The Burning Bush Devotional

God speaks to His people in Hosea 5:15 and says, �I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.�

Several in our church this last Sunday recommitted their lives to the Lord. I remember some periods in my own life when I was far away from the Lord. Once you have experienced the fellowship of God to live life without His fellowship places upon you a sense of great emptiness. God told his people in Hosea that He would withdraw from them and it was for the purpose of their realizing their need for Him.

I like what the people say in the first three verses of Hosea chapter six as they decide to return to the Lord:

�Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.�

In the same way when we turn again to the Lord He begins to restore us. What has been torn down over a period of time is not instantly repaired. But as we begin anew to walk with our Lord we see that new life is breathed into our relationships, new life is breathed into every area of our lives, and we can once again hear that small, still voice of God.

As we �follow on to know the Lord� His presence, restoration, and blessings in our lives will be like the rain. We give as we serve and follow Him but He will continually rain His Spirit upon us beyond our imagination. As we �follow on to know the Lord� we walk deeper and deeper in to that river of His love. We walk ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and then there are waters to swim in (Ezekiel 47).

Where are you now? If you have walked away from God, He is calling, �Come and return to me and I will restore you.� If we are walking with Him, then He is still calling us. He is calling us to a deeper and deeper relationship with Him.

The Burning Bush Devotional

�Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment (Matthew 22:36-38).�

I have been thinking about the meaning of the word �all.� Does it matter whether we pay �all� of our income taxes or just pay part of them? Does it matter if we obey �all� of the criminal laws or just part of them? Does it matter to the highway patrolman who is watching us drive whether we obey �all� of the traffic laws or just part of them? Does it matter whether we go to work �all� the time or just when we feel like it? Does it matter whether we pay �all� the bills or just the ones we want to pay?

In the secular world we know exactly what �all� means! �All� means �all.� Any less and there will be consequences, sometimes severe. But in our spiritual lives we seem to have developed a different definition for the word, �all.� The word �all� for the majority of Christians that I have observed (myself included) appears to mean something less than what is expected in the secular world. Most likely that is because the policeman, the highway patrolman, the Internal Revenue Service, and the bill collectors are not going to enforce our observance of spiritual �alls.�

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talks about the salt that has lost its savor (Matthew 5:13). Maybe we can put this on a scale. If we love God with �complete all� than we have savor. If we love God with a �little less all� we have less savor. What I am wondering is at what point of our interpretation of the word �all� with our lives do we lose all of our savor?

What is your interpretation of the word, �all?� Does it mean that at any point less than �full all� we have become disobedient to the Great Commandment and that we are living in rebellion?

The Burning Bush Devotional

�Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).�

Sometimes Jeanie, Nick and I go to cemeteries to find where our ancestors are buried. A week ago we walked through two cemeteries looking for one of Jeanie�s ancestor�s burial site. As I walked I read the inscriptions on the tombstones. Some just had the names and dates, others had short inscriptions, and some are now unreadable.

You can�t walk through a cemetery like that without being touched by the tragedies of life. So many lives cut short, many while only children. With each tombstone you see a marker representing lives lived out here on planet earth. As I look at the tombstones I wonder sometimes whether they knew Jesus as their Savior. I wonder where those people are at now. Are they with Jesus, or are they in that other place of torment.

So many people going out into eternity each day. They are all around us. Does anyone care about their souls? God says that He cares. Not only does He say that but He also demonstrated it through Jesus on the cross. John 3:16 tells us of God�s great love. But how will these people on their way to eternity without a Savior ever know of God�s love? God has a plan and it involves you and me. What is the plan? God says to you and me, �Go ye therefore....� in Matthew 28:19.

God cares, but do we? Do we care enough to be obedient to the command of God? Do we care enough to share with someone lost and on their way to an eternity of terror how to have salvation? We say we care, but do our actions demonstrate that we actually do? We have an example, His name is Jesus, and He cared enough to die for you and me. How much do we really care?

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Art Kitchens.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Recently as I was traveling to Western Maryland I had occasion to stop for coffee, as I did I noticed a young person that had a physical handicap. It was sad to see, and I overheard some people talking. They made the statement "How terrible, how can their parents stand putting up day after day with a child that doesn't grow."

We all know the answer it is love. But this incident made me think. How many Christians that have been saved for many years show no signs of growth. They let the little things distract them from the big picture. I wonder if the Heavenly Father doesn't sometimes look down with a heart that is aching at the view of his children who have become spiritually handicapped with no apparent growth.

As we read today's verses, do you desire to see growth in your life? Let us truly desire to GROW, in grace and make a difference in the lives of those we come in contact with.

Galatians 6:9 �And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Matthew (Mat) A. Varnado. (Mat has an unusual background and I have included it at the end of the devotional.)

The Signs of The Times

I remember when I was young driving down the main highways on trips somewhere and there would be red signs posted about every quarter mile that meant nothing in themselves, but together they made up a rhyme that lead the reader's mind to the final advertisement for an shaving cream product.

As we travel down life's highways, there are similar signs that God put there and Jesus said to look for so that we would have hope when the time for their fulfillment began. Persecution here, Falling away there, the Jews returning to their ancient land and becoming a nation further on, hatred for things of God following, one after another they appear until the final event, the coming of the Lord Jesus Himself.

In Matt. 24:4-14, Jesus delineated the signs and He promised that the gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to all nations and then the end (of the present age) would come. I've gotten many panicky reports from well-meaning Christians about all the things that are happening that fulfill prophecies concerning the Big Event for the church. They are genuinely worried about what the future.

They should be encouraged to see these signs. It means we are coming to the glorious event that the Church has been waiting for almost 2,000 years. And the gospel is going out by all means possible and bearing much fruit for the Kingdom.

To me the signs are a wake-up call for the Bride of Jesus to get the dead ashes off the wicks of their light and start shining brightly so they will be ready when He comes.

Are you ready? You are if you have been born again and if you are looking for that joyful event. If you are not, it's still not too late. Take a few moments to pray a prayer of confession of your sins, and ask God to forgive you. Ask Jesus to come into your life to save you, and fill you with His Holy Spirit. Then receive it all by thanking Him that it is a fact whether you feel anything or not. Finally, begin looking for His coming very soon. Maranatha!

Name: Mat Varnado
Age: 60 Occupation: semi-retired English Instructor Married to a Thai (Somporn), one son (Mark)(Freshman in the local Thai university). Born again in Jun. 1975 at 2:00 a.m. in Ole Miss in Oxford, MS.

Residence: Hometown Covington, Louisiana, but for 21+ years Chiangmai, Thailand. Health: Semi-housebound because of several chronic, inherited and contracted diseases including diabetes and a fungal-type infection that I've had for most of my life and which has nearly killed me three times. But it isn't keeping me from doing what I feel is God's call on my life.

Education: MA (Spanish) MEd (teaching Reading). (However, I worked as an Instructor of General English at Chiangmai University, where I taught for 16 years).

At present employed by the Lord to encourage people whom he sends my way. Also, I pray for people's needs and requests.

Miscellaneous: 4 years in the AF, worked at a large number of jobs so varied that I got a good foundation of life in the world, third of five living children (a sixth one died of CIDS and one of the others died two years ago from cirrhosis), Mother still alive at 84, father died this year at 87.

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Amber D. White.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (1 Corinthians 5:7-9).�

It makes everything else seem kind of insignificant, doesn't it? One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha at their home. Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to what he had to say. Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Fed up, she finally asked Jesus to make Mary help her. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).�

This past weekend I took a trip to Disneyland with my family. I had to miss school on Friday. It was fun, but I got so caught up in the trip (and the homework I had to make up afterwards) that I ignored my relationship with God, and then wondered why I felt so empty despite all the fun things I got to experience.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the dos and don'ts of religion, and the obligations of life, that we start to forget about our relationship with Christ, which is the cornerstone of Christianity. Like Paul said, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord".

What's at the top of your priority list?

The Burning Bush Devotional

�For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations (Psalm 100:5).�

There was not a devotional written for September 23 because of a family emergency. My oldest son who attends seminary in Ft. Worth had car trouble. He was able to contact Jeanie�s (my wife) cousin and Cindy picked up Clark and gave him a place to stay overnight. The next day I drove to Ft. Worth giving Clark some transportation and other help. The car was repaired before the day was over and we made it home safely.

Throughout this little emergency I was able to see clearly another reason that God is good. The family is God�s idea. I am so thankful for our family that was so willing to assist and that I was able to also help my son.

Sometimes relationships in our families become strained but their are no others that know us so well. I believe we should make every effort to maintain our family relationships. Also, we should make every effort to evangelize our family including the extended family. Witnessing to my own family has been one of the most difficult things that I have done. But even though the response was not always positive I will never regret having done so.

If you don�t know if your family will be together in eternity isn�t it time to talk to them about this most important issue of all?

The Burning Bush Devotional

�Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).�

�Each of us should please his neighbor for his good to build him up (Romans 15:2).�

Football season is upon us again so I can use this. Most of you have heard of the name of Lombardi and of the Green Bay Packers. For the first 12 years of their existence the Green Bay Packers won only 30% of their games. Every season was a losing season. The, Vince Lombardi became their coach, for the next nine years they had winning seasons, won five national championships and the first two super bowls. Lombardi was a great coach but he was most of all a great people builder. He knew how to motivate people. He was able to build them up, fire them up and inspire them to be the very best they could be. That�s the kind of people builder we want to be as well.

How can we be people builders and build each other up? One way is to give them a personal challenge. Think about Paul and Barnabus on the first missionary journey. Barnabus was the leader but he turned the leadership over to Paul. He must of said something like, �Here you go Paul it�s time for you to take over!�

Another way to encourage someone is to let them know that you have confidence in them. Not only should they know that we have confidence in them but we should be willing to let them have the credit for what they do. General Swartzcof during Desert Storm, always gave the credit to his men or to his officers, even though he was a military genius.

You say it�s hard to do those things and your right it costs us something to build others up, to be selfless. It cost Jesus His life to be selfless.

The Burning Bush Devotional

One morning four weeks ago I woke up with a ruptured disc in my back with severe pain down my left leg (The pain is gone and the back is much better. Thank you for your prayers!). Two weeks ago I woke up with a brown recluse spider bite on my left leg (It is still healing but appears it will only leave a small scar. Thank you for your prayers!). I can only conclude that sleeping can sometimes be dangerous!!

Of course Samson could confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judges 16:19). Sisera could also confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judges 4:21) and there are several others that could as well in the Bible. Eutychus could confirm that it is dangerous to sleep in church (Acts 20:9). But the most dangerous sleep of all is the spiritual sleep of those who have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). They appear to be unconcerned about death. They appear to have little concern for anything other than the material world. Spiritually you can only describe them as being asleep to the reality of eternity. There seems to be so many of them.

It may be that the reason so many are blinded by satan is that there is another category of sleepers. That category is the sleeping Christian. The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, �Ye are all the chldren of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. but let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

Often when we think of success in life we think of the things that we have gained. We think too of the possessions we have. Real success would have you to gain something as well. In 1 Timothy 6:6 the Bible says, �But godliness with contentment is great gain.�

Paul then expands upon this statement in several succeeding verses. He says in verses 7-10, �For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be there with content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.�

Paul then tells us how we can have godliness with contentment in verses 11 and 12, �But thou, O man of God, flee these things: and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.�

For many years when I was driving to work I would pass a sign that a farmer had put up. On one side the sign says, �After death, What then?� On the other side going home I would read, �Eternity Where?� I think Paul is telling us that in the light of eternity we need to concentrate upon the things that matter, the things that have eternal value. When we do that we will find that the result will be �godliness with contentment� and that is real success.

The Burning Bush Devotional

When I think of characters in the Bible who tried to obtain success in the wrong way three men immediately come to mind. There is the Rich Farmer in Luke chapter 12. He has a huge harvest and his barns are too small to hold all of it. So the farmer decides to build bigger barns and then he will just kick back and enjoy life he thinks too himself. But God says this to the man, �Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21).�

Then there is the Rich Man sometimes called Dives and his relationship with the beggar Lazurus described in Luke chapter 16. Lazurus was there at the gate of the rich man every day as Dives went in and out. But the rich man died and went to hell. He could see Abraham and Lazarus in a better place and cried out to Abraham to help him. Abraham answered, �Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented (Luke 16:25).�

Last we have King Belsazzar in Daniel chapter five. He is very rich and powerful man who is throwing a little party for a thousand of his followers. He is so callused toward God that he uses the vessels that were taken from the temple to make toasts to false gods. But there comes a hand that writes upon the wall before King Belsazzar. Daniel interprets the handwriting which says, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:25-28).� Then the Bible records in Daniel 5:30-31, �In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom....�

All three of these men thought they were successful and they were according to the world�s standards. But according to God�s standards these men�s lives were absolute failures.

How does God see our lives?

The Burning Bush Devotional

What is success and how do we obtain it? The dictionary defines a successful person as someone who has gained wealth, fame, or rank. From the view point of the non-Christian mind, that is probably an adequate definition. I can remember thinking when I was a young boy how wonderful it would be to have a large amount of money. I dreamed of being in the Army or Air Force and of advancing in rank until I became a powerful and important person and on the way achieving wealth and fame. After becoming a Christian, being born again, I began to realize these things: wealth, fame, rank and power were not really the makings of true success.

From Watergate to Travelgate, and now, Monicagate. In between we�ve had the savings and loan mess and an assorted number of other scandals. But if we look at what our society deems to be success it is no wonder that these kinds of things keep on happening. In a Gallop Poll I saw several years ago 59% of Americans as a whole said that they wanted to be rich. 73% of those with no religious affiliation wanted to be rich. Even 53% of Protestants wanted to be rich.

The United States has money on the brain and when a society views wealth and power as the most important things in life people will try to obtain it. The Bible tells us that these things are the result of our ambition: �For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16).�

What is your definition of success?

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Cyndie Pineda.

For those of you who wanted to know more about Cyndie, here is a short autobiographical note: �I am 30'ish, live in West Texas with my daughter (whom God is working on I might add). I am a RN CCRN, unemployed because I have MS, so I like to spend my time writing the thoughts God puts in my head, making web sites for people, and trying to be the best witness to others that I can be.�

Ever go to someone�s house, and see a picture hanging on the refrigerator? Usually some crayon scrawling, perhaps at its best representing some sort of house or animal, or person. And when you look on it, you think "aw how cute, but what is it?" But the parent of the child who drew it looks on it, with a glow in their eyes, and a smile on their face, knowing exactly what it is, able to describe every little detail of the picture.

The parent of the "artist" isn�t looking with their eyes, but with their heart, just as our Father looks on us.

When we look at one another, Christian or non-Christian, do we look with our eyes, or with our hearts? If we look at another with our eyes, we will see all the flaws that are in us all. We may just be seeing the "mess" that is around us or them, a mess that the Lord is going to make into a beautiful work of art. We are human and we fail each other and ourselves. But God looks on us with the heart and eyes of love. As Christians we are His children and as that He sees us.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father�s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31 YLT).�

His love for us is even greater than our love as a parent for our child; it surpasses all love that ever was.

When we look on each other can we see not with out eyes but with our hearts, when we look in the mirror can we do the same?

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13: 4-12 NIV).�

We should not seek to find in man, what can only be found in the Lord, but try to look on one another and ourselves, with the eyes of the heart, not the head.

The Burning Bush Devotional

�For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad (Luke 8:17).�

In the time in which we live we can understand how God is able to keep a record of our lives. Camcorders have made it possible to record in color and sound many of the events of our lives. We know that whatever our capabilities may be that God�s abilities to record our lives are far superior to ours.

For those who have not salvation through Jesus Christ they will one day be at the Great White Throne judgment which is spoken of in Revelation 20:11-12, �I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.�

Those of us who know Jesus as our Savior will one day stand before a different judgment. This judgment is the known as the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, �We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.�

Someday if we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior we will stand before him face to face. His fiery eyes will examine our lives. He will see everything we have ever said, done or thought. The apostle Paul is speaking of this event in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, �For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man�s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man�s work of what sort it is. If any man�s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man�s work shall be burned he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.�

Revelation 1:14 gives this description of the Alpha and Omega, �His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire.� One day those burning eyes of fire shall examine our lives. All the junk, the sinful things, the wasteful things, all of that will be burned away and only those things fit for Heaven will be left. Some, as Paul indicates, will arrive in Heaven only with the smell of smoke upon them and nothing else.

Are we storing up treasures on earth? Or are we storing up treasures in Heaven?

The Burning Bush Devotional

�No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon that is, deceitful riches, money, possessions or what is trusted in (Matthew 6:24 The Amplified Bible).�

This morning while listening to a television news program I heard about a new book entitled, �Mackerel in the Moonlight.� They were wondering why it was called that and the weatherman said it sounded better than, �Flounder in the Floodlight!� The statement �Mackerel in the Moonlight� was once used by a politician in describing corruption. He used it that way because a Mackerel laying on the shore in the moonlight would appear to be glimmering and shiny. Upon closer examination one would find that it was rotting and smelled.

We look around at this world we live in and we can see many of those Mackerels in the Moonlight. A psychological study I read about this morning claims that living in the American society causes mental illness. It was based upon studying people who moved from Mexico to the United States. Our way of life appears to be great but there does seem to be some of the Mackerels laying around.

There is so much of the material that is available for purchase. To keep up with your neighbors you need to have a new car or two. The clothes need to look nice and it may be that you will need a new house to keep up with your friends. The pressure is on! You need to make more and more to buy more and more. And if you can�t make more and more then you feel worse and worse. Last night I heard someone say that our President needed to stay in office because the stock market had went up so many points. Whatever is decided about the President I hope that it is not based on the stock market!

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Cyndie.

Have you ever bought something that had a 90-day guarantee on it, or even a two-yr. warranty? Whatever the length of time, you were always sure the day after the warranty ran out on it, no matter if it was a limited one or an unlimited one, you could be sure whatever was covered on it, would be broken, falling apart, or just plain shot in a matter of minutes after the warranty was up.

Sometimes it seems that love has that same 90-day guarantee on it, or in some cases a five year one or even a 15 year one. It runs out then it�s gone. But is love really like that? Relationships and love are something that we have to work at daily, relationships with our spouses, with our families, and with our Lord.

Seems that we are madly in love at first, nothing we wouldn�t do, but then that feeling wears off and we are left feeling a little lost and neglected. But even when we are not "in love" we still love.

Keeping that fire burning is the work part of it. Keeping in close contact, talking, sharing, and being there for those who are around us. Just as we must do that for others, we must keep the fire burning for our Lord. We must spend time with Him, talk to Him, and share with Him, because even though He knows the number of hairs on our heads, he wants us to share our troubles and sorrows with Him, and not to bear them alone. We have to learn to let Him take care of them. And oh how hard it is to let Him do it sometimes, but He is there to do it always. And the best thing is God doesn�t come with a 90-day warranty, or a two-yr. limited guarantee, but He does come with a guarantee. God and help; and help; and help;.... Special offer, eternal guarantee never to leave you or forget you, always there for you.....FREE with every salvation.

(Jesus says in John 6:37-40, �All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father�s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.�)

The Burning Bush Devotional

Recently someone sent me a copy of Murphy�s Law�s of Combat that was given to Cadet Matt Greb during his first month at West Point. It was interesting to me to see how well those rules seemed to fit in with the Christian life. They fit so well because we as Christians are all involved in combat, a spiritual war.

Several of those rules were right on, such as: Anything you do can get you shot - including nothing. How true! Whether we are fighting for our Lord, running away, or just standing still we are fair game for the enemy. If we think that the enemy will leave us alone if we do nothing we are mistaken. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, �Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.� Sometimes it is easier for the enemy if you are just sitting there doing nothing.

Another one of the Laws of Combat that got my attention was: You are not Superman. There has only been one man that was tempted at all points without sin and His name is Jesus Christ. We need other Christian around us as we live the Christian life. There are several verses in the Bible that communicate this need, such as:

Matthew 18:19, �Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.�

Matthew 18:20, �For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.�

Hebrews 10:24-25, �And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.�

Here are some of the other Rules of Combat and some thoughts that crossed my mind. You may be able to think of some other ways that they apply to the Christian life:

Don�t look conspicuous - it draws fire. (Pride.)

When in doubt empty your magazine. (Don�t be content with just enough holiness to keep the devil at bay.)

If your attack is going well, it�s an ambush. (When souls are being saved and a church is growing the enemy will launch a counterattack.)

The important things are always simple. (How simple is the gospel? So simple that a child can understand. What do we need to do to be happy? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.)

The easy ways always mined. (There are two roads of which the Bible speaks, the narrow road and the broad road that leads to destruction.)

�Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:10-12).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

�If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)�

�For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23.�

�For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).�

Are there any consequences for our sins if we ask God to forgive us? If we are cleansed from unrighteousness, washed and made as white as snow, and our sins are put as far as the east is from the west and remembered no more; are there any consequences for sins that have been forgiven?

Remember King David in the Old Testament and how he committed adultery, ordered the murder of Bathsheba�s husband Uriah? After David is confronted by the prophet Nathan, David then cries out to God in Psalm 51, �Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me (Psalm 51:1-3).� I believe that David would tell you that even after God had forgiven him there were some consequences for his sins.

What were the consequences? They are spoken from the lips of the prophet Nathan who says beginning in 2 Samuel 12:10, �Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, the Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou has given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.�

All of those things spoken by the prophet Nathan came to pass as is recorded in Scripture even though David had been forgiven of his sins! If we sin there are consequences and those wages must be paid.

The Burning Bush Devotional

How can we forgive when someone has hurt us, and why do we need to forgive? In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 the Bible says, �For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth it self against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.� What happens when we do not forgive is the enemy will build a stronghold in our life. We begin to dwell on how we have been wronged. Then, we mentally replay hurtful conversations, or angrily plan the words for another confrontation. These are �vain imaginations (Romans 1:21)� and are good indications that we have unforgiveness in our hearts. If this is allowed to continue, it will progress to bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15 the Bible says, �Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.�

Where do we obtain the power to forgive? We get it at the cross. At the cross, Jesus forgave His enemies and prayed for them. Jesus tells us in Luke 6:27-28, �But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.� Whenever those angry thoughts come, pray for those who have hurt you. Meditate prayerfully upon Luke 6:27-28 and allow God�s Word to soothe you.

Forgiveness is a decision that we must make. We are not to worry about whether or not someone deserves our forgiveness. We must forgive, remembering that we could never deserve the forgiveness that God has made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We must be obedient to God and forgive, as He has forgiven those who have received Christ as their Savior. Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is obedience to God.

Failure to forgive will not only cause us emotional distress, but also physical problems. The emotional distress causes chemical imbalances in our bodies. According to some doctors, as few as 12 hours of unforgiveness is all that it takes before there is an adverse effect upon our bodies. The bible confirms this in Proverbs 17:22, �A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.�

Whatever the hurts, God can heal them. In Luke 4:18 Jesus says, �... He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.� Ask God to heal your wounds, because only He has that power.

Remember, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling, and forgiveness is obedience to God.

The Burning Bush Devotional

�Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5).�

This statement that the apostle Paul makes is or at least should be chilling if you take the time to consider it. Paul identifies non-Christians as �them that are without.� Several images come into my mind.

I still remember the first ice storm I worked in during my first year in the oilfield. In order to paint colored bands on the pipe to indicate the quality it was necessary to use a hammer to beat through the ice to the steel underneath. Most of us huddled around diesel fires to stay warm. Except for one man who had icicles hanging off of his mustache. He was running around in his short sleeves with no coat. Must have been the methamphetamines. Whenever winter comes and I�m safe inside I appreciate the comfort of that warmth. I know there are many that are hard at work even in the freezing cold and that they are �without.�

Another image that comes to mind is an image of times of war. Those somewhat safe beyond the boundary of a countries' borders such as in Albania. When just beyond their border there has been a vicious little war raging with thousands killed and injured.

We who know Christ as our Savior are safely within the walls of Salvation. But there are so many that are without and Paul says we need to �redeem(ing) the time.� There is great urgency with thousands upon thousands dying every day and going out into eternity to a place of torment. Each one of us need to run our own personal rescue ship and we ought to run it within an inch of those burning fires if we can save even one of those that are �without.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Mark Popkes.

Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).�

�He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).�

Just last year during the end of my Junior year in high school, I made some pretty close friends that were on my volleyball team. We had fun together when we just hung out at a friends house playing video games or when we were just going to Carl's Jr. for lunch during school. There was always one thing that I thought that I'd never get myself into�and that was the party scene. I've always been the guy who always stood up for what I believed and the fact that we shouldn't drink was something I was always proud of doing. Well, things changed.

I knew that these new friends were in the party scene, because they would always talk about how much they got drunk or how high they got at the party last weekend. After every volleyball game, there was a party or a get-together, where everyone would get drunk/high if they wanted to. I started to go and had some fun hanging out, but I never drank b/c I thought it was pointless to do so. One Friday night, I was like, "What the heck. Let's get drunk!" Ever since then, things weren't the same.

Spring break came along and I was stoked. I surfed everyday from morning till whenever, then went and partied at friend's houses. It was the best spring break I'd ever had, so I thought. Plus, my 17th birthday was during the week.

Well, I had the best sessions of surfing that week, and partied like a mad man. It wasn't until Friday morning when God talked to me. I got into the TINIEST little car accident, and it flipped out my dad. He asked if I was drinking and I lied to him. And that's the worst feeling. My dad threatened to take away my license and ground me. But as the day went on, he loosened up.

The point is, since I was hanging around the "party crowd," sooner or later, it was going to affect me. After Spring Break, I knew that I needed to get away from that crowd in order to live a healthy Christian life and set an example to my friends.

1 Corinthians is so true: "Bad company corrupts good character." Maybe it's time for you think to yourself, "Am I turning out to be like my friends? Are my friends bringing me down to their level?" If they are, God's probably telling you right now that you should make some good Christian friends. That instead of your friends bringing you down, your new friends can lift you up, encourage you and pray for you. Remember, "He who walks with the wise, grows wise."

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional was written by Cyndie.

Have you ever gone "dumpster diving"? I can remember as a kid, roaming up and down the alleys, in search of great treasures. Some of what we found was indeed worth something, but 90% of what we dug out of the bins was just what belonged there, trash. Still we would search in the midst of all the garbage looking for that one priceless object. Sadly, there are millions of people in the world today for whom "dumpster diving" is a way of life and survival.

Have you ever thought of how God does the same? He goes "dumpster diving" every moment of every day. Matthew 13:46 "Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

No matter how you see yourself, or how you feel God sees you, he looks upon you as that one priceless treasure, lost in the "trash" or sin of the world.

Each and every person in this world, God sees as that priceless pearl. He gave all that He had, His precious Son, and paid the price for it, for you and I.

He doesn�t look down and see His people, His children, as trash, but they are amongst the trash of sin, living there. He was willing to give His most priceless gift to us to rescue us from the "dumpster" of eternal death.

God doesn�t look on us for what we have, or don�t have, of monetary value. There is no level of riches in this life, for true prosperity comes from having accepted the price that He paid, His Son, and receiving the wealth of eternal salvation.

Whether you are out there diving in dumpsters for fun, or for life, or the one who fills the dumpsters up, God sees you as His precious, priceless child, for whom He gave His all. Have you found that "pearl?" He has found you. Are you willing to give up your all for Him? He already gave up all He had for you.

The Burning Bush Devotional

�By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life (Proverbs 22:4).�

Early on in my life I had a problem with pride. There were some things that I thought that I just didn�t have to do or wouldn�t do no matter what. But I learned over the years that I wasn�t above picking up trash from an outhouse or scrubbing nasty floors (While I was working in the oilfield.) if that was what needed to be done. God has a way of letting life take care of our pride.

I was reading in the book of Daniel this morning and King Nebuchadnezzar had a problem with pride. So God had him, �driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will (Daniel 5:21).� But apparently there are some hopeless cases that God just takes out like Nebuchadnezzar�s son, Belshazzar.

Daniel chapter five is where the hand writes on the wall after Belshazzar throws a huge feast and uses the temple vessels to drink wine and worship pagan gods. Daniel interprets the writing on the wall as saying Belshazzar�s time was up, it was finished. That very night Belshazzar lost his life as Darius the Median took over the kingdom.

Pride is what? Pride is appointing ourselves to the throne of our lives. When pride runs supreme we think and obey God only as it is convenient. But God says what? God says, �But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.... (Matthew 6:33).� Jesus says the greatest commandment is: �Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment (Matthew 22:37-38).� If self is on the throne of your life then you are not fulfilling the first and great commandment. If self is on the throne you are not seeking first the kingdom of God. If self is on the throne you don�t really fear God.

The Burning Bush Devotional

�In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:17).�

Yesterday I had car trouble but I am thankful for it and for several things along the way. I am thankful that the car had problems while I was there and not while Jeanie was driving alone on the interstate to or from work. I am thankful for God�s protection during this situation. I am thankful that we didn�t have to walk more than a couple of blocks for help. I am thankful for God�s guidance and wisdom for otherwise we could have been several miles from help. I am thankful for all who have prayed for us. But most of all I am thankful for a God who loves me and for a Savior who died for me.

In the midst of most trouble and problems we can still find things to be thankful for and about. The problem or trouble itself may not be something we would want to thank God for if it comes of evil. But even then we can be thankful that we have a God that we can turn to for strength and peace.

The Burning Bush Devotional

Today�s devotional is written by Cyndie

Matthew 18:12 "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?"

Matthew 18:13 "And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray."

Matthew 18:14 "Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
(New King James Version)

This has always been a favorite chapter of mine, all of Matthew 18, but most of all verses 12-14. The graphic statement it makes as Christ being our Shepherd is more than we can even understand. Not all sheep are those out wandering the mountains alone and lost without God. Have you ever heard of a cast sheep? Sheep, in the unique way the Lord made them, will search of a low spot full of grass, as a comfort zone. When they get into the low spot and begin to wiggle in, they will quickly find themselves unable to upright themselves back to standing. Unfortunately, sheep can not survive this way, once they have gotten this way, they will continue to struggle by themselves till they are laying on the ground, feet in the air, with the blood draining quickly out of their extremities. In this position they will soon die, unless the shepherd comes to help them right themselves.

Do we as humans in our flesh not often do the same? We look for the easiest way, the most comfortable path. It is so easy to sleep in Sunday mornings, or to skip reading the word so we can watch our favorite television show. When do these things, we get "comfortable" in ourselves, losing our focus on the Lord, we become cast sheep. Yes we are to go out and preach to nations, to spread the word of God to others, but we must keep our focus on the Lord also, and keep ourselves and others from becoming cast sheep.

So where was that lost sheep? Out in the world, or right there near you? Jesus never said it would be easy, He said take His cross and bear it. And though He may not always deliver us out of troubles and hardships, He will ALWAYS deliver us through them.

The Burning Bush Devotional

Jesus said in response to the devil�s temptation in the wilderness, �It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).�

Some of you may never have run out of gasoline in your car. It has only happened to me once and that was enough! I was 17 years old and a friend had set up a double date for us. We were on our way to pick up the girls and I was in a hurry. It was a complete shock when the car began to spit and sputter and died. Needless to say we were late for the date, and the evening turned out badly which was probably for the best.

Spiritually we can run out of gas as well. We are busy people and with jobs, children, their activities, our activities, church, our responsibilities at church, and church activities. We are preoccupied with the immediate. Then it happens a crisis comes into our lives and we find that the spiritual tank is empty. We turn to the Lord and try to fill it back up but the crisis is such that everything we take in immediately goes back out. We put on our happy faces and pretend that everything is okay but really we are just barely crawling, trying to make it through another day. Sound familiar?

The fact is we can�t wait until that storm blows in to fill up the tank. Just as we need physical food frequently in order to live we also need spiritual food. We need that daily intake of reading, studying, and meditating upon the Word of God. We also need to pray every day. Jesus says to pray in the Lord�s prayer, the model prayer, �Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).�

Maybe it�s time to fill up the tank?

The Burning Bush Devotional

�The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares death (Proverbs 14:27).�

There is an advertisement on television by an insurance company that gets my attention. The insurance company says that it is in the business of restoration, of putting lives back the way they were. In the commercial there is a wrecked car shown in terrible shape sitting in the midst of a building where it has come to rest. As the commercial proceeds the car begins going backwards and the parts of the car come back together until it is as if the wreck had never occurred.

God is in the restoration business too. While I was a parole officer I had a client that had been placed on probation as a result of his gambling addiction and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution. His addiction to gambling had destroyed his life. At one time he had a loving wife, two wonderful children, a business, and a nice home. Things didn�t improve much for him while he was on probation. He remarried but continued to make the wrong choices until his second marriage had ended and he was close to suicide.

It was at this point that I and a friend visited him one night and shared with him again about what Jesus could do in his life. It didn�t seem to make any difference that night and we were given a cold reception. But a few months later I received a letter from this former client thanking me for what we had shared with him. Now this former client has gone back to school, is off of probation, and is seeing his life rebuilt as he is making the right choices through God�s power.

No, his life will never be like it was before he became involved with sin. Just like a wrecked car can never really be completely restored. But his wreck of a life has been made more than functional and he has found joy in a life lived for the Lord that he never had before.

Let us drink each day from that �fountain of life� found in Jesus Christ who is �the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).� Jesus says in John 4:14, �Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

�For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).�

�Is there really a God?� This is a question that every person considers at some point in life. I remember when I was about nine years old deciding that I would find out if God was real. Maybe I had been to church that day, or heard about Gideon, I don�t know for sure.

To make this test I filled a glass half full of water and place it in the bathroom which was next to my room. I then prayed something like this, �If there is really a God, fill this glass up with water by tomorrow morning.� The next morning the first thing I did was to check the glass of water, but it was still only half full. That night I filled the glass completely full of water and prayed, �If there is really a God, make half of the water disappear by tomorrow morning.� The next morning I checked the glass again, but it was still full of water.

You might think that after my test, I would have given up on the idea of there being a God. But in my heart, before I even tried to test God, I knew already that there was a God. When I had decided that I don�t know, but for as long as I can remember I have known in my heart that God exists. �Is there really a God?� Yes! That has been the answer, the conclusion that countless millions have arrived at over the centuries of time.

Is there a God? I�ve answered that, for myself, in the affirmative, but every person has to arrive at their own conclusion. Whatever the decision, the consequences are eternal.