power of FORGIVENESS and its appropriate application when we comprehend those words of the Savior on Calvary!
(By the way, have you taken time to read our book …Forever Forgiven and Forgiving on our Website?)
I watch the morning news as they pour over the “events” of the previous night and the morning traffic.
Without the advertising of the lawyers they would probably have been off the air a long time ago. In this modern society, where would we be without the lawyers?
There is a recorded encounter of Jesus and a lawyer found in Luke 10, beginning at verse 25 and continuing through verse 37. In the eyes of those who heard this discussion, Dr. Luke in particular, this lawyer was adapt at his profession. Obviously, he was prepared in his thinking, not for a moment did he feel he was going to lose his case.
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (I will get to the full answer shortly.) We are on the wrong wave if we think that we can out-think the Lord Jesus! While that lawyer knew his law books and was assured in his thinking of the answer, Jesus knew all about him and his practice and led him into the trap that he had set for himself.
The lawyer answered correctly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” However, he felt that he needed a choice morsel on his trap.
Jesus told the story of a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho who was robbed and beaten and left for half dead. “By chance”, a priest passed by and a Levite crossed the road but both refrained from assisting. Along came a Samaritan, (Remember that he was hated by the Jews.) He cared for the man, taking him under his wing, (That is what that word includes), took him to an inn, paid the bill and promised more when he returned. That “by chance” was actually “a weaving together”. Then Jesus asks simply: “And who was his neighbor?”
The lawyer answers, incriminating himself: “The one who showed mercy!”
We talk a lot about loving and caring, but it is a Samaritan’s heart that gives evidence of our obedience to fulfilling the law of Christian conduct.
This period, in which we have been living, the corona virus has been one of the greatest opportunities to show “and who is my neighbor”. I have been favorably impressed with the availability of a special group of folk throughout our country who have seen a “stranger on the street”, and responded to their need. I have also seen the opposite by some.
That lawyer left the presence of Christ and “headed home” having to re-think what we possess, those sixty-six books called, THE HOLY BIBLE, and its Author, JESUS CHRIST!
Anyone can probably recognize that as a nation, we are divided! Yet, we continue to follow a course of ultimate destruction with no obvious intent to “mend our ways!” Unless we apply the brakes, like other nations that have preceded us, we will experience a catastrophe that is unequaled in History! Reading the account of Jesus casting out a demon, (Luke 11:14-26) is like re-reading yesterday’s newspapers or “exploring” the internet.
Jesus is “casting out a demon” and “everyone gets on board” with their opinions. Some are excited; some accuse Him of doing it with the power of “Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons”. Another wants to test Him, “demanding of Him a sign from heaven”.
Because Jesus knew their thoughts He said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls”. He rebukes them of their accusation being so radical as to destroy itself. There are guards in his house, but a stronger man can come and overtake that one. Ultimately, the unclean spirit returns with seven other spirits and “the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
Continuing to read the entire content of the story, the direct reference is to Israel. Contextually analyzed it is a warning to them of their ultimate rejection of Him and its cost to them.
For us, the same principle applies. Either we deal with the corruption that has besieged us; or we pay the price. There is light and there is darkness. The light of the world is Jesus… He goes on to say: “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” Each day is currently more corrupt than the day before! Never forget that morals cannot be purchased. I can hear John the baptizer heralding out the message that needs repeating today: “MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BE MADE STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH; AND ALL FLESH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF God.’”(V4-6 of Luke 3) He did not stop with that quote from Isaiah the prophet; He continued to speak to the crowds that wanted to be baptized by him: “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid to the root of the trees…” (To verse 9)
I have to believe we are approaching a moment of severe judgment and should expect destruction, even to that within our own families. Then comes the ultimatum: “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. “ (v20) The King came and was rejected, but what shall we do now? Repent of our sin, acknowledge Him as our Savior, and serve Him until He calls us home.
Over the years I have been tempted, like so many others, (you included) to quit that in which I was engaged. I have heard the oft repeated phrase from the old devil, Satan or his associates, “Is it worth it?”
Two things usually are dumped in my lap for consideration. The first is a poem to whom I cannot give credit because I have never been able to solidify the author.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you are trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh
When the devil is getting you down a bit,
Rest if you must—but never quit.
Life is queer, with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometime learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out;
Stick to your task, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with one more blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver lining of the clouds of doubt –
And you never can tell how near you are,
It may be close when it seems afar;
So trust God’s Word when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
The second came when I was reading the Book of Ephesians, Chapter 6, in J.B. Phillips translation, “Letters to Young Churches”, right after its publication in 1952.
“We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE FOUGHT TO A STANDSTILL YOU MAY STILL STAND YOUR GROUND. Take your stand with Truth as your belt, Righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of Peace firmly on your feet, Salvation as your helmet and in your hand the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take Faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.”
My friends: Take heart! When you have fought to a standstill, KEEP FIGHTING!
I think often of how much evil possibilities boils in the hearts of men and gradually materializes into action. We understand the reason behind it when we read: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) If for one moment we are akin to believing that man is not moving with greater intensity toward corruption we are fooling ourselves and living in a world of our own make-believe. Read or listen to the news each morning, for there you will find confirmation of what we read in the early chapters of Romans.
One of our problems is that we want so much to believe that with all of our “learning”, things are improving. However the righteousness, which we see in God is a revealer of the sinfulness of man or the unrighteousness of man. The contrast is so evident that the description given in Romans 1:20 is that even a consideration of that which has been made leaves no excuse.
Corruption abounds in the form of men made gods and the impurities of men and women using their bodies in dishonorable fashions totally unnatural to normal functions for which they pay a price, “the penalty of their error”. (Romans 1:27) When the “depraved mind” is allowed to have its way, there is nothing less than “unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, strive, deceit, malice, gossip, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful .” (V28-31)
All of these things are abhorrent to a RIGHTEOUS GOD! What is said next is what needs specific attention because it not only calls attention to these activities, but indicates specifically: “not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” In our modern era we have coined phrases that say in effect that we do not want to lower ourselves to their level; we do not want to enforce the quality of life that our forefathers established; descriptions abound and we begin to establish “a new morality”. How sickening that we should consider ourselves above the ALMIGHTY!