WEEDS, WEEDS, WEEDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEVER ALONE!

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

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

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

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

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

Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR Saviour and Lord.

You, too, will enjoy His continual presence!

Never alone forever!

A PEARL OF GREAT PRICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEARNING TO SING AND PRAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenging?

-Ted

THE BLAME GAME

Used with Permission by, Linda DeSilva

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

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

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

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

A LOWLY NAZARENE

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

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

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

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

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

 -Ted

THE HIGHEST POINT IN HEBREWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ted

SEPARATING EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ted

THE FRINGE OF HIS CLOAK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ted

NIGH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ted