The Burning Bush Devotional
�Blessed is the man who endures temptation....� - James 1:12 NKJV.
Can you picture it in your mind? Garbage in the streets stacked waist high and growing along with the rats that seem to be growing in numbers as well. In Marseille, the second largest city in France with 800,000 people the garbage collectors are on strike. The smell is growing worse and worse especially with temperatures being 86 degrees (30 Celsius) during the past week. French soldiers are being brought in to try to remove the 3,000 or so tons of refuse. Those looking out from city hall can see mountains of garbage with only some of it being in plastic garbage bags.
Now picture sin as being garbage and look at your life. Is it all nice and tidy or does it look a little like Marseille, France? Maybe you have just a small garbage problem or you are somewhere in between. We do not have an army to call out but the Bible does have some suggestions to help with the clean up and to prevent future problems.
First, we need a good cleaning and I John 1:9 is the only way to do it. In a state of repentance confess our sins to the Lord and ask His forgiveness, His cleansing upon our lives.
Second, once everything is clean we want it to stay that way. Jesus once talked about a man whose demons had been cast out. But the man returned to sin and his last state was many times worse than it had been at first. So we want to be able to endure temptation and resist the devil. Here are some strategies for doing so:
1. Find the way of escape: I Corinthians 10:13.
2. Resist the devil/Come near to God: James 4:7-8.
3. Seek God with all of your heart: Psalm 119:9-16.
4. Listen to wisdom: Proverbs 8:1-11.
The Burning Bush Devotional
�For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.� - Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV.
The television and movie industry openly acknowledge that they are pushing the envelope. They are challenging the norms of society intentionally with much planning. They are going as far as they can go. Where are they going? What are they doing? They are seeing how far they can go before society says they must stop. They are going as far they can go in bad language, sexual innuendo, nudity, violence, and presenting bad as being good.
The constant immorality bombardment of society by the media is resulting in a lack of restraint by members of society. The immorality bombardment results in a warping of consciences. The conscience has been divinely designed to help us steer a course between right and wrong. But the media�s intention and seeming success is the blurring of the lines between right and wrong. They are doing again what was done in the time of the Prophet Isaiah when they called �evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!�
In this new morality right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. In the new morality cheating and deceiving others is the accepted way to success. Lying is an accepted tool which will help you accomplish your deceit and success. Adultery is a byproduct of success. The more successful you become the more adulterous affairs you can afford to have. Homosexuality is presented as one of the new norms of family life. Homosexual activity in the new morality has been predetermined by your genetic makeup.
As I used to hear some old farmers say in response to obvious falsehoods, �Hogwash!� The word is actually in the English dictionary and is defined as: swill or slop (hog food); and as, worthless or nonsensical language. That is exactly what we are being fed day in and day out, �Hogwash!� How do we keep our consciences from being warped from this constant bombardment of �Hogwash!?� The writer of Hebrews tells us that God�s Word will enable us to discern right from wrong. We cannot count on the media or government to tell the truth or even to tell us what is right. But we can count on God�s Word to tell us the truth, to tell us what is right, and what is wrong.
Let us go beyond the milk of the Word to the strong meat because we are going to need strength to face the challenge of the new morality. We need the strong meat of the Word to call what the media is dishing out to us what it really is, �Hogwash!�
The Burning Bush Devotional
A Clear Conscience
�I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.� - Acts 24:16 NKJV.
What would you do if you found a large amount of money or valuables? What would you do if no other person was around and it was up to you whether or not to turn it in? Cruz Escobar a 60 year old woman from El Salvador now living in the United States faced such a situation this week. She was cleaning an airliner when she found a bag. Inside the bag was $20,000 worth of gold, diamonds, and pearls! What did Cruz Escobar do? She turned the bag with the valuables in to her boss. It was then returned to the owner, Vicki Koutsis, who had left the bag on the plane after returning from a vacation in Greece.
Obviously Cruz Escobar has a conscience that is in good working order. Cruz said, �I felt sorry for the woman who had lost it. I always believed what my mother taught me, that you should never keep something that doesn�t belong to you.� But do we believe that? The apostle Paul had a clear conscience. He kept it clear by always striving to do what was right in every situation. We can keep our conscience in good working order by doing the same.
What is the price of a clear conscience? If you have ever had a conscience that wasn�t clear you would understand the value of one that is clear. Clear of what? Clear of guilt, clear of worry about a thing done wrong, or badly, or less than to the best of your ability. Ms. Koutsis said: �The jewelry�s sentimental value would have been irreplaceable.� The value of a clear conscience is far higher. When making decisions, when seeking God�s will, when working each day, in our interactions with others, in every situation let us always strive to keep our conscience clear before God and men.
The Burning Bush Devotional
From a sermon by Clark Wrather
�Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.� - Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 NKJV.
The writer of Ecclesiastes searched for the meaning of life. He felt that riches, endless toil, and pleasures were all meaningless in the end. He does admit that these things have a temporary value, but that the only ultimate source of meaning is God. God was the one thing that was not meaningless.
In is examination of those who are constantly busy, busy, busy, working harder and harder and harder he noted that a lot of people's efforts stem from "man's envy of his neighbor." As such he declares that people are chasing the wind, which in the end is meaningless.
Have you ever thought about a friend or neighbor�s house, clothes, cars, or even money and wished they were yours? Has the thought of being able to afford certain luxuries or purchase certain things motivated you to work longer and longer hours? If so, this writer would name you a wind-chaser. Examine your motives. Examine the things you desire. Do you really need them? Are they really that important? Because in the end your house, your car, your clothes, your bank account, your favorite or most desired thing will not matter at all. The only thing that will count for something is your relationship with God.
How do we stop the wind chasing? The writer of Ecclesiastes does have a solution. He believes that work and other busyness needs to have a balance.
Look at what he says in v 6, instead of folding your hands together, make sure one hand is full of "tranquility" (quietness - NKJV). The word for tranquility is the Hebrew word for rest. Rest means more than the absence of physical activity. It also conveys a rest of your mind. Prov. 29:17 which uses the word advises that correcting one's son will give you psychological rest. It is also the same word used in the ten commandments. Remember God knew all along we needed to rest. He commanded that we set aside one day for this purpose and devote it totally to him. This rest is not only physical and mental, but also spiritual. It means a rest whereby you are spiritually at peace with God.
Our writer to tells to have one handful of this rest, the other of course is to be filled with work. He again notes that two hands filled to the brim with work and busyness is silly, because you are only chasing the wind.
The Burning Bush Devotional
Your Life Is A Garden
�If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.� - Isaiah 58:9b-11 NKJV.
When I was growing up my mother had a huge garden. Most of our food was raised there on the farm. I can remember many hours spent in the vegetable garden. It was filled up with plants but I remember seeing very few weeds. It was so filled with the good plants that the weeds had few places to grow and find nourishment. The same seems to be true with Jeanie�s flower beds. There are so many flowers, and shrubs that there is no room for but a few weeds to grow.
It is the same way in our lives. If we want to keep the weeds out we need to be busy filling our lives with the good things of God. Sadly, all too many fill their lives with weeds. If we want our lives to be a beautiful garden we must spend time in the Word, in Prayer, in fellowship with other believers faithfully assembling together. However, we must go beyond this. We should be reaching out to those around us through our words, through our deeds. As we minister to them our lives will be filled and there will be few places for those old weeds to grow.
Does the garden of your life need some weeds pulled out? Does it need a good weeding? A good place to start is I John 1:9. Confess your sins and begin to plant so many good things in your life that the weeds have no room. Then, as Isaiah says, �You shall be like a watered garden.�
The Burning Bush Devotional
He Is Keeping Us
�For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.� - Psalm 91:11 NKJV.
When I was seventeen I ran off a dead end late at night with a friend. We did have our seat belts on which kept us from going through the windshield. However, it was before shoulder belts and I hit my head on the steering wheel. The car was damaged and not drivable. It was in an isolated rural area in the winter and we walked a mile east to a house but no one appeared to be home. We walked back the mile to the car and beyond it two miles, or more to the west. There we found another house. We knocked on the door but no one would come to the door. We then spotted a house about a half mile away up in a field and headed for it.
By this time we were tired, cold, and my head was hurting even more. It was while we were on our way to the isolated house in the field that something happened. We saw something in the sky. We were afraid at first and began running. Maybe it was the head injury. But then everything changed. We looked back at the house we had came from and the lights were on and the dogs were barking. We ran back to the house and an elderly woman allowed us to use her phone and we called for help.
I can only believe that God sent something to help us intervening in our lives at a most crucial time. What was it? I can only conclude that it must have been angelic in nature because of the help we received. At the time if you had told me an angel had helped me I would have laughed at you. I no longer laugh about spiritual realities. They are all very real even if we cannot see them with our eyes.
The Burning Bush Devotional
�Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.� - Isaiah 41:10 NKJV.
I have been told by doctors that stress whether it is bad stress or good stress will affect you physically. In my case it affects my blood pressure. While our oldest son was still at home he had a way of making life stressful. Most of the time it was good stress.
Before I began pastoring I filled in at churches while their pastors were taking time off and at churches which were pastorless. One of those times we had allowed Clark to stay at home and attend church there. When we arrived back to our neighborhood Sunday evening we noticed a large number of vehicles lining the street. Jeanie commented that it looked like someone was having a party. As we came closer to our home we realized that apparently the party was at our house! People were beginning to leave and not wanting to unnecessarily embarrass our son we waited a few minutes until most had left. Clark explained he had simply invited the youth group over to his house after church (about 50 young people) and they had some pizza delivered.
Surprises. Sometimes they are pleasant and sometimes they can be unpleasant. One thing we can count on in life is there will be always be more surprises. At the same time we can count on our God to be with us as we encounter those surprises. He promises to be with us. He promises to strengthen us. He promises to hold us up with the right hand of His righteousness. When life surprises you, remember God is not surprised, and He is with you.
The Burning Bush Devotional
�Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.� - Psalm 119:133 NKJV.
On Sunday evening, July 20, 1969 at my future parent-in-law�s home I watched Neil Armstrong step from the Lunar Module onto the surface of the moon. I heard Armstrong say those now famous words, �That�s one small step for man - one giant leap for mankind.� It was a small step taken by Armstrong but a step which made the history books. It was a small step which demonstrated in a most concrete way that mankind was not bound to planet earth.
In our own lives there have been many small steps that may have seemed small at the time which were actually giant leaps. The Psalmist asks God to direct his steps. When was the first step you took in walking with God? My first step with God was some 29 years ago when I invited Jesus into my heart. It meant much to me at the moment but I really had no idea of the giant leap I was taking. As Paul says in II Corinthians 5:17 all things did become new in my life. Everything has changed. God continues to surprise me as He directs my steps.
Do you remember some of the steps God has led you to after salvation? Prayer? Church attendance? Bible reading/study? Service? Witnessing? They seem like small steps but each one propels us forward in giant leaps in our walk with God. Life changing, life transforming steps. Has God been speaking to you about a step you need to take???
The Burning Bush Devotional
Just Trust Kitty
�You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in you.� - Isaiah 26:3 NKJV.
A white kitty doll which is based on a cartoon character has become a billion dollar business for the Sanrio company in Japan. The soft plush kitty has caused long lines for those waiting to obtain their own kitty. Fights have broken out at McDonalds among those waiting in line for a kitty. On the black market a kitty can bring over $70 which is ten times the actual cost. Some have reported the doll provides relief from the rising stress of life in Taiwan. Others say it is a comfort in the midst of the current tension with China. Chou Nien-young, a bank manager, said the doll, �helps us relax a little.�
Some seem to be looking for peace in strange places. It is sad to think that so many want peace but do not know where to find true peace. So many have pain from the fear and tensions of life but do not know where to find relief. So many are hurting. So many refuse to look where true peace can be found.
We can have peace in the midst of the trials and problems of this world. We can have �perfect peace� only by trusting God. We must place our hearts and minds on the truths of the Bible. We must remind ourselves frequently that God alone can carry us through what we face in this life. Place your life in the hands of God. He will give you peace, comfort, relief.
The Burning Bush Devotional
The Fine Print
�Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.� - Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV.
Banks through the credit cards they issue are doing a booming business. However, they say they must continue to try to increase the profit line. They do this through increased fees. One man transferring $15,000 to another credit card was hit with a 3% transfer fee. Late charges for some have risen as high as $24. Grace periods once averaging 15 days have disappeared. In other areas banks charge increasingly high fees for returned checks. However, if a bank happens to make an error do not expect them to pay you a fee. Today, consumers are being warned to carefully read the fine print in all financial matters.
In the spiritual world there is also some fine print. In any relationship with the devil, the flesh, and the world you should be aware:
�For the wages of sin is death.� - Romans 6:23a.
�The thief (The devil.) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.� - John 10:10a.
Now you can compare the fine print of the world, the flesh, and the devil to the fine print involved in a relationship with God:
�But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.� - Romans 6:23b.
�I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.� - John 10:10b.
�For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.� - John 3:16.
�If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.� - I John 1:9.
When we begin to examine the fine print it is obvious there are some hidden penalties for choosing the wrong gate. For a complete disclosure of these penalties please be sure to read all of the fine print contained in the Holy Bible.
The Burning Bush Devotional
Thou Shalt Not
Prior to the recent eclipse many warnings were issued about the potential for blindness which could result from looking directly at the solar event. One person who had become blind as a result of looking at an eclipse was warning others about the dangers in advance of the event as well. In France apparently people did not take these warnings to heart. A total of 322 people have consulted doctors about possible eye damage and of these 27 have some permanent damage.
It seems to be human nature to ignore warnings. In the United States we were warned about the need to use seat belts in our vehicles. People ignored these warnings. The use of seat belts has been made mandatory by law but still many people ignore these laws. I think we can agree that the warnings about unprotected viewing of the eclipse was for our protection. We can agree that the warnings/laws about use of seat belts are for our protection. In much the same way the Bible gives us warnings which are for our protection, for our benefit.
We are familiar with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20): Thou shalt have no other gods before me; Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...; Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy; Honor thy father and thy mother; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor; Thou shalt not covet.... These prohibitions (and others in the Bible) are for our benefit. They are holy warnings about the spiritual world in which we live. If we disregard these warnings there will be consequences just as surely as viewing an eclipse without protection can result in blindness.
Every time God says, �Thou shalt not,� He is saying, �I love you.� God is saying, �I love you and I want to warn you of the spiritual dangers of this world.�
The Burning Bush Devotional
Do You Have A Real Thirst?
�Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.� - Matthew 5:6.
We go to church, we pray, we read our Bibles, we may even witness but do we really have a hunger and thirst for righteousness? Does our hunger and thirst end when there is any cost involved?
In the book Thunder in the Valley, which is a record of the amazing spiritual harvest in Africa in the 1980s, Gary Fold shares about at least one person who had a deep spiritual hunger. They were late for a preaching engagement at a bush church when they saw him. He was crawling on his hands and knees. At first they thought he was injured but then realized he was handicapped. They found out later that polio had twisted his legs, and he had large calluses on his hands and knees.
When they stopped and asked the man where he was crawling to they were astonished. The man was crawling to the bush church where Folds was scheduled to preach. But he was afraid he would be late. They took the man with them to the service. Gary Folds commented about this, �I would give anything if the people in my town were as dedicated and loved the Lord as much as that man. They�ve always got excuses why they can�t come to church in their air-conditioned cars with power brakes and power steering. They don�t have as much love for the Lord as that man: unwashed, uneducated, and crawling on his hands and knees.�
Do you have that kind of hunger? Willing to crawl for miles on your hands and knees to a church service? If not, why not ask the Lord to revive you and fill you with a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The Burning Bush Devotional
Today's Devotional was written by Cyndie Pineda.
(Cyndie has MS and has experienced increasing health problems in recent months.)
Imagine yourself walking along a peaceful stream. The trees are rustling, the birds can be heard up in the branches, all the sounds of nature surrounding you. But the water is still, it is just sitting there as you walk along next to it.
You can't hear the water! The only places that you can hear the water are where the rocks are causing it to splash over them, making that gentle sound that only water can make.
Now imagine, God is that stream, that water. Even in the still silence He is there. You can't hear him, but none the less He is there. Sometimes that is just how God is. Waiting for you to be silent and still before Him, to reach to hear Him. Hearing God isn't always easy, sometimes the still places come just when we want to hear Him most.
You keep on walking, just along the edge, hoping to find a place where the water is no longer still and you can hear it clearly. And eventually that time and place will come. But remember this... The water has become rougher and louder because of stones that were thrown in the way of the water. And the water is deepest just past those stones, where the dirt and soil have been washed away.
Sometimes in the silence we pray to hear Him, and only more things come our way, more boulders to stir up the waters. But just beyond those places, are the deepest parts of the living water for us to take part in. And just maybe, if we look at those still places, we might realize that it is the place that He has made for us, so that we can jump in and stop walking along the edge. We can jump in and dive deep so that perhaps we can hear it better as we splash our way through.
But remember, even in those silent places, the water does make sound, it is just harder to hear. It requires more concentration, and closer listening for us to hear, but it is still there, just as He is still there!
Do you want to walk along the edge, hoping to find some place to hear the streams of the living water? Or do you want to dive into His love and hear it as it pours over you? There will always be rough spots to come through, but He will always be there!
I pray that the living waters will pour out over you and cover you in warmth and peace, and that you hear His voice even in the still places of life.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thought of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Oh, for there to be none of me, and only Him that is seen in me!
The Burning Bush Devotional
Come To Me
�Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.� - Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV.
We live in a world of violence, of capriciousness, of unpredictability. We think of the one man who was killed by a tornado in Salt Lake City. We think of the one postal worker killed by the gunman in California. We think of the man killed by a large umbrella blown by the wind at a hotel in Florida. He said a satellite blew up on him. He thought he had been attacked by a satellite antenna. Then there�s the man this week in San Diego who was electrocuted while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.
The world would make us slaves afraid to leave our homes. The world would make us afraid to say anything about our faith. We can dwell upon all the dangers, problems, and possibilities until we have a heavy load which affects all of our life. We can drive ourselves crazy though worry for our own safety and for our loved ones. What are we to do?
Last night I heard a man share about how his son had been a part of Dallas Holm�s (Christian entertainer) road crew one summer. According to the man�s son before Dallas would leave to go to another event they would all lay hands on their van and pray for protection. Dwight L. Moody tells of how he had always had safety in his travels until one night while on a ship it began to sink. They all began praying and Moody read Psalm 91. One woman was convinced it was written just for the occasion. Another ship finally arrived and they were all rescued. J. Hudson Taylor was on his way to China when a dead calm made them sitting ducks for headhunters from a nearby island. Just before the headhunters reach the ship Hudson prays, the wind blows, and they are carried to safety.
What are we to do? We must take all of our burdens, all of our worries, all of our problems to Jesus. He says, �Come to Me....� Let us go and find rest for our souls.
The Burning Bush Devotional
He Is With You
�Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.� - Joshua 1:9 NKJV.
In our community it is the first day of school and it will soon be time for most of this nation�s children and young people to return to the halls of learning. With all that has happened I am sure there is some apprehension among the students, parents, and educators. Oh, for the times when the worst we had to fear at school was the school bully or the paddle in the principal�s office.
Fear can be almost paralyzing at times. Fear for yourself. Fear for your loved ones. Having served as a parole officer I have experienced both in substantial quantities. I�ve experienced fear as I have gone to a potentially dangerous client�s home, while making arrests, while conducting searches and raids. I�ve experienced fear for my family as I know there are those who would want to harm me by harming my family. Some of my clients knew where we lived. Some came to our door angry and belligerent.
My faith and confidence in God grew deeper during those times. I came to trust more in the protection of God than the protection my firearm or even the protection other officers provided. The Lord my God was with me in supernatural power and strength. Just as God protected me, just as He protected Joshua, He will protect you. Look to Him. Go deeper. Pray more. Be more faithful in reading His Word, attending church. Allow these times to give you a deeper faith, a deeper trust.
He will be with you.
The Burning Bush Devotional
The Final Report
Ken Starr has said that after 50 million dollars and many months the final report is being prepared. Which made me wonder about our own final report. The most important record will be whether or not our names have been recorded in the Lamb�s Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). Yesterday a dear saint of God went to be with the Lord. She was in her eighties, she had been a faithful wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, servant of God. �When the roll is called up yonder� as one old hymn puts it, I believe Juanita Coffey�s name will be on the roll.
The Bible says �Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.� Juanita�s life was blessed and filled with spiritual abundance. She had such a hunger for God. Only a few weeks ago she was able to come to church for the last time. She was determined to come one last time. She told me it was the greatest day of her life. Several years ago just prior to her going to live in a nursing home she was late in arriving at church. We found her several miles from the church having driven off the road after passing out. Even though physically she was in pain she was still trying to go to church.
In Proverbs 31:10 the Bible says, �Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.� A final report (If such a report were to be written.) of Juanita�s life would be incomplete without mention of her being a �virtuous woman.� I believe she was the epitome or the ideal expression of the "virtuous woman" because of her hunger and thirst for righteousness.
If someone were to write a final report of your life, what would they say?
The Burning Bush Devotional
Walking the Walk
�Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.� - I Thessalonians 4:1 NKJV.
The apostle Paul in many places in his letters indicates the Christian life is similar to a walk. The Christian walk, however, can be much more challenging than our physical walks. Paul says in Ephesians 4 and 5:
�...walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.�
�...you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind....�
�...walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.�
�Walk as children of light....�
And in II Corinthians 5:7, �For we walk by faith, not by sight.�
Living in a rural area there are different challenges which must be faced in order to take a walk. I was talking with a lady recently at camp who said that she walked each morning on a state highway and rarely saw any vehicles. When she did see a vehicle it was most usually someone she knew and they would always stop and see if she needed a ride. Last week after hearing her share her walking experiences I took our car to the mechanic here in town about two blocks north of the church. As I was walking back there was a man in a pickup who stopped to see if I needed a ride.
I Thessalonians indicates the purpose of our walk of faith is to �please God.� I believe it would please God if we were to stop and take the time to help those around us who are struggling in their walk of faith. Even though I didn�t need a ride when I was walking back from the garage it was encouraging that someone stopped to ask. A few words of encouragement might be all that is needed to give a fresh burst of spiritual energy to a struggling saint.
The Burning Bush Devotional
�Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming - in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning - lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!� - Mark 13:35-37 NKJV.
�He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.� - Proverbs 10:5 NKJV.
There have been some exciting new developments in the research of the disorder of narcolepsy. Scientists believe they have found the genetic problem which causes people to suddenly fall into a deep sleep. Narcolepsy can be very debilitating preventing people from driving or taking part in activities many of us take for granted. With this new knowledge it is believed drugs will be developed solving this problem.
Unfortunately there seems to be no drug for some us who are asleep during the harvest. Our eyes are open but we are sleepwalking past those who so desperately need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. How can we change? We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We must not only see what is happening in the physical world around us but we must also see the eternal. Yes, our coworker may be a difficult person to be around. Our relative, or our neighbor may be even more so. But aren�t they among those Christ died for and would have us to be a living example to? If they were to come to know Christ as Savior would not their whole attitude change?
Let us awake and join our Father in the harvest fields!
The Burning Bush Devotional
The Appointed Refuge
�And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in. Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.� - Genesis 7:15-17 NKJV.
Noah was given the task and the instructions for building the Ark. As the decades went by Noah not only worked at building the Ark but he also warned the people of the coming flood. Safety could be found only in the Ark. It was God�s appointed refuge. I�m sure the people laughing at this crazy man building a huge ship where there was no water. A crazy man telling them God was sending a flood. It had never happened before. If it came they could climb on top of their houses or they could climb to the top of their temples.
The Ark is a picture of salvation found in Christ Jesus. There is a day of judgment, a day of disaster coming. God�s appointed place of safety is in Christ. Only through Him can we find a place of refuge from the wrath of God upon the unrighteous. Many today laugh at Christians. They laughed at Noah. Many today think they may find safety through other things. They probably thought the same thing in the day of Noah. When God shut the door of the Ark it was too late for those outside. There is coming a time when it will be too late for those outside of Christ to enter in.
Are you in the Ark of Christ? Are you warning those around you?
The Burning Bush Devotional
Surrender To The One
�For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.� - I Timothy 2:5-6 NKJV.
�There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.� - Proverbs 14:12 NKJV.
Recently I received an email from Keiv Spare who signed my guestboook saying he believed my website was a scam. Below are some quotes from his email:
�I think the practice of Christian values can be done without being a Christian. I will live my life trying to be as nice and loving and peaceful as possible....�
�I would rather explore the universe through out of body experience and speak to the spirits than have someone tell me that it is wrong or isn't true or that I can't do it.�
�I think religion is good as long as freedom is preserved. At the point a religion takes away freedom of choice, freedom to leave, freedom to change beliefs - then it beomes a cult. I think any church that believes it is the only church, and closes its mind to new ideas becomes obsolete very quickly.�
Keiv just doesn�t get it and so many others don�t as well. The Word of God is clear. There is only One God. There is only One Mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus. There is only one �Way.� No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). True freedom will not come through out of body experiences, or communicating with demons, or through anything this world has to offer. True freedom will only come through complete surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 8:36, �Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.�
The Burning Bush Devotional
Those Who Have Not Seen
�And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, �Peace to you!� then He said to Thomas, �Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.� And Thomas answered and said to Him, �My Lord and my God!�� - John 20:26-28 NKJV.
New evidence has been found connecting the Shroud of Turin to Christ�s Death. Bits of pollen and the impression of flowers on the cloth indicate the shroud came from the Jerusalem-Hebron area. The face cloth which has been displayed in Spain since the 8th century matches the pollen and flower evidence of the shroud perfectly. This indicates that the carbon dating to the 14th century for the shroud is incorrect and must be at least 8th century and very possibly back to the time of the Christ.
Tradition has said all along that this was the burial shroud of Christ and the face cloth in Spain was the burial face cloth of Christ. Tradition in the church has rarely been wrong. However, it is obvious why so many would like to prevent the shroud from being proven to be the burial shroud of our Lord. To concede that this is the burial shroud would give even more weight to the truth of the Biblical record. So they fight on thinking if they can disprove the validity of the shroud they will be able to shake the faith of believers across the world.
Our faith goes beyond what we can see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with our hands, and smell with our noses. Do they think that we are so weak that our faith would leave if there were no Shroud of Turin? Hardly! The early disciples had the privilege of seeing the resurrected Lord. Thomas even touched the wounds but since that time we have walked by faith. As our Lord told Thomas, �...because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).�
The Burning Bush Devotional
�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.� - I John 4:4 NKJV.
While at the Falls Creek youth camp last week I was without a television, or radio, or computer. To use a telephone it was necessary to walk six or seven minutes to a pay phone. There were non-Christians among the approximately 6000 people at the camp. But non-Christians were a small minority which grew smaller as the camp continued. Falls Creek is a place that has been prayed for since the first part of this century and as a result the spiritual atmosphere is far different than that of the world. Falls Creek is usually a mountain top experience where it is easy to meet with God.
Every year we talk to the young people about carrying Falls Creek back home with them. We also warn them about the pressures of the world that will attempt to make them conform. After leaving camp and returning to the world I see things have not changed. The world is still the world. Shootings in Atlanta. Train disaster in India. In Oklahoma City a man in a fit of anger through his eight month old son into a pond (The baby was resuscitated and is okay.). All the spiritual pressure from the world is still here.
The world is still as evil and bad as ever. However, God is still God. The One who is within us is still greater, still more powerful than the world. God can still provide the strength to go through whatever the world throws at us. Someday, this world will end and we will be in a place a thousand times better than Falls Creek. It is beyond imagination how wonderful it will be.
Website of the Day: P.S.A.L.M. Please Sing A Lively Melody
(Link to the Burning Bush to have your site listed as a website of the Day.)
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-16-98)
Have You Sinned?
In Romans 3:23 the Bible says, �For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.� Before we can have salvation we must first realize our need for a Savior. Before we can be forgiven of our sins we must first realize that we have sinned.
One of my first experiences with sin that I remember was when I was four or five years old. My mother had brought us with her to do the shopping and I noticed a large glass bowl full of small knives. These knives were shiny and glittery. The green one was the one that I wanted. But it cost five cents and I didn�t have five cents and I knew my mother wouldn�t give me the money. So I reached into the bowl and took the green knife. I was a thief. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. It was definitely sin.
Usually I can tell that story to a group of people and ask them if they have ever stolen anything and most will hold up their hand. I can then ask if they have ever disobeyed their parents and usually the rest will hold up their hands. Or have they ever cheated, or lied, or deceived anyone?
I was a Christian but I still remember having a discussion with a man working with me. In this discussion I came to realize that it wasn�t just the things that I did or didn�t do that could be sin. I suddenly realized that I could sin through my thoughts. Taking those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) was not an easy thing to do. At that point there was definitely a war raging between my old nature and my new nature.
Most of us can agree that we have sinned and if we have sinned we need a Savior because the apostle Paul also tells us in Romans 6:23, �For the wages of sin is death....� I�m glad that Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 10:13, �For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.�
Have you sinned? Have you called upon the name of the Lord? Do you know someone else that needs a Savior? Why not let them in on the Good News? I wish I had heard about it when I was a little boy with a green knife in my pocket.
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-15-98)
The Fragrance Of Life
In 2 Corinthians 2:14 we are told, �Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.� Another translation says, �But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.�
It�s true just being around or communicating with a committed Christian brings a touch of God or the fragrance of God into your life. As children of God we become used to the fragrance of goodness and it is unpleasant for us to be around those with a different aroma.
The world is constantly spreading a different fragrance, a foul smelling fragrance of death. I believe one of the worst smells of foulness on the internet are the newsgroups (At least for me, for you it may be something else. Not all newsgroups are bad and many do serve useful God honoring purposes.). I used to have a program to access them but have now deleted the program entirely because I believe that it was an entry point of evil.
We must be alert to the fragrances around us. Not only do we want to spread the aroma of life but we want to avoid being influenced by the fragrances of death. Sometimes we must do as Joseph did and flee the foul evil smell. We must guard our heart for it is the wellspring of life. We must maintain our own saltiness if we are to be the salt of the earth. We must keep the cover of evil off of our own light if we are to be the light of the world. But thanks be to God who, if we will follow, will always lead us in triumphal procession in Christ.
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-11-98)
His name, let�s call him, AJ. AJ was on probation sitting in my office. If he had been in church you might have thought that he was the preacher�s boy or the deacon�s. Or you might have thought AJ would be delivering the morning sermon. AJ was clean cut, intelligent but he was also addicted. He had been addicted to various drugs since he was 14. This day AJ had all the right answers, he appeared to be fine but inside he was really a very desperate person.
That same night AJ used a gun to blow open the front door to a dentist�s office to steal the drugs he was addicted to this time. The police arrived before he could get away and he was arrested. AJ went to prison, eventually was released, and at the young age of 21 high on drugs and alcohol lost control of his car and was killed. He left behind a wife, and a daughter, and a mother, and a father, that loved him very much. They had all tried, I had tried. It could have been different. And yet this was the way a life of great promise and potential had ended.
I�m convinced that my life could have ended at a young age in a way similar to AJ�s. But something happened. My wife told me about a man named Jesus who had changed her life. I thought that I was a Christian but I had never met this Jesus. I talked with a preacher and he shared with me Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, �Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.� I opened up the door and Jesus changed my life.
Is there someone you need to tell about Jesus before it�s too late?
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-29-98)
Putting Out Fires
�But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).�
Does cotton burn? That was the question my cousin and I were wondering about. We were both five years old, and while our mothers picked cotton for a neighbor we played in the cotton trailer. I knew where some matches were, and that day when we went to the field with our mothers we planned to find the answer to our question.
Our mothers were half way up the cotton row when I got the matches out and began to see if cotton would burn. Yes, cotton does burn, but you have to work at it. The trailer was almost full of cotton, and we were both working hard at our new game of burning cotton. Thankfully, someone drove by, saw the danger we were in and rescued us. The cotton and the trailer burned up. You know, I don�t remember my mother taking me with her to pick cotton again after our cotton burning experiment.
It has occurred to me that sin is much like the predicament I was in that day long ago in the cotton trailer. Sin looks like a lot of fun, and most of the time, nothing so bad happens in the beginning. Sin is a deceiver, just as the fire was that day in the cotton trailer. I worked so hard at starting something that could have painfully destroyed me. We work so hard at what we think is a good time and what we are really doing is working to destroy ourselves. I never realized the danger I was in while playing with fire. Most people involved in sin never realize the danger they are in until it is too late and their lives have been ruined.
Maybe you have been playing with fire in your life. Jesus is the only One who can put the fire out. Jesus is the One who can save you and put meaning and purpose into your life. I�m thankful today for someone who many years ago saved my life by pulling me out of a burning cotton trailer. But, I�m even more thankful to Jesus, who saved my soul from an eternal burning hell. I�m also thankful, that He keeps the fires of sin put out in my life as I walk with Him each day. Jesus wants to do the same in your life.
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-28-98)
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, �For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.�
Many years ago now the truth of these words were brought to me. We were in Oklahoma City having several things we had to do and things to pick up. One of our last stops was at a shopping mall. I was anxious to arrive there and to be out of the traffic. But it seemed I was continually delayed and nearly every traffic signal turned red just in time for me to stop and wait.
After arriving at the shopping mall we needed to go to the upper level and we headed for an escalator. Just before arriving at the escalator I watched as an elderly lady stepped onto it. She was only part way up when she fell. Her foot seemed to be caught and she was stretched out backward with her head being banged as each step went up. I was able to reach her, raise her back up, and hold her up until another man had arrived and was able to free her foot.
Now I knew why I had been delayed. Our God whose thoughts are higher than ours can see the future and could see this accident happening. He ordered my steps that day so that I would be there at the very precise time necessary. I understand more and more that delays may simply be God working to make the timing right in our lives. I understand too that God is able to order our every step.
Have you been delayed? Are you waiting? It may simply be the hand of God upon your life to protect you or to bring good into your life. It may also be so that you can be a blessing to someone else. �Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).�
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-25-98)
My mother for a short period of time had a pet snake. She had caught it and put it in a cage outside. Whenever she fed the snake she would always have to wear leather gloves because the snake would try to bite her. It didn�t matter how long my mother kept the snake or how much time she spent with the snake it would still try to bite her.
We are told in Romans 6:23, �For the wages of sin is death.� Sin is much like my mother�s pet snake. It doesn�t matter how much time we spend with our pet sin it is still going to give us death. Actually the more time we expend upon our sin the more death that we will receive.
Payday for our sins does not begin upon our physical death. Payday for our sins begins immediately. With every sin we receive a wage. The deeper into sin that we go the more death that we receive. The more sin that we have the deader we are in every area of our life. Romans 8:5-6 is one of my favorites. I like the way the NIV puts it, �Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.�
�The mind of sinful man is death.� We have a choice each day. Let us choose life and peace!
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-1-98)
The Other Cheek
Today (Last year.) I was run over by a truck. Not really, it just felt like it!! I thought I was looking after the interests of our church as a pastor should. I thought that what I had wanted was what would be in the best interest of those affected the most. It feels almost like a truck has run over you when a Christian brother or sister does something that is most uncharacteristically Christian and hurts you and others. It hurts even more when there is little that you can do about it at the time but still that human flesh wants to get even.
My first response was that I wasn�t going to let them get by with this, I can cause them trouble. But then that didn�t sound very Christian either. What was it Jesus said? Where was that? Matthew 5..verse...39, �...resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.� There�s more! �And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.� Here�s the one that gets to me: �But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.�
There is really an amazing thing about giving a situation like mine to the Lord along with all the anger, with all the pain. The amazing thing is you can almost feel the hurt, the pain drain away. I know that God will now use this situation to bring about good which maybe He is already doing through this devotional.
Is there a situation in your life that is causing you pain, distress, anger? Place all of that in the hands of Jesus. Allow the Lord to take care of it for you. When you do that you will find as I did that it makes life much, much easier!
The Burning Bush Devotional (7-22-98)
Be A Ruth
�And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me and more also, if aught but death part thee and me (Ruth 1:16 - 17).� Ruth, if you remember, had lost her husband and was facing a very uncertain future.
One of the people that has had a great influence upon my life is my step-grandmother (Ruth). After her first marriage ended she married my grandfather, and they had about seven or eight good years together until my grandfather's health deteriorated.
My grandfather was unable to work, essentially bound to the house, had a leg amputated with heatlh sliding downwards. Ruth continued to work and faithfully care for my grandfather during these years. She eventually remarried after my grandfather died but this only lasted for about a short time. Now she is in her nineties and living in a mobile home with her daughter (her daughter is a widow). She has had a tough life but, oh, what an example she has been to me, and to many, many others. An example of faith in spite of the bad, in spite of the storms of life, a faith that just keeps on shining through even now. I don't know Ruth's real first name. When she went to school in the first grade she didn't like her name and told every one that she was "Ruth." How fitting!
Most likely if life is tough for you there are those who are watching, marveling at your faith. Your life is molding the lives of those around you just as the life of my step grandmother has molded mine.
Let�s talk about commitments, commitments to some of the Christian disciplines. My first commitment was to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It took a year and a half before I made another commitment. That commitment was to pray each day. Jesus says that, �men ought to always pray and not faint.�
It took some time, several years but I made a commitment that I was going to be at church for services whenever I was not providentially hindered. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25, �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.�
Eventually I became convicted of the need to spend time reading, studying and memorizing God�s Word. Another commitment. Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4, �Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.�
It was during a revival service that I became convicted of my need to be a better witness. In Romans 1:16 we are told, �For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth....�
Commitments by themselves do not a Christian make. But can there really be a Christian without any commitments?
The Scenic Route
Have you ever taken the scenic route? Actually it was going to be a short cut. We could cut through on this road to south of Cripple Creek (Colorado) and then over to Colorado Springs. It looked like only about 20 miles from the turn off to Cripple Creek. Probably only take us 30 minutes.
When we turned off on the scenic route we immediately noticed that it wasn�t paved but then it wasn�t that bad of a road. There was quite a bit of traffic too. But within a couple of miles the highway had narrowed and it was much rougher. I was beginning to wish that I had a four wheel drive (Knocked a muffler and tailpipe loose and finally lost it before arriving home.). It began to rain, and I began to pray that we wouldn�t slide off into one of the canyons. Four hours later we arrived in Cripple Creek, a little older and wiser.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, �Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.�
Before you take that beautiful scenic short cut, you just might want to check it out a little. Because you may not be able to turn around and go back the other way once you have entered in.
In 1991 at a pastor�s conference I had the opportunity to hear an elderly evangelist by the name of Oakley. I believe it was W. B. Oakley. He told of his salvation and call at the late age of 36. He was a farmer and had not even finished High School. But God called and so he left his family and farm and by bus went to where he could finish high school. When he arrived he was heartsick and planned just to get back on the bus and return home but the bus wasn't leaving immediately.
He looked up the street and saw the spire of a little church and so he went up there and tried the door and it was unlocked. So he went inside and at the altar began to cry out to God. He didn't know how long he had been praying but heard the sound of trailing garments and he heard a voice saying, "I will go with you." "I will go with you." W. B. didn't know how many times the voice repeated "I will go with you." But it was enough. He went to high school and then he went to college and then he went to seminary and then he traveled over the world the rest of his life as an evangelist.
Now when he tried to tell some of his fellow classmates at seminary about his experience and about other experiences he had while still on the farm (like walking around his corn field with his hand up in the air holding the hand of God.). The professor and his classmates said, �Brother Oakley you've been having hallucinations.� Now Brother Oakley didn't know what hallucinations meant so he just said, "Amen Brother!"
Now when Brother Oakley learned what hallucinations meant some time later he said he went back. He said he told that professor if he had been having hallucinations he was praying that God would give him some more.
I believe God would say to you as He said to Brother Oakley and as He said to Joshua, �Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9).�
Think of the lame man in Acts chapter three who was laid at the gate Beautiful so he could beg. He was just begging for alms. He just wanted to survive. Just give me some crumbs he was most likely crying out to the people that passed. He had been doing this for years. I think that we all have a tendency to beg of God give me the crumbs Lord, give me the crumbs Lord and we're about ready to give up and we don't know how we can go on.
That's where this lame man was at. He was where you are, life couldn't get much tougher. He had no hope. No one like him had ever been healed. If someone would just give him a few scraps he could live to beg again tomorrow. But there came a day, an ordinary day, a day like all the others when the servants of the Most High, Peter and John passed by. And the lame man heard these words from the mouth of Peter, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
You and I are out there much of the time begging for the crumbs and we have the tendency to think that God has forgotten about us that we might as well give up. It may only be tomorrow, it may only be an ordinary day begun as any other day, when the day comes when God takes you by the hand and lifts you up.
The Bible says that if we humble ourselves under His hand in due time God will raise us up. Joseph humbled himself and he was raised up on what seemed like an ordinary day to become the prime minister of the most powerful nation in the world at that time. Moses spent 40 years wandering in the desert getting a graduate degree in desert survival and he became humble. According to the Bible, Moses was the meekest man on earth. But there came a day, an ordinary day, when he encountered a burning bush that did not burn and Moses walked on holy ground.
Your day is coming too!
During the next few weeks I will be sending devotionals that I wrote during this time last year. Hopefully, this will give additional time to take care of some things this summer. Your prayers that I would be renewed and refreshed spiritually so that I may continue writing would be greatly appreciated. We would also appreciate your prayers for our financial situation. Thank you for all of your love, prayers and words of kindness.
In Galatians 5:22-23 we are told, �But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance....� The NIV translates gentleness as kindness.
Kindness can be a shocking thing when you are expecting the opposite. Before I was a pastor I was a parole officer. My job was to supervise people who had been convicted of a crime. I used different approaches with different people. Sometimes I was forced to be stern and tough. Other times it would be obvious that I was supervising someone that was broken and defeated. I�ve enjoyed seeing the broken and defeated come back to life as they have encountered gentleness, kindness, and goodness.
Our Heavenly Father enjoys touching lives with goodness as well (Romans 2:4). It could be that you may encounter some broken and defeated lives today. Why not follow the Father�s example and shock someone back to life today with kindness, gentleness, and goodness?
The Red Cord
�Behold, when we come into the land thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window....� - Joshua 2:18.
She brought them to the roof of her home to hide them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.. The spies� security depended on the wisdom of this astute woman and the unusual hiding-place of the bundles of flax. They lay still, scarcely breathing while the king's men vainly searched the home for the intruders. The secret was in the meaning of the covering flax.
The flax had been gathered, freed from all the burrs and thistles, heated in the oven, beaten, flayed, reheated and bashed out of recognition, until all fibrous structure was squashed. Then the softened flax had been woven into thread for pure linen or cords. The process over several hours spoke of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, �so that His appearance was marred more than any man� (Isaiah 52:14) �and His form more than the sons of men.� The soldiers blindfolded God�s Son, striking His royal face, mocking Him as they did so. His back was ploughed as the centurion ordered the scourging. Flax illustrated the torture our dear Lord suffered at Calvary.
Rahab covered the spies with the flax as the king�s soldiers sought to discover them. So, our dear Lord�s sufferings became our hiding-place from every onslaught of the enemy. When the Accuser tried to humble and distress us, we sought the refuge of the sufferings of Christ. We pleaded that �He loved us and gave Himself for us� and the enemy of souls retreated, defeated and licking his wounds. Beneath the cross of Jesus, I took my stand. �They are under the blood of the Lamb� is our reply when Satan reminded us of past sins, just as the two men sheltered neath the flax, laid in careful order. She sheltered them, reminding us that our Lord atoned for our sins, covering us with His precious life-blood, shed for us (Joshua 2:6).
Sixty years ago, on holiday in Sydney, I wandered aimlessly down George Street on a Sunday afternoon, attracted by a notice �The red cord running through the Bible.� Captain Reginald Wallis, one of England�s great Bible preachers, taught the truth of redemption, running through the precious Word. He showed that �the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent� (Genesis 3:15); the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12, was the redemption plan for the children of Israel; while Rahab�s red flax cord ensured safety and deliverance to her, her family and loved ones, in the Jericho invasion. He continued in Isaiah 53, showing �He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.�
His preaching opened my eyes. The truth is more precious with passing years. The red cord runs through God�s Word. God honored the promise of the spies as they found Rahab�s home on the wall. Every home collapsed as the trumpets were blown, the people shouted and possessed the city. The exception was Rahab�s home, where she had gathered all her family. The red cord was tied in the window. They were all protected. Oh, the power of the blood of God�s Lamb, which protects us from the assault of the enemy.
Rahab became the grand-mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, and then the great, great, grand-mother of David � yes, the mighty King of Israel. Our Lord Jesus was related in natural descent to this woman of faith . Paul wrote, �Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel (2 Timothy 2:8).� What a great salvation! Rest your eternal security on the scarlet cord of the flax of His Calvary sufferings.
Spend Those Riches!
�Now ye are rich....� - I Corinthians 4:8.
The latest lottery mult-millionaire is Farrah Slad. She was earning nine dollars an hour before she was propelled into the ranks of the rich. She plans to buy her parents a nice house and take a trip to Mexico among other things. Most of us could probably find a way to spend a million or so. It is always interesting to hear the comments of random people being asked what they would do if they had won the lottery. The most common response seems to be immediate retirement although not all lottery winners retire. The second most common response seems to be that they will buy or build a house. Most people having a few million in the bank would spend some of it.
The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians who for the most part are not financially well off that they are rich. He means they are rich in terms of being the sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. As Christians we are already in possession of a large portion of our inheritance. God lives within us through the Holy Spirit. We are richer spiritually than the richest lost person on earth. Now since we are rich, why do we not spend some of those riches? If we had material riches we would use them. We are rich spiritually and we should not bury those riches but we should use them, invest them, multiply them.
Let us each day remember that in Jesus we are not poor! As the Psalmist says our Heavenly Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He owns the hills as well. We may not have a mansion here on earth but our Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. The smallest house in Heaven will be better than the largest and finest on earth.
The Burning Bush Devotional
A Christian Nation?
�Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.� - Psalm 33:12 NKJV.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and as we know most of those signing the declaration were Christians. It is unlikely the signers intended for pagans and devil worshippers to be given equal protection and freedom to practice their religions. I have been troubled to learn that Wiccans now have the right to practice their religion in the armed forces of the United States. Apparently any religion that organizes and demands recognition must now be granted that recognition. Surely this is not what the signers of the Declaration of Independence intended!
We in the United States can comfort ourselves by thinking that we have as many Christians here as any nation in the world. However, does that fact alone mean we are a Christian nation? Is the Lord truly the God of this country when we sanction devil worship by members of our armed forces? Is the Lord the God of this country when abortion is a legal right? Is the Lord the God of this country when the House of Representatives has allowed practicing homosexuals to be seated among them? Is the Lord the God of this country when all manner of immoralities are allowed in our schools but not prayer to the living God?
Some of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. The freedoms which were won at such great cost then are now gravely threatened. Those freedoms are threatened by those of us who do not speak out against the wanton immorality we see. Those freedoms are threatened when we vote for our pocketbook and not for the candidate God would have us to vote for. Those freedoms are threatened by every Christian who is not living in such a way as to be the �salt of the earth� and the �light of the world.�
Dear Father in Heaven we ask Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We implore you to withhold Your judgment and move in the hearts and lives of the people of America that we might come to repentance. We ask that You O Lord would be the God of our nation once again. In Jesus holy and precious name we ask. Amen.
A Patience Of Hope
�For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to come.� - I Thessalonians 1:9-10 NKJV.
Hope is a defining characteristic of the Christian. We have hope of a better life after this life ends. The non-Christian has none or at best some wishful thinking about life after death. Chairman Mao once said, �It is blackest before it becomes totally black.� You can compare this to a common Christian saying that it is �darkest just before the dawn.� The difference is hope. The turning from the things of this world and the placing of our trust in the hands of the living God.
In I Thessalonians 1:3 Paul says about the Thessalonian Christians that he remembered their �patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ....� It is a common trait among Christians. The �patience of hope,� to dare to continue to hope in Jesus even in the face of tragedy. A �patience of hope� that continues on even when it is the blackest and everything, and everyone is saying you should give up. When the world says �throw in the towel,� �let go of the rope,� the Christian continues to hope.
Why do we continue to hope? Because we know there is a God, there is a Savior, and He lives within our hearts. Our Jesus is coming again! Let us continue to hope and be ready for His return!
The Work Of God
�Then Jesus answered and said to them, �Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.�� - John 5:19 NKJV.
�Then they said to Him, �What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?� Jesus answered and said to them, �This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.�� - John 6:29-30 NKJV.
Sometimes it seems as though nothing is happening around us spiritually. It may even seem like we are alone as we labor in His harvest fields. Elijah felt like that. He thought that he was the only prophet of God that was left in the land and that he was all alone. God told Elijah (I Kings 19:18), �Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Ba�-al....�
In 1995 I was returning with my family from a trip to Hawaii. My sister was living in Hawaii at the time. On the last part of the trip from Dallas to Oklahoma City I was seated next to a young lady who was very frightened of flying. To take her mind off of flying she talked the whole time. She was a native of the Solomon Islands and had been home to visit her family. She and her husband were in college in Oklahoma. As the conversation turned to spiritual things she shared how that until a year before she had been as she described it a �party animal� as were most of the others from the Solomon Islands.
The young woman shared her testimony of how she had become a Christian. Everything had changed when a Christian living in the Solomon Islands had developed a deep burden from God for those of his people living in the United States. This man left the islands and went first to Enid, Oklahoma. There one by one he began to win them to the Lord until by 1995 a small church that had been started. This missionary from the Solomons then left Oklahoma as did others he had won and scattered across the United States to win other of their people.
Here as I was sitting on the plane bound for Oklahoma City was living proof of God�s amazing work. One man�s obedience had changed everything for these people. God is at work all around us. Will we join Him in His work? Let us be alert to where God is working and join Him in His labors.
A Far Country
�And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.� - Luke 15:11-13.
The parable of the Prodigal or Lost Son is most likely the most well known of the parables of Jesus. I have heard more sermons on this parable than on any other. When we think of prodigals we tend to think of people like Franklin Graham the son of Billy Graham. He obviously grew up in a Christian home and received the benefit of the best Christian training. However, Franklin still strayed far away from the Lord before returning and becoming the great evangelist that he is today.
The lost son lived in a far country wasting his inheritance. As with most of the Bible we need to look beyond the physical world to the spiritual realm. What is our spiritual inheritance? If we know Jesus as our Savior we are the sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ dwells within every believer (1 Cor. 3:16). Our inheritance consists of the glorious riches (Philippians 4:19) to be found in Jesus Christ. The question we must answer is whether or not we our good stewards of our inheritance or are we wasting our inheritance?
In order to take advantage of our spiritual inheritance we are given instructions (There are many other verses that could be mentioned.). We are told to �Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33).� We are told by Jesus, �If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).� Jesus says in Matthew 4:19, �Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.� Are you? Are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Are you denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following Him? Have you caught any fish lately?
If we are not following the instructions for taking advantage of our spiritual inheritance I would submit to you that we are living in a �far country.� Not only are we living in a �far country� but we are wasting our inheritance, the �glorious riches� of Christ.
No Statute of Limitation
�Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life and the dead were judged.... And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.� - Revelation 20:11-12, 14 NKJV.
It was announced today that a reward of five million dollars is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Serbian war criminals. One spokesman said, �There is no statute of limitation on these crimes.� In the United States there are statutes of limitation for many crimes. This means that if someone is not captured and sentenced after a set amount of time they are free from punishment. For example, in most states there is no statute of limitation for the crime of murder. If someone is captured 50 years after the crime they can still be prosecuted. However, many minor crimes like burglary have a set number of years before the perpetrator is free from punishment from that specific crime.
There is no statute of limitation for the spiritual crime of sin. The penalty does not run out even at death. What is the penalty? In Romans 6:23 we are told �For the wages of sin is death.� In Revelation the judgment scene is described with the dead being brought before God. Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. This is called in verse 14, �the second death.� However, there is a way to escape �the second death.� Jesus can become our Statute of Limitation for the spiritual crime of sin. The Bible says in Romans 10:13, �For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.� �For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).� "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)." Have you called upon the name of the Lord?
Master Of Disguise
�Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.� - James 5:16.
There is a serial killer on the loose in the United States. Rafael Resendez-Ramirez has made the FBI ten most wanted list. He is said to be a master of disguise. He uses facial hair and glasses to change his identity. He also changes social security numbers and names. On the surface he appears to be normal but really is a dangerous and violent person.
James 5:16 is a verse we are very familiar with. We quote the verse often and claim its promise. However, many of us fail to comply with the first phrase of the verse: �Confess your faults one to another....� The NKJV says �trespasses.� Often we are good at pointing out the faults, the trespasses of others but not nearly as good at identifying out own. It is not because we don�t know our faults it is because we don�t want to appear to be less of a Christian than those around us.
Many revivals have begun when suddenly the Holy Spirit has come upon a group of people and they began to confess their sins. Once a person has made a confession it seems easier for others to confess sin. It is not necessary to share the intimate details of our lives but neither should we have an �holier than thou� attitude. We must not be masters of disguise hiding our real selves behind a pretend holiness. To do so harms not only ourselves but others by hindering the work of the Holy Spirit.
�Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.� - Psalm 46:10-11.
Multi-tasking seems to be everywhere. We exercise and listen to cassettes as we walk or run. Now you can not only listen to a cassette or radio but you can surf the web while exercising. At least you can in some health clubs. We use the cell phone while driving. We have our pagers with us everywhere. I am somewhat troubled by the laptop fitted with straps so it can be strapped onto a steering wheel!! We have to be doing at least two things at once or we feel like we are wasting time.
Not all multi-tasking is bad and it has been around for a long time. C. H. Spurgeon said he once counted eight streams of thought while he was preaching. I usually have only three. While I am preaching I think about what I am saying, what I am going to say and how it will affect various people present. Maybe there is four, as I am listening for the Spirit all during the time I am preaching. Using technology has increased the amount of things we can accomplish and the ease with which we can accomplish them.
Multi-tasking can, however, be harmful to our spiritual health. Have you ever found yourself trying to read the Bible while you are watching television? Have you ever read the Bible while listening to the radio? We need to become single taskers for at least a short period of time each day. We need a time when we concentrate on nothing else but God. �Be still.� It is hard to be still when we have so many stimuli poring into our minds. If we are still we will �know that I am God.� If we are still we will know that �The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.� What great strength it will give us to be refreshed and reminded each day that there is a God, He is with us, and He is our refuge for whatever we may face during the day. Turn off the television, the radio, the phone, the pager, the computer, the treadmill and �be still.�
�For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one�s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one�s work, of what sort it is, If anyone�s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone�s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.� - I Corinthians 3:11-15 NKJV.
Last week we visited Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo, Texas for the first time. It is a placed filled with the natural beauty of God�s creation. There are some unusual rock formations in the canyon. One of the formations is called the �Lighthouse.� It is composed of two stately columns rising many feet in the air. We hiked over four miles to gain a better view of this unusual formation. These rock formations which come in many shapes and sizes are called �Hoodoos.� The formations are formed over years of time as the vegetation, dirt, and loose stone are washed, and blown away.
The beauty or in some cases the lack of beauty is revealed by the force of nature. The same will occur some day for Christians as we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. All of the worldly and fleshly things in our lives will be burned away. What is left will be what we appear to be in the eyes of the Lord. We have to wonder if our personal Hoodoo will rise stately and beautifully like the Lighthouse? Or, will we because of sin, and the attractions of the world appear small, twisted, and ugly?
Each day we have an opportunity to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ in our lives. What is it that we have built?
Confidence in God
�Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.� - Colossians 3:21 NKJV.
In this verse we see the goal of Christian fathers as being to raise children who are not discouraged. We see also it is the responsibility of Christian fathers not to do those things that discourage their children. So we should strive to be fathers who give hope, joy, confidence, and courage instead of discouragement.
The kind of confidence we want to instill in our children is not self-confidence. We want to instead instill God-confidence in them. We are taught by the world to build up a child�s self-confidence, to build up their self-reliance, build up their self-esteem. However, that is contrary to what the Bible teaches. If you look at the life of the apostle Paul you see a man who at one time was very self-confident. He was also confident in his heritage of being a Jew of Jews and of his great learning under the greatest of the Jewish teachers of the time. Twenty years after Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus God was still working to rid Paul of his self-confidence. We see this in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 where Paul says, �For we do not want you to be ignorant brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, THAT WE SHOULD NOT TRUST IN OURSELVES BUT IN GOD who raises the dead....� If Paul had the problem with self-confidence 20 years after his salvation some of us may have the problem as well.
In order to instill God-confidence in our children we must live it out before their eyes and before God. It is important for our children to see that we trust more in God than in money. It is important for our children to see that we find more joy in worshipping God than in sports, or hunting, or fishing, or even in our jobs. As our children see our confidence in God they will come to have it as well.
Happy Fathers Day!!!
The Burning Bush Devotional
Is There A God?
�Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?�
�Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed my limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, �This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!�� - Job 38:4-11 NKJV (Read Job 38-41 for the complete questioning of God of Job.).
The homosexuals have come out of the closet and now it seems the atheists are coming out as well. A front page article in the Daily Oklahoman discusses an interview with the leader of an Oklahoma organization called �Oklahoma Atheists� made up of 22 people. But the organization claims there are thousands of atheists living secret lives. Atheists deny the existence of God completely. Then there are agnostics who think that the existence of God is possible but unlikely. Not a whole lot of difference.
To all the atheists out there, God has some questions for you. They are the same questions God asked Job thousands of years ago. Why not read through them and see if you have some answers? Job believed in God but he did not have any answers for questions which were beyond the human mind�s ability to answer. Some of the questions we think we can answer today because of the advances in science. But still most we are unable to answer. Every question that we are unable to answer points to the existence of a divine intelligence which does have the power and wisdom to answer those questions.
I never had a problem with doubting the existence of God. When I was just a child I knew there was a God. There had to be! There was no other answer for the questions of life. Living on a farm and contemplating nature I knew that these things did not create themselves. Since then I have come to know God personally. I know His Name. He knows my name. I�ve talked to Him today. He has spoken to me today. I don�t always like what He tells me. But He is God, and He is always right. Maybe that is what the atheists really don�t like?
�And He said, �What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.�� - Mark 7:20 -23 NKJV.
The latest computer virus is described as being a Trojan Horse. It arrives in an email from a friend or known source with an attachment similar to: worm.explore.zip. This morning I received five emails from a person I was not familiar with but the subject was in reference to the past few devotional I have sent. I am not positive but the attachment may very well have been the newest virus. I have deleted the emails as a precaution.
The original Trojan Horse was a hollow wooden figure filled with soldiers. It was given as a gift to a fortified city. The gates were opened and the soldiers who were then within the walls launched a surprise attack on the ancient city of Troy. Once they were within the gates there was little opposition. Once the �worm� is inside the computer there is little to stop its destructive nature. It is the same way with us as people. Once the evil is inside our hearts it begins its destructive pattern. The evil corrupts our nature and begins to flow out in all kinds of evil forms to attack those around us as well.
I think we can see the key to defense is being very alert and watchful as to what is allowed within the gates. In our case we must be careful as to what we allow into our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). The enemy is very clever and uses all kinds of attractive things and schemes to worm his way into our hearts. We must take our stand as we continually resist and overcome through the power of God these Trojan Horses of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).
(The html enhanced version of the devotional will be sent again beginning sometime this week. If you were already on that list no action is needed. If you have an html capable email program and want to receive the enhanced version please contact me and I will add you to that list.)
�What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.� - Mark 10:9.
Over the weekend my cousin was married and I had the privilege of performing the ceremony. It was a small wedding with only a few in attendance. So they had no need of the new wedding insurance that is now available. The new wedding insurance provides for coverage of the wedding event. So, if the bride or groom are somehow temporarily incapacitated or some other unforeseen disaster occurs they will be able to afford to reschedule the event. Many weddings are very expensive so insurance for the event seems to be a logical thing to do.
If only we had marriage insurance. Many couples try to insure their marriage through prenuptial agreements. Of course this only protects them financially and is of little value in preventing the heartache of a broken marriage.
We need to remember that marriage is God�s idea. If it is His idea then He must have the resources to enable a marriage to be successful. I believe God does have those resources. I know that being faithful in church attendance has strengthened my marriage. I know that praying for my wife and her praying for me has made us stronger. I know that as we have read and studied God�s Word together it has brought us closer. As we have served God together we have experienced a greater joy in our marriage than at any other time.
The only real insurance I know of for a marriage is God. If we leave God out of our marriage we are just asking for trouble. If we include God most likely we will never have a need for a prenuptial agreement or for marriage insurance.
�My God sent His angel and shut the lions� mouths, so that they have not hurt me....� - Daniel 6:22 NKJV.
Today there are still many being eaten by lions. The devil, the Bible tells us, is a roaring lion who goes across the world seeking those he may destroy. He uses many methods and means to do his destructive work. Just this week on a news program I watched a former minister describe himself as being a sex addict. The former minister is still actively involved in use of the computer to soothe his cravings. The names of these modern day lions may be pornography, sex, alcohol, drugs, debt, depression, or even food. But these lions are no less deadly than the ones Daniel faced.
How did Daniel through the power of God overcome his lions? We have to remember why Daniel was in the lion�s den. He was there because of his civil disobedience to a king�s decree forbidding prayer to any but the royal idol. In the face of a possible death sentence Daniel continued to pray three times a day just as before. Apparently his windows were open and if anyone passed by they would know Daniel was still praying to his God. The lions of this world claim our time and through the misuse of our time alone we make them idols. We give so much time to our lions and to the world we have little time left to pray to the One true God. Much less to pray three times a day or to pray �without ceasing.�
Could it be that James is right when he says in James 4, �Resist the devil and he will flee from you�? If we became serious about our prayer life, and serious about the reading and studying of God�s Word, and serious about faithfulness in assembling together with other believers would not the lion�s mouths be shut? God still has legions of angels which can send the devil and minions fleeing. If the lions are attacking, keep increasing your prayer time, and your time in the Word until they are silenced. God still has the power today to shut the mouths of lions.
Prisoners of the Lord
�I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called....� - Ephesians 4:1 NKJV.
We all have days when things, circumstances, are not ideal. Some of us have days, and months, and years of physical problems and pain. The apostle Paul knew about physical pain because of his �thorn in the flesh.� He also knew about other problems of life ranging from shipwrecks, stonings, snakebites, to being a Roman prisoner. Paul writes to the church at Ephesus while he is a prisoner in Rome. He says, �I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord....� Paul does not consider himself to be a Roman prisoner but a prisoner of the Lord.
Paul considered himself to be above Rome, above his problems, above his circumstances for he was seated in the heavenlies with Christ. �...which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church... (Ephesians 1:20-22).� In Ephesians 2:6 Paul also says, �and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.�
Paul seeing himself in Jesus, saw himself above his circumstances. Because in the eternal reality of eternal life Paul was seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Through Christ, Paul�s circumstances and the circumstances of every child of God should be only avenues to put on display the glorious riches of Christ.
�And they said, �Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.�� - Genesis 11:4 NKJV.
It seems we are still building towers. First was the Tower of Babel. Notice they wanted to �make a name� for themselves. We have had a succession of tall buildings such as the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sears Tower in Chicago, and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. Since 1996 the Petronas Towers has been the tallest building in the world. However, it has recently been announced that a 112 story building is planned for Chicago. This will reinstate Chicago as the home of the world�s tallest building. The builders of this new tower are confident that the concept is right for Chicago and for the 21st century.
We see in this story of towers people out to �make a name for themselves.� The Sears Tower, the Petronas Towers, and the 112 story building planned for Chicago have that in common. They all wanted to be the tallest, the best, the biggest. The builders are absolutely convinced their building concept is on the right track. The builders of the Tower of Babel thought the same. However, they left God out of the planning process. As a result the builders of the ancient tower were frustrated. �Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).�
Whatever we do in our lives, whatever we plan in our lives, let us remember to include God. Let us not just include God at the end by asking His blessing upon what we have done. Let us instead make sure our plans are His plans from the very beginning. It will save us much frustration and heartache.
�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.
When I was in junior high I was having trouble with spelling tests. We were to spell and then write out the definition for twenty words. It all changed when I decided to study and memorize the spelling and definition of the words. Instead of a barely passing grade I began receiving perfect scores on the spelling tests. But there was a price to pay. It was a matter of discipline. I had to discipline myself to spend the time necessary to study and learn the material.
In most areas of life we know that in order to excel we must be disciplined. Certainly an athlete must be disciplined to attain Olympic form and quality. An artist must practice his art as must a musician. Most, however, seem to resist the idea of discipline for the Christian in mastering the Christian disciplines. Jesus in Luke 9:23 is clearly stating the need for discipline to live the Christian life. He says it will not be easy when He says to take up our cross and to deny ourselves. He makes it clear we are to be disciplined when he says to do this �daily.�
It takes discipline to read the Word of God regularly, to pray frequently, and to attend church faithfully. Of course, these things alone do not make up for a life wholly given to God. But they are necessary before a life can be wholly given to God. Margueritte Bro, a great prayer warrior, once said, �In almost any skill allied to science, or plain old living, it is every day that counts. Prayer grows in meaning as we grow in practice. The very regularity of our period of devotion works for us... inducing the mood and quality of devotion.�
�The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.� - James 5:16b NKJV.
At our children�s camp this last week the theme was �Pray Hard.� Camp T-shirts featured an illustration of legs from just above the knees down. The knees of the jeans were worn out indicating someone had been praying hard on their knees. Sad to say but I think our attendance at camp this year was less than some previous years possibly because of the theme. How many children have ever seen their parents on their knees in prayer? Or anyone else? Many children have never seen their parents praying at all much less on their knees.
When I pray I may pray while I am sitting, or standing, or walking, or while kneeling, and in other positions. I pray out loud and I pray silently. The Bible indicates in I Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to pray continuously, �pray without ceasing.� The one thing I am sure about prayer is that I don�t pray enough or fervently as I should. There is something about prayer that seems to make us uncomfortable. The first time I ever saw someone on their knees praying was when I began attending church after a long period of absence. The church was having some problems and the pastor asked all the men to come and kneel at the front pews and pray. By the time I arrived at the front to pray I was literally shaking. Seeing all those men on their knees somehow changed my perspective on prayer. Prayer seemed to be a much more serious thing than before.
Bending the knees occasionally can work wonders for your prayer life. Pray fervently! Pray hard!
Copyright 1999. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.