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The First Burning Bush Devotional was sent June 8, 1998.

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THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

05.15.18

The Best Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5 NKJV.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. – James 3:13-17 NKJV.

Did you hear about the nuclear reactor meltdown in Sweden? It was a small reactor compared to the huge electrical generating reactors across the world. This reactor was so small that it was in Richard Handl's apartment. Handl bought his reactor materials of radium, americium, and uranium on eBay, and in Germany. The meltdown happened on his kitchen stove! After the meltdown, it finally occurred to Handl that what he had been doing might not be legal, and he contacted the Sweden Radiation Authority; which immediately raided the apartment and arrested the man. Handl has been released but may face fines and jail time. As to why he would try to build a nuclear reactor in his apartment, Handl said that he was curious as to whether, or not, it was possible to do it. The Radiation Authority said that radiation levels in the apartment were safe at the time of their raid. Handl says that from now on he is going to just stick with theory. (The Telegraph 08.03.11; MSNBC 08.05.11)

Richard Handl is apparently a very intelligent man, although it appears that he is lacking in wisdom. Just because you have a high IQ, does not necessarily mean that you have wisdom. I think we can agree that trying to build a nuclear reactor in your kitchen is not very wise!

How do we obtain the wisdom that we need to live life wisely? Some people obtain wisdom through trial and error. Handl now has learned not to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen. He has learned that doing so may be dangerous, and it is against the law in Sweden. Some call this the School of Hard Knocks or the School of Life. The wisdom obtained in that school is good, but the tuition fees are very high. There is a much better way to obtain wisdom, and it is a better wisdom than life can teach you. That better wisdom comes from God.

God's wisdom is free; however, it is not automatically given just because you are a believer. The Bible tells us how to receive God's wisdom. It is a simple process. You ask for it! James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God's wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” Let's see, God's wisdom is free, it is the best kind of wisdom, and with God’s wisdom you might be able to avoid having a nuclear meltdown in your kitchen. So, why not ask God for some of His wisdom right now?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

05.07.18

Your Safety Rope

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved (not let your foot slip - NIV); He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. - Psalm 121:1-8 NKJV.

Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip. - Psalm 17:5 NKJV.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. - Psalm 37:23 NKJV.

In China, a wooden footpath is being built on a mountain cliff with the ground thousands of feet below. If the workers were to slip, there would be nothing below to break their fall. The current footpath project, is being built in Hunan Province on Shifou Mountain; and the footpath will be nearly two miles long when completed. The workers must drill holes into the mountain for wooden supports to be placed for the footpath. It is a very dangerous job; however, the workers do wear safety ropes which would keep them safe if they were to slip and fall. One of the workers, Yu Ji, has been building footpaths like this for ten years and he says, "...I don't feel it's so different from any other job. It's not as dangerous as people think. You just wear the ropes, and then everything is okay." (Orange News 06.21.11)

Seeing a photo of the footpath that the workers in China are building, makes me think that I would not want to even attempt to walk on the wooden footpath. There are spaces in between the wooden poles that serve as the path, and all you would see below, would be air for thousands of feet. Even after the path is built, it is doubtful that there will be much traffic on the thing.

Life at times, seems to be much like that precarious mountain footpath. One misplaced step, and everything can fall apart. One misplaced step, and life as you know it will begin to unravel. One misplaced step, and all that you love begins to disappear. Give in to the temptation to have an affair, and you can lose your wife, or your husband along with your financial stability. Give in to temptation, and shoot up, or smoke that drug, or pop that pill; and you can lose your family, your money, your possessions, even the shirt off your back. Give in to financial pressures, rob a bank (happened to a friend I went to school with), and lose your freedom for many years. Turn the steering wheel of your vehicle the wrong way, at the wrong time, and you can end up in a hospital or worse.

The possibilities for bad outcomes in the scenarios of life are endless. If we want to survive and thrive in life; we need to do what the builders of those mountain footpaths do. We need to hold onto the safety rope. The Psalmist tells us how to do that: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills - From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” To keep our feet from slipping in life, we need God's help for every step we take. To keep our feet from slipping we need guidance from God's Word, “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me (Psalm 119:133).”

Wrap the safety rope of God's Word around every aspect, every part, every area of your life; then, you will find the supernatural confidence to live the abundant life (John 10:10) that God wants you to live.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.23.18

The Sky is Falling!

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Matthew 24:36-44 NKJV.

Most of us heard the story of Chicken Little, or Henny Penny when we were children. An acorn fell on the little chicken, and he then believes the sky is falling. Of course, the sky was not really falling; but still, in some stories the chicken is able to gain some followers as he goes to tell the king. Sometimes the sky does fall, as in things fall out of the sky like an acorn, or a plane, or a meteorite, and even satellites sometimes. However, that does not necessarily mean that the end of all things is near.

By now many of you have heard of Harold Camping, the owner of a network of radio stations known as “Family Radio (Family Stations Inc).” Harold has been proclaiming loudly in his own way that the sky is falling. According to Camping, the sky will fall, the world will end as we know it on May 21st (2011). He actually paid for a full-page ad in USA Today, and on billboards across the country, to make known his prediction. Much like Chicken Little, Camping has picked up some followers along the way. One of Camping's followers is 60-year-old retired New York subway worker, Robert Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has used his life savings of $140,000 to spread the word about the impending End of the World as we Know It Event on May 21st (2011).

Reportedly, Camping's prediction is based on Biblical dates and calculations. This includes the exact date of the flood during the time of Noah, and the exact date of the crucifixion. 2 Peter 3:8 is also involved which states, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The number of days from the crucifixion until May 21, 2011 results in the exact number of 722,500. Camping then has somehow determined that the numbers 5 x 10 x 17 x 5 10 x 17 = 722,500, and that each of those numbers have a specific meaning. Camping believes that the meaning of those numbers along with the time indicates the world ends on May 21, 2011.

Immediately, you can see some problems with Camping's method of prediction. First, no one knows the exact date of the flood, or even the exact date of the crucifixion although that may be more closely calculated within a few years (There is still much debate about the year of the crucifixion.). Second, is the subjective nature of determining numbers to be multiplied equaling 722,500. The bigger problems for believers are that Camping's prediction directly contradicts two statements of our Lord Jesus. Jesus says in Matthew 24:37, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Jesus also says this in Matthew 24:44, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

While I do not personally believe that Camping's prediction is correct, I do believe that there is nothing Biblically preventing the return of Jesus (the rapture) at any time. The more important question for all believers is this: If Jesus were to return today, or May 21st, or 20 years from now - will we be ready?

Here are some other devotionals that I have written about the rapture and the end times, which can be easily found at the Burning Bush website:

Until Jesus Returns 02.28.11
Is Now the Time 03.18.09
Imposters 03.06.09
Overcharged 03.02.09
Deceivers 03.20.07
Are You Ready? 08.16.06
What If? 08.15.06
The Shock of Your Life 07.28.06
The End is Coming 07.25.02

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.19.18

Getting What You Want

So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD. – Genesis 13:8-13 NKJV.

The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. – Genesis 19:23-25 NKJV.

The actor, Nicolas Cage, has been arrested for domestic abuse and disturbing the peace in New Orleans. The arrest occurred after he had a loud argument with his wife, Alice Kim. A cab driver saw the two verbally sparring on a street corner and called police. Reportedly, Cage also shoved Kim, and it appeared the confrontation was becoming violent. However, Kim denies that her husband shoved her. At first, police officers tried to have Cage and his wife leave the scene, and just go home. Then, Cage, yelled at the officers what he really wanted, “Why don't you just arrest me?” Officers then gave Cage what he wanted; they arrested him. (As reported on Fox News and countless other news venues - April 2011)

If you remember the story of Abraham and Lot, Abraham appeared to be the protector of his nephew. When their herds of livestock had grown too large for the two families to dwell together, Abraham offered a solution. He allowed Lot first choice as to where he wanted to live. Lot decided that he wanted to live in Sodom and Lot got what he wanted. Sodom was a miserable place to live, and in 2 Peter 2:7-8 we are told that God “...delivered righteous Lot (out of Sodom), who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).” Lot got what he wanted, but lost almost everything, as a result. He lost his home, he lost daughters (Genesis 19:14), and he lost his wife who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26).

Sometimes we gain what we think we want, and we are left with very little. Nicolas Cage, gained another arrest record, and a stay in a jail cell for a while. Lot gained much pain and heartache, after receiving what he wanted. The Israelites wanted a king, and God let them have one.

When we examine our plans and goals in life, it is always best to allow the light of God's Word to fall upon them. Is what we have planned, is our goals in life, something that will bring honor and glory to God? If not, God may allow you to receive what you want, which will be a whole lot of nothing; or possibly as Lot found out, something far worse.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.16.18

Chasing Sticks

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. – Romans 1:16 NKJV.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Linus throws a stick for Snoopy (Who is a dog.) to chase and retrieve. Of course, being a dog, it is an overwhelming temptation to chase after the stick, and retrieve it. However, Snoopy pauses for a moment, and decides not to chase the stick, and says, “I want people to have more to say about me after I'm gone than ‘He was a nice guy, he chased sticks.’” I did a Google search for this, and found more than four million results for what Snoopy says. Four million or more people have put their own spin on what Snoopy said, and so I want to add one more.

I think we can all agree that there are some things in life that are more important than others. For those of us who are Christians, we know that there are some things eternally more important than other worldly things. What is it that could be put into the category of chasing sticks? Here, are some possibilities:

Accumulating as much money and material possessions as possible, but never helping anyone, or doing anything meaningful for anyone else with the money or material things that have been accumulated.

Gaining as much power over others as you can, because you enjoy having the power, but could care less about solving any of the problems others might have with your power and authority.

Becoming famous, well-known to everyone, because you want everyone to know how special you are, and better you are than others.

Those are the big three in the category of chasing sticks, but perhaps we all chase sticks in smaller ways. When we use all of our time and money, regardless of the amount, only for the benefit of ourselves and our families, maybe we are chasing sticks. When there are those who are lost, dying, and going out into eternity without a Savior; and we never do anything to reach them, maybe we are chasing sticks. When we always have time for our favorite activity, whether it is sports, or watching TV; but never time for God, maybe we are chasing sticks.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have within you, resurrection power; within you is power, beyond your human comprehension. To exercise that power, does not always take extraordinary deeds; often, it only takes doing what we know we ought to do.

Instead of chasing sticks, we ought to be in church. Instead of chasing sticks, we ought to read God's Word. Instead of chasing sticks, we ought to spend more time in prayer. Instead of chasing sticks, we ought to tell someone that God loves them.

God loved us so much, that Jesus came down from the glories of Heaven to walk upon this earth; tempted at all points yet without sin, to be the perfect sacrifice. He suffered and died on the cross for your sins and mine, that we would have a Savior, if we will only believe in Him. Let us stop chasing sticks, and instead let loose the power of God that resides within us. Let the Holy Spirit have control of your life, and that will make an eternal difference in your life, and in the lives of all those that you encounter.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.09.18

Would Jesus Do That?

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23 NKJV.

Ken Falzini is a repo man, and he was assigned to pick up a car belonging to a Mr. Neal in Akron, Ohio. Mr. Neal is actually, Bishop Neal, a pastor of a church in the area. Falzini tried to take possession of the car on a Sunday morning, with Neal still inside of the vehicle. Somehow, Falzini ended up holding onto the hood of the Lexus, while Neal took him for a ride, trying to throw him off. Neal, drove in enough of a dangerous way, to be charged with felony assault. Falzini claims that Neal was actually laughing during part of the time. And...Falzini said he was wondering if, this is what Jesus would do? (Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio 2.12.2011)

Personally, I would not want to repossess vehicles for a living. While I was still in college, I worked for a finance company in Oklahoma City for a brief period, and one time I had the assignment of arranging for a car to be repossessed. I did find the vehicle and called for the tow truck; which picked it up, and took it away. It was at the workplace of the person who had the car, and I have always wondered how they felt when they came out at the end of the day to find their vehicle was gone. I know I felt bad about the situation. I discovered that I was not a very good repo man, or finance company employee, and left after only about six weeks.

As for whether, or not, Bishop Neal was acting like Jesus would act? I think we know the answer to that one! Of course not! In Matthew 5:39 Jesus tells us, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” At times, as we seek to follow our Lord, it is not always perfectly clear what Jesus would do. However, in many situations it is perfectly clear what Jesus would do.

Would Jesus kill another person? Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”

Would Jesus lie? Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Would Jesus steal? Exodus 20:15, “You shall not steal.”

Would Jesus commit adultery? Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Would Jesus read the Bible frequently? Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Would Jesus pray frequently? Luke 18:1, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

Would Jesus go to church? Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

It would be an almost endless list of the things that we know Jesus would do. If we were to begin trying to follow the known instructions given to us by the Bible, we would then have much less difficulty following Jesus in those situations where it is not clear, as to what Jesus would do. Begin doing what you know Jesus would do, and then hearing His voice about other situations will be much easier.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.05.18

What If?

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. – 1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV.

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. – Colossians 1:3 NKJV.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. – Colossians 1:9-11 NKJV.

What would happen if you were the only Christian left upon earth? Would your efforts at witnessing lead others to come to know Jesus as their Savior? If you were the only Christian, would your prayers have an impact upon the world around you? If you were the only Christian, would your gifts toward the needs of those around you make any difference? If you were the only Christian, would your kindness toward others be noticed? Last night, those were some of the questions racing through my mind as God was speaking to me about those questions.

Today as I researched those “what if” questions I found that others have had the same thoughts. David Gregory has actually written a book called the “Last Christian” about the possible future in the year 2088; as the daughter of missionaries emerges from isolation, to find she is the last Christian. You can find out more at http://www.davidgregorybooks.com/ Others such as Dr. Manford George Gutzke have written about the very real possibility of being the only Christian in various groups in the world today. Gutzke addresses how the Christian should respond to being the only Christian in your family, your community, your school, and in other situations.

I believe that God was leading me in a somewhat different direction with the thoughts that I was thinking last night. The focus was primarily on prayer. Does it make any difference whether we pray, or if we do not pray? Does it make any difference in our prayer life as to how we live our lives? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes. Yes, it does make a difference. For some people that I am praying for, for some people that you are praying for – we might as well be the last Christian on the planet. Why? Because, there is no one else on the planet praying for them, or there are very few praying for them. How many do you pray for specifically actually have others doing the same for them?

Knowing the importance of your prayer life, should lead to living a righteous life. Because sin will hinder your prayers as is indicated in 1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” This is also the indication of 1 John 3:22, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Let us not sin against the Lord (1 Samuel 12:23) by failing to pray for those who so desperately need our prayers.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

04.02.18

The Pretenders

And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people - for they knew He had spoken this parable against them. So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” – Luke 20:19-22 NKJV.

There is a new book soon to be published about Bernard Madoff written by Diana Henriques. The name of the book is “The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.” The entire scheme of Bernie Madoff was built on lies, on pretense. According to the new book, Madoff claims that the banks and hedge funds knew the truth, and they pretended to believe the lies too. According to Madoff, the attitude of the banks and hedge funds was sort of, “If you're doing something wrong, we don't want to know.” Of course, we have to remember that the title of the book is, “The Wizard of Lies.” (Fox News, February 16, 2011)

The chief priests and the scribes wanted to trap Jesus and they sent out spies who pretended to be “righteous.” The spies pretended to be something that they were not. Have you ever done that? Pretended to be something that you are not? This is perhaps the most pervasive sin of Christians today. The sin of hypocrisy. Pretending to be “righteous” about everything we do, and pretending to be perfect when we know that we are far from perfection.

Not only do we try to deceive others about our “righteousness” – we also try to fool God. We think that if we can only act like we are perfect, seem like we are perfect; then this will be enough to please God. Do you think that the spies sent by the chief priests and scribes were able to fool Jesus? Here is what happened: “But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?’ They answered and said, ‘Caesar's.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.’ But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent (Luke 20:23-26).”

Bernie Madoff was a hypocrite, pretending to offer a real investment opportunity when all he really had to offer was lies. The spies of the chief priests and scribes were pretenders, hypocrites, pretending to be “righteous” when they were not. When we pretend that we are without sin we are hypocrites, and we make it appear that God is a liar. In 1 John 1:8-10 we are told this: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

What are Christians? We are sinners saved by grace. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).” Instead of spending all of our efforts and energy pretending to be something that we on our own can never be, as in “righteous - Ephesians 2:8-9” – instead, let us commit our lives to becoming more and more “conformed” to the “image” of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.28.18

Be Yourself

For there is no partiality with God. - Romans 2:11 NKJV.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. - John 3:16 NKJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. (The Message translates this as: I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 NKJV.

When I was a teenager I often heard of others who when facing arrest claimed to be someone else to escape the potential charges. Often the claim would be as a result of having a fake ID that was used to purchase beer, and usually the story did not end well for those involved. In 2007 in Dallas, Texas, Mario Miramontes was facing arrest for violation of his parole when he used the “I'm not that person excuse.” Using a name of someone he knew, he claimed to be his cousin, Christopher Ayala. Unknown to Mario, his cousin was also wanted by the police with a warrant out for a much more serious charge.

When Mario found out that he was facing more time in prison if he were actually his cousin, he began to try to convince everyone that he was actually, who he actually was; as in “Hey, I'm really Mario!” “I'm telling the truth this time!” It took 13 months for Mario to be released from jail compared to the possible 60 days he would have served on the parole violation. (Dallas Morning News 1.8.11; TrueCrimeReport.com 1.13.11)

Have you ever wished, or thought that life would be better if only you could be someone else? If you could only be someone who was rich, or was beautiful, or had a better career, or was in better physical shape, or whatever? Most people probably have had thoughts like those at one time or another. We know that Mario Miramontes had a few thoughts like that!

The spiritual fact is that you are a unique, priceless, one of a kind masterpiece that God has created. There is not, never has been, and never will be another person like you. You, and you alone, are of so much value to God that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross for your sins. If it had only been you, Jesus still would have died so that you might have life, eternal life by believing in Him.

God has a plan, a special plan for your life. God has things for you to do that no one else can do, at least not in the way that you can do them. Instead of wishing that somehow you could be someone else, be yourself. Be all that God wants you to be in His perfect plan for your life. There in the center of God's will, is where you will find the ultimate fulfillment, the ultimate joy, the ultimate peace, and the ultimate life.

How do you begin to implement God's plan for your life? Matthew 6:33 is the overarching guide to living out God's plan for you: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.26.18

Frustration

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds. - Habakkuk - 1:2-4 NKJV.

God's Reply: Look among the nations and watch - Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans.... - Habakkuk 1:5-6a NKJV.

O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. - Habakkuk 1:12c NKJV.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28 NKJV.

Can you imagine how upset you would be if a cellphone tower were to be erected in front of your home, on your property, without your permission? It has happened to a family in Brookhaven, Long Island. On the plus side, they do have good cellphone reception. On the negative side, their property value has decreased drastically, and they have a huge eyesore in front of their home. From reports available, it appears that NextG Networks constructed the tower without the necessary city permits, and other things required by the City of Brookhaven. Lori Di Marco tried to obtain information from NextG and they said, “FCC...granted them the right to do so and provide communication service, it was a public necessity.”

Cellphone companies are beyond the reach of most private individuals having to deal with them. We found that out in our little community when AT&T suddenly dropped a cell tower that provided service to our area. The FCC was of no help in response to our pleas for help. I hope and pray that the Di Marcos have more success with their problem than we did. Most of us in our community were forced to switch to another cellphone provider, which was costly, and resulted in some of the features of phones like the Blackberry to be inoperable.

The word that comes to mind in having to deal with situations like these is, frustration. It is frustrating to know that you are in the right, but it does not seem to matter to anyone that has the authority to do something about it. Habakkuk was beyond frustration in his situation. Violence and corruption surrounded him. Everywhere there was dishonesty, and a lack of Justice. Habakkuk appears to be on the verge of losing his faith, until God speaks. What God tells him is that He, the Lord God, is at work with a plan to bring relief to His people.

In our own lives, it is easy to look at all of the injustice, all of the evil that is going on around us, and to want to just give up. What we need to remember is that God is at work. We may not see Him working, we may not understand how He can do anything to help us, but He has a plan. What is God's plan? For those who love God, and persist in following Him, God plans to bring good out of the bad. God plans to bring good out of the injustice. God plans to even bring good out of the evil that we have experienced.

So, if you are experiencing frustration because of all the bad things that have happened or are happening in your life - remember God loves you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Not only does God love you, He is at work with a plan to bring good out of all of the bad that has come your way.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.22.18

Trapping Yourself

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.... My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners. - Proverbs 1:10; 15-19 NKJV.

Three teenaged guys had an idea of something to do during a snow storm in Kansas City. They decided to rob people who were stuck in their vehicles. The three teenagers apparently were successful in their efforts, until they had a little problem. Their vehicle became trapped in a snowdrift, and that is where police officers found them. Officers found credit cards belonging to the victims in the car of the three teenagers. One of the robbers, a 17-year-old, claimed that he had not taken part in the robberies, and had only driven the car. An 18-year-old, who was part of the robbery trio, admitted to being present, but claimed it was the 16-year-old's idea. They have all been charged with robbery, and armed criminal action. (Kansas City Star, January 23, 2011)

Can you imagine, you are stuck in a snowdrift thinking how can your day be any worse; then, three guys stick a gun in your face, and rob you? What a miserable thing for anyone to do! How could anyone come to a point in their life that they would cause such distress to another person? It has always been hard for me to understand; however, the Bible does indicate that there are consequences for those who commit crimes against others.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs that those who plan crimes against others are actually planning disaster for themselves as we are told, “...they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.” We see how very true this is with the three robbers in Kansas City. They planned their crimes, they executed their crimes, and they trapped themselves. Now, all three are facing serious criminal penalties for their actions. For the 18-year-old, this criminal offense will follow him the rest of his life. Most likely, the juveniles will be taken away from their family and friends, being placed in a juvenile correctional facility at least until they are 18-years-old. They trapped themselves. They hurt themselves.

The 18-year-old teenager actually had the most to lose because of the crimes. He claimed that it was the 16-year-old's idea, but he still went along with the others to commit the crimes. The Bible is right once again when it says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.... My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

The Bible is more than just a book, it is the Word of God. The Bible is filled with supernatural wisdom that will guide you through the snares, and dangers of life. As Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” If you want to have true success in life, read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God. Embed it in your heart, so that you will know what God would have you to do, during those critical times of decision in your life.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.21.18

This is NOT your day!

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! – Philippians 4:4 NKJV. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 NKJV. 48-year-old Johnnie Butts tried to sell some fake gold jewelry to the wrong man. It happened in a Sudbury Farms store in Massachusetts. The man Johnnie picked to try to sell the jewelry to was Randolph Chief of Police, William Pace. Chief Pace also owns a jewelry store. Chief Pace says that he told the man that, “...this is really not your day. First of all, I'm a cop, and second of all, I'm in the jewelry business.” Johnnie has been charged with attempting to commit larceny by false pretense. (Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Massachusetts - January 20, 2011) Everyone of us have probably had a bad day of one kind, or another. Maybe not as bad as Johnnie had, but we still felt like it was horrible. Of course, some of you have had even worse days, at least some of us would think that you did. How should the Christian respond when you have a bad day? The apostle Paul had more than his share of bad days as he shares in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” In spite of suffering these things Paul still was able to say, “Rejoice always.” Paul also said that in everything that we should give thanks for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Having joy during the bad times is a choice. We choose to have joy. We choose to be thankful during the worst of times. What do we have to be joyful about when everything is going down in flames around us? We can rejoice that Romans 8:28 is true knowing “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We can be thankful even during the very worst of times that God demonstrated “His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” We can be thankful, and rejoice, because we “can consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).” So, make the choice! When the world would say you are having a bad day, rejoice! Because you have a Savior who loves you and died for you. When world says this is just not your day, thank God that He will bring good out of what the world says is bad. “...in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.20.18

A Short Death

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. - Hebrews 9:27 NKJV.

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’” - Luke 16:22-25 NKJV.

And Jesus said to him (the thief on the cross), “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” - Luke 23:43 NKJV.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NKJV.

The students were made to write a will, put on burial clothes, and then they were made to climb into a casket. The casket was then buried under floorboards. Sounds like a kidnapping, or one of those scary movies, doesn't it? However, this is just part of a course at Rende Medical College in Taiwan. Professors at the college claim that doing this gives their students a better appreciation of life. Qiu Daneng, a professor at the college, says, “Although it's just ten minutes, the effect is equal to real death.” Xiao Lin, a student, says: “I felt like I was reborn when I came out and now I know that every second counts in life.” (Orange News, Global News, and various other news venues December 17, 2010.)

I would have a problem taking a course where I had to be buried alive. There is always the possibility that they might forget you were down there! Ten minutes could stretch into a living nightmare, until you actually did die. Since we are already there, let us take a minute to talk about...death. We do not like to talk about death, or even to think about death. It is something that most people avoid. You know, maybe if we pretend it's not real, then it won't be real. Out of sight, out of mind is what we think.

When I was 14 years old at a church camp I was thinking about death, and what would happen to me after I died. It was five years before I remember seriously contemplating again the same thing; death, and what would happen after I died. Maybe you have never seriously considered it, or maybe you just don't know what is going to happen. The Bible makes it clear as to what happens immediately after death.

What is it that happens after death? Death, itself, will only be momentary. It will be a short death. As we see with the Rich Man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke. Lazarus is carried by angels to Abraham's bosom (Heaven) while the Rich Man is taken to Hades (Hell). Lazarus is comforted, while the Rich Man is tormented, and speaks of a desire for water while being tormented in a flame.

Jesus says to the thief who believed on Him while on the cross, that he would be with Him in Paradise (Heaven) that very day. The apostle Paul says that for the believer to be absent from the body (physically dead), means that you would be present with the Lord. The important thing for the believer to know is that, after death, we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ, and wherever Jesus is at is going to be Heaven. For the believer, it will be a very short momentary death, because we have eternal life through Jesus. For the nonbeliever in Jesus, it will be a living nightmare that will never end.

If you have never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart and life and be your Savior, I hope you will do so now before it is eternally too late.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.19.18

An Empty Life

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.” - 1 Samuel 12:20-21 NKJV.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. - Ephesians 5:6 NKJV.

Would you pay £1,500 (about $2,300) for a painting empty of any paint, as in a blank canvas? Would you pay even more for a sculpture that was just an empty space, because the sculpture was not really there? The Arts Council England, also paid the artist Agnieszka Kurant for a movie shot with an empty camera, as in no film in it. At least one British official (Matt Hancock) seemed to think that paying for nothing was wrong, and he called the so-called empty art, “a staggering waste.” I'm no art critic, but it could be that he is right! (The Sun, London - December 2, 2010)

Even more of a waste than empty art, is an empty life. Samuel warned the people, after God gave them a king, that to now turn away from God would only lead to “empty things.” There are many today seeking to lead you away from God. They are able to say all the right things, but they are only saying, “empty words.” The apostle Paul warns that we can be cheated “...through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of the men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8).” What can we be cheated out of? Life. Real life. We can be cheated out of the abundant life (John 10:10b) that Jesus came to give us.

What are you giving yourself to? What are you giving your life to? Is your goal in life to have as much money as you can possibly accumulate? Is your goal to have the most toys, the best car, the best truck, the biggest house, the most land? Or, have you given up on even those kinds of goals, and instead you are just doing whatever drugs you can lay your hands on? Maybe you are just drinking your way into oblivion? All of that stuff, the material things, the drugs, the alcohol; all of it, brings only more emptiness into your life.

How can you end the pain of an empty life? Not by adding more emptiness, not by compounding the problem. The apostle Paul directs us to the One who can give us fulfillment, instead of emptiness. Here's what God says through Paul in Colossians, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).” Only in Jesus can we find true meaning in life. Walk in Him, build your life on Jesus Christ, because: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:9-10).”

Instead of having an empty, meaningless, and unfulfilled life; you can be “complete” by living your life for the Lord Jesus. I guess the only question is this: What are you waiting for? Give your life, give your heart, your whole heart to Jesus. He's knocking at the door, and He wants to come in (Revelation 3:20).

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.14.18

Fear God - Part 2

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. - Psalm 2:10-11 NKJV.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. - Proverbs 1:7 NKJV.

Obviously, this kind of fear, a fear of God is something that we should want to have and need to have. So, what is the Bible talking about here? When the Bible talks about fearing God, it is primarily talking about reverence for God; respect for God. It is somewhat like electricity. I have a healthy respect for electricity, and I fear what might happen if I was careless around electricity or misused it in some way. I do not have a reverence for electricity, but I do respect it, and in some ways fear it. We know what the power of electricity can do. Some of us may have been shocked by it in the past, or we may know others personally who have been injured by electricity.

One of the problems that we have before we come to a proper understanding of the power of God, the awesome character of God, Who is all powerful, all knowing, and Omnipresent - is that we may not have personally experienced Him. Oh, we may come to church, we may read our Bibles, we may pray, we may serve Him, and we may even know Jesus as our personal Savior. But we have never actually, personally experienced how wonderful and powerful God is. When we have actually experienced God working in our lives, when are eyes have been opened to the miraculous, we will then go beyond a respect for God, to having a reverence for God.

This is what happened for the Prophet Elisha's servant in 2 Kings 6: “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, ‘Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.’ And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-18 NKJV).”

After the Syrian king's servant told him that the Prophet Elisha was telling the Israel king everything that he had planned, he had a simple solution. That solution was to try to capture and kill Elisha. What happened for Elisha's servant was that his eyes were opened. He could see what the Prophet Elisha could see!

There is no reason to fear the enemies of God, because God is far greater than anything upon this earth, or anywhere else. You have to think that the soldiers in the Syrian army had their eyes opened too. This is what we are told in 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Once we have a proper reverence, respect for God, we then become fearless in the face of whatever this world may bring our way. Why is that? “...because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

If you do not have a fear of God, I pray that your eyes, and heart may be opened as were those of the servant of the Prophet Elisha. Because as Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge....”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2011

03.12.18

Fear God

Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, “My camp will be in such and such a place.” And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there.” Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?” And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” - 2 Kings 6:8-12 NKJV.

The security services in Saudi Arabia believe they have captured an Israeli spy. The spy is under arrest and is being kept in seclusion. So far, they have been unable to make the spy speak. However, the security services are sure they have a spy, because of the GPS transmitter that they found on the spy. Also, they found a small tag on the spy, which identified the spy as being from the Tel Aviv University. The spy has not yet given its name or rank, but they have identified the spy as being a vulture. The bird, apparently strayed over Saudi territory, and security services believe the vulture's activities are part of a “Zionist plot.” Authorities in Israel claim the vulture is only a part of a migratory bird study. (This story was reported by The Daily Caller, Live Science, and various other news venues.)

The enemies of Israel do well to be paranoid, because they have a much larger problem than the possibility of a vulture spying upon them. It is the same problem that the Syrian king had centuries ago. The problem is...God. The story is related in 2nd Kings of how the Syrian king tried to trap the Israeli army but was repeatedly thwarted in his attempts. It had happened so many times that the king thought there had to be a spy among them. Finally, one of the servants had the courage to tell the king the truth. The truth was that the prophet of God knew exactly what the Syrian king was planning and told the Israeli king. How did the prophet know? God told him.

The enemies of Israel would do well to ponder carefully this story from 2nd Kings. It is obvious from the more recent history of the past fifty years, that God has not changed His mind about protecting Israel.

The enemies of the One true God, and of all that is good and right would also do well to ponder carefully this story from 2nd Kings. When a child of God is attacked in any way, it is God that is being attacked (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). When the Word of God is attacked, it is God that is being attacked. When the will of God is attacked, it is God that is being attacked. I would say to those who are attacking Christians, or the Word of God, or the will of God, have you no fear of God? God is a God of love, but He is also righteous and holy.

Before you thumb your nose at God, before you laugh at God, before you willfully sin, consider this: God is still alive, and well. God is still on His throne. God is still all powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent. Fear God by giving Him the reverence, the respect that He should be given.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).”

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble (James 2:19)!”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.08.18

Helpful Clues

In Manchester, New Hampshire, a Rite Aid pharmacy was robbed by a woman wearing a ski mask. The police drove to the woman's home and arrested her. How did they know who she was, and where she lived? They had a helpful clue. A witness observed the robber leaving in a vehicle with a vanity plate, on which were the letters, “B-USHER.” With that helpful clue, and a little research with the Department of Motor Vehicle records, the police drove to the home of Bonnie Usher and arrested her. (Reported by WCVB-TV)

It does help to solve crimes, and other mysteries when there are helpful clues leading the way. When born into this world every person is faced with a mystery. How did they come to be where they are and who they are? God has provided some helpful clues and we are told of that in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” All you have to do, to solve the mystery according to the Bible; is to look around at the world you live in, and there is an obvious conclusion. The obvious conclusion is that there is a God, and that God designed, and created everything.

With the mystery of creation solved we can move on to another one. That mystery is this: how does God want us to live? Again, there are very helpful clues, actually specific instructions, for how we are to live our lives. There are many passages of Scripture that provide the instructions that we need, about how to live our lives. Romans 12:17-19 gives us this helpful guide to living, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

With the mystery of creation, and the mystery of how we should live our lives solved; we are then confronted with another mystery. There is the mystery of death. What happens after we die? Is that the end, or is there something else that occurs at that point? Again, the Bible provides us with the clues that we need to understand. In Hebrews 9:27 we are told, “...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” From this clue we can see that not only does our existence not end at physical death, but we are also held accountable for how we have followed the instructions we have been given.

With this judgment after death in mind, we begin to think about all of the other instructions that God has given to us in the Bible, about how we are to live. We read in James 2:10, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” How can anyone do everything that we are commanded in the Bible perfectly? No one can, and no one has, except of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). So, are we all doomed? No, because Jesus who lived a perfect life became the once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10) dying for our sins, for our mistakes. Do we automatically receive forgiveness for our mistakes because of the sacrifice of Jesus? No, we must believe (John 3:16) that God has done this for us and receive Jesus (John 1:12) as our personal Savior.

We have been given the clues, very obvious clues - all we have to do is follow them.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.08.18

Coincidence or Providence

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV.

Can you imagine this, you are laying in bed having a hard time going to sleep and decide that you will get up for a while. Maybe, look at the Internet, read a little, because you just cannot sleep. It's 2:00 am in the morning, why can't you sleep? As soon as you walk away from your bed, you hear a terrible noise as a car smashes through the wall of your bedroom and smashes the bed you have just left! Unbelievable! But it happened to Demitrios Bisbelis in Melbourne, Australia. Demitrios says, “My bed's been disintegrated. It's completely shattered. I'm sure I wouldn't have made it had I been in bed at that time.” Reportedly, the car hit a curb, launched into the air, crash landing into Demitrios' bedroom, and bed. Police authorities report the driver and a passenger escaped without injury.

Was this just a coincidence that Demitrios decided to leave his bed at just the right time to escape severe injury and likely death? Coincidence is defined by dictionary dot com as being: “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.” According to the definition there was a coincidence, which has occurred. But was it more than a coincidence? Was it not just a coincidence, but providence? Providence, as in God spurring Demitrios to rise from his bed at just the right time to spare his life?

From reports about the incident we do not know whether or not Demitrios is a believer in Jesus. We do not know his background, or what has been going on in his life. Was God trying to get his attention? Why would God care about Demitrios or anyone who is not a believer? Because as we are told in 2 Peter, God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Does God always intervene providentially to spare the lives of those threatened with danger? No. So, if I were Demitrios, or anyone who has escaped death or severe injury; I would be examining my life and seeking the Lord to hear from Him about the event. The Bible says that God is “longsuffering” - not that He will endure rebellion, and rejection, forever.

As believers in Jesus, we can see the events that occur in our lives are wrapped in the providence of God. We can say with the Psalmist:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. - The 23rd Psalm

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.07.18

Being Jesus

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. - 1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. - Romans 8:29 NKJV.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” - Luke 9:23 NKJV.

In Des Peres, Missouri, an uninvited guest attempted to attend the St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Can you imagine the nerve of someone showing up uninvited at a church on a Sunday morning? Who was this uninvited person? It was Jesus, actually it was Neal Thompson wearing attire as most would imagine Jesus to be wearing. However, there was a glitch in the plan as an alert deacon spotted Thompson, stopping him short of his goal of entering the church sanctuary. Thompson was a determined Jesus imitator, and church members called the police, which convinced him to leave. Reportedly, Thompson who goes to a different church every Sunday dressed like Jesus, has stayed in character by forgiving the church.

In a previous pastorate, we actually did have a man show up dressed like Jesus, who said a few words, and then left. He had been invited to do so by a member of our church, unknown to me, until a few minutes before the man arrived. I think that it made for an unremarkable service being turned into a very memorable one. I can also understand, when in some large churches; with intricate services being planned, that such an interruption would be unwelcome.

Whatever we may feel about someone dressing up like Jesus, there is a sense in which all Christians are called to imitate how Jesus would act. The apostle Paul says that we should imitate him as he strives to imitate Christ. In Romans 8:29, we are told that we are predestined to be “conformed” to the image of Christ, the Son of God. Being conformed to His image would I think, include imitating the actions, and the behaviors of Christ Jesus.

Jesus is not physically walking upon this earth today, but His followers are. Those who believe in Jesus are His hands, arms, feet, legs, and eyes upon this Earth today. Every Christian is called to represent Jesus to those around them. Every Christian is called to act like Jesus would act. That does not mean, necessarily, that we grow a beard, wear our hair long, dress up in a robe, and sandals. It does mean that we demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit as we live our daily lives. In Galatians 5:22-23a we are told, “...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are the characteristics that Jesus demonstrated, lived out before those He encountered as He walked upon this Earth.

Every time you interact with another person in any way you are on a stage, and you are being observed. Would the person observing you conclude that you are imitating the apostle Paul as he imitated Jesus? Would the person observing you conclude that you are being more and more conformed to the image of Jesus? Would the person observing you conclude that you have taken up your cross, denied yourself, and are following Jesus? Would the person observing you think of you in any way as being like Jesus to them?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.06.18

Gurners

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. - James 1:21-27 NKJV.

Are you a gurner? I have seen some people do this before, but never knew that it was almost a sport. Gurning contests are a rural English tradition that have been around for a couple of hundred years or more. Gurning consists of making a face, i.e. distorting the facial features. At least one man had his teeth removed so he could more easily contort his face. A face frequently made in these contests is known as the duck face. Anne Woods has won the contest at the Egremont, England Crab Fair 27 times. Tommy Mattison, the men's champion has won it 11 times. Both Woods, and Mattison will be in the next Guinness World Records book.

Some people purposely distort their faces, and some people purposely distort their thinking. The apostle James writes about some mental gurners in his letter. Apparently, there were people who heard what God said they should do, knew what God wanted them to do, but still they did not do it. Hmm, that sounds a lot like the majority of the people who call themselves Christians today. We go to church on Sunday, and then go out and live like the devil the rest of the week. Maybe, it isn't quite that bad, but surveys have shown that the goals, the desires, and actions of those who call themselves Christians - are not much different from those who do not consider themselves to be Christians. James says that this kind of religion is “useless!”

The apostle Paul has this to say about the mental gurning of Christians in Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Paul goes on to say in verses 12 - 14 of chapter 6, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Are you a Christian gurner, mentally distorting the Word of God to fit your life, and your circumstances? If your mindset is that you will go ahead and commit a sin, because you know God will forgive you, then you are gurning in your thinking. There is always a cost to sin because “...the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” The price of sin will always be more than you want to pay.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.05.18

Determination

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank.... - Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “...we have no need to answer you in this matter. ... our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand.... But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” - Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. - Joshua 24:15 NKJV.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

Howard Partridge at the age of 73 was faced with a challenge. He is handicapped, and uses a wheelchair; and, he, and his sister were stuck in the snow. They had gone for a drive near Sweet Home, Oregon to view the beautiful fall foliage. That was on Wednesday, by Friday, Howard knew something had to be done if they were to survive. He decided to go for help, in his wheelchair, in the snow. Howard made it three miles to where he was finally found by some hunters. Both Howard, and his 61-year-old sister are reported to be in good condition, thanks to the determination that Howard demonstrated.

Determination, that is what Howard Partridge had, that saved his life, and the life of his sister. Determination, that is what Daniel had, when he refused to eat the king's rich unhealthy food. Determination, that is what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had, when they refused to bow down and worship the king's golden idol. Determination, that is what Joshua had, when he determined that he was going to serve the Lord. Determination, that is what Nehemiah had; and David, and Esther, and Noah, and Ruth, and Abraham, and so many of the great servants of God. The apostle Paul had it, when he pressed on toward the goal, even when he faced great opposition that came in many forms.

Determination, can change the impossible into the possible. Determination, can change an ordinary life into an extraordinary life. Determination, can enable you to keep moving forward when everything is saying you should just give up. Determination will give you victory; even when everyone, and everything, says you are headed for defeat.

Who are you serving with your life? Determine today, choose today, whom you will serve. Jesus says, “...seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).” Determine today to seek first, to put first, what God wants in your life; and, you will see a transformation take place in every area of your life.

Determination, do you have it? Do you have a determination to do what is wrong, or a determination to do what is right? It is your choice. God will not force you to do what is right. As Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14b, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther determined to do what was right, and she saved the Jewish race. It is no accident that you were born in this time, because the Kingdom of God needs you to determine to do the right thing this day, and forever more.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

03.02.18

Time Travelers - Part 2

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. - Hebrews 13:8-9 NKJV.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it! - 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NKJV.

Yesterday, I shared with you the 1928 Charlie Chaplin silent film clip that appears to show an older woman talking on a cell phone. There are many reasonable explanations for what is seen; including, that the woman is simply shielding her face from the sun with something. With our modern mindsets we immediately jump to the conclusion that it looks like a cellphone. Here is the link to the youtube video again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF8WF3vGUn8

What if, the leaders of our country suddenly appeared on TV with someone who claimed to be a time traveler from the future? Would we believe it? What if, someone appears on the world stage claiming to be an alien from another planet with advanced technology demanding that we worship and obey them? Would we believe it, and do it? Here are a few things that some people say they believe:

>Extra Terrestrial powers are observing our planet and they will intervene in 2012 and save us from self-destruction.

>Jose Arguelles, the founder of Earth Day in 1970, “feels” that we are traveling through a Galactic Synchronization Beam which we entered in 3114 B.C. and will leave in 2012.

>Some believe that the Galactic Synchronization Beam will affect our DNA, zapping it, and we will be born again.

>Believers in the Galactic Synchronization Beam of 2012 teach that everyone goes to heaven because there is no sin, only a failure of synchronicity with your higher self.

The crazy things that people will believe; could and have filled up volumes of books. Do we believe in something just because someone "feels" we are going through some kind of beam? Do we believe in something just because someone thinks it would be great if the cosmos were to operate according to the rules that they happen to dream up?

When anyone claims they have heard some magnificent new truth from a time traveler, or an alien, or in a dream, or that they just feel this to be true - BEWARE! We do not need a new truth, or a new feeling, or a better synchronicity. We have the Word of God. Jesus says this, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).” Jesus is the Word of God become flesh (John 1:14) and He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8).

When they tell you their lies and attempt to deceive you; open up the Word of God and share the unchanging truth. The truth of the Word of God will overcome as the Bible says in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” The Word of God will win the battle because, “...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”

We must remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His Word does not lie, it does not change, and He (The Word become flesh - John 1:14) will win the final and eternal victory.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

02.26.18

Time Travelers

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. - Hebrews 13:8-9 NKJV.

I was fascinated today by a story about a 1928 Charlie Chaplin silent film. George Clarke, who is a filmmaker and also a Chaplin fan, bought a collection of Chaplin films on DVD, and found something verry, verry, interesting. What Clarke stumbled onto is what appears to be an older woman talking on something similar to a cell phone. At the very end of the clip, when the woman turns toward the camera, her lips do appear to be moving. One obvious explanation of the scene would be that it is a time traveler. Of course, they did not have cell towers back then; however, a time traveler would probably have access to technology that might be more advanced than what we have today. Various explanations have been offered, and you can read many of them at the youtube link to the video of the clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF8WF3vGUn8

Is time travel possible? In the opening of the Gospel of John we are told this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).” In 1 Timothy 6:14-15 the Bible says, “that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Then in Revelation 19 we are told, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. ...He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. ...And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Jesus was present in the beginning. Jesus was present upon this earth as the Son of Man who suffered and died for our sins; and Jesus will be present upon this earth at the end, as the conqueror who will defeat all the enemies of God.

Jesus does not need a cell phone, or any other device, to see across the centuries of time. Jesus is not limited by time as we are. He is able to see all things past, present, and future at one time. They exist in the present for Him in eternity. It is like being able to see the beginning of a parade and the end of the parade all at one time.

There are an increasing number of strange, and even bizarre doctrines emerging, that appear to have a substantial number of followers. Beware of anything, or anyone who seeks to marginalize the importance of Jesus.

There is only one Jesus Christ; but there have been, there are, and will be many imposters who seek to add to the Gospel just like the Judaizers of the days of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11 to the church at Corinth, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it!”

We need to always remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.26.18

Spared from Trouble

No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, But the wicked shall be filled with evil. – Proverbs 12:21 NKJV.

You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall—you and Judah with you? – 2 Kings 14:10 NKJV.

And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”
And I said, “A plumb line.”
Then the Lord said:
“Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore. – Amos 7:8 NKJV.

Years ago, when I had only been in the oilfield a few years, about 2am I was awakened by a phone call. After I had finished talking with whoever had called, and hung up the phone, Jeanie asked me who had called. I had no idea; the whole phone call was a blank in my mind. I knew I had answered the phone and talked to someone; but had no idea who it was, or what it was about. As it turned out, trouble had passed me by.

The next day, I found out from my friend, David at work, that he had been the one who had called. He had taken his drill pipe inspection unit to the lake. It was a two-ton truck with a large enclosed utility bed. He had gotten the truck stuck and had called me for help. Since I never came, he called another friend who was a forklift operator. This was a large forklift used for moving heavy pipe and had to be transported on a semi. The forklift got bogged down in the mud too. I don’t remember now how they got the truck and forklift unstuck, I think they had to rent a bulldozer. Certainly, trouble passed me by that night!

The point of Proverbs 12:21 is not that no trouble will ever come to the righteous; but by living a righteous life, you will be spared from much trouble. In Amos 7:8, we have the will-known plumb line passage of Scripture. From this passage we know that God had spared Israel in the past from judgment and had allowed trouble to pass them by previously.

In 2 Kings 14 we see that Amaziah the king of Judah is thinking that he is something great. Amaziah through the power of God had a great victory over Edom. Because of that, Amaziah thought that he was invincible, and sent a message to Jehoash king of Israel demanding he send Israel’s army to meet the army of Judah in battle. Jehoash with great wisdom and compassion responds to Amaziah with this message: “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall—you and Judah with you (2 Kings 14:10 NKJV)?

Amaziah would not listen to reason. The result was the utter defeat of Amaziah and Judah. Here is what happened as recorded in 2 Kings 14:11-14: “Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went out; so he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his tent. Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh; and he went to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate—four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, all the articles that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.”

Living a righteous life is a life that God will bless. You may not realize it, and it may not seem like it at the time, but by doing so you are sparing yourself from much trouble. Trouble is passing you by when you refuse to “meddle with trouble.”

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2010

02.23.18

Flushed!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-8 NKJV.

​ Daniel Collins may not have been literally flushed down the toilet, but he might as well have been. Daniel was working on the Raymore, Missouri sewage system as part of a crew employed by Rosetta Construction. Usually the work is safe, and he had a safety line hooked to him. The trouble for the worker began when that safety line somehow became detached, and he was suddenly plunged down a pipe only 27 inches wide. He kept going down that pipe for more than a mile. Meanwhile, his fellow workers and firefighters were frantically searching for him. Daniel was able to call out one last time loud enough for someone to find him. One of the firefighters, who is also a paramedic, heard Daniel and was able to bring him to safety. The man had bruises and may have swallowed some of the nasty water; but everyone believes it is miraculous for him to be alive, a