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The First Burning Bush Devotional was sent June 8, 1998.
THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL ARCHIVE

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

04.22.19

Stop the Pain

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. THERE SHALL BE NO MORE PAIN, for the former things have passed away." - Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV.

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil. - Proverbs 2:10-12a NKJV.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. - James 3:17 NKJV.

There has been such pain across our world in recent days with the horrific Easter bombing of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of Christians peacefully worshiping their Lord ripped from this world to the next. However, the pain inflicted by those led by hatred instead of peace was not limited to just Sri Lanka. How many were killed by hate filled people in just the last week? Likely the number, if known, would be in the thousands. Just in the area where I live there have been three brutal murders that has caused great pain for their families. One of those killed I knew, as he attended the same high school that I attended.

For us who know Jesus as our Savior we have the glorious promise that is given in Revelation 21 that someday ...there shall be no more pain! But certainly, it is not God's will that there be pain in our lives even now. How can the pain be stopped? How can people be turned from their evil ways? Revelation gives us the answer to that: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." Did you get that? "...the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." For those who know Jesus as their Savior, God is already dwelling with them as we are told in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Once "the Spirit of God dwells in you," He is a force restraining you from causing evil and pain.

The writer of the Book of Proverbs tells us that we need wisdom. Wisdom will "deliver you from the way of evil." How do we obtain this kind of wisdom? "Wisdom that ...is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." In James 1:5 we are told, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

There is a solution available to the pain and evil that is running rampant across our world. What is that solution? His Name is JESUS! Give them JESUS and stop the pain!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

04.13.19

No Shortcuts

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.

The Message puts Matthew 7:13-14 as: Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention.

All the high winds that we have experienced here in Oklahoma caused our DISHtv system to develop some problems. Monday the DISHtv technician arrived to try to solve our system problems. I thought it might only take him a few minutes to remount and reposition the dish and he would be done. Instead, it took a couple of hours. The technician discovered that the cable in our attic was not a DISH approved cable, and proceeded to replace it, even though it must have been more than 100 degrees in the attic. He said the old cable would likely have been okay. Then he said, "I don't do shortcuts." "No shortcuts."

Sadly, many try to find a shortcut to God and end up on the "broad" way instead entering at the "narrow gate." Many try the shortcut of trying to do more good things than bad things. However, we are told in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." There is only One Way to salvation and reconciliation with God. The narrow gate and the way is Jesus Christ! John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"

After we have believed upon Jesus unto salvation there are still no shortcuts. There is no shortcut from being a baby in Christ to becoming a mature believer. There will be no growth as a Christian without Bible reading and Bible study. There will be no growth as a Christian without spending time in prayer every day. There will be no growth as a Christian without faithful church attendance. There will be no growth as a Christian without serving your Lord and Savior.

Jesus could have taken a shortcut by accepting the devil's temptations of Matthew 4, but He defeated those temptations by the Word of God. Jesus could have rejected the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane, instead He prayed in Matthew 26:42, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." Just before being nailed to the cross, Jesus could have taken a shortcut as we are told in Matthew 27:34, "they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink." This would have been a shortcut, a small shortcut at best, around some of the suffering of the cross. But Jesus refused to take that shortcut, going to and through the cross because of His great love for us. There was no shortcut to Jesus becoming our Savior. It was a long hard road that Jesus traveled.

Life can be difficult, and your Savior knows that all too well. There are no shortcuts to a life well lived, but Jesus will travel with you on that difficult way. Jesus says, "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 11:29-30)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.29.19

Surrounded

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears." - 2 Samuel 22:1-7 NKJV.

While I was a Probation and Parole Officer, I received word that I had a new client in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Ellis County is a rural, somewhat isolated county. I had tried to contact the client, Charles, but had received no response. After arriving in Arnett, the county seat of Ellis County I learned that Charles owned a bar directly across from the courthouse. As I remember it, he was on probation for the non-violent offense of Knowingly Concealing Stolen Property.

After learning about the bar, I walked across the street to find Charles at his bar. There were eight or nine men in the bar, and I asked them where Charles was at. Apparently, they discerned that I was some type of law enforcement and then they surrounded me. I learned from this experience that lone law enforcement officers in bars are not in the safest environment. It took some time, but I was finally able to convince them that it would be to the advantage of Charles to make contact with me to avoid having his probation revoked. Thankfully, I was able to finally leave that bar and a few angry men behind. Charles did make contact about a week later.

King David knew what it was like to be surrounded: When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

David also knew what to do when he was confronted by this evil: In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

When we are surrounded by evil or by the cares and problems of this world we need to remember as David did that: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge.

Remember too that if you are a believer you are not alone, because you are surrounded by the love of God: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.25.19

Think Before You Act

But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. - Matthew 26:50-52 NKJV.

We know from another gospel that it was Peter who swung the sword cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest. The man probably deserved to have his head cut off, which was likely what Peter was attempting to do. Not sure what Peter was thinking, since the disciples only had the one sword. You could say that Peter was a little impulsive. From another gospel we know that Jesus touched the man and healed the ear. That should have been enough for all of those who came out to arrest Jesus to have turned and went back home. However, even seeing a miracle will not stop some from committing evil.

30-year-old Holly Albert was determined to go to her yoga class, and she wanted her mother to drive her to the class. Holly's mother refused, which made Holly go a little crazy shouting insults at her mother. She then grabbed up a phone throwing and hitting her mother in the head. The mother used the phone to call 911, and the police did respond; arresting Holly for assault, which could result in her having to serve several years in prison. Why did Holly want to go to the yoga class so badly? She wanted to meditate.

The title of the devotional could have been: Think before you do something stupid and ruin your life. How many lives have been ruined by just a moment of impulsiveness? Millions? Open up any newspaper, listen to almost any local news program and you will hear about someone who has messed up their life in a moment of impulsiveness.

It doesn't have to be that way! At least not for a believer. If you are a child of God, you have the tools to keep you from impulsively making wrong decisions. You have the Word of God, you can go boldly to throne of God Almighty in the Name of Jesus and ask for help, you have the presence of Holy Spirit dwelling within you restraining you from evil, and you have other believers who are more than willing to help you if you ask for help.

Before you do something crazy, take a moment to consider what the consequences are. Take a moment to cry out to Jesus for help. God says this: "Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver You (Psalm 50:15)." Let God help you!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.20.19

Cut Off at the Pass

Then God's anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; so he struck her again. Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam's anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" - Numbers 22:22-28 NKJV (Read the rest of the story in Numbers 22)

You could say that Balaam was cut off at the pass! I was once cut off at the pass by a large group of native-Americans. It was when I was 17 or 18 years old playing guitar in group. We played at dances all over western Oklahoma and one of those dances was at Canton, Oklahoma where there is a large native-American population. After the dance was over, we loaded all the equipment into the trailer; and, I was simply tired and relieved and let out a war whoop, something I did from time to time. However, there was a large group of native-Americans at the dance, and they rightly took offense thinking that I was mocking or taunting them.

Driving off from the dance venue to the main road was a dirt road about a quarter of a mile long. Before we reached the main road, we were cut off you could say at the pass by a long line of native-Americans running to intercept us. They were yelling and rocking the car and at least a couple of us were a little frightened by this! Especially as one of them was tapping on the window with his knife. Two of the members of our group who had booked the dance, and knew some of those surrounding us, got out of the car and defused the situation. I think that was the last time I ever did a war whoop!

Balaam was blocked by God from doing something really stupid at least that time. I believe God has used the situation I described in my life to block me from being so insensitive to people around me from that point on.

Have you ever been cut off at the pass? Has God blocked you from doing something that you thought was a good thing at the time? Since that time God has blocked me from many other things and delayed other things. I've come to recognize that God indeed knows far better than I will ever know about what I should do or not do.

Every time God blocks us or delays us, this is a good thing! We can rejoice that God has intervened and is at work in our lives. We can rejoice that He cares about us personally, individually enough to stop us from what would harm us or others.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.25.19

In the MIdst

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

Yesterday at our church in the morning service, I was holding a hymnbook (Yes, we still use hymnbooks.) and it fell out of my hands. It actually felt like it jumped out of my hands. Prior to the evening service, as I walked by the Lord's Supper table which has a Bible sitting on it, the Bible fell off. Or, did it jump off? I'm not sure which one because neither my wife or myself actually saw what occurred; but we heard it hit the floor.

After I have thought about this, I have come to believe it was simply God reassuring me of His presence. Of course, we pray for His presence, and we want His presence; but we are still surprised when He shows up!

I have been having a problem with my voice and although it is improving now, for several weeks, I never know how my voice is going to sound until I begin to speak. It is stressful to think that as I stand before the congregation that I may not be able to say anything. That did happen to me one Easter Sunday in the middle of a sermon at another church 12 years or so ago.

Yesterday, I felt was an especially important Sunday with baptisms planned in the evening service. It would have been an awful situation for me not to have been able to speak! I was praying about this, my family was praying, our church was praying about it...and my voice was good all through the services.

So, yes, I believe that God showed up yesterday and manifested Himself in a more physical presence than usual just so I knew that He had my back on this. The services were good, and we were blessed as two move precious souls followed the Lord in baptism. Jesus was there in the midst of us!

Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit? Sometimes He uses little things to reassure you, to encourage you, to show you the way, and to give you the strength you need to go one more mile. Maybe He is speaking to you through some little thing even now? Are you watching? Are you listening?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

11.09.18

A Christmas Miracle

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'"

Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David."'" - 2 Kings 20:1-6 NKJV.

With all of the bad news we are saturated with every day it is a miracle whenever we hear some really good news. 11-year-old Roxli Doss has received some really great news! Her inoperable brain tumor is gone, God has once again done the impossible! The parents of Roxli were praying for a miracle and God gave them a miracle!

One thing that is also miraculous is that the parents of Roxli actually had the faith to pray, and to believe, that God could heal their little girl. This kind of faith is becoming more and more rare. As in, the doctor said you are going to die, so you are going to die - no need to pray. Sometimes that is true and sometimes, it isn't.

Hezekiah received the bad news that he was terminal directly from the prophet Isaiah and Isaiah had heard the bad news directly from God. However, even though there had been a pronouncement of death from Heaven above it was not the end of the story. Because, Hezekiah had the faith to pray, and God gave him 15 more years of life on Earth.

Why does God give healing to one, and not to another? Many godly parents and individuals have prayed for healing for a child or for themselves or others and there has been no Christmas miracle. As Deuteronomy 29:29a says "The secret things belong to the Lord our God...." Moses told the Hebrews that not all that lay ahead in the future could be revealed at that time. If God had told me what was ahead in my life when I was just a teenager, I would not have been ready to know those things. This side of Heaven we are not ready to know all of the "secret things" of the Lord our God. As we are told in Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

In the midst of whatever heartache and tragedy that may come our way we can be thankful for the very first Christmas miracle. The miracle of the birth of our Lord and Savior through Whom we may be forgiven of our sins and have the gift of eternal life. It took love beyond our understanding for Jesus to leave the glories of Heaven, so He could be born as a baby, grow to adulthood and suffer an excruciating death on a Roman cross for our sins. Love beyond degree. No matter what may be happening in your life or in the lives of those you love, remember this: God Loves You!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

11.09.18

This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24 NKJV.

On November 3rd, late on Saturday night a shocking tragedy occurred. Will Byler and Bailee Ackerman Byler had just been married in what is called a fairy tale wedding. They were married on the Byler ranch near San Antonio and then they boarded the family helicopter flying away on their honeymoon. Sadly, the helicopter crashed with Will, Bailee, and the pilot, Gerald Lawrence all being killed. Will and Bailee were in their last year of studies at Sam Houston State University. Lives cut far too short. (BBC 11.06.18 and CNN, KFOR, multiple other news venues.)

Sadly, yesterday at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California 12 people were gunned down by Ian David Long. Such an awful horrible attack upon innocents. Two horrible events happening in days of the other. However, we know there have been other tragedies that have occurred in the past and likely more will occur of one kind or another, if not today, then tomorrow or further in the future.

Incidents like this, is why I personally do not say about almost everything as some do that "God is in control." If God was in control, then He was the one that caused that helicopter to crash, and He was the one who caused David Long to open fire at that bar. The spiritual fact is that sometimes bad things happen to very good people. Mechanical parts fail, pilots and drivers can error. I nearly had an accident last night which would not have been a near miss if I had slowed down more quickly. Also, sometimes people do things that are outside of God's will like the attack on the bar in California.

God has given us free will, which means that we are not robots with every action and every event in our lives controlled by God. Does the Bible say that we should pray? Of course, the Bible talks often about praying. If everything, and everyone was controlled by God there would be no need to pray about anything.

What do we do now? Do we hide in our homes shaking with fear that some awful thing may happen if we were to leave? No, we thank God for another day that He has made, and We will rejoice and be glad in it!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.29.18

A Private Message

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads. So he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what do You want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:3-9 NKJV.

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times? - Numbers 22:28 NKJV.

Nowadays we often receive private messages via social media platforms. Nothing unusual about that in the 21st Century. However, God has been sending private personalized messages since the dawn of time. Sometimes the messages are very blunt and obvious as in being struck blind as was Saul of Tarsus. Hearing a donkey speak in a human voice as did Balaam is also very to the point and undeniably had to be a message from God.

In these days, God has become more subtle with His private messages; although He can be very pointed, and blunt if the need arises. This past week I received one of those subtle private messages from God that only I would understand. It was a three-part message about the same thing. The first part was my encountering a person with whom I was able to share a part of my testimony about what God had done in my life in the past. The second part was while watching a Christian movie the same day in the evening and seeing a related event unfold. The third part of the message was discovering that the Bible reading for the next day was from a passage of Scripture that God used to extend His call upon my life. So, the entire private message would read: God has forgiven me, He has not forgotten about me, and He has renewed His call upon my life. His call is still without repentance. In other words, God hasn’t changed His mind.

Whenever, we receive a message from God it requires a response. Will we go forward with God in obedience, or will we turn away? We know what the apostle Paul decided as he gave his whole heart to following the Lord. Balaam was more like a split decision, you could say it was a half-hearted decision. Sometimes Balaam was obedient and sometimes he was not. Has God sent you a private message? What will your response be? Will you respond with your whole heart or with just half of your heart? I know I want to respond with my whole heart.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.20.18

Snakes

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. ,-.;'[

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV.

This takes place during the time that the people of Israel were wandering through the desert. They had been delivered from slavery in Egypt and had witnessed amazing miracles performed by the hand of God. God had provided food for them in the desert, a supernatural food called manna. They had received the Commandments directly from God written on stone tablets by the finger of God. They were headed for the promised land that was overflowing with milk and honey. Great success, victory was just ahead. But, they did have a problem, it was their whining, their endless complaining, and their lack of faithfulness. That was when God sent the plague of snakes.

Thankfully for the Hebrews, Moses prayed for them and God gave a way to deal with the snakes. Put a bronze snake up on a pole, so when someone is bitten by a poisonous snake if they look at the snake they will live. What was it that they saw when they looked up at the bronze snake? They saw a lifeless bronze snake on a pole, but beyond that they saw the Heavens beyond reminding them of their Creator. The bronze snake had no power in itself; it was the looking at it and the Heavens beyond with the eyes of faith that brought the healing.

We have all been bitten by the snake of sin (Romans 3:23) and it is a deadly bite (Romans 6:23). As Jesus tells us in John 3:14-16 NKJV, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Have you looked to Jesus?

There is something else important to see here and that is that God provided a way to survive the snakebite, but He didn’t remove the snakes. Once we know Jesus as our Savior, there are still going to be snakes. What are we to do? We must continue to look to Jesus! Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

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THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.12.18

Too High a Price

For the wages of sin is death…. Romans 6:23a NKJV.

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29 NKJV.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:30 NKJV.

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16 NKJV.

A Dubai tourist and his seven friends had a 20-course dinner (Who knew there was such a thing?) and the bill was just $58,000 (400,000 yuan). Sounds a little high to me! But they did have a few exotic items from the menu. Including: Abalone, Premium Caviar, Yangtze River Crab, Salt-seared Miyazaki Steak, Duck with Olive, Shrimp Roe with Crispy Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw in Abalone Sauce, and Crocodile Tail Soup for $2,449, and Wild Yellow Croaker for $2,303. I dont know about you, but that is just too high a price to pay for Crocodile Tail Soup and Wild Yellow Croaker. Its Just TOO HIGH!

You know what else is too high a price to pay? The cost of sin is just too high. The result of sin is death. Thats a little sobering if you really think about it. Its serious enough that Jesus talks about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand if it causes you to sin. In other words, Jesus is saying this is deadly as in dead serious stuff, you need to pay attention.

The apostle Paul continues the warnings against sin by saying that we either have one of two masters. We can be a slave to sin which will lead to death is one of the options. Whatever the sin you commit it only leads downward. Anyone with an addiction understands this, it never becomes better it only grows worse. Anyone committing a theft understands that they may at anytime be discovered and often additional thefts are committed to cover up the first. Anyone who tells a lie quickly knows that additional lies become required to cover up the first lie. Sin is a harsh master. One thing is for sure and that is that sin is just TOO high a price to pay!

The good news, the great news is that you dont have to keep on paying the far too high a price. There is a way out of this deadly downward plunge into eventually eternal hell. Because the second part of Romans 6:23 says, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a gift, and unbelievably extravagant gift from God Himself, but it must be received. God did love us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Now is the time to receive the gift of eternal life by believing upon Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; because, the price of sin is just TOO high!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.09.18

Don't Waste Your Life

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
Who rejoice in doing evil,
And delight in the perversity of the wicked;
Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths � Proverbs 2:10-15 NKJV.

Patrick Ryan may hold the record for being the most prolific criminal ever. At least, in committing the most criminal offenses he has to hold the record, having committed 668 criminal offenses in his 62-years of life. Ryan began his extraordinarily wasted life at the age of 14. He has spent a total of 23 years in jail and prison; and, has recently been sentenced to another 18 months of prison. Judge Andrew Jefferies told Ryan during his most recent sentencing, �You will serve half of that sentence and will be released on license and supervision after that. During the period of license and supervision, this would be a good time to look at your mental health and drinking problem.� It is believed that Ryan has cost British taxpayers approximately $3.9 million!

We can likely agree that Patrick Ryan has wasted his life up to this point. It appears that he has a severe alcohol problem which has contributed to the waste of his life. The ways of Patrick Ryan have been crooked, but it did not have to be that way. Because �When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil.� God could have given Ryan the wisdom to be delivered from evil.

How can anyone waste their life? By ignoring God. By immersing themselves into every evil thing and ignoring the consequences; legal and spiritual. But it doesn�t have to be that way. Even now Patrick Ryan could start down a different path with his life (Would you pray for him? Has anyone ever prayed for him?). What Patrick needs more than anything is Jesus. He needs to become that new born-again creation of 2 Corinthians 5:17, �Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.�

No matter what you may have done, if you have a desire to change from the path of evil, there is hope. Hope has a name (Titus 2:13), and His name is Jesus. As the apostle Peter would say to all those who are living wasted lives: �Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).� Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 3:16; John 1:12; Romans 10:13; Revelation 3:20) and allow His wisdom to enter your heart. ��that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:17-18).

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.07.18

Are You Tempting God?

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, �If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: �He shall give His angels charge over you,� and, �In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.�� � Matthew 4:5-6 NKJV.

Jesus said to him, �It is written again, �You shall not tempt the Lord your God.�� � Matthew 4:7 NKJV.

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. � 1 Corinthians 10:8-10 NKJV.

The odds of being a victim of a shark attack in the waters of the United States is one in 11.5 million. The odds of being attack and injured by a bear in the United States is one in 2.1 million. The odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the United States is one in 37,500. 20-year-old Dylan McWilliams has been the victim of a shark attack, a bear attack, and a rattlesnake bite and surprisingly has lived to tell about it. The odds of this occurring in one person�s life is 893.35 quadrillion to one. McWilliams says he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and �I still go hiking, I still catch rattlesnakes, and I will still swim in the ocean.� (Across Colorado Patch 04.22.2018)

To understand how astounding this is for McWilliams to have been attacked in this way consider the odds of being struck by lightening in your entire lifetime is one in 5,000. The odds of being killed in a car accident are just one in 112. It would appear for whatever reason God has protected McWilliams. However, for him to continue to place himself in dangerous situations is approaching the tempting of God. Certainly, it is foolish behavior when you have been in such close proximity to death three times already.

In Matthew 4:5-6 the devil is actually quoting from Psalm 91:11-12. Psalm 91 is a psalm about God�s protection from danger. However, it is not about protection from unnecessary exposure to danger.

In our everyday lives we are exposed to dangers such as lightening strikes and car accidents. It is surely God�s will for us to pray for His protection from those dangers and other threats to our lives and to those we love. Asking God to protect us as the Psalmist was protected in Psalm 91 is a good thing to do. However, if we foolishly place ourselves repeatedly in situations we know are very dangerous we should not expect God to always supernaturally intervene and protect us.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.06.18

Take Out The Trash

Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother�s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, and said to them: �Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.� � 2 Chronicles 29:1-5 NKJV.

When I was a boy my job was to take out the trash and burn it. I did that for years while I was growing up. Living on a farm it was the way we eliminated much of our trash. I did catch the chicken house on fire once, but thankfully I was able to put the fire out with a nearby water hose. You would think after that, my parents would have given my trash duties to my sister, but no, I still had the trash removal duties.

The thing about trash is that if you don�t remove it on a regular basis it piles up. When there is a back up in the trash removal it causes a mess which just grows larger and larger until it can no longer be ignored. Sometimes, you could say that the trash problem reaches critical mass, and something has to be done.

When Hezekiah became king, the trash problem at the house of the Lord, looked like it had reached critical mass. Hezekiah began to do something about it. So, Hezekiah ordered the Levites to clean all the rubbish out of the house of the Lord. �Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.� This began a time of revival in Judah.

What does this have to do with us? 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us, �Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?� If you know Jesus as your Savior, your body is the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you. Sadly, our individual temples have a tendency to fill up with rubbish like Hezekiah�s house of the Lord. The rubbish we have to deal with is called �sin.� If we want to have a personal revival, we must take out the trash. 1 John 1:9 tells us how to do that: �If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.�

How long has it been since you have taken out the trash?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

05.30.18

Avoid the Danger

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. � 1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV.

Growing up on a farm I learned early not to hassle the bull. We actually had a very tame bull that must have been almost a pet at one time. One of my favorite things to do when I was a little boy was to stomp my foot while looking the bull in the eye when I was just a few feet from him. That bull, who weighed a couple of thousand pounds, would jump backwards about a foot. I suspect I would have been in trouble if my Dad or Mother had ever caught me doing that. But I knew that most bulls were not tame. My Mother told me stories about my grandfather being trapped in cattle feeder and having to use a pitchfork to keep an angry bull from getting to him.

Apparently, some people in Colorado have not learned that a moose can be just as dangerous, if not more so than an angry bull. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department was given a photo of a man next to an angry moose. A driver saw this man chasing the moose across the highway and onto the median. In the photo the ears of the moose were �pinned back and had raised hackles (raised hair on back of the animal).� Summit County's District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak said, �It is likely this person does not realize how much danger he put himself in, or maybe he does not care. We hope a conversation with this individual can help him understand the danger involved.�

Also, in Colorado, if the man is found he can be charged with harassment of wildlife. (Times-Call 05.06.18; 4CBS Denver 05.06.18)

1 Peter 2:11 says, �Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.� Another translation puts sojourners and pilgrims as aliens and strangers. Fleshly lusts is translated in some modern translations as sinful desires. So, this would then read: �Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, or aliens and strangers abstain from fleshly lusts or sinful desires which war against the soul.�

Sinful desires do what? They war against the soul. Sin is a threat to your spiritual wellbeing. Sin is a danger that like an angry moose or an angry bull we would do well to avoid. Nothing good will come from playing around with sin or even entertaining sinful thoughts in our minds.

How do we fight back against these Sinful desires that at war with us? As we are told in Ephesians 6:17, �And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.� Take up the sword of the Spirit and fight back! Defeat angry thoughts with verses like Proverbs 15:18, �A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.� Memorize a few of these verses and run them through your mind whenever you have angry thoughts. Having a problem with lustful thoughts? Memorize Romans 6:12-13, �Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.� Repeat the verse in your mind until the sinful thoughts are gone. Whatever the sin problem there are verses of Scripture to use to confront it.

The very best thing to do when confronted with the danger of sinful desires is to find the way of escape. �No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13.).�

Remember if you know Jesus as your Savior you are just a sojourner and a pilgrim on your way to your Heavenly home. Make your journey a good one, and avoid the danger of the sinful distractions, because you are only here in this world for a very brief visit.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.26.18

Spared from Trouble

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

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

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

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

The next day, I found out from my friend, David at work, that he had been the one who had called. He had taken his drill pipe inspection unit to the lake. It was a two-ton truck with a large enclosed utility bed. He had gotten the truck stuck and had called me for help. Since I never came, he called another friend who was a forklift operator. This was a large forklift used for moving heavy pipe and had to be transported on a semi. The forklift got bogged down in the mud too. I don�t remember now how they got the truck and forklift unstuck, I think they had to rent a bulldozer. Certainly, trouble passed me by that night!

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

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

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

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

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.12.18

Don't Lose Heart

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. � Galatians 6:9-10 NKJV.

Then I said to them, �You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.� � Nehemiah 2:17 NKJV.

Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh have a dream and that is to sail the seas in their own sailboat. They sold everything they owned, moved to Florida; and bought a 28 ft sailboat, and then spent a year making it ready for the open waters. On their maiden voyage catastrophe struck. Tanner says, �We hit something in about eight or nine feet of water and it stopped the boat completely.�

Whatever they hit, punched a hole in the hull, and the boat began to sink. They quickly gathered all the personal items that they could; from IDs to cash, and of course their Pug, Remy. At the same time, they were calling for help. It took an hour for a ship to arrive, but the water was too shallow for it to reach them. So, they had to swim out to the ship leaving behind their boat. Nikki says, �Everything I've worked for, everything I've owned since I was a child, I brought with me. It's just floating away and there's nothing I can do.� Tanner and Nikki have very little money and no place to live, but still they say they are not giving up on their dream. Nikki says, �Our boat sank, but our dreams didn�t sink with the boat. We can�t just give up on our dreams.� (AJC dot com 02.10.18; Tampa Bay Times 02.11.18; WFTS Tampa Bay 02.09.18)

Whether we are following a dream, building a life, a ministry, or a wall; at times it may look like there is no way forward. How do you keep from losing heart? What do we do when everything collapses around us. We can find some direction from Nehemiah as he faces down opposition to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

When it seems, there is no way forward, don�t lose heart, pray! When Nehemiah faced opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah and the army of Samaria, Nehemiah prayed: �Hear, O our God, for we are despised� (Nehemiah 4:4a NKJV).�

The next direction we see from Nehemiah is to stay focused: �So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 NKJV).� In spite of the threats and taunts from the enemy, Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem proceeded to build the wall anyway. The temptation when faced with a major setback or opposition is to give up, to stop doing anything for the Lord. When your boat sinks, it is easy to give up. When we encounter opposition to our dreams, when we lose a job, have a personal disaster, or a health issue; it easy to stop serving, stop being faithful in meeting with other believers. It is vitally important to keep on doing what you know God wants you to do.

During these hard times it may be difficult to get out of bed, to even believe it is possible to continue on. We live in a world where bad things sometimes happen to good people; and our boat may sink, or we may have a car wreck, or lose our job, or a sudden health issue, or countless other things that life can bring our way. Instead, we are told by the apostle Paul not to �grow weary� in doing good; because if we continue on, we will reap a harvest. So, keep on doing �good to all.�

So, when life seems to fall in upon you don�t lose heart. Instead, pray! Stay faithful and focused, believing that God will provide a way forward. God will fight for you and will honor your faithfulness just as he did for Nehemiah. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we are told this, �Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.� Don�t lose heart! Continue on and God will lift you up at the right time.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.17.18

Clean It Out!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. � 1 John 1:9 NKJV.�

� But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, �Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?� � Mark 8:17-19 NKJV.

� � A woman in England was having trouble seeing and thought she had cataracts. She had quite a bit of discomfort from her eye which she believed was caused by old age and a dry eye problem. However, the problem of her being unable to see, and her discomfort, was not any of those things. Doctors found a �bluish foreign body� in her eye, which actually was a hardened mass of soft disposable contact lenses stuck together. There were 17 of the lenses in the hardened mass and underneath was found 10 more of the soft disposable contact lenses. Once the doctors had all of that mess cleaned out, the woman could see very well and no longer had the discomfort she had been experiencing prior to the surgery. (BBC News 07.17.17)

� � Jesus told his disciples in Mark 8:15, �Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.� The disciples did not understand and thought that Jesus was talking about how they did not have any bread with them. Jesus was speaking of a spiritual reality while the disciples had their minds on a worldly material issue. That is why Jesus appears to be perplexed with them. �Why do you reason because you have no bread?� In other words, why are the disciples even talking about this, worrying about this, don�t they remember how Jesus fed the 5,000? The disciples were not ready for the spiritual feeding that Jesus wanted to give them. The disciples had their focus on the world, instead of the spiritual. They were so full of the world, concerned about material things, that it made them unable to see the spiritual truth Jesus was trying to teach them.�

� Today�s followers of Jesus appear to often have a similar problem of focusing on our material needs and problems instead of upon the spiritual. We worry about so many things, let us remember what Jesus tells us, �Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them (Matthew 6:25-26).� In the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives direction as to how to clean this worry out of our lives as He says in Matthew 6:33, �But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.�

� Another issue (Although many think of worry as being in the same category.) that too often blocks our ability to see the spiritual reality is sin. The fix for this problem is surgery, spiritual surgery, to clean out the mess. That�s why 1 John 1:9 is in the Bible, �If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.�

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.10.18

Unopened Gifts

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. � Romans 6:23 NKJV.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!� � Luke 11:13 NKJV.

Jesus answered and said to her, �If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, �Give Me a drink,� you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.� � John 4:10 NKJV.

For if by the one man�s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. � Romans 5:17 NKJV.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. � Romans 11:29 NKJV.

It happened in 1970, Vicki broke off her relationship with her 17-year-old boyfriend, Adrian Pearce. While saying goodbye, Vicki gave Adrian a Christmas gift. Unable to open the gift at the time, because of being upset from the breakup he placed the unopened gift under the Christmas tree. For years, even after his marriage he place the Christmas gift in its blue crinkly paper under the tree, until his wife finally banned it.

Even though the gift from his childhood sweetheart is not under the tree, Adrian still pauses for a few moments to take a look at the unopened gift every year. Adrian says about this strange tradition, �I kept it initially because I guess I had hopes that we would get back together and open it together. Now it�s just become a habit after 47 years of looking at it�� He is now thinking that he will open the gift on the 50th anniversary of the gift. (New York Post 12.26.17; and various news venues)

Certainly Adrian Pearce has a strange Christmas tradition! I�m sure his wife will agree with that! Adrian hopes that someone will find Vicki so that she can be at the 50th anniversary of the gift for the long delayed opening. So if anyone knows Vicki tell her to contact Adrian in Canada.

What about you? Do you have a gift awaiting the time when you will finally open it? Too many people have the gift of eternal life sitting unopened in their lives. As I have shared before, one of the saddest things that I sometimes hear when I share my testimony is the response of �I�m not ready yet.� Hopefully, they will not wait 50 years, or until it is too late, eternally too late to open the gift. Recently, a man that I had heard those sad words from passed away. Thankfully, a few years after I had shared my testimony with him, he told me that he had opened the gift of eternal life. So glad he didn�t wait too long!

Perhaps you have opened the gift of eternal life, but there are other gifts that God has for you that remain unopened? I waited until I was 40 years old before I began to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are still alive, it�s not too late to open the gift! Because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable! Those gifts are still under the tree waiting for you to open them. Will the year 2018 finally be the year you open the gifts of God?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.08.18

Finding Reality

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. � Ephesians 4:17-24 NKJV.

Here is how Danny Hollis Jr. escaped from reality and began his adventure into delusion. This information is from a report made by Lawrence County, Tennessee Sheriff�s Department spokesperson Lt. Melinda Brewer. Danny first smoked some �wasp� a mixture of Meth and a crystalized insecticide. Wasp is known to cause psychotic episodes.

Lawrence County deputies responded to a 7pm 911 call about a naked man having broken into a home occupied by a young mother and four children. Once inside the house Hollis then sat down at a table and cut his own throat in front of the family. Lt. Brewer stated: �This man walks in. the family is all in there, minding their own business. He is stripped naked. He says the dog is looking at him. He grabs a knife and he cuts his own throat. He goes up stairs and jumps out a window, after busting his head on the glass of the front door, and he takes off running. He then jumps on the gazebo in the family�s back yard. The 35-year-old runs across a field, where deputies finally catch up to him. After he hits his head on the pavement, deputies and EMS were able to secure him. Later, Hollis told deputies that he could not remember anything he did.� (WKRN � Nashville 12.22.17)

Why would anyone intentionally mix up a toxic chemical with an illegal drug and then smoke it? Because, their understanding has been darkened, and they are alienated from the life of God. The farther a person travels from the will of God for their life, the more they will try to escape reality.

To find true reality, you must put on the �new man.� What is the �new man?� 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, �Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.� This new creation is the new man. The more that you put off the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; the more you will be renewed in the spirit of your mind. The more you are renewed in the spirit of your mind; the more you will experience the true reality of the new man.

Come out of the old and into the new! �And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:11-14).�

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.27.17

Ask for Help

Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. � Psalm 124:8 NKJV.

I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. � Psalm 119:147 NKJV.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. � Hebrews 4:16 NKJV.

We often hear advice such as if you fall down, get back up, or if life throws you off, get back on the horse. If you do a google search for the phrase �get back on the horse� you will find more than three million results. Recently, talking with a friend I recalled the first time I rode a horse. It was a very short ride!

When I was about eight years old my family was visiting at my Aunt and Uncle�s home. They had several horses on their farm; and my two cousins who were older, saddled up horses for them, my sister, and for me. The cousins and my sister did not want me to go with them, but my Aunt and Uncle made them saddle another horse for me. As soon as we were all on our horses the cousins and my sister took off at a gallop, and my horse took off too. My horse, instead of following the others, headed directly for a tree and for a low hanging limb where my ride abruptly ended with me falling to the ground. The horse took off, and there was no way for me to get back on the horse again.

December is the time of the year when many are thrown off the horse of life. Merle Haggard says in one of his songs, �If we make it through December, Everything's gonna be all right�.� December can be difficult with what should be a joyous Christmas season instead bringing to mind painful memories and failures of the past. In Haggard�s song he has been laid off from a job at a factory. Early in my marriage I was laid off three different times from jobs in a year�s time. One of those times was just a few days before Christmas. An elderly man recently shared with me about how his Mother had suddenly passed away when he was only ten years old. His parents had already bought the Christmas presents and they were under the tree. This is a sad memory that comes around every year in December. Many have similar memories, or memories of family squabbles that occurred during times when families were together for the holiday.

The point of all of this is that it may not be possible for us to get back on the horse unless we have some help. It�s okay to ask for help! It�s okay to ask for help from a friend, or from a doctor, or a counselor. And, certainly it is okay to ask for help from God!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE WRATHER FAMILY!!

2017 began with my preaching at a pastorless church in Elk City, Oklahoma and has continued throughout the year. In May, Jeanie and I became volunteer chaplains at the Baptist Village also in Elk City. The Baptist Village is an assisted living facility. I have a Bible Study there on Tuesdays.

This year we were threatened by a tornado. On May 16th a tornado hit the south part of Elk City causing major damage. We live about seven miles east of there and could see the tornado. At first we thought the tornado was headed directly for us, but it veered toward the northeast and disappeared before it would have hit us. Because of that we now have a new storm shelter in our house! Recently, we discovered an unseen danger that we had a propane leak in our house. Thankfully, the leak has been stopped!

In October, Jeanie had two small strokes which affected her ability to remember names. Much of the loss from the strokes has been recovered although they are still trying to determine the specific cause of the strokes. We know that the strokes could have been far worse than they were.

My writing and sending of devotionals this year has been limited and hopefully will be able to send more in the coming year.

With our Love and Prayers,

Ed, Jeanie and Nick

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.20.17

I Won The Lottery Day

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the Lord, �You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.� As for the saints who are on the earth, �They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.� � Psalm 16:1-3 NKJV.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. � Psalm 16:5-6 NKJV.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. � James 1:17 NKJV.

Have you ever won an actual lottery? I�ve never won an actual lottery. Maybe that�s because I�ve never bought a lottery ticket. Did you know that you don�t have to buy a lottery ticket to win a lottery? I once read about a man who won a million dollar lottery who didn�t buy a lottery ticket. How did he win it? He found a lottery ticket that was the winner. Had to be a God Thing don�t you think?

Marvin Rosales-Martinez in October 2012 was raking leaves on Long Island when he happened to see a lottery ticket in the pile of leaves. Marvin took the ticket home, dried it out, and turned it in. It was a One Million Dollar Win for Life Lottery ticket. Marvin had to wait a year for his money; while lottery officials investigated to make sure the ticket was legitimate, and that no one else would try to claim it. After taxes, Marvin finally received $515,612. (New York Daily News 12.28.13) So, if God actually wants you to win a lottery He can make that happen, even if you don�t buy a lottery ticket.

This coming week what holiday are we celebrating? You could say you are celebrating Thanksgiving or you could say you are celebrating �I Won the Lottery Day.� You could say that if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Because, if you know Jesus as your Savior, it is like winning the greatest lottery of all. As David says in Psalm 16:3, "As for the saints (All believers, as believers have been made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ and clothed in His righteousness � Revelation 19:7-8) who are on the earth, (God says) They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.�

The spiritual reality is that if you have Jesus as your Savior, you already have everything. Every good thing in your life is a gift from your God. Every pleasant place is a gift from him. Every hope that we have for the future is a gift from Him. Because of this believers should have thankful hearts. Having a thankful heart gives meaning to our lives. A thankful heart opens our eyes to the gifts God has given us, and opens the door to His continued blessings in our lives.

Unlike the winnings from a lottery, the blessings of God never end, never run out, and continue for eternity. Because God says about His children, �They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.� We cannot exhaust the goodness and blessings of God. Why? Philippians 4:19 tells us, �And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.� What does this make you as a believer in Jesus? It means that you are a WINNER!! Let us praise the Name of Jesus this Thanksgiving and every day of our lives forevermore!!

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.13.17

The Love Letter

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

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. � 1 John 3:16 NKJV.

My first writing effort was a love letter that I wrote in the second or third grade. The letter was very simple and consisted of Dear ______, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you�filling up the entire page and signing my name at the end. I wrote it and mailed it on a Friday or Saturday. Back then you did not need to know the person�s address to send a letter to them. Just the name, and the name of the town and state would usually work. In our little community, just a person�s name on an envelope would have been enough.

I was very shy and introverted, and the girl that received the letter was likely surprised by it. Now, to those boys and girls contemplating writing a love letter like that, I would not recommend it. Because people will talk about you behind your back, and laugh at you, and make you feel like a fool (Actually it was kind of a foolish thing to do�.). So, after that experience I never wrote another letter like that!

The Good News is that God has written us a love letter, and it is called the Bible. God�s love letter is signed with the blood of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God become flesh: �And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).� Before the foundation of the world God loved us and knew the ultimate cost of that love would be the cross �just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world�(Ephesians 1:4a).� In 1 Peter 1:19-20a we are told, �but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world�.�

God knew before the foundation of the world that His only begotten Son would die a horrific death on a cruel Roman cross. God knew before the foundation of the world that His only begotten Son would be made fun of, would be spit on, would be beaten and hung upon a tree. God knew that the human beings that He loved so much would kill the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15) but God also knew that Jesus would be raised from the dead.

The Prince of Life God�s only begotten Son is knocking at the door of your heart and wants to come in (Revelation 3:20). Will you let Him in, or will you be joined throughout eternity with those shouting �Crucify Him, crucify Him! (John 19:6)?� God loves you, and He has demonstrated that love. God has done all that He can, will you turn from your sins and receive Jesus as your Savior? �But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).�

There is only One only begotten Son of God, but how amazing that God wants to make you His adopted son or daughter! How amazing, beyond anything a human being would do! �For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.12.17

The Vision

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. � Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

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

Have you ever had a vision? I had one once while I was driving to class when I was about 22 years old in 1972. It is the only time that I remember anything like that occurring to me.

Prayer was beginning to move me closer to God. But we still were not attending church, and I still wasn't reading God's Word. Here's how God attempted to obtain my attention. The day had started normally enough. After dropping Jeanie off at work in Oklahoma City (We were now living in Yukon, a suburb of Oklahoma City.), I was on my way to class at Edmond (Another suburb.). On the way, I had the closest thing I have ever had to a vision. It was a vision of a little country church out to the west of Edmond, and of car trouble. In the vision, I could see the church, and somehow knew that I could get help at the little church. Why, I didn't know, as I had never been inside the church; and had only driven by a few times. As I drove into the college parking area, I was finally able to focus my thoughts on the classes ahead.

When my classes were over, and I was ready to head home I thought: �Should I go on the interstate, or cut through the country?� I suddenly remembered my earlier thoughts about car trouble, and decided to take the Edmond Road. As I drove west out of Edmond, I began to think I was becoming paranoid. The car was doing great, no sign of any problem, where had those thoughts about car trouble come from?

The car was still running fine when the engine began to make a noise. Ahead about a mile I could see the little country church (Hopewell Baptist Church aka the Teepee Church at 178th and MacArthur). I thought to myself, �If it doesn't get any worse, I'll try to make it there, I can find help there.� The car did make it to the church, but it died right in front of the church, and wouldn't start. I used the phone in the parsonage, and soon a wrecker came to tow my car away. Later, I found out the bolts holding the fan belt pulleys on had broken. Thirty-six dollars and a few days later, the car was good as new, but I would never forget the experience.

Has God ever given you a hint that you ought to be in church and making time in your life for Him? I have no doubt that He gave me one! At the time, I was too far away from God to realize what had happened. I can see clearly now that God was just trying to get my attention, likely in response to many who were praying for us. It took several years and a few more hints, but finally He did have my attention. The regret that I have is that I didn't immediately start attending that little country church on Edmond Road. Life would have been so much better if I had made time for God during those early years of marriage. Fruitfulness for God would have come much sooner.

After I became a pastor and people would have car trouble right in front of our church...I would always think: �God sent me another one!�

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.11.17

The Anchor of the Soul - 2017

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. - Hebrews 6:19-20 NKJV.

In the United States we have now experienced Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma along with many wildfires in the west. Irma also left devastation in the Caribbean. To the south in Mexico there has been a large earthquake. There is also the threat of nuclear war with North Korea. There are potentially many disastrous things that could happen in our lives. For some of us, we may already be caught up in very difficult situations, and wonder whether we will be able to survive. What we need is an �anchor of the soul.�

Think for a moment of a ship and the ship's anchor. The ship is tied by cable or chain to a heavy anchor made of metal or other material that rests on the floor of the sea. For the believer, we are not tied to the earth; no, our anchor is as the writer of Hebrews says, our anchor has entered the �Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus... (Hebrews 6:19).� As the High Priest in the Old Testament entered the Holy of Holies behind the veil, our High Priest forever, Jesus, is in Heaven; where He, as He says in John 14, has prepared a place for us. Our soul is tied, not to an anchor at the bottom of the sea, but it is tied to Jesus in Heaven above.

Again think of ships and of their anchors. Think of the chains that tie that tether the ship to the anchor. When I was a boy, my Dad made an anchor for our boat. It consisted of a can filled with concrete and a nylon rope that tied the boat to the can. Probably not the most secure anchorage for a boat. Think of a chain that links a battleship to its anchor. One such chain describes each link in the chain as weighing 120 lbs. and being about three feet in length. Now that is a chain!

The question I think for all of us as we face disasters or the potential for disaster in our lives is this: What is the condition of the tie between us and our anchor of the soul? Is the chain to our anchor a puny little rope that will break whenever a good wind comes along? Or, is it more like the chain of a battleship that connects to its anchor? How strong is the link between you and your anchor of the soul, Jesus Christ? I think you can see that here is where some work needs to be done in each of our lives. We need to have the strongest spiritual chain possible connecting us to the anchor of our soul. How do we do that? What are the nuts and bolts of having that stronger spiritual chain to connect our soul to our anchor?

First, we need the Bible. The Bible is not just a book. It contains the Words of God. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Word which became flesh, �And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).� Take a moment to comprehend that. You could say that Jesus consists of the words on the pages of the Bible. If you want to know Jesus, if you want to be more like Jesus, then you need more of those words. But you need to understand that when you read the Bible you are not just gaining information. When you read the Bible you are communing with God. When you read the Bible you are connecting with God. When you read the Bible you are feeding your soul, as Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, �Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.� When you read the Bible you are connecting your soul to a spiritual IV that infuses LIFE into your soul. Jesus says in John 6:63, �The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.�

Second, if you are going to keep from being swept away by the challenges of life, you are going to need a prayer life. Prayer, communication with God, talking with God is an awesome privilege. �Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).�

Third, you need to be assembling, meeting with other believers every time you possibly can. �For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).�

It is depressing to think of all the bad things that could happen to our world, to our country, and to ourselves personally. Is that what God would have us to think about all the time? No! Our focus, our thoughts, and our hopes, should be upon the Anchor of our soul. Hebrews 12:3, �For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.� Instead of worrying about and thinking about all of the bad things that could happen, or might happen; instead think about Jesus. Read Jesus, the Word of God. Talk to Jesus, pray, pray, and pray some more. And, instead of thinking that you don't need church, go and be where Jesus promises to be in the midst every time believers meet.

You don't have to be swept away by the challenges of life, because you have an anchor for your soul, and His name is Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.17.17

Soul Restoration

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name�s sake. � Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV.

Who is it that needs a restored soul? A person who has had their soul damaged by sin. 1 Peter 2:11 says, �Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.� The NIV puts this as: �to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.� Sin is at war with your soul, and seeks to conquer and destroy you.

The early church father, Augustine, had fallen into the degradation of sin before his salvation, he had a damaged soul. Reading the words of Romans 13:14 was key to his turning from sin and to the Lord Jesus. Romans 13:14 says, �But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.� The NIV puts this as: �Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.� Augustine put on the Lord Jesus Christ by believing upon Jesus, and it changed his life restoring his soul.

John Newton who wrote the words to the Hymn, Amazing Grace, knew what it was like to have a damaged soul. He knew about the damage of sin from having been a slave trader. You can sense in the words of the hymn, renewal of his soul from degradation to being made new as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Here are the first words of Amazing Grace:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Newton describes the shocking difference between a damaged soul, and a soul that has been restored.

King David who wrote the 23rd Psalm knew well what it was like to have a damaged soul. David knew from having committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranging the murder of her husband, Uriah. After having been confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), David repented, and we have his confession in Psalm 51.

David, after saying, �He restores my soul,� gives the formula for the restoration of a soul. Here it is, �He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name�s sake.� To have a soul restored it is necessary for us to follow the Good Shepherd in the �paths of righteousness.� The beginning of that path is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior, but that is just the beginning.

Romans 8:5-6 gives us additional insight: �Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.� Here we see that if we succumb to the desires of the flesh and engage in sinful behavior the result is �death.� It may not be an immediate death, but it will be a death to peace, and in the place of peace we may experience anxiety and fear. It will be a death to the abundant life that Jesus came to give us for as long as we engage in sinful behavior.

Allow the Lord, the Good Shepherd, to restore your soul. Allow Him to lead you in the paths of righteousness where you will find peace and the abundant life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.30.17

Still Waters

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. � Psalm 23:1-2 NKJV.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. � John 10:11 NKJV.

For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. � Revelation 7:17 NKJV.

Rushing waters can pose a threat to people and to sheep. Weather dot com gives these facts about rushing water, which indicate how dangerous rushing waters can be:

Water flowing at 7 mph has the equivalent force per unit area as air blowing at EF5 tornado wind speeds.

Water moving at 25 mph has the pressure equivalent of wind blowing at 790 mph, faster than the speed of sound.

Only six inches of rushing water can knock a person off of their feet.

Sheep have a problem with water that people do not have, which is their wool. A sheep knocked over by rushing waters will have their wool rapidly saturated with water making it impossible for them to recover. So it is imperative for a good shepherd to find �still waters� for their flock, but the water had to be clear, of good quality, and could not be rushing water.

The shepherd leading his flock to �green pastures� and �still waters� is a picture of peace and contentment. The shepherd provides for all of the needs of his sheep and they �shall not want.� We people sheep not only need to have our needs provided for in �green pastures,� but we also need those �still waters.� The �still waters� that we need are the living waters (John 4:14) that only our Lord can give us.

The Psalmist speaks two other times of being still:

Psalm 4:4b �Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.�

Psalm 46:10 �Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!�

Of course we remember what our Lord did in Mark 4:39, �Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, �Peace, be still!� And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.�

It is God�s will that you have those living waters, those �still waters� to renew your soul each day. In order for that to occur you will need to have a time when you can �be still� to drink of His �living water.� When you do that, the Lord will say �Peace, be still!� and He will still the winds and the waves in your life.

Ask the Lord to lead you to those �green pastures� and �still waters� every day.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.28.17

Green Pastures

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures � Psalm 23:1-2a NKJV.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. � John 10:11 NKJV.

The use of the word �green� in the Bible with few exceptions is usually in the context of something good. While I was growing up on a farm we never had a drought and our pasture never turned brown. The grass was green, the plants were green, and the trees were green. Sadly, a few years ago western Oklahoma went through a sustained several year drought and ponds dried up, lake levels dropped, and pastures could no longer sustain the herds of livestock that they had before. Bales of hay became costly, and scarce, and livestock had to be sold. The pastures were no longer green; they had turned a brownish color no longer containing the life giving nutrients that they had before the drought.

�Green pastures� are a precious blessing for livestock and in King David�s time the people knew well the difference a green pasture made. The difference between a green pasture and a brown pasture was the difference between life and death. Sheep and we people sheep are often unable to distinguish between a good pasture and bad pasture. Shepherds would lead their sheep through bad pastures until they reached the best pasture where they could graze from the nutrient filled green grass.

Our �Good Shepherd� like a good shepherd of sheep knows where the �green pastures� are located. To arrive at the �green pastures� in our lives we must closely follow and listen for the voice of our �Good Shepherd.� Jesus says, �And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:4-5).�

If we want to �lie down in green pastures� with our lives we must acknowledge that the �Good Shepherd� knows more than we do. The �Good Shepherd� can see the future; He knows that at times it may become necessary to move from one green pasture to another. We must listen closely to His voice so we won�t be left behind. In order, for us to hear clearly the voice of the �Good Shepherd� we must surrender our plans, dreams, and desires and rely instead upon His plan for our lives knowing it is the best.

Are you following the �Good Shepherd?� Are you living in �green pastures?�

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.26.17

The Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. � Psalm 23:1 NKJV.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. � John 10:11 NKJV.

I have often heard that sheep will aimlessly follow other sheep off of a cliff. This literally happened in Turkey in 2005 when about 1,500 sheep followed one another off of a cliff with a drop off of around 90 feet. The first 450 sheep died from the fall with the rest being cushioned somewhat by the sheep that had died from their fall.

We people are much like sheep in that we need a shepherd, a good shepherd, who will keep us from falling off the cliffs of life. King David, knew from his life experiences who that good shepherd was who guided him.

The Biblical analogy of people being like sheep is not a flattering one. Sheep are unable to adequately care for themselves and their ability to survive on their own is very limited. People are much like sheep in that we will at times blindly follow others to our doom. The Peoples Temple cult founded by Jim Jones is an example. The result of blindly following Jones was the murder/suicide of 918 people in Guyana in 1978.

Sheep, however, led by a good shepherd live a peaceful contented life under his protection with all their needs provided. This is how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants to care for us.

To be a contented sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd we need to have the mindset of a sheep. A sheep is not constantly thinking about all that it doesn�t have. As people sheep we should not be thinking constantly about what we don�t have. It may be true that you are not living in the house of your dreams, or that you do not have the perfect job, or the ideal husband, or wife. To be a contented people sheep do not focus on what you don�t have. Focus instead on what you do have.

A contented sheep is not focused on possessions. Jesus tells us, �Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one�s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses (Luke 12:15).� Instead, focus on your blessings like the old hymn says, �Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done.�

The Good Shepherd is watching out for His sheep, which means that He is taking care of many of the details to bring good into our lives just as Romans 8:28 says. Knowing Jesus as your personal Savior means that you have a Good Shepherd who wants the best for you, and will never ever lead you off of a cliff. Trust Him!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.26.17

Who Has Woe?

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: �They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?� - Proverbs 23:29-34 NKJV.

In Australia, two 34-year-old men were drinking together, and they started wondering whether it would hurt if they were shot with an air rifle (pellet gun). So, they conducted an experiment to find out if it would hurt; taking turns shooting each other in the backside, and the back of their legs. Apparently, it does hurt to be shot with a pellet gun and eventually when the pain became too much for them; they sought medical treatment. Now, the state is going to do what any good parent would do, take away their pellet guns.

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania three men are in trouble after they attacked a police officer after he attempted to arrest them for failure to bag their dog's waste. The men have been charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and public drunkenness.

In England, a man has been fined $108,000 and banned from working as a broker for at least five years. He had been drinking, and attempted to manipulate the market for oil by buying a large amount of Brent crude oil. He then tried to lie to his employer about his actions.

In western New York, a couple of Canadian men who attended a church festival somehow ended up in the woods, naked, and covered in mud. Of course, they were drunk, and one of them had passed out in a ditch when they were found.

There are many dangerous drugs in the world but perhaps the most dangerous of all is the legal drug of alcohol. Alcohol has been creating problems for the human race since almost the beginning of time. The four news stories above are only a few of the many during the past week revealing the terrible consequences of drinking.

King Solomon in his book of Proverbs asks �Who has woe?� Dictionary dot com defines �woe� as: �grievous distress, affliction, or trouble; or as an exclamation of grief, distress, or lamentation.� For one of the murderers that I had under supervision while I was a parole officer, who killed his brother while he was drunk, he certainly had grievous distress, grief, and trouble. Another murderer that I had under supervision, killed his best friend while he was drunk, and he too knew what it was like to have �woe� in his life. They both knew the �sorrow� that Solomon mentions.

Alcohol also causes physical �woe�, afflictions, in addition to all of the emotional distress. Alcohol can cause heart problems, sexual problems, cognitive problems, gastro-intestinal tract problems, liver problems, central nervous system problems, and breast cancer. Some have died at an early age because of cirrhosis of the liver caused by drinking.

Solomon also asks �Who has contentions?� Dictionary dot com defines �contentions� as: �a struggling together in opposition; strife.� As another murderer that I had under supervision while I was a parole officer informed me, �I'm a mean drunk.� He was drunk and mean when he murdered his wife. Many who drink alcohol are �mean drunks� and seek out arguments and fights. One man that I had under supervision made a decision for Christ on Sunday, and the next Saturday while drunk, nearly beat his girlfriend to death with a two by four. He went to prison for ten years. Thankfully, his girlfriend recovered completely from her injuries.

If you are a drinker I plead with you to stop, and if you have never drank alcohol I plead with you to never ever start, because there is no joy to be found in drinking � only WOE!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.06.17

Heartless

They refuse to understand, break their promises, are HEARTLESS, and have no mercy. � Romans 1:31 NLT.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! � 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV.

It happened in Kuwait City, an Ethiopian maid was hanging by one finger outside of a seventh-floor apartment and she was screaming �Hold on to me! Hold on to me!� The woman�s employer, instead of trying to help began filming the screaming woman until the woman fell. The falling woman fell onto an awning helping her to survive, but she did break an arm. This incident was reported as an attempted suicide.

In Kuwait, there are some 600,000 foreign workers which is about one for every Kuwaiti family. Foreign workers sign away rights when entering the country and they are treated poorly working long hours, often with poor living conditions and little food. Many of the foreign workers try to escape, but it is hard to do. Although the Ethiopian maid�s fall was not an attempted suicide, many foreign workers do attempt suicide to escape from the harsh conditions.

There has been at least one report of an employer pushing their maid out of a third story window after the maid had attempted to escape. It was reported as an attempted suicide. As poor as the working conditions are for some in Kuwait for foreign workers, conditions are worse in other nearby countries. (Standard Digital 04.02.17; Yahoo 04.05.17; and many other news venues)

Hard to believe that people can be so heartless treating people worse than they would treat a pet or even some would treat a slave. It is a travesty, it sickening, it is awful, it is HEARTLESS! This lack of caring, lack of compassion, lack of mercy, lack of forgiveness points to there being a heart problem. Jesus says in Matthew 12:35, �A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.� There is much evil being brought out of the hearts of the employers of foreign workers in Kuwait. You could say that they have evil hearts.

It breaks my heart, and I am sure it breaks your heart to hear about how horrible some people are being treated. As the apostle Paul indicates this is one of the conditions that will be present during the �last days.� During the last days �perilous times will come.� However, are these times we live in now any more perilous than during World War II when millions of people were killed? Or, is this time more perilous than during many other perilous time periods that have been recorded in history?

Let us pray for the heartless to have their hearts changed, and that they will turn to God before it is everlastingly too late. Let us pray for those who are being treated so poorly that they many have some relief, and that our God will protect and encourage them. Let us pray for our own hearts that we might not be heartless, and that we will have compassion, mercy, and extend forgiveness. Let our hearts love, as God had love for us. �But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.16.17

Expect Trouble When...

His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. � Psalm 7:16 NKJV.

�but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness�indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil�. � Romans 2:8-9a NKJV.

The NIV makes Romans 2:8-9a more clear: But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me. � Psalm 86:7 NKJV.

Michael Orchard saved the dog! Michael risked his life driving his BMW across neighbor�s lawns smashing through fences to rescue the dog from the fire. Once he was at the neighbor�s home that was on fire, he broke through their patio door at the back of the house, and rescued a large white dog. When police officers arrived Michael was standing a safe distance away from the home holding the dog. Michael�s a hero right? Wrong. The house WAS NOT on fire! Michael admitted that he had taken cough medicine (was that cough medicine with hydrocodone?) and also mixed in LSD with the cough medicine. Michael has found himself to be in some trouble from his �rescue� of the dog. (Daily Mail 10.16.16; New York Daily News 10.15.16; TimesUnion 10.14.16)

When Michael took the cough medicine and mixed in LSD he could have rightfully expected�trouble to follow, as in go directly to jail. When an elementary teacher in Wisconsin went on a student field trip drunk she could have rightfully expected�trouble to follow, as in fired. If you drink too much and get in your car and drive off�you can rightfully expect trouble to follow, as in arrest, jail or prison. If you rob a bank you can rightfully expect�trouble to follow. If you, because of road rage, run someone off the road or start shooting at other vehicles you can rightfully expect�trouble to follow.

There is a general spiritual rule here as the Psalmist says, �His trouble shall return upon his own head�.� As the apostle Paul indicates in Romans 2 if you do evil you can expect trouble and distress to follow. If you rob, steal, vandalize, and hurt people it will not turn out well for you. If you oppress others, cheat others, or curse others it will turn out well for you.

How can we avoid trouble? The Bible has some excellent advice:

Romans 13:13 NKJV, �Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.�

2 Timothy 2:23 NKJV, �But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.�

James 4:1-3 NKJV, �Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.�

Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV, �Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.�

To sum this up: If you cause trouble you can expect trouble. If you do what is right, you can avoid much trouble.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.15.17

Call for Help!

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. � Psalm 4:1 NKJV.

But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him. � Psalm 4:3 NKJV.

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.� � Psalm 50:15 NKJV.

As for me, I will call upon God, And the Lord shall save me. � Psalm 55:16 NKJV.

For �whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.� � Romans 10:13 NKJV.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. � Luke 18:1 NKJV.

What would you do if someone was robbing a convenience store and when you called 911 the operator hung up on you? What would you do if you had someone with a serious medical condition and called 911, and the operator hung up on you? Those calls were hung up on by Creshanda Williams a 911 operator in Houston, Texas. Creshanda hung up on thousands of other 911 calls, because it was reported �she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.� Some callers she just answered and hung up on immediately. Other callers she said things like �Ain�t nobody got time for that, for real.�

The robber of the convenience store shot and killed the clerk before the man calling for help could connect with another 911 operator. The woman with a blood clot in her lungs survived after her husband was hung up on while trying to do CPR with one hand and calling with the other. Creshanda has been fired, terminated, and faces possible charges in some 800 of those hang ups. If she is sentenced consecutively for each of those charges she might be given 800 years in jail plus fines. (Daily Mail 10.12.16; CNN 10.19.16; ClicktoHouston 10.14.16; ABC 13 Houston 10.17.16)

We do live in a time when we may be faced with unexpected dangers and threats. We also live in a time when many of us have phones, and the ability to call for help on those phones. We have come to rely upon police and other emergency personnel responding quickly to our calls for help. When David was being chased by King Saul and others there were no 911 operators to call. Hiding in a cave with those who wanted to kill him close by, David had only one source of help. That help was the Lord God. His God sustained him through the years of difficult and trying times.

Even in this time of modern technology, technology cannot solve all of our problems, meet all of our needs, or always give us the help when we may need it. Technology is only as good as the technology, and the humans who operate it. Phone systems and other technological devices sometimes fail. The humans, who operate those systems and devices, are just humans, who sometimes also fail.

Jesus says we ought to always pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, �pray without ceasing.� The NIV puts this as �pray continually.� The point is that we should not wait until we have an emergency so desperate that we are forced to call 911. We should be praying everyday as if our lives and our futures depend upon it. Because�our lives are in His hands and our God is our Help. �Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.14.17

Unknowingly Lost

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. � Matthew 18:11 NKJV.

My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. � Job 23:11 NKJV.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. � Psalm 1:6 NKJV.

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. � Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. � Psalm 37:23 NKJV.

As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, The Lord shall lead them away with the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel! � Psalm 125:5 NKJV.

So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness. � Proverbs 2:20 NKJV.

A man in China working on a temporary job some 1,000 miles from home decided that he wanted to go home for the Chinese New Year celebrations. He was in the Shandong Province and his home is in the Heilongjiang Province. Since he did not have the money to travel by train or bus he began the journey on his bicycle. Thirty days later he was stopped by traffic police, and he learned the sad truth that he had been pedaling in the wrong direction 300 miles. So now this poor man was 1,300 miles away from home.

How did this happen? The Chinese man cannot read, so being unable to read maps or signs he depended upon verbal directions from those he passed on the way. Those directions were wrong! Thankfully, the police officers and staff at the toll station bought the man a ticket home. (China Daily 01.24.17; BBC 01.25.17)

Have you ever been physically lost not knowing for sure where you were at, or how to go back to your home or to your hotel? It can be very frustrating and tiring to learn you are far off course, or have been going in the wrong direction for hours. It is less likely for that to occur in these times with GPS, although they are not always accurate, and can lead you the wrong way. Also, we have cellphones, and can call and ask for directions.

Spiritually, there are ways that you can be lost, and not be aware of your being lost. The worst spiritual way to be lost is to not have Jesus as your Savior. As Jesus says in John 14:6, �I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.� Jesus is the �way� to eternal life and there is no other �way.� I heard Charles Stanley say Sunday that the worst thing that can happen to a person is to go out into eternity without Christ as Savior. He also said the best decision that a person can make in life is to receive Jesus as their Savior. This is truth!

Once you know Jesus as your Savior, you can become lost from God�s plan (way) for your life. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:176, �I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.� If that is your situation you should pray as the Psalmist in Psalm 5:8, �Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.� However, sometimes you may not even know you are not following God�s plan (way) for your life. I believe I was in that situation for many years. Only by seeking God through His Word and prayer can you know for sure you are on the right track with your life. It should be a continual prayer for us to pray for God to lead us in His righteousness to fulfill His plan, will, and purpose in our lives to the ultimate degree.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.13.17

The Wrong Step

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly (NIV: Blessed is the one who does not walk in STEP with the wicked), Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful. � Psalm 1:1 NKJV.

The STEPS of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. � Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV.

You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands. For now You number my STEPS, but do not watch over (keep track of � NIV) my sin. My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity. � Job 14:15-17 NKJV.

Ryan Montoya is an experienced mountain climber who has climbed peaks in Nepal. He has also written a book �The Pilgrim�s Ladder� about climbing and life, and it is available on Amazon (His parents hope he will sell enough books to buy a new climbing helmet.). Recently Ryan had a little mishap while climbing Pyramid Peak which is near Aspen, Colorado. Not far from the summit Ryan made a step, and the ice fell away beneath him. He fell, and slid 2,000 feet down the mountain; and as he fell he screamed, prayed, and thought his life might be ending.

Ryan�s helmet was torn apart, his left elbow was dislocated, and his hip was fractured. He did survive two nights in freezing temperatures before being rescued. He does have some frostbite and doctors are trying to save the fingers on one of his hands. Montoya�s parents give the credit for Ryan�s survival to his faith and prayers of the community. (KRCR News 03.10.17; Denver Post 03.08.17)

Can you imagine the horror of taking one step that results in a catastrophic fall nearly ending your life? It was a fall that will no doubt change Ryan�s life. Will he continue climbing? Will he be able to? Will he be more cautious?

Just one wrong step, can change a life. One wrong step climbing a mountain can ruin your life, and one wrong step in life can ruin your life too. King David�s adultery and the arranging of the murder of Bathsheba�s husband Uriah resulted in the death of their son. It also had a ruinous effect upon many of his descendants. Jeroboam also had a son die and a far worse judgment fall upon him. The prophet Ahijah prophesied in 1 Kings 14:9-11 (And it came to pass as he said.), �You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me. Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel�slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!�

Just one wrong step, or in the case of Jeroboam, many wrong steps can destroy a life. The difference between David and Jeroboam is this: David repented and acknowledged his sin (Psalm 51), but Jeroboam never did. What do you think Ryan Montoya would have chosen in the midst of his fall if he had been given a choice as to whether to continue falling or to stop? When you make a sinful misstep in life, you do not have to continue down that path. You do not have to continue falling! You can confess your sin to your Lord (1 John 1:9) and turn around.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.13.17

Take the Sword

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. � Ephesians 6:17 NKJV.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. � Hebrews 4:12 NKJV.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. � Isaiah 55:11 NKJV.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. � 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV.

Tony Aarts who lives in North Fort Myers, Florida was having a fun day playing golf at the Magnolia Landing Golf and Country Club when he nearly lost his life. Tony was near the fourth hole when he heard a splash from a water hazard which was only a few feet away. Tony says, �As I was walking about 5 to 6 feet away from the water I heard a splash, and as soon as I heard that splash I knew it was an alligator, and he got me.�

The alligator had latched onto Tony�s right ankle, and began to pull him back into the water. Tony ended up on his back as the gator was pulling him down and he says, �I remember having a club in my hand, and as soon as he had me in the water up to my waist, I started hitting him over the head.� The gator kept on pulling Tony into the water, and he knew he would soon be completely under as the water was already up to his chest. He then says, �He was looking at me with his big eyes, and I kept hitting him. I started hitting him in the eye socket. I hit him three times and he let go of my foot, so I crawled back out and by that time the guys were there.� Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission captured the gator.

Tony says, �It�s a good thing I had that putter. It�s a good, solid, heavy putter. I guess a golfer should always keep a club in his hand.� (Wink News 02.09.17)

We may never have a life and death struggle with an alligator; at least I hope we don�t! What a shock that must have been to be having a fun day enjoying some golf and suddenly find that you are fighting for your life! Tony Aarts refused to give up, and kept on fighting even when it looked hopeless as he says, �And I�m thinking I�m getting deeper and deeper, and I thought you�re not gonna get me.� Whether it�s a beast like an alligator, or a terminal disease, life does have countless challenges that can come upon us unexpectedly.

The apostle Peter warns us of a spiritual beast that is always there lurking in the background seeking another victim. That old devil �walks about� looking to �steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10a)� the life of every child of God. That beast of evil wants to tear away every good thing in your life, and replace it with death.

The apostle Paul tells us of how God delivered him from the beast, �I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:17c-18).� As God delivered Paul from the beast, He is able to deliver you and me. No, we will not be able to defeat this spiritual beast with a good golf putter, but we have been given all the spiritual weapons needed to win the battles.

Let us begin each day by taking up the �sword of the spirit� which is far better than any golf putter. The �word of God� is powerful beyond our imaginations and will accomplish God�s purpose. By the �word of God� the worlds were spoken into existence(Genesis 1). So, when the beast of this world suddenly grabs hold of you, take hold of the �sword of the spirit� and stab the beast. �Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.01.16

May Truth be Revealed

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. � John 8:32 NKJV.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. � John 1:14 NKJV.

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. � John 8:40 NKJV.

Jesus said to him, �I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.� � John 14:6 NKJV.

The Independent Perse School in Cambridge England is teaching students how to be �artful dodgers.� When a student happens to commit a violation of the school rules they are given ten seconds to explain themselves to avoid punishment. Ed Elliott, head of the school, explained that �out and out falseness� is not allowed although �white lies� might be allowed. Elliott says, �Getting children to talk their way out of minor misdemeanors is a wonderful way of encouraging such creativity and fostering good communication skills.� Sam Leith who is a rhetoric expert and author says, �You can see this being a really important life skill and actually politicians, some of them, are the absolute straight arrow, but often the ones who get further are the artful dodgers.� (BBC 11.19.12; The Huffington Post 11.24.12)

In our current political climate it is difficult at times to discern the truth, because the truth is that our political candidates are artful dodgers. However, there is a problem that has created this deceitful political climate, and that is our desire to only hear what we want to hear. Do we want to know the truth? Do we really want to hear the truth? If a candidate tells you the truth are you offended? Jesus told the Jews the truth, and they just wanted to kill Him. Instead of pleading with Pilate to release Jesus, instead they shouted for Pilate to release a murderer (Matthew 27:20). Then, they shouted about Jesus to Pilate (Matthew 27:22-23), �Let Him be crucified� �Let Him be crucified� and Jesus was crucified. But there is a strange thing about truth, truth refuses to die. Jesus, the Truth, rose again on the third day!

Today in the United States each of us has our own idea about truth. We only want to hear our version of the truth as we have become artful listeners. We stuff our ears and turn the channel if someone actually dares to speak truth. It is sad to think that the political candidate who actually wins the election may be the one who has most successfully artfully dodged the truth.

Our duty as Christians in this election and in life is to seek the Truth, to desire the Truth, to pray for the Truth to be revealed, and that we might recognize it. Will you do that? Will you pray for the Truth to be revealed, and that you will recognize it, and receive it?

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.05.16

When God Says NO

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, �Come over to Macedonia and help us.� Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. � Acts 16:6-10 NKJV.

There is a TV commercial advertising a vehicle in which parents tell their children: �You can't take that.� One scene shows a boy walking out of a home's garage with a sledge hammer, and the parent says, �You can't take that.� Another scene shows a boy taking a fluorescent light bulb out of a fixture, and the parent says �You can't take that.� Another scene shows a little girl headed outside with hair clippers to cut the hair of another little girl, and the parent says, �You can't take that.�

A good parent knows some things are not good for their child to have, because some things can be harmful to the child, or used in a harmful way. Our Heavenly Father is a good parent, and because He is good, even though we want some things our Heavenly Father says, �You can't have that.� Our Heavenly Father says that, because he knows those things would be harmful to us. And, sometimes when we really want to do something our Heavenly Father says, �You can't do that.� Our Heavenly Father says that, because He knows something else would be better for us.

In Acts 16, God says NO to Paul twice as they were �forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.� Next, �they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.� Paul was on a mission to reach people with the Gospel, and even though he was the apostle Paul, God still told him NO. Why, did God not permit Paul to preach the word in Asia or Bithynia? God had a better plan which He then revealed to Paul: �And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, �Come over to Macedonia and help us.��

If the apostle Paul can be wrong about God�s will, it is evident that we can also be wrong about God�s will. Now Paul was a determined and persistent man of God, and we can see this when Paul beseeched God three times to remove his �thorn in the flesh.� God told Paul NO each time. Why? Paul says God told him this, �And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7).� Also, God said to Paul, �My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a).�

God may at times tell us NO. God may tell us that we can�t do that, or we can�t take that, or we can�t have that, or we can�t go there. However, if God blocks us from doing what we want to do, that doesn�t mean that God doesn�t love us. It may be that God has a better plan for us, or it may be that God is just protecting us from ourselves. Whatever it may be, as God said to the apostle Paul, He says to us: �My grace is sufficient for you.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.26.16

Miserly Fools

Then one from the crowd said to Him, �Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.�

But He said to him, �Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?� And He said to them, �TAKE HEED AND BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS (NIV � BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST ALL KINDS OF GREED), for one�s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.�

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: �The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, �What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?� So he said, �I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, �Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.�� But God said to him, �Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?�

�So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.� � Luke 12:13-21 NKJV.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. � Romans 1:18-19 NKJV.

God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness (GREED � NIV), maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. � Romans 1:28-31 NKJV.

The rise in pharmaceutical company prices and profits at the expense of the vulnerable is shocking. The latest is the 400% increase in the price of EpiPens which is a lifesaving product many depend on. The price has increased from $56.64 to $315.82 since Mylan Pharmaceuticals bought the patent. Since then, the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, has had a salary increase from $2 million to $18 million. Other executives of Mylan have also had huge increases in their salaries. Some Senators are now calling for a probe into this outrageous profit taking at the expense of the most vulnerable. If you are outraged by this too, you can sign a petition demanding the stop of this horrific profiteering at the Other98: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-epipen-profiteering-drop-the-price-of-this-lifesaving-medicine-now (Yahoo News 08.25.16 and the Other98)

There have been many great and wonderful advances in developing medicines for the treatment of diseases. However, when those medications are unaffordable what good are they? There are currently six HCV Hepatitis C drugs that reach cure rates of 96%. The cost of a 12-week course of treatment with these drugs range from $63,000 to $94,500; but, sometimes it takes a 24-week course of treatment. Just recently it was announced by some insurance companies that they will no longer cover the cost of treatment of HCV. No surprise there. Really, what good are the medications if most people are unable to afford them? (Info on medications and cost from: Healthline 02.24.16)

The definition for �greed� from Dictionary dot com is: �excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.� Looking at the outrageous actions of executives of pharmaceutical companies, those actions appear to go beyond simple greed. There is another word which fits these actions. Dictionary dot com defines �avarice� as: �insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.� Executives for pharmaceutical companies appear to have an insatiable greed, greed that can never be satisfied no matter how much money or possessions that they accumulate.

At Sweetwater, Oklahoma where we lived for 18 years as I was the pastor of a church there, we would often pass by a large old house. I once asked who had built the house, and the answer was �Miser Stewart.� No one seemed to know his first name; it was just �Miser Stewart.� The pharmaceutical executives are far worse than misers. God has a name for them, and that name is FOOL! When their soul is required of them, those things they have accumulated will be meaningless. The �wrath of God� will one day be poured out upon those fools.

Focusing your life upon accumulating money and material things will only result in an emptiness that no amount of riches can fill. Money and material things cannot give you peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning in your life. Only by putting God in His proper place, proper perspective, can you have real life, the abundant life (John 10:10b) that Jesus came to give you. That proper place of God is first place. Put God first as Matthew 6:33 says and everything else will fall into its proper place. The life abundant will then begin to flow into every area of your life. You will then not be known as being a miserly fool, instead you will be known as �blessed� of God (Psalm 1).

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.25.16

Better than Gold

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the GENUINENESS of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith�the salvation of your souls. � 1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJV.

An anonymous prospector in Victoria, Australia has struck gold! Using a metal detector he has found two large gold nuggets only a foot or two below ground. He found a nine ounce gold nugget the first day, which at current gold price would be worth about $11,907. The second day, he returned to the same area, and found a huge nugget weighing 145 ounces worth $190,710. The first night he hid his big nugget in their oven, but it is now in a bank�s vault. The prospector said this about the find, �I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget, a once in a lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn't think nuggets of this size were still around.� He plans use the money from the nuggets to buy a van and travel Australia with his family. (Yahoo News 08.24.16)

When gold was struck in California in the 1850s, men and women from across the world poured into the area to prospect for gold. One of my ancestor�s relatives, we know from census records went to California during that time, but I have found no record of him after that time. It was a hazardous journey to California, and even more hazardous actually trying to live and work as a prospector.

Gold is even more valuable today than it was in the 1850s with today�s price being $1393.90 per ounce. However, as valuable as gold may be, there is something far more valuable, far better than gold that we can obtain. The apostle Peter tells us that the �GENUINENESS of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes.� What is �genuineness�? Dictionary dot com defines genuineness as: �possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real.� We can have faith that is genuine, which is better than gold.

How do we know whether faith is genuine or not? In a way somewhat similar to gold being refined; when gold is refined the impurities are removed by fire leaving pure gold. We are told in 1 Peter 1:6, �though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.� I am continually amazed when I hear of friends who have had all kinds of terrible things happen to them and their families, that they continue to praise God, continue to serve God, continue to walk with their God through each day. I have no doubt that their faith is genuine, which has been proved by the fire of earthly trials which affect us here in this world. Peter says those whose faith is going through these earthly trials �may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.�

You don�t have to go to Australia, or California, or Colorado to find gold. The psalmist says, �The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver (Psalm 119:72).� Dig into the riches of God�s Word every day, and you will find genuine faith for �faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.17.16

Living the Right Way

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be UNWISE, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And DO NOT BE DRUNK with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, GIVING THANKS always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. � Ephesians 5:15-20 NKJV.

The Unwise:

What would you do if you won a $3 million dollar lottery prize? Ronnie Music Jr. who is 45-years-old, thought the wise use of his $3 million dollars would be to invest in a trafficking methamphetamine organization. However, he is now in jail and facing a long long prison sentence. When he was arrested, he and his helpers were caught with $1 million in drugs and guns. (Atlanta Journal � Constitution 07.26.2016)

The Drunk:

29-year-old Stacy Sanchez is in trouble, a lot of trouble. She was on her way home after spending hours at several Oceanside, California bars when she hit a homeless man with her vehicle. The man was killed by the impact; however, Stacy didn�t stop her car, and she kept on going for � mile with the body of her victim stuck in her windshield. When she arrived at her home, her husband called police. Stacy has been charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter. (New York Post 06.28.16)

The Thankful:

The Family Minute dot com gives eight things that you can be thankful for: family, friends, having a home and food, laughter, job, freedoms, those impacting your life positively, and for your health. The Thought Catalog gives 51 things you can be thankful about. And, Real Simple dot com gives 100 things you can be thankful about. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, �pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.� That is where perhaps most well-known illustration about thanksgiving originates. Corrie Ten Boom, in a Nazi camp for Jewish people waiting for the gas chambers, is told by her sister to thank God even for the fleas in their barracks. As Corrie found out later the fleas made the guards stay away from their barracks.

The apostle Paul gives the formula for living a successful life in Ephesians 5:15-20: Be Wise, Be Sober, and Be Thankful. How do we have wisdom? We are told this in James 1:5, �If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.� Sobriety flows out of having wisdom, which will then result in our being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) instead of being drunk or high. If we are wise, and we are filled with the Spirit, as a result we will be thankful in everything as we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This is how we can live the right way, God�s way.

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.16.16

Put It Away

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. � Ephesians 4:31 NKJV.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. � Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV.

Paul E. Donovan, Jr. who is 69-years-old has for 56-years had a grudge against a former childhood friend. Now, it is not that hard to understand why Donovan was upset with his friend; but, really, holding onto it for 56-years! Donovan claims that when he was 12-years-old his friend at the time stole $300 from a wooden box in his room. That would be enough to upset anyone for a while. How do we know Donovan has held a grudge for all these years? Because, the tombstone of his former childhood friend was vandalized several times by Donovan.

In 2014, Donovan spray painted �John� in bright orange on the gravestone, this was done twice. Later in the year it was vandalized again, this time with tar-like substance that was poured over the stone. A camera was then set up by police to try to catch the perpetrator of these acts of vandalism. In May of 2015, the perp was caught on video stealing lights that had been set up around the tombstone to try to prevent more vandalism. Donovan did immediately confess to the crime when arrested, but said at time of his arrest that he will, �pay back any restitution minus the $300 he was owed over 56 years ago.� A judge has sentenced Donovan to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1500 in restitution to the family. Wonder how the judge will react to Donovan just paying $1200? (Daily Local News 08.04.16)

It is likely that everyone reading this has had someone do something to them that has caused pain, and likely anger at the time. Fifty years ago someone stole a #1 Spiderman comic book from me that was in mint condition. The record sale price for one of those is $110,000. If I still had the comic it likely it would have been worth only a few thousand, because I would have read it, and looked at it, and the value would have decreased. I think I know who took the comic, but you know what? I would pay thousands of dollars to not carry a grudge for fifty years! It was just something that happened long ago, and I blame myself for leaving the comic where someone would be tempted to take it. And, think of the guilt that person had, because they stole it.

With Paul Donovan we can see the danger to our emotional and spiritual well-being from allowing bitterness to grow in our lives. That �bitter root� like a plant will slowly grow until the fruit of bitterness springs up causing trouble and moral defilement making a person unfit for serving God. The solution to such bitterness is to immediately confess our bitterness to our Lord as 1 John 1:9 directs. Not only will our bitterness, even our grudge be forgiven, but our God will comfort us so that the bitterness and anger is wiped away, replaced with His peace which transcends all understanding. If you are holding onto a grudge, let it go through the power of God before the evil fruit springs up in your life. Put it away from you as Ephesians 4:31 says, �Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.10.16

Learning Your Lesson

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, �Thus says the Lord God of Israel: �I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, �I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.� But you have not obeyed My voice.�� � Judges 6:1-10 NKJV.

Noah Elkins and Priscilla Simpson were driving along looking for a place to swim when they had a close encounter with a power pole and some tiny little creatures. It all happened in a rural area of Laurel County, Kentucky. Noah and Priscilla were high on some drugs (Suboxone, neurotin and Klonopin), but I digress. What were those tiny little creatures that viciously attacked these two thirty year olds? Bees! It was bees that immediately swarmed after them when they crawled out of their wrecked vehicle. The bees were stinging them all over; they grabbed a water hose from a home nearby, and tried to wash the bees off. Gary Anderson who lived in the home said the two were, �screaming and squalling, and running around about like a chicken with its head cut off.� Gary didn�t realize at first that the bees were stinging them, and just thought they were high on drugs.

Noah and Priscilla were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries from the accident, and from the numerous bee stings. Noah is facing a charge of Driving While Intoxicated and Priscilla a charge of Public Intoxication. Gary Anderson, the home owner, was also stung several times on his leg attempting to rescue the two. Gary says, �Everyone around there hopes the two learned a serious lesson. I'd say by today they are learning their lesson. If they feel like my leg feels, I'd say they're learning. I'd say they're itching real good because my ankle's itching. I think it's that poison from them bees.� (CBS WKYT Lexington 07.27.16 and various other news venues)

Wonder which lesson Gary and Priscilla learned? Don�t drive around while you are high on drugs? Don�t crash your vehicle into a pole with a beehive on it? And if you do crash into a pole with a beehive, make sure you are not wearing a bikini? That had to be an unpleasant lesson they received, but I doubt they actually learned anything from it.

This reminded me of the Book of Judges where the children of Israel had a hard time learning their lesson. The cycle of sin, repentance, and deliverance kept repeating itself in their lives over and over and over. They would sin, they would be oppressed, they would cry out to the Lord for help, and God would send a deliverer, a judge to lead them to freedom. In the passage in Judges 6 it is Gideon that God raised up to lead them in throwing off the oppressive yoke of the Midianites. Failure to learn their lesson was a continual problem and eventually led the children of Israel to be carried into captivity to Babylon.

It is easy to condemn those who sin, those who have some kind of moral failure. God knows I have had many painful lessons and have not always learned them. �There but for the grace of God go I� is a saying I have heard all my life. Many of us are familiar with this saying and google gives more than two million results for it.

When we are caught in the Judges cycle with our own lives what should we do? How can we learn our lesson? The problem is a lack of focus on what is most important. The most important of all in our lives should be Jesus. ��let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith�(Hebrews 12:1b-2a). ��consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).� �Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).� Discipline is necessary, and there is no way around the need for faithfulness in applying the resources of God to our lives so that we might have the mind of Christ: Prayer, Bible, Church. May we all learn our lesson!

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.01.16

How to Make God Smile

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, �I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.� But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. � Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV.

Then the Lord said to Noah, �Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.� � Genesis 7:1 NKJV.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. � Psalm 147:11 NKJV.

The Kilauea Volcano is smiling; yes, it is smiling, and there is video evidence of the smile. The volcano smiley face has two glowing eyes and a long crooked smile. The volcano smiley face was filmed by Mick Kalber from a helicopter belonging to Paradise Helicopters. The Kilauea volcano is a very active and has erupted continuously since 1983 and is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The lava flow from the volcano has reached the ocean for the first time in three years. You can view the photos and video of the volcanic smiley face at this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3715583/Mother-nature-flashes-smile-Hawaii-volcano-appears-red-hot-grin-complete-glowing-eyes-molten-lava-hits-sea.html (DailyMail 08.01.16)

We visited the Big Island of Hawaii in 1995 and the volcano was one of the more memorable things that we saw on the island. However, there were no smiley faces in the volcano then. In 1995, the lava flow was reaching the ocean and we along with a large number of other people tried to get as close as we could to view it. I remember we were still a long way away from the lava flow when the heat became unbearable and we had to turn away.

Seeing the video of the volcanic smiley face this morning made me think of this question: Does God smile? And if God does smile, what would make Him smile upon our lives? Searching the Bible, depending upon which translation is used, there are only three to five references to the word smile. However, although the Bible does not specifically reference God smiling I believe that God does smile if you think of Him as being pleased with the lives of some of His servants.

God appears to be pleased with His servants Enoch and Noah. Why? Because Enoch and Noah pleased God. But how did they please God. In Hebrews 11, it is revealed that it was by faith that Enoch and Noah pleased God. The writer of Hebrews comments on Enoch�s faith by saying this, �By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, �and was not found, because God had taken him�; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. �But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).� The writer of Hebrews also comments on how Noah pleased God by saying, �By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7 NKJV).�

How can we make God smile? King David tells us in Psalm 51 in his prayer of repentance: �O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart�these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:15-17 NKJV).� In Romans 10, we see more specifically how we can make God smile as we are told, �For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For �whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:12-13 NKJV).�� The Amplified Bible puts the last part of Romans 10:12 as, �[He is] abounding in riches (blessings) for all who call on Him [in faith and prayer].� The New American Standard Bible puts this as �abounding in riches for all who call on Him.�

So, how can we make God smile? �If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).� By faith receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you will surely make God smile. And, then by faith walk with God as did Enoch and Noah, and God will surely smile even more!

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.28.16

Pok�mon Go and Becoming the Best

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. � Philippians 3:14 NKJV.

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

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. � Ephesians 5:15 NKJV.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. � 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. � 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV.

Tom Currie in New Zealand is on a mission, a Pok�mon Go mission to become the best Pok�mon Go hunter in the world. Tom is 24-years-old, and before becoming a full-time Pok�mon Go hunter he worked at the Hibiscus Coast restaurant in Auckland. Tom has tendered his resignation to the Hibiscus Coast caf� to dedicate the next two months to Pok�mon hunting. He plans to travel by bus all over the country to capture these Pok�mons. So far Tom has captured 90 of the 151 Pok�mon creatures that are possible to be caught. Currie says, �I wanted to have an adventure. I have been working for six years and I was desperate for a break. And Pok�mon gave me the chance to live that dream.� (Newshub 07.15.16; The Guardian 07.15.16)

Are you living the dream? Are you the best that you can be? You have to admire anyone who gives everything they have to be the best they can be at something. Do you have a dream? Are you the best that you can be? Those I think are good questions to ask ourselves, but as Christians we should always include God in the equation. Does our dream include God, is it something that will bring honor and glory to God? If we are the very best at something, is that something God will be pleased to see demonstrated in our lives?

A starting point for any God honoring dream should include Matthew 6:33 because we can never really be the best that we can be if we leave God out of our lives. In Philippians 3, we have a statement which is helpful in understanding this: �But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:7-10 NKJV).�

If we leave God out of our quest to become the best we can be all we will have accomplished will just be a pile of garbage. Without God, a dream is worthless. Let us �press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.� Let us fight the good fight while keeping the faith and redeeming the time; being diligent workers not ashamed who are approved by God. May we truly be the best that we can be finishing the race, not giving up, even to the very end of our walk here upon this world.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.27.16

Pok�mon Go and the Unseen World

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. � Colossians 1:16 NKJV.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? � Hebrews 1:14 NKJV.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. � 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. � Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV.

Having never played Pok�mon, I have little knowledge of what it actually is except what I have read or viewed in news stories. Please bear with me as I share a little information that I have found. I turned to Wikipedia to find out more, and this is what they say Pok�mon is: The name Pok�mon is the romanticized contraction of the Japanese brand Pocket Monsters. The term Pok�mon, in addition to referring to the Pok�mon franchise itself, also collectively refers to the 722 known fictional species that have made appearances in Pok�mon media.

The Pok�mon website says this about the new incarnation of Pok�mon, Pok�mon Go: �Get on your feet and step outside to find and catch wild Pok�mon. Explore cities and towns around where you live and even around the globe to capture as many Pok�mon as you can. As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you're near a Pok�mon. Once you've encountered a Pok�mon, take aim on your smartphone's touch screen and throw a Pok� Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away! Also look for Pok�Stops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, where you can collect more Pok� Balls and other items.�

One of the unfortunate side effects of Pok�mon Go is the injuries some have experienced hunting these imaginary creatures. The Washington Post published an article 07.10.16 about those injuries. Here is a quote from the article: �Pok�mon Go put me in the ER last night,� read one post on the Pokemon Go subreddit. �Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch,� said the Reddit user. �Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol... Watch where you're going, folks!� Others posted that they, too, had near misses or minor scrapes from chasing Pok�mon a little too enthusiastically. Some have reported mishaps while seeking Pok�mon and driving, which is a thing that just shouldn�t happen. That bears repeating: do not Pok�mon Go and drive.

The good news for Pok�mon go players in Russia is a new free insurance policy that is now available for them. Sberbank will insure players with a free policy providing up to $800 in case of injury while playing the game. The same article about the insurance policy says: Ever since the game�s release, people have been crashing into police cars, tumbling down stairs, getting shot and someone has even fallen off a cliff in their effort to catch the best Pok�mon. (CNBC 07.25.16)

Through the Pok�mon app on their phones, players are able to see and interact with an unseen imaginary world. What if there was an app on our phones to see the unseen, very real spiritual world? Looking through the app we could then see the demons attacking our lives and the angels of God trying to protect us. We could then see that when we sin it allows the demonic world an entry point into our lives to cause trouble. When we live righteously we could then see how much easier the angels are able to repel the demonic attacks. When we respond in prayer to those demonic attacks we would see how crushing blows are delivered by God upon those demonic forces.

Although we cannot see our spiritual enemies they are very real, and we must resist them. The Bible does give us much direction in how to do this. Here are two additional Scriptures that can help us: �Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:7-8 NKJV).� Also, Revelation 12:11 NKJV: �And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.25.16

Prayer Guidance

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. � 1 Peter 3:12 NKJV.

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. � 1 Peter 4:7 NKJV.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. � 1 John 5:14-15 NKJV.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men � 1 Timothy 2:1 NKJV.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. � 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. � Colossians 4:2 NKJV.

Ruqiyyah Abdur Raqeeb Sadiq, a 28-year-old woman failed to stop at a stop sign in Mary Esther, Florida, crossed an intersection, and slammed into the side of a house. Usually with accidents like this you would think that alcohol or drug use would be involved. However, you would be wrong this time. Sadiq said that the accident must have happened while she had her eyes closed praying. This was also likely why they took her to a hospital for evaluation. Sadiq has been charged with reckless driving with property damage. Thankfully, no one in the house was injured. (Daily News of NW Florida 07.11.16; Smoking Gun 07.12.16)

There are some things that you should not do while praying. As we see with Sadiq�s accident, driving with your eyes closed while praying is one of those things. Also, in spite of what Carrie Underwood sings in �Jesus, Take the Wheel� it would be a mistake to turn loose of the steering wheel while you are driving.

There are some things that will hinder our prayers, but in general God will hear our prayers:

When we pray with our eyes closed.
When we pray with our eyes open.
When we pray with our heads bowed.
When we pray without our heads being bowed.
When we have our faces turned toward Heaven.
When we pray outloud.
When we pray silently.
When we pray standing up.
When we pray sitting.
When we pray lying down.
When we pray upside down.
When we pray running.
When we pray walking.
There are hardly any wrong ways to pray, and some prayers are unspoken as God hears our heart�s cry. I like Amy Grant�s song, �Better than a Hallelujah� where she sings:

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Regardless of what we pray or how we pray, the Spirit we are told makes intercession for us according to the will of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit translates our prayers so that the Father hears them according to His will. �Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.20.16

An Outrage!

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY LAW in their minds, and WRITE IT ON THEIR HEARTS; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. � Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV.

The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. � Proverbs 10:11-12 NKJV.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like�. � Galatians 5:19-21a NKJV.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. � James 3:13-18 NKJV.

Yesterday, in Cleveland, Ohio near the Republican National Convention, protesters committed a new outrage. What was this new outrage? Throwing urine in plastic baggies on police officers and others. Someone tweeted asking why anyone would have a baggie filled with their urine? Someone tweeted in response that it was in Chapter 2 of the book, �Things I learned in prison.� It is reprehensible! It is an outrage! It is also an assault, and those throwing urine in plastic baggies on others should be arrested and prosecuted. In fact, if someone is infected with a disease it could be considered an assault with a deadly weapon. It is an outrage that there are unlawful violent assemblies blocking highways, rioting, causing personal injuries, and destroying millions upon millions of dollars in property. That is an outrage! It is an outrage when police officers protecting our communities are targeted for assassination. That is an outrage! To list all of the outrages being perpetrated in our country would take more than the space I have here today.

What is the problem that has created such a racial divide, hate and violence in the United States? John Adams, the second president of the United, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence long ago identified the problem we now see in the United States. Adams said this: �We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion�Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.� Franklin Graham in his essay �America the Beautiful?� in the most recent issue of Decision Magazine writes, �Wherever Christianity flourishes, freedom flowers. Wherever it is marginalized, tyranny, despotism, and eventually anarchy will inevitably follow.�

The solution to the hatred, the racial divide, and the violence is obvious. The people who make up these United States of America must turn to God; we desperately need a spiritual awakening to sweep across America. No presidential change, no amount of new laws, no amount of great speeches will change the hearts of Americans. Only God is able to change and renew the hearts, lives, and attitudes by writing His law upon our hearts.

The Bible tells what we must do in multiple places similar to Galatians 5:16 which says, �Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.� It will take all of us, turning from the godless evil that threatens our freedom, and turning to a real walk with God to bring to an end the outrages we now see destroying our nation. Let it begin with me; let it begin with you, as we seek to daily obey the law of our God which He has written upon our hearts.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.18.16

All Peoples

Then the angel said to them, �Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to ALL PEOPLE. � Luke 2:10 NKJV.

For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of ALL PEOPLES, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. � Luke 2:30-32 NKJV.

For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. � John 3:16 NKJV.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLES to Myself. � John 12:32 NKJV.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of ALL nations, tribes, PEOPLES, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, �Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!� � Revelation 7:9-10 NKJV.

Strange in these days, that to say �all lives matter� means according to the �Black Lives Matter� organization that you are a racist. BLM is trying to focus attention on the shootings of black men by police officers and they claim that to say �all lives matter� is taking the focus off of that issue. I will agree that there have been some shootings of black men by law enforcement that does not appear justified just as there have been of some white men and those of other races. However, BLM has been involved in a rush to judgment before the facts are known for most of these shootings.

Most of the shootings of black men by law enforcement have been shown to be justified. I have little sympathy for anyone black, white or of any race that resists arrests and ends up being injured. Resist arrest and you can expect that bad things will happen. Even if you believe the arrest is unjustified, resisting arrest will only complicate the situation. To avoid injury when encountering law enforcement, comply with their lawful orders. Be respectful to law enforcement saying �Yes sir, or No sir� or �Yes Ma�am or No Ma�am� this will make your encounter with law enforcement much safer for you and them.

It is beyond sad the amount of violence that is occurring in black communities like there is in Chicago. Very strict gun laws in Chicago, but still horrific amounts of shootings mostly of what you would think of as being innocents. Why isn�t Black Lives Matter protesting this far greater threat to black lives? I suspect it is because the police are a much easier target; whereas if they protested violence in their own communities, it is likely they would be exposed to being shot. I hope and pray that BLM will change their focus to the greater threat of black on black violence.

Regardless of how we may feel about BLM does God care about all lives? Do all lives matter to God? The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Yes, God cares about all peoples. God so loved �the world� that Jesus suffered and died on the cross that we might have a Savior. It is the command of Jesus that He be lifted up so that �all peoples� may be drawn to Him. During this difficult time with so much violence and so much terrorism across the world what are we to do? Let us lift up Jesus, so that the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) may draw �all peoples� to Him and still the waters (Mark 4:39) with His peace.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.13.16

No Other Name

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, �By what power or by what name have you done this?�

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, �Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the �stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.� Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.� � Acts 4:5-12 NKJV.

There is a new law in Russia that essentially outlaws the sharing of your faith whatever that faith may be. The Barnabus Fund which helps persecuted Christians across the world has this to say about the new law: �The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith, even a casual conversation, to have prior authorization from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($770).�

The new law was promoted by Putin as being needed to protect against terrorism according to a report by Radio Free Europe. Radio Free Europe also reported the law: �boosts state access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to the authorities. Encrypted programs must provide authorities a key, and the law also increases the number of crimes that 14-year-olds can be prosecuted for and restricts the activity of religious preachers.� The law is in violation of International law and of the Russia�s own constitution; however, the law, any law, doesn�t seem to matter to dictators. (WND 07.07.16 Many thanks to World News Daily for this article!)

In the United States, and in other free countries we are seeing a creeping constriction of religious freedoms. What once was considered preaching the Word of God i.e. the Bible, is now seen by many as hate speech. There are those who are continually trying to constrict the ability of pastors to interpret the Bible according to how they are led by the Spirit. New laws are continually being proposed that would bring the United States closer to that of Russia�s now control, or attempted control, of any religious conversations.

In Acts 4 after the healing of the lame man, Peter and John were confronted with whether or not to bow to the commands of the Sanhedrin, �So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).� Peter and John are not afraid of the Sanhedrin which could have severely punished them. Instead of bowing to the will of man, Peter and John make it very clear what they intend to do: �Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19b-20).� After their release they pray, �Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word (Acts 4:29).�

What will the Christians in Russia do? Will they continue to share their faith, or will they bow to the will of Putin? I suspect that they will continue to cautiously share their faith when they have the opportunity, even with the risk of the legal penalties. How will those of us who live in other countries respond when our religious liberties are restrained? Will we have the courage to stand up for our faith? Will we have the courage to preach as did Peter that there is salvation in no other name than that of Jesus Christ of Nazareth; and that, �there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved?�

In the United States, we still have freedom to speak of our faith, and to assemble to together to worship our God. Sadly, even though we have those freedoms, the vast majority of believers rarely exercise them; especially in the sharing our faith with another person. We can change the course of history by rising up in the name of Jesus, and speaking boldly of our faith, as did Peter and John. Will you do it? I think your God would like an answer.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.29.16

What is the Problem?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. � Romans 6:23 NKJV.

So the Lord said to Cain, �Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.� - Genesis 4:8 NKJV.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. � James 4:7-8 NKJV.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. � Romans 8:5-6 NKJV.

33-year-old James Jenkins led sheriff�s deputies on a wild high speed chase in Florida. In an attempt to lose the deputies, Jenkins went off the road, crashed through hay bales, and his vehicle went airborne several times until the car died from the damage. But Jenkins wasn�t finished, he jumped out of the vehicle holding a large beer can, and ran toward some trees. Not only did his car come to a stop from the damage from the chase, but Jenkins also came to a stop from the damage to his face when he crashed into a tree, which allowed deputies to arrest him.

During the entire chase there was a child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. The child told deputies that he had been holding onto his car seat with all his might during the incident. Thankfully, the child was not injured. Jenkins was charged with several offenses including fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, habitually driving under suspension, and this is a surprise: child neglect. Oh, almost forgot, he was also charged for the open can of beer in the vehicle. (Palm Beach Post 06.17.16; Crestview News Bulletin 06.15.16)

Jenkins is not the only one doing something stupid. Sonja Farak in Massachusetts got herself into some trouble. She had been the state crime lab chemist, but was fired in 2013 after being employed by the crime lab since 2005. What was she doing? She admitted to being high on illegal substances every day while working for the lab. Here are some of the drugs she admitted to using: meth, ketamine, ecstasy and LSD. (Washington Post 05.16.16)

In Calhan, Colorado, 38-year-old Robert Williams during an argument with his wife threatened his wife and daughter with a handgun. Williams told his daughter to get another firearm so they could have a duel. Williams then shot at his daughter who returned fire, but neither one were hit. While Williams went to find a shotgun, the wife and daughter fled to safety of a neighbor�s house where they called 911. Williams has been charged with felonies of menacing, prohibited use of a firearm, and child abuse. (Fox 31 06.02.16; KDVR Denver 06.02.16)

Then there is 26-year-old Prolancia Turner who was at an Outlet Mall in Vero Beach, Florida where she shoplifted at a Claire�s store. Turner walked out of the store with earrings hidden in her clothing. Turner was angry and crying about being arrested because�she said, �Everyone steals from this store. Why are you picking on me?� (Smoking Gun 05.19.16)

What in the world is wrong with people? Why do people do such obviously wrong things? What is the problem? The problem is simple. The problem is SIN! Sin = Death, because the wages of sin will always be death. Sin will always bring bad things into your life. Sin will always hurt you, and sin will always seek to destroy you. As the Lord said to Cain, �And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you.� Sin lies in wait at your door too; its desire is for you, to devour you and all that is good in your life.

Having identified the problem, what is the solution? The solution to the age old sin problem is still the same. Obedience to your God. Cain rejected that solution, but you do not have to follow in Cain�s steps. You do not have to do one stupid thing after another destroying your life, and the lives of those around you. The solution to the sin problem is to do as the Bible says �submit to God.� If you will �draw near to God,� �He will draw near to you.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.28.16

Human Logic

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. � Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. � John 3:17-19 NKJV.

Dominyk Antonio Alfonseca, who is 24-years-old is going to prison for 35 months for a bank robbery in Virginia. The evidence is indisputable, which includes Dominyk posting on Instagram two videos of the robbery, and also a photo of the note passed to the bank teller. Dominyk enjoyed his ill-gotten money for all of 20 minutes before his arrest with the bag of cash. In Dominyk�s defense, he was polite and his note passed to the bank teller did say �please� and had smiley faces on it. Also, Dominyk says he posted the Instagram videos to prove he did not have a firearm. However, Dominyk disputes his guilt and says, �I don't know how I'm a robber because I asked for it. She could have said no, and I could have left. I didn't have a gun. I didn't have anything. I even waited my turn. They called me up and I handed them the note. I didn�t consider it robbery. The way I see it is, by law I might be guilty, but by my logic I�m not. I feel like I�m innocent by logic.� (CBSnews; WTKR Norfolk 12.23.15)

For those of you thinking about applying for a loan from a bank, here is an important point about procedure. Do not simply enter a bank and give a bank teller a note asking for money! Ask to see a loan officer about applying for a loan. It is easy to see the flawed logic of Dominyk Alfonseca. Dominyk thought he could escape a charge of robbery on a technicality of not actually saying he was robbing the bank. The law, however, is also clear in that a bank robbery is a bank robbery even if you ask politely for the bank to give you money. Human logic vs. the law, and the law won. Actually, there�s a song by that title: I Fought the Law and the Law Won. Here are some of the lyrics:

Breakin' rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I needed money 'cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

(Just in case you didn't get it: The Law Won!) On a spiritual basis human logic says there should be many ways to Heaven. God says there is only one way, and that way is through Jesus Christ who says, �I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).� Human logic also says that if I do enough good things to outweigh the bad things that I do, it will entitle me to go to Heaven. However, God says �For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).� Trusting in human logic spiritually will send you to eternal torment in a devil�s hell. Just because something sounds good to our human minds does not necessarily make it so.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.23.16

The Music of Silence

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, 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 NKJV.

In 1952, John Cage composed �4�33�. If you had the sheet music, or musical score for this �music� it would consist entirely of rests. There was no music, only silence. Cage defended his non-music by saying that he wanted to focus on the space between the notes i.e. silence. There is an actual YouTube video with soloist John Marx performing �4�33�. The soloist sits at the grand piano, adjusts the music, and then closes the keylid, or keyboard cover. The silence is deafening! I do like a quote of John Cage as he says, �Everything you do is music.�

Have you noticed how hard it is to escape noise? I can remember when I was a boy living on a farm there was no way at times to escape the silence. When I left my career as a parole officer to become a pastor of a small rural church, one of the hardest things to adjust to was the silence. Going from having a very busy life with constant interactions with others to only having a few opportunities each day to visit with people was a shock. I learned to adjust, listening more for God�s small still voice. I talked with God for hours and hours. Instead of doing things, effecting change in the physical world, by physical means; my focus was changed to effecting change, moving mountains by spiritual means.

Psalm 46 begins in this way, �God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah (Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV).� A continuing problem for the Israelites was making allies with pagan nations and relying on military strength for their security. The Psalmist urges his listeners to �be still� and consider �God.� �Be still� and remember the awesome works of the One true God who alone is worthy to be praised. God, the Psalmist says is where you will find your help in trouble, God is the one who will give you the refuge you seek.

When you are still before God, when you seek Him in silence, it may not sound like anything to you. However, to God your stillness before Him is a beautiful piece of music which you are performing in His presence. Be still!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.21.16

Lost

Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; and let Your judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments. � Psalm 119:175-176 NKJV.

Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings. � Jeremiah 3:22 NKJV.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. � Matthew 18:11 NKJV.

A man and a woman on their way from Baltimore to New York became lost during their drive. Somehow they turned onto an access road of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, and things went downhill from there. When they arrived at a locked gate preventing entry to a sensitive area, why didn�t they just turn around? No, they did not turn around. Instead, the man apparently used a bolt cutter he just happened to have in his car to cut the chain which secured the gate. After the couple was arrested they claimed not to have seen the two �No Trespassing� signs on the gate. Both the man and the woman were arrested for trespassing; and when they were searched, the woman was found to have a small metal pipe which smelled of marijuana. The woman was also charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance. A spokesperson for the Atomic Power Station assured the public that the couple had been under surveillance the entire time. She also said there were several layers of security preventing entry into the most sensitive areas of the power station. (York Daily Record 05.29.16)

I have gotten �lost� a few times while driving, and one time I was so lost that I actually bought a map to find my location. I guess I could have asked someone for directions, but that would have been admitting failure violating the unwritten code of manhood to never ever ask for directions. Okay, I will confess, I have asked for directions a couple of times. However, I have never been so lost as to whip out my bolt cutters and cut the chain on a gate with two �No Trespassing� signs barring the way to a nuclear power plant. Of course, I have never been smoking pot while I was driving either. What kind of people are these? I do have some bolt cutters that are in my farm pickup, but I have never seen a need to carry bolt cutters around in my car.

Are you lost? There are at least three ways that we may in some way be lost on a spiritual level. The worst kind of lostness is to not know Jesus as your Savior. Jesus came to seek and to save you (Matthew 18:11). In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, �Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.� Jesus is addressing Revelation 3:20 to the members of the congregation at Laodicea; however, the context and terminology suggest that most were not authentic believers being without a saving knowledge of Jesus as their Savior. Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and He wants to come in, will you let Him?

Another way we can be lost is that after we have come to know Jesus as our Savior, we then turn away at some point. The Old Testament speaks of this as �backsliding� (mentioned in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea) in KJV or of choosing your own �willful ways� in the NIV. This is addressed in 1 John 1:8, �If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.� A false claim of the critics of the apostle John was that believers are without sin, unable to sin. John makes it clear that this is not true and he gives us the solution to this form of lostness in 1 John 1:9, �If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.� If you have chosen your own �willful ways� instead of God�s will, now is the time to confess those sins to the Lord.

A third way of being lost is when we have a broken spirit. Psalm 119:176 says, �I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.� The Expositor�s Bible Commentary says this about Psalm 119:175-176, �The last verse of the psalm is a cry from a broken spirit, not a confession of apostasy. The psalmist feels helpless, like a �lost sheep,� and cries to his Good Shepherd to �seek� him, for he has not neglected God or His word.� What is the solution to being lost? For all three types of lostness we just need Jesus. We must look unto Jesus �the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.16.16

Always Ready

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. � 1 Timothy 6:18 NKJV.

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. � 2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV.

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work. � Titus 3:5 NKJV.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. � 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV.

What is it about brides? Brides seem to have superhuman courage, at least some of them do. Maybe there needs to be a new TV series, call it: Brides to the Rescue. Sarah Ray on her wedding day, still in her wedding dress; who is also a paramedic, headed to the scene of an accident. Georgette Clemons as she was leaving her wedding reception, still in her wedding gown, saw smoke coming from a house. Georgette sprang into action wedding dress and all, rescuing the family.

Just this month another bride who had just said her wedding vows performed CPR on an unconscious woman without a pulse. Julie Stroyne Nixion is a trauma nurse, and as she was leaving the wedding reception she heard someone scream, �Does anybody know CPR? Is anybody a doctor?� Darlene Limpert who witnessed the bride in action said, �She didn�t hesitate for a second.� Julie�s new husband said about his bride, �It was a heroic act. I�m not surprised. I�ve known her a long time.� Thankfully, Julie was able to revive the unconscious woman. Hurray for the brides!! (Pittsburgh�s Observer-Reporter 06.13.16; Huffington Post 06.15.16)

The one thing that all three of these brides had in common besides being brides, is that they were ready. They were ready to take on the unexpected, even risking their own lives as Georgette did. These brides were ready to sacrifice their own special moment in life celebrating on their wedding day, to render aid others needed. The immediate thoughts of these brides were not about whether their wedding dress would be ruined, or if they might break a fingernail. The thoughts of these brides were not about themselves, as they jumped into action.

Readiness for action is a desired characteristic for the child of God. We must be ready spiritually ��for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).� We ought to also be ready to die for the faith, if called upon to do so, as was the apostle Paul, �For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13 � See also Revelation 12:11).� We are to be ��rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (1 Timothy 6:18).� We are to �Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2).� We should ��always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).� To sum up the broad scope of the need for readiness believers should have, we are told in Titus 3:5, ��to be ready for every good work.� Are you ready?

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.14.16

Do the Right Thing

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles�when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. - 1 Peter 4:1-3 NKJV.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ�s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people�s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. � 1 Peter 4:12-16 NKJV.

Five elementary school children are heroes in West Fargo, North Dakota. The kids were having a fun day with a water-gun fight armed with super soakers when they saw a fire on an apartment�s deck. These heroes immediately took action, letting the resident of the apartment know about the fire, who was unable to leave because of being on oxygen. The five children then began dousing the fire with their super soaker water guns. By the time the fire department arrived they had reduced the fire to just a smoldering mess. The West Fargo Fire Chief Daniel Fuller believes the kids saved the building from extensive damage and likely saved the life of the person living in the apartment. (Inforum 05.31.16)

Doing the right thing at the right time has always been a difference maker. Esther immediately comes to mind (Esther 4) as her Uncle Mordecai says to Esther, �who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?� Through Esther�s courageous action her people escaped extermination. The shepherd boy David saw the giant Goliath taunting the Hebrew army and could have kept on herding his father�s sheep. Instead, David faced death at the hands of the giant with only his slingshot and was victorious empowered by His God. Daniel and his friends faced death more than once by doing the right thing. They refused the king�s rich food, they refused to bow to idols, and God protected and blessed them. So, many of the heroes of the Bible are heroes of the faith; because they did the right thing at the right time, risking their lives to do so.

How can we have the courage to do the right thing at the right time? The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:1, �Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind�.� To do the right thing at the right time we must arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. How do we do that? To know what someone�s mind is like, so much so that we act as they would act, we have to spend time with them. To have the mind of Christ, we must spend time with Him through prayer, reading His Word, spending time with His people, and by following Him (Luke 9:23). Do you have the mind of Christ?

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.07.16

Questions

For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? � Job 14:7-14 NKJV.

Have you ever wondered how many shakes it takes for a dog to dry? Apparently, some government scientist wondered the same thing and spent $390,000 to find out. However, the answer must be a secret, because I still cannot find the answer to that question. Have you ever wondered if you could out run a dinosaur? A government scientist also wanted the answer to that question, and spent $1.9 million to find out. Have you ever thought that Facebook might be addictive? Someone in the government, or was it Facebook wanted an answer to that and spent $511,860 to find out. I could have told them the answer to that one for free. Have you ever wondered which has more hairs, a squirrel or a bumble bee? Who thinks up these questions! The government spent $753,000 to find the answer to that one. Then there is the question of the ages, why is yawning contagious? I�ve wondered about that too, but I would not have spent $1,000,000 to try to find out!! These questions all came from Senator Jeff Flakes� �20 Questions: Government Studies that will leave you scratching your head.� Okay, one more. Why does the face of Jesus appear on toast? I don�t know, but the government spent $3.5 million to try to find out.

Most would agree that Job experienced life at its worst. All of Job�s children were killed, and then the �fire of God� (Job 1:16) burned up his sheep and many of his servants. Next the Chaldeans came, and carried away all of Job�s camels and killed the rest of his servants, except for the one who escaped to share the bad news. If that was not enough, Job was afflicted then with sore boils (Job 2:7) all over his body. In addition, Job�s wife was not all that supportive either (Job 2:9). Perhaps even worse were his �friends� who were miserable counselors with a half-truth theology. W. A. Criswell says this about Job�s friends: �All three of Job�s friends have the same theology: Righteousness will be blessed, and evil will be punished. This is only a half truth. Ultimately, the wicked will be punished and the righteous rewarded, but in the meantime even righteous men will suffer because of sin, testing or the pressures of other men.�

Job has many questions for God, as we would have too, if we had been afflicted like that man. In Job 38 and 39 we have the longest list of questions in the Bible. Government scientists might want to consider some of those questions. We often hear of the �small still voice� of God (1 Kings 19:12). However, God has a different voice that God used to ask His questions of Job. �Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1).� That would get your attention!

God did not answer His own questions for Job, but Job did have the answer to the most important question of all: If a man dies, shall he live again (Job 14:14)? And the answer is found in Job 19:25-27: �For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!�

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.03.16

Faithfulness

His lord said to him, �Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.� � Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. � 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV.

In 2004 at a pastor�s conference, I heard Pastor Paul Negrut from Romania preach. Negrut shared that there were 600 Baptist churches in Romania when communism collapsed, and 90% of those churches were without pastors. He talked about the first crusade that was held after the collapse of communism in Romania by Luis Palau. Negrut said that they started not to even go to the stadium where the crusade was being held; because it was pouring down rain, and they thought no one would come in the rain.

When Pastor Negrut arrived at the stadium where the crusade was being held, he said it was overflowing with people. Palau preached and he gave the invitation that if any wanted to receive Christ as their Savior to come forward. Negrut said that the whole stadium full of people began to move forward in response to the invitation. Palau thought that they must have misunderstood, and so he gave the invitation again. And, again the whole stadium began moving forward to receive Christ as their Savior.

Pastor Negrut urged the pastors present at the conference in 2004 to not see things just as they are, but as they could become. He said that we need to have a vision to have the ability to do what you can with what you have - a vision based on God�s Word. Someone had a vision to have a Luis Palau crusade in Romania after the collapse of communism. Even with their vision to have the crusade, they must have been surprised at the overwhelming response. Vision to look beyond what the world says is possible, to what God can do is important, not just for pastors, but for every child of God.

In order, to have vision, to have passion, what is needed is character. To have character, there must be faithfulness. As Jesus says in Luke 16:10, �He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.� From where does faithfulness come? The Bible tells us in Galatians 5: �I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh�But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:16; 22-23).� Do you want to have vision? If so, you need character, and to have character you need faithfulness. Be faithful even in the small things!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.02.16

A Change in Plans

There are many plans in a man�s heart, nevertheless the Lord�s counsel�that will stand. � Proverbs 19:21 NKJV.

For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you (Paul�s plans for visiting Rome.). But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. � Romans 15:22-24 NKJV.

Come now, you who say, �Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit�; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. � James 4:13-14 NKJV.

Jamie and Fernanda Stern had the perfect wedding reception planned aboard the Majesty, which is a Boston Harbor Cruises vessel. Jamie Stern described what happened to their perfect wedding reception, �Suddenly a big noise, everything stopped. The music was playing and next thing you know, there were life jackets, little kids crying.� The boat had run aground. What was to have been the perfect three hour wedding reception, turned into a seven hour ordeal, with the wedding party having to be transferred off of the grounded boat. Several agencies worked together with five boats to transfer the passengers. Jamie Stern had this to say about their ruined wedding reception, �We�re going to love each other no matter what, my girl is still here.� His wife, Fernanda said, �It made it more memorable.� (Mailonline 05.29.16)

Plans often have to be changed because of unforeseen situations that arise. In 2010, while I was pastor of Sweetwater�s First Baptist Church, we had a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the church. Many former members and pastors were invited to be present and to speak at the event. The planning for this event involved many meetings over several months. It was carefully planned to have a catered lunch using a well-known caterer.

Around 11:00 A.M. we received a call from the caterer asking for further directions to the church. It was learned that the caterer had gone to Stillwater, Oklahoma instead of Sweetwater, Oklahoma. Stillwater is more than 200 miles away and more than a three hour drive. The bad news was that the caterer could not arrive in time for the lunch. Other plans were made, which involved my wife and two other church members driving rapidly to Elk City, 30 miles away, to buy food from restaurants and a grocery store. The good news was that a former pastor was preaching and he preached for more than an hour. I have never been so thankful for such a long sermon! It was enough time for the group that had traveled to gather food to return, and have things ready for the lunch. Many of the people who attended the celebration likely never knew that there had been a change in plans. For those of us who knew what had occurred; it made it an unforgettable event, in which we experienced the moving of God�s hand upon us.

The apostle Paul had to change his plans for visiting Rome as he was �much hindered� from making that trip. Paul also planned to preach the word in Asia (Acts 16), instead God called them to go to Macedonia. As James says, we do not know what will happen tomorrow, we do not even know what will occur during the rest of this day. One thing, however, we can be sure of is this, �the Lord�s counsel�that will stand.� If our plans are changed it is not the end of the world. Seek wisdom from the Lord as to how to proceed. God may have an even better plan in mind for you.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.01.16

More of Jesus

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. � 2 Peter 1:1-7 NKJV.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. � 2 Peter 1:2 NIV.

Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. � 2 Peter 1:2 Amplified Bible.

When you first meet someone, do you immediately know everything about that person? Of course not. With social networks like facebook and twitter it is easy to understand this lack of knowing about a new friend on Facebook, or a follower on Twitter. Over a period of time as you interact with a new friend on facebook or follower on twitter you come to know more about them. Then, there are some friends and followers that you never really know; because they never interact with you, they never talk to you. It is the same in the actual real world when you meet a new person, they may become a friend, or they may just be a person whose name you know.

Do you know Jesus, really know Him? Did you meet Jesus one day receiving Jesus as your Savior, but that initial experience is about all you know about Him? You know His name, but that�s about all? Are you wondering why other believers sing the praises of knowing Jesus, but you have never personally experienced anything like they have? God, through the apostle Peter, is trying to help us to understand that knowing Jesus, really knowing Jesus is the key to the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus came to give us.

The �divine power� of Jesus �has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.� For us to receive the �all things that pertain to life and godliness� Peter is telling us (2 Peter 1:1-7) that we need a growing relationship with Jesus. We can�t just be Facebook friends with Jesus if we want to have the �all things.� We need to know the �exceedingly great and precious promises.� We must give our relationship with Jesus �all diligence.� If we want to have the blessings of God, the �all things� we just need more of Jesus.

As the old hymn �More About Jesus� puts it:

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.

�That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.31.16

The Beast

Casting all your care (anxiety � NIV) upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. � 1 Peter 5:7-9 NKJV.

In Houston, some people were out jogging when they discovered that their pleasant little run had become a run for their lives. Why was that? Because there was an 80-year-old 12-foot long 700lb beast chasing after the joggers. It was a Texas sized alligator! That�s a big gator, but in Palmetto, Florida there�s a 16-foot alligator that they say has been living on a golf course for years that golfers see frequently. Back in 2006, a woman jogging near a canal in Sunrise, a northwest suburb of Fort Lauderdale, was killed by an alligator. Yesterday, there was an article about a large alligator being caught outside of a Dallas, Texas middle school. Meanwhile, in Florida there have been four African crocodiles that have been found which are much more aggressive toward humans than alligators. (abc13 05.27.16; Houston Chronicle 05.11.06)

I can�t imagine the terror that you would feel to look back and see a huge alligator nipping at your heels. When I was a little boy I was out in our pasture and saw a large snake. That snake chased me; at least I imagined it chased me, all the way back to the house. I have been watching for snakes ever since then. At least we don�t have pythons here in Oklahoma, like they do in Florida, or do we? But we do have rattlesnakes, copperheads, bobcats, mountain lions, and some bears.

In the world in which we live there is a necessity for a certain amount of caution. Certainly, we should not live in fear, but we should be aware that there could be dangers lurking. Spiritually, there is a continual threat to our well-being; it is a beast that is continually seeking its prey. The apostle Peter warns of this threat, and makes it clear that we should be aware of the devil who seeks to destroy us. Peter says �Be sober, be vigilant�Resist him, steadfast in the faith....�

We should believe in the sovereignty of God and that He is concerned about His children; however, that does not mean that we are to do nothing to protect ourselves. Of course, we should not live in a state of panic, or terror, but we must resist the beast, being steadfast in our faith casting our cares, our anxieties upon the Lord. What else are we to do? Ephesians 6 tells us, �Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil...praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:10-11;18).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.30.16

No Surrender

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. � 1 Timothy 6:6-12 NKJV.

In the United States today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembrance of those who died while serving in the armed forces of the country. Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day begun in 1868 when the graves of the Union war dead were decorated. There was also a day for remembering the Confederate war dead from the Civil War, but these days were merged into the one that we now observe.

Today on Memorial Day is a good time to remember one of the famous battles of WWII called �the Battle of the Bulge.� Military.com has a short, but excellent article about the battle. In December 1944, the Germans had launched a counter offensive and were able to surround Bastogne, Belgium. Bastogne was being defended by the 101st Airborne Division commanded by General Anthony Clement McAuliffe. On the morning of December 22nd four Germans approached carrying a white flag carrying with them a demand for the Americans to surrender. There were two pages demanding the Americans surrender, which in part read, �To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne�There is only one possibility the honorable surrender of the encircled town.�

When General McAuliffe first briefly looked at the message from the Germans his immediate response was, �Aw, nuts!� Military.com gives this insight into how the actual official response of General McAuliffe occurred: �When he told his commanders he didn�t know what answer to send, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard said �That first crack you made would be hard to beat, General.� Everyone laughed as a sergeant typed up the succinct response: �To the German Commander: Nuts! The American Commander.�� The 101st Airborne was able to hold on until they received relief from Patton�s troops and weather cleared enough for air support. General McAuliffe would likely agree with Dictionary dot com�s interpretation of the word �nuts� as being an expression of �disapproval, disgust, or defiance� meaning in essence �insane, or crazy.� It might have been a temporary relief from the terrible conditions they were in to have surrendered, but that would have been �crazy!�

At times we may feel like we are surrounded spiritually. We may all express silently, if not verbally as did Peter, �Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!� Sin, whether small or great in our eyes, is a spiritual defeat; but, that does not mean that the war has been lost. However, we may �feel� like we have been surrounded by the hosts of hell and that the only thing to do is to surrender to their demands. That in a word would be as General McAuliffe uttered at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, �Nuts!� As the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy, instead of surrender, rise up and �Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life!�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.27.16

What's in Your Basement?

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. � Matthew 25:31 NKJV.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. � Luke 1:32 NKJV.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. � Matthew 6:24 NKJV.

Eileen Scanlon bought a New Jersey waterfront bungalow to use as a rent house in 2010. Eileen had heard rumors that there was something big underneath the house. In fact, she once looked under the house in the crawl space, and thought she saw a large rudder. Eileen is now having the house renovated, and it has been raised off its foundation to enable the work to take place. Now, it is clear what is under her rent house. What is it? It is a 19thCentury coal boat, that is 44-foot long and 12-foot wide, made with planks 3-inch thick; 18-inch long iron nails were used to hold the planks together. Russell Card of Historical Society of the Highlands said this about the boat, �It was beyond amazing. I've heard about it before and the first time I ever saw it was yesterday. I never realized it was so big. I was amazed at the craftsmanship of it.� It is thought that the boat was moved there on wheels, and the house was just built around it. (Fox News 05.27.16)

A lot of strange things have been found in the basements of homes. In Cottage Grove, Minnesota a couple found a scientist in their basement that had been missing for 20 years making LSD in a secret laboratory. Another find in a New Jersey basement was far better than a 19th Century coal boat. After a couple passed away, their children discovered a Rembrandt painting that had been lost for years in the basement called, �An Allegory of The Sense of Smell� that the artist painted in 1625. The painting sold for $870,000. Then there was the 6-foot 200lb alligator in the basement of house in Chicago. The owner apparently knew it was there, but not an appliance repairman.

If you were to think of your life as a house, what�s in your basement? Where do you have the Lord Jesus at? Is He in your living room, your den, or do you have Him hidden away down in your basement? If the Lord is down in your basement, maybe you ought to invite Him up so you can visit with Him from time to time. Is Jesus on the throne of your life?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.26.16

Sheep Gone Wild

All we like sheep have gone astray; have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. � Isaiah 53:6 NKJV.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: �Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth�; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness�by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. � 1 Peter 2:21-25 NKJV.

There is a sheep problem in Swansea, Wales. There is a group of sheep that have gone wild in Swansea. In fact, one Swansea County Councilor fears �we could have an outbreak of psychotic sheep rampaging through the village.� The horror! But there is already a herd of sheep that have been �getting in people�s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.� What has happened to the sheep in Swansea? Someone illegally dumped cannabis plants; and some of the sheep found the plants, and ate them. Now the sheep are running wild! (The Independent 05.26.16)

Do you remember what your life was like before you were a believer in Jesus Christ. It is hard for me to imagine now what I was like in the years before I knew Jesus. In my teen years I had no idea what I would do with my life. My only goal was to be better at playing the guitar. When I enrolled in college, I had never thought about what my major would be. I�m not even sure I knew there were majors. I grew up on a farm, and for 12 years attended a small rural school. Few people from our school ever went to college, although a few became teachers, and one did become governor of our state. On my senior trip, I believe I narrowly escaped dying from alcohol poisoning. Until I committed my life to Jesus, I was a sheep on a rampage through life, with no real purpose in life.

What about you? Are you a sheep gone wild? Do you know the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul (1 Peter 2:25)? I will be forever thankful that my Lord and Shepherd reached down and touched my heart. He bore my sins in His own body and by His stripes I have been healed. The Overseer of my soul has given me eternal life and purpose.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.25.16

Harebrained

Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You (mock you � NIV) daily. � Psalm 74:22 NKJV.

A quick-tempered man acts foolishly�. � Proverbs 14:17a NKJV.

The devising of foolishness is sin�. � Proverbs 24:9a NKJV.

In Pakistan, a trial was disrupted when Constable Liaquat Ali demonstrated how a grenade (evidence in the trial) could easily be detonated by pulling the pin. It was thought that the grenade had been disarmed, but no one knew that for sure. Everyone knows now that the grenade was not disarmed, because it exploded. The Constable and a court assistant were injured with the Constable receiving injuries to his hands, but he has been released from the hospital. What did the judge do? The judge fell off his chair, according to witnesses. (Daily Pakistan 04.11.16; The Guardian 04.12.16)

There is an old word which describes well the decision making abilities of someone who pulls a pin on a grenade in a courtroom without know for sure that it has been disarmed. That word is, harebrained. The Free Dictionary defines harebrained as something that is: �rash, foolish, or badly thought out.� The earliest recorded use of the word harebrained is from 1548 in Scotland and England. The original meaning was to slam the actions of someone by saying that they only had a brain the size of a hare (rabbit).

There are many things that could be described as being harebrained according to the Bible. David recognizes that his sin was harebrained by saying, �I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly (2 Samuel 24:10 NKJV).� Sin is always going to be a harebrained thing to participate in. Knowingly participating in sin is like pulling the pin on a grenade, the results are never good.

James describes how our words can sometimes be like an exploding grenade. In James 3:5-6 we are told, �Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one�s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.� Opening our mouths and saying the wrong things can at times be like pulling the pin on a grenade. The writer of Proverbs says, �Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction (Proverbs 10:14).�

The two most harebrained things of all time is to mock God (Psalm 74:22), and to consider the only way of salvation as being foolishness. �For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.24.16

Escapes from Death

For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? � Psalm 56:13 NKJV.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. � Romans 6:8-11 NKJV.

It happened near Garner, North Carolina; that is where a 71-year-old woman escaped death twice at a railroad crossing. The first time she escaped death was when she had to hurry across the crossing to avoid being hit by an Amtrak train. She hit a tree on the other side of the crossing. The second time (two weeks later) she escaped death, she attempted to follow a line of cars across the crossing; however, the cars stopped and left her stranded on the tracks. Seeing the approaching train, she attempted to back up off the tracks, but the front of her car was still struck by the Amtrak train. Thankfully, no one on the train was injured, and the 71-year-old woman escaped with minor injuries. The car, however, does have some major damage from the two accidents. (abc11 05.15.16; The News & Observer 05.11.16)

Escapes from death, how many close calls have you had? I have never had a close call with a train, and hope I never do! I know that as a teenager I had two close brushes with death. Working in the oilfield I had two narrow escapes from death and also as a parole officer more escapes from death. While driving I know there have been many close calls. Those are just the ones I know where God protected me from an early death. I realize that there were countless other times that God has protected me from physical injury and then there are the times that I know God has healed me. As the apostle Paul says, �For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).�

Hebrews 9:27 makes it clear that we will all suffer a physical death, but if we know Jesus as our Savior we have already passed from eternal death (escaped from death) unto eternal life (John 5:24). Only God knows the number of our days upon this earth. As it has been said by many, each day is the beginning of the rest of our lives. King David knew this very well as he said, �Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah. Our God is the God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death (Psalm 68:19-20).� Let us live each day confident that God Himself through the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Whatever we may face this day, God is with us (Matthew 1:23).

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.23.16

God's Will be Done

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

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? � Matthew 5:44-46 NKJV.

David Shoshan in Israel has been having some problems with someone treating him �harshly and not nicely.� David says that he has made several contacts with police about these crimes, and that the police were sent to his house ten times. However, what David really wants is a restraining order; but Judge Ahsan Canaan denied the request. David represented himself at the hearing, but for some reason the other party was not available for the hearing. Who is this that is causing David so many problems? David says God is the one who has been very unkind to him over the years. Judge Canaan said that David is �delusional� and that he needs resources not available to the court. The Israeli news site NRG attempted to contact God for comment, but He was unavailable. (Independent UK 05.06.16; NRG 05.06.16; Fox News 05.06.16)

Over the centuries there have been others that may have wanted a restraining order against God; although they did not seek relief in a court. Job�s wife, who told Job he should just curse God and die, would have like to have had a restraining order. Job himself would probably have liked to have had one too. Then, of course, there is Jonah. God called him to witness to those evil Ninevites in Nineveh. Today that would be like God calling you to go and witness to ISIS, although the Ninevites may have been even more evil.

It is not always God�s will for some things to happen to you. This is an important thing for you to understand. Is it God�s will that someone who is drunk or high on some substance to drive the wrong way down a highway and slam into other vehicles? Of course, that is not God�s will, but it has happened many many times. Is it God�s will for someone to decide to rob a bank and kill someone during the robbery. Of course not, but that is what has happened many many times.

Do we need a restraining order against God when bad things happen in our lives? No. Did God cause that bad thing to happen in your life? Possibly, but it is more likely that it was just something that happened because of the bad decisions of others. Or, it just happened because of the corrupt nature of the world we live in that was corrupted when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Because God �makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.�

At times we may not know what to pray for or about; however, the Holy Spirit knows, and the Holy Spirit will take our prayers translating them according to the will of God. In Romans 8:26-27 NKJV we are told, �For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.� The assurance that we receive in Romans 8:28 is this: bad things may happen in your life, but God wants what is good for you. This is God�s will. Pray for it! As Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10 NKJV, �Your kingdom come. YOUR WILL BE DONE. On earth as it is in heaven.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.20.16

Hearing Voices

Then He said, �Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.� And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. � 1 Kings 19:11-12 NKJV.

Jesus said to her, �Mary!� She turned and said to Him, �Rabboni!� (which is to say, Teacher). � John 20:16 NKJV.

Brad Sapp who owns a recycling business in Carroll, Iowa was hearing voices as he worked late one night. Actually, it was just one voice whispering, �Get out of here.� When Brad told his wife, Carrie, about it she told him that he must be �afraid of ghosts.� The next morning, Carrie was hearing voices too, as someone in the chimney yelled, �I�m in your chimney, I was playing hide and seek with my cousin. Don�t call the cops; I just need the help getting out.� Carrie did call the police, and the fire department. Firefighters punched a hole in the brick chimney to extricate 29-year-old Jordan Kajewski. Kajewski has been charged with trespassing. (Daily Times Herald 05.18.16; Yahoo News 05.19.16)

Hearing voices can be a symptom of mental illness. However, as my professor in Abnormal Psychology once said, �But most Baptist deacons would tell you that they have heard God speak to them.� While I was a parole officer, I had a client tell me that he was hearing voices. He said that the voices were telling him to hurt people; but, after he spent a year in a mental institution he was no longer hearing those voices. The last time I saw him, years later, he was doing well and was leading an alcohol recovery program.

Please don�t tell anyone, but I have been hearing voices, and they seem to be growing louder. Actually, just one voice, the voice of God. God speaks to me through His Word, He speaks to me through other believers, He speaks to me through His still small voice as I pray and go through my day. �I come to the garden alone. While the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing (The old hymn: In the Garden by C. Austin Miles).�

Have you been hearing the voice of God? Has He called your name? Listen�can you hear Him?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.19.16

Well-Meaning People

Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. � 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NKJV.

Paul Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft, which he left some time ago. In these days, Paul is known for his philanthropy giving in support of primarily coral reef restorations. One of his projects has been in support of the West Bay Coral Reef in the Cayman Islands. Recently, Allen�s 300-foot yacht dropped anchor, it dropped anchor on the West Bay Coral Reef and caused some damage. They dropped anchor and destroyed 80% of the reef! (National Geographic 01.16.16; The Guardian 01.28.16)

Paul Allen is an example of a well-meaning person, or well intentioned person; who when they try to help, instead of actually helping cause damage. Dictionary dot com defines well-meaning as: �having or indicating good or benevolent intentions, usually with unfortunate results.� Have you ever encountered a �well-meaning� person? Have you ever been a �well-meaning� person?

Another question that needs to be asked is this: Is being a �well-meaning� person wrong in God�s eyes? Dictionary dot com defines evil in this way: �morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked - harmful; injurious - characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous - anything causing injury or harm - a harmful aspect, effect, or consequence.� The answer to the question is that a �well-meaning person� is in the wrong when they cause harm. This is why we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to �abstain (or avoid � GNT and CNT) every kind of evil.�

Unintentionally causing harm can come about in innocent ways. It may be a lack of information, or the wrong information that causes an action that results in harm. Apparently, whoever was piloting Paul Allen�s 100-yard long yacht did not have the right information about the location of their ship in relation to the reef. When you are captain of a ship a football field long you need to be cautious of where you pilot the ship, and where you drop a very heavy anchor. When you are a human ship you also need to be careful of which way you turn the rudder. James 3:4-6 tells us, �Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.� Where are you piloting your ship today?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.18.16

The Shepherdless

But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. � Mark 6:33-34 NKJV. (At the feeding of the five thousand.)

Jesus answered them, �I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father�s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father�s hand. I and My Father are one.� � John 10:25-30 NKJV. (At the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.)

If you have ever watched the movie Adventures in Babysitting (Filmed in 1987 and there may be a 2016 remake.), you have good reason be concerned about what the babysitter does with your kids. Last week, there was a real life adventure in babysitting that occurred in Colorado. Rachel Einspahr, who is 28-years-old, picked up seven and one and a half year old sisters after school and possibly the toddler from a daycare. All is good at that point; however, Rachel was considering a plan to rob a bank. She drives around for a while, until she finally decides upon a bank in Severance, Colorado. In the bank�s drive through area, Rachel sent a message claiming there was a man in the car threatening to harm the children. The bank teller gave her $500. There was no man in the car, and the children were not in any immediate danger. After the robbery the babysitter went to a park where the children could have some fun. Rachel needed money it was learned to pay off $15,000 she had stolen from a previous employer. It doesn�t look like Rachel will need to do any more babysitting for some time, since she has been charged with robbery, and two counts of child abuse. (CBS 05.16.16Yahoo News 05.17.16; Fox News 05.18.16 and various other news venues)

Rachel Einspahr is like a sheep without a shepherd, making one bad decision after another, digging a deeper and deeper hole. The sad thing, the really sad thing, is that there are multitudes of people just like Rachel without a shepherd. The heart of our Lord and Savior is still moved with compassion for them. As believers our hearts should also be moved with compassion for the multitudes without Jesus as their shepherd.

Many believers have been blessed to have prayer warriors praying for them. I am very thankful for the prayer warriors who were praying for me when I was young and throughout my life. If you do not have a prayer list of people you are praying for, you need to start one. If you have one, are the people on your list only family or close friends? If so, it is time for you to enlarge your coasts, your personal ministry, add people to your prayer list outside of your immediate circle of influence. Add strangers to your prayer list, add children, youth, and young adults and all ages to your prayer list. Those people on your prayer list do not have to know that you are praying for them, although for many it would be an encouragement if they did know. Who else can you pray for?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.17.16

It's Not in the Ten Commandments

And God spoke all these words, saying:

�I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.�
�You shall have no other gods before Me.�
�You shall not make for yourself a carved image�you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.�
�You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain�.�
�Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work�.�
�Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.�
�You shall not murder.�
�You shall not commit adultery.�
�You shall not steal.�
�You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.�
�You shall not covet your neighbor�s house; you shall not covet your neighbor�s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor�s.� � Exodus 20:1-17 NKJV.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas a man had 134 pounds of marijuana shipped to his house. Officers posed as if they were deliverymen, and arrested Alberto Gomez-Reyes when he signed for receipt of the package. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute. (Yahoo News 05.13.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don�t do that!

One night Sophia Sanchez was arguing with her boyfriend in Riverside, Illinois and apparently her boyfriend ended it by refusing to argue any longer. The next morning, Sophia rammed her car into her boyfriend�s vehicle so he would have to stop and talk to her. (WLS-TV 04.27.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don�t do that!

Kirk Kelly had violated his probation and was arrested in Akron, Ohio. However, Kirk had an idea, if he were to bite off his fingertips; police would not be able to identify him by his fingerprints. He tried, but it didn�t work as he was still positively identified as Kirk Kelly. (WFTS-TV 02.26.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don�t do that!

In Portsmouth, England a 21-year-old woman was found by police to be using her grandmother�s handicap parking badge. Emily Davis� grandmother had recently passed away. (Metro News 02.26.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don�t do that!

In Georgia (USA), 32-year-old David Presley put three pounds of Tannerite into his riding lawn mower. Tannerite is used to make exploding targets for shooters. There are videos of Tannerite blowing up a barn and vehicles. David was going to start small, and blow up his lawn mower, shooting it with his rifle. The lawn mower did blow up, and even though he was 90 feet from the mower he was still hit by pieces of metal, which severed his leg below his knee. In Oklahoma a man shot at a refrigerator filled with Tannerite and his young son was killed by shrapnel. (Athens Banner-Herald 03.23.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don�t do that!

Just because something is not covered by the Ten Commandments, does not necessarily mean that it is okay to do, or not to do something. That is one reason why God has given us the Bible. If we will read the Bible, study the Bible, and memorize the Bible we will gain wisdom to avoid many mistakes in this life. Yes, I still mess up at times, but the errors of my way are far fewer now than before I sought wisdom from the Word of God. The Book of Proverbs is a good place to begin, as there are 31 chapters, one for each day of the month. The Book of Proverbs begins with this: �To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion�a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:2-7 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.16.16

Take Your Medicine

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, �Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.� But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. � Jonah 1:1-3 NKJV.

So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. � Jonah 1:15-17 NKJV.

Jessie Kingsinger�s mother called police for help in Florida to obtain a psychiatric evaluation for her son. Her son, Jessie, is 21-years-old and he attempted to flee from the police officers who arrived to help. In his attempt to get away from officers he jumped into a nearby lake, but officers did find him soon afterwards. Sadly, an alligator had bitten off three-quarters of Jessie�s left arm by the time he was found. A spokesperson for the Police Department said about the injury: �We expect it had just happened, seconds before he crawled out, otherwise he would have bled out.� Jessie as you would expect, has been hospitalized for the injury to his arm, and for the psychiatric issue. (Yahoo News 05.12.16; The Ledger 05.12.16)

Have you ever tried to run away from something unpleasant? I have. It is human nature to want to avoid unpleasant things. I once wrecked my car when I was a teenager by trying to jump over a ditch four or five feet wide. The car did make it over the ditch, but it slammed the fan through the radiator, and warped the frame. Now this was an obvious complete failure of judgment and responsibility on my part to do such a crazy thing. How would I explain it to my parents? My first response was that I had a friend, who had a friend whose Dad had a body shop, and I would have him repair the car before my parents found out. I went so far as to have my friend�s friend to drive a wrecker out to the scene, before I came to my senses, and decided to take my medicine.

�Take your medicine� is an old phrase that was often used when I was growing up. UsingEnglish dot com defines �take your medicine� as: �If you take your medicine, you accept the consequences of something you have done wrong.� I stumbled onto song lyrics by a group I never heard of (Cloud Cult) titled �Take Your Medicine� with these words: �You can take it in stride, or you can take it right between the eyes. Suck up, suck up and take your medicine.� That night I had my friend drive me home to face my parents to take my medicine. Probably the worst part of that was the disappointment I knew my parents had about what I had done. My Dad let my wrecked car sit out in the yard for a couple of weeks, and then he took it to a body shop and had it repaired.

You know it is hard to �take your medicine� but there is something freeing about doing so. Confession is good for the soul; it is like having a heavy weight lifted off of you. That�s what King David found out after he was confronted with his sins by Nathan the prophet. David cries out, �Restore to me the joy of Your salvation (Psalm 51:12).� You can run and run from God like Jonah, but you will never escape. 1 John 1:9 says to do what? �Confess!� �If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.� When you have messed up, when you have failed, when you have sinned horribly � Confess! Don�t try to run, don�t try to hide, it will never work! Confess! Then your God, can begin the healing that will restore the joy of your salvation.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.13.16

Are You Trapped?

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, �If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.� They answered Him, �We are Abraham�s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, �You will be made free�?� Jesus answered them, �Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. � John 8:31-36 NKJV.

The Message puts John 8:34-35 as: Jesus said, �I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can�t come and go at will.�

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world�the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life�is not of the Father but is of the world. � 1 John 2:15-16 NKJV.

A homeless woman in Key West, Florida somehow became trapped in a huge banyan tree. Police and Fire and Rescue were able to extricate the woman from the tree. What a predicament to be in! She was virtually unable to move with her legs sticking out of the twisted tree. Why did the woman try to climb the tree? The answer? The woman said: �It looked like fun.� (Yahoo 05.12.16)

Did the woman in Key West intend to become trapped in a tree? Of course not. It is never the intention of anyone to become trapped in a tree or of anyone to become trapped in sin. How often is it though that we become trapped because it �Looks like fun?�

There are a multitude of traps, of snares that can keep us from reaching our potential as children of God. Focusing upon the attractions, the allures of this world, instead of upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:3) is a trap. Having pride in all that you do and say without giving glory to God is a trap (1 Peter 5:6). Constantly seeking only what makes you feel good or pleasures you is a trap (Romans 8:5-6). Being only concerned with your home, or your land, or the money you have in the bank is a trap (Matthew 6:24). Those are just a few of the traps that we can fall into in life.

The truth is that you may not be an actual slave trapped in a life of menial labor, but you may be trapped as a slave to sin. How can you escape from the trap you have fallen into? How can you have the freedom that God wants you to have? Jesus tells us in John 8: �If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. �Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.12.16

Jesus Can Help!

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, �Sit here while I go and pray over there.� And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, �My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.�

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, �O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.�

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, �What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.�

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, �O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.� And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. � Matthew 26:36-44 NKJV.

A study of long-term Alcoholics Anonymous members has shown that prayer reduces cravings. This is a credible study using brain scans of long-term AA members when they are exposed to photos of drinking. The brain scans prove that the AA members who pray using AA prayers from the AA Big Book were able to reduce their cravings to drink alcohol. I believe this is an important and exciting study not only for alcoholics, but for those with other addictions. It would appear that you can extrapolate these results to say that when you are exposed to temptation, immediate prayer will reduce the likelihood of your succumbing to the temptation. I will post a link to this article in my Facebook Overcoming Addictions group. (Source: Millard M, Weber J, Dermatis H, Josipovic Z, Galanter M. An Initial fMRI Study on Neural Correlates of Prayer in Members of Alcoholics Anonymous. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2016.)

Why was Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? He was praying because His human flesh was under intense pressure, an intense temptation. Jesus knew exactly what was ahead, He knew that He would be crucified, and that it would be a horrible excruciatingly painful death. Jesus was experiencing the temptation to flee from that future He knew was immediately ahead. Jesus did not have to stay and wait for His arrest, trial, and execution. But He did stay; He did suffer and die becoming the perfect once for all sacrifice.

Now there is credible proof from brain scans that prayer will help you to overcome temptation. If you have been a believer for very long you most likely already knew this to be true. However, do you actually take advantage of this resource? In Hebrews 2:18 we are told, �For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.� The Applied Bible, Classic Edition puts this as: �He (Jesus) is able [immediately] to run to the cryof (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].� What does this mean for those facing temptation? It means that when you are facing temptation and pray in the Name of Jesus, that He runs (immediately) to help you.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.11.16

The Little Things

Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes. � Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV.

The Message puts Song of Solomon 2:15 as: Then you must protect me from the foxes, foxes on the prowl, foxes who would like nothing better than to get into our flowering garden.

The huge Hadron Collider which was built at a cost of $4.4 billion recently was shut down. It is thought that it will take several days to restart the collider which is located near the Swiss and French borders. The unplanned shutdown was the result of a weasel getting inside of a transformer and burning it out. Sadly, the weasel did not survive. In 2009, there was another unplanned shutdown of the collider believed to have been caused by a bird, although no traces of the bird remained. (Yahoo 04.29.16; BBC 04.29.16)

Little things can sometimes cause many problems and much irritation. I like Christian artist Francesca Battisteli�s song �This is the Stuff.� Francesca lists some of the little things that drive her crazy: losing her keys, can�t find her phone, and getting a ticket for speeding just a little. According to Francesca�s song these thing make her forget at times how much God has blessed her. Have you let the little things make you forget how much God has blessed you?

It is in Song of Solomon chapter two where, �the little foxes that spoil the vines� is inserted in a passage where the writer is talking about the perfect love between a man and a woman. But is he not really talking about the perfect love that God has for His children; and, how so often little things can interfere with that perfect love between God and His creation? What little things have you allowed to come between the love you and God have for each other? Have you forgotten how much God has blessed you?

Don't let the little things in life bring you down.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.10.16

The Stairway to Heaven

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: �I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.�

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, �Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.� And he was afraid and said, �How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!� � Genesis 28:10-17 NKJV.

What would you think if you were to see what appeared to be a ladder extending into Heaven? That is what Trisha Hawke saw in the sky at Accrington, Lancashire, England. Most of us would not believe Trisha, except that she has a photo she took of this very unusual cloud formation. She had just taken her nine-year-old daughter to school and she says �I always have my camera with me and usually take pictures every morning after dropping my daughter off at school. The way the sun was coming through the clouds on this particular morning was really pretty and would have made a nice photo anyway but then I saw this really strange shape rising up from the skyline. It looked just like a set of stairs or steps so my first thought was it looked like a stairway to heaven. I was really pleased to have caught it on camera as often these things don't show up the same as when you see them with your own eyes. I'm not sure what made the shape appear like that or how long it was there for but it must have been a little while as I had enough time to get my camera out and take a picture.� Here is the link to the article and to the photos of this stairway to heaven: http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/668460/Pictures-Stairway-heaven-sky-clouds-shape-Accrington-Lancashire (Express UK 05.10.16)

Jacob had a vision of a spiritual ladder extending to Heaven with angels descending and ascending. I believe there are still angels descending and ascending to Heaven today. Most of the time we cannot see them, but that does not make them any less real. Did the ladder Jacob saw in his vision look like the one Trisha snapped a photo of?

If you do a google search for �stairway to heaven� there are a huge number of search results for the rock song with that name by Led Zeppelin; with lyrics and much of the music by Jimmie Page. I have heard the song many times, but never really listened to the lyrics; so, I looked them up today. Perhaps if you are high on some substance they would make more sense to you. The reason the lyrics are so strange is because, according to Wikipedia, Page took the words from a book he was reading at the time, �Magic Arts in Celtic Britain.� However, as often happens with secular writing there is a line of truth within the lyrics. Here is the line of truth: �Yes, there are two paths you can go by, But in the long run, There's still time to change the road you're on.�

There are two paths in life, a life with God and a life without God. Jesus says, �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).� Entry to eternal life and a pass to the only stairway to Heaven is only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the �gate� to the path of eternal life and the only way of salvation (John 14:6). If you are still breathing, and you are on the wrong path, now is the time to change the road you are on before it is everlastingly too late. Receive Jesus as your Savior now!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.09.16

Guard Your Heart!

Keep your heart (guard your heart � NIV) with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. � Proverbs 4:23 NKJV.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. � Luke 6:45 NKJV.

It happened in Foxbank Plantation, South Carolina, that�s where an alligator was seen attempting to ring the doorbell of a home. The home owner was not at home, but a neighbor�s video of the gator has gone viral. (05.04.16 Mailonline) Then there is the bear in 2012 in Naples, Florida that rang the doorbell of a home there; but there are many reports and videos of other doorbell ringing bears. There is also a video of a lion walking up to a car and opening the car door. So, if a lion can do that, it could also conceivably ring a doorbell.

If you knew an alligator was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn�t! If you knew a bear was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn�t! If you knew a lion was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn�t! Why would you not let those animals into your home? Because you know they are dangerous, those animals could hurt you or even kill you. At the very least those animals could wreak havoc upon the interior of your home, destroying much that you would think of as being valuable.

Your home is valuable, but there is something that is even more valuable, and that is your heart. The world, the flesh, and the devil are continually ringing the doorbell of your heart trying to find a way in. Envy, greed, lust, pride, and more are ringing the doorbell of your heart. Don�t let them in! Guard your heart! 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says this: �Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.� 1 John 4:1 gives us additional instruction saying: �Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.� Just because some evil thing rings your doorbell it doesn�t mean that you have to let it in. Guard your heart!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.06.16

Are You Annoyed or Annoying?

This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, �These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.� And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, �I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.� And he came out that very hour. � Acts 16:17-18 NKJV.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (annoying distraction � AMP) � 1 Corinthians 13:1 NKJV.

Dictionary dot com defines annoy as: to disturb or bother (a person) in a way that displeases, troubles, or slightly irritates. Some things are annoying like a train parked on the tracks blocking an intersection in Inola, Oklahoma for weeks along with the constant noise of a crossing signal. Now that is annoying! What annoys you? Buzzing insects? Fingernails scratching on a blackboard? Other people�s children screaming? Waiting half an hour in a checkout line? There are a lot of things that annoy us.

Do you annoy other people? There is an article on Psychologium that gives seven signs that your personality is annoying for people around you:

1. Your friends and family constantly tell you to cheer up and to look at the bright side of things.

2. Your co-workers tell you that you are very patronizing.

3. You are always the one everyone comes to for the latest gossip.

4. You are always late and unreliable.

5. You are always competing.

6. You are selfish and temperamental.

7. You are plain rude.

So are you annoyed or annoying? One of the problems that annoying people have is that they do not really have the love of God in their hearts. That is what we are being told in 1 Corinthians 13. Without love we are like clanging cymbals, just annoying distractions. Without love to temper our words and actions we will be very hurtful to those around us, because we will not care whether we hurt them or not. Without love we only care about ourselves, and what makes us feel good and look good.

What can you do if someone or something is annoying you? There are likely several things that you could do, but the apostle Paul gives us an example as he commanded the demon to come out of the servant girl in the Name of Jesus. Now, in these days to do that verbally likely would result in a violent response. You can, however, always pray in the Name of Jesus about whatever is annoying you. But what if you think that you are an annoying person? Only by receiving Jesus as your Savior and following Him can you have the love of God in your heart. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you following Him?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.05.16

Are You in Prison?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. � Matthew 10:28 NKJV.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. � Matthew 10:30-31 NKJV.

The headline is: �The Longest Armed Stand-off in American History Ends.� John Joe Gray was stopped for speeding and arrested in December 1999 for having rifles in his car, and for biting the arresting officer. Gray was released on bond, but never left his 47-acre plot of land after his release; threatening to shoot any officers attempting to arrest him. The charges were dismissed in December 2014. The District Attorney, however, failed to notify Gray of the charges being dropped, and Gray did not know until January 2016 that he was no longer a wanted man. Why didn�t law enforcement attempt to arrest the man? Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said, �Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself, in my opinion, for 14 years.� Chuck Norris met with Gray in 2000, and offered to obtain free legal representation for him, but he still refused to leave. (Mail Online 03.06.16 and various other news venues)

Are you in prison? No, not a literal prison, but a prison created by your own fears? You likely are not a lazy person that the writer of Proverbs refers to in 22:13 and 26:13, but you still fear there is a lion out there lying in wait for you. Dictionary dot com defines fear as: �a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.� Is fear of failure preventing you from serving your God in a greater way? If so, you are in prison. Is the fear of being laughed at keeping you from pursuing your dreams? If so, you are in prison. Is there a relationship that needs to be mended, but you are afraid to take the first step for fear of being rejected? If so, you are in prison.

Some fears are real. Just because someone is paranoid does not necessarily mean that there are not people out there who want to harm them. Moses is an example of that, although he was not paranoid. He had real fears, based upon the reality that there were people out there at one time who wanted to harm him. That is why he fled Egypt after committing murder to defend one of his Hebrew brothers. Even after leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt there were real dangers that Moses had to face. Can you imagine having a couple of million people unhappy with you, and you are living right in the middle of them?

Whether your fears are based on reality, or fantasy, Moses gives an example of how to defeat them and free you from the prison of your fears. In Hebrews 11:27 we are told, �By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.� Overcome your fears; overcome the imaginary lion in the street, by �seeing Him who is invisible.� �For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (1 Timothy 1:7).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.03.16

Forgive!

Then Peter came to Him and said, �Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?� Jesus said to him, �I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.� � Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.� � John 13:34-35 NKJV.

Rodney and Randy Gilliam both more than 40-years-old living in the same house had a little disagreement. Rodney thought that Randy had taken his pot roast, and became enraged; stabbing Randy several times in the head with a three-pronged fork. The result was that Randy had stitches all over his head and a swollen eye. When police arrived they found blood all over the place and arrested Rodney for aggravated battery. Randy says they had been drinking and that it was, �A family squabble, I mean, like I said I�m sorry he�s going to jail for it. I don�t want to see him do that but I guess, you know, you shouldn�t stab me.� Maybe it is something in the water in Muncie, Indiana that caused this? Because last summer a family was having a barbecue and one woman stabbed another in the eye with a fork over a rib. Now, in her defense, Sabrina says the other woman had a knife. (Fox59 04.30.16; Fox59 05.27.15)

There is often a common ingredient in violent family arguments and that common ingredient is alcohol. While I was a parole officer I had a murderer on parole that had killed his brother, alcohol was also involved in that violent act of rage.

Jesus says we should forgive not seven times but �seventy times seven.� Peter�s suggestion that they should forgive seven times was actually generous compared to rabbinic thought at that time. According to the Expositor�s Bible Commentary: �In rabbinic discussion, the consensus was that a person might be forgiven a repeated sin three times.� The parable following of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) makes it clear that seventy times seven is not the limit to forgiveness in that we have been forgiven far more than we can ever forgive others. The vastness of the debt, God forgives through Jesus, is shown in the great debt of 10,000 talents that the Unforgiving Servant is forgiven. King David in comparison donated seven thousand talents of silver and three thousand talents of gold to be used in the construction of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:4, 7).

The next time you�re at the family barbecue and someone takes the last rib, forgive! The next time you think someone has stolen your pot roast, forgive! Remember you have been forgiven far more than you can ever forgive anyone else. Forgive!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.02.16

Count Your Blessings

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. � 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise�the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. � Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ�s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people�s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. � 1 Peter 4:12-16 NKJV.

In Philadelphia at the 122nd Penn Relays, Ida Keeling has set a world record in the 100 yard dash! She set the record in her age group of 80 and older and she is 100-years-old! Ida was not always a runner according to her daughter Shelly. She only began running when she was 67-years-old after her two sons were murdered. Ida shares the secret to her longevity: �Eat for nutrition not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do, and make sure you exercise at least once every day. I think God every day for my blessings.�(CBS Philly 05.01.16)

If you had two of your sons or daughters murdered, how could you praise God or thank God for your blessings? But that is what Ida Keeling does every day. It is also what God was in effect telling Job to do in Job 37:14, �Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.� God told this to Job, whose seven sons and three daughters were killed in what sounds like it was a tornado: �a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house (Job 1:19).�

How can you keep on living after a tragedy? �Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.� Instead of turning away from God, turn to God. In the end, that is what Job did. Job says to God at the end of the book of Job, �I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, �Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?� Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know (Job 42:2-3).� Too many times I have sought to comfort and pray with families that have had a son or daughter die in accidents or from natural causes. Those families who have drawn closer to their God during those most difficult times have found the strength to continue on with life.

We may not understand completely why some things happen, but we can still thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives. In the counting of our blessings, in the praising and thanking of our God we are strengthened and infused with stamina, with the life we need to keep on living; for He inhabits our praises (Psalm 22:3). Let us rejoice and praise God for the greatest of all blessings that He has given to us: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.29.16

Are You Deluded?

For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. � Zechariah 10:2 NKJV.

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

Are you voting for Hillary, Bernie, Donald or Ted? If you�re not sure who to vote for there is another option. That option is Andrew Basiago, he is an attorney and is running for President as an Independent. Basiago claims he has unique qualifications for being President of the United States. What are his unique qualifications? He claims to have been involved with a project called Pegasus which has sent him on time travels from the time he was a boy of seven years of age. Because Basiago has seen the future, he claims that as President he will know what to avoid to keep the country safe. Also, Andrew is vastly more experienced in foreign relations, because of his travel to Mars in 1981. (Inverse 04.26.16)

Dictionary dot com defines delusion as: �a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.� Although, I�m not a psychologist, I think any reasonably sane person would conclude that Andrew Basiago is suffering from a delusion. It is surprising that Basiago is not currently a resident in a mental health facility. Of course, the way things are going he may receive a surprising number of votes.

Zechariah was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian exile who along with Haggai encouraged the completion of the Temple. The construction of the Temple was begun in 536 B.C., but work had halted because of the opposition of the Samaritans. In Zechariah 10:2, the prophet identifies the spiritual cause of the Babylonian captivity, which was idol worship. Today we may not have a wooden or stone idol that we bow down to, but we still have our idols.

Our idols today consist of anything that we put before God (Matthew 6:33). Here are a few of the things that can become idols: money, job, power, recreation and hobbies. What was it that had flowed out of idol worship during the time of Zechariah? The people were captive in a foreign land and ��the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd (Zechariah 10:2b).� Focusing time and resources on idols creates a delusion. The delusion is that we do not need God and can live life better without Him. This will always result in our captivity by our idols, we will make poor decisions without our Shepherd (God), and our quality of life will diminish.

Let nothing delude you into thinking that you can live better without God. It is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Put God first and everything else will fall into its proper place.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.28.16

Just Slipping By

Then Jesus said to them again, �Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. � John 10:7-9 NKJV.

He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. � John 3:18-19 NKJV.

A man in New Jersey has been sliding by, avoiding payment of the New Jersey EZ Pass toll. He has slipped by some 200 times owing some $12,000 in tolls. He was able to avoid payment for so long in part by not having a front license plate on his Mercedes Benz. The missing license plate was what led to an officer stopping Joe�s vehicle and discovering not only did Joe P. owe for the tolls, but he also had a suspended driver�s license. Now, it is time for Joe to pay up, because he has been arrested and his Benz has been impounded. It is now likely that he will have to pay far more than the $12,000. It took a while, but Joe is no longer slipping by. (Various News Venues 04.27.16)

I wonder how many years Joe had been slipping by without paying his tolls? I remember the first time I was on a new toll road and I thought I had enough money to pay the toll at the automated toll booth. However, the toll was 25 cents or more than I had, but there was no way to turn around at that point. I knew there was a large fine for failure to pay, and wasn�t sure what to do. I finally saw a phone number on the booth and called it to locate where I could go and pay. When I left the booth, I drove directly to where the toll office was located and paid the $1.35, or whatever it was then that I owed. I can�t even begin to imagine having failed to pay the toll 200 or more times! I have a PikePass now, which automatically pays the toll.

Spiritually, there are many who believe they can slip by. They think they can live without God, and do a few good deeds that will outweigh the bad they have done (Ephesians 2:8-9), and slip into Heaven. Then, there are others who think they will slip into Heaven, because God is good, and how can a good God send anyone to Hell? God is more than good, holy, and righteous in that He has provided us with a way to have salvation through Jesus Christ�s sinless once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12) on the cross. God does not send anyone to Hell, it is the rejection of Jesus Christ that will send a person to Hell, because they condemn themselves (John 3:18-19).

There is only one way to Heaven as Jesus says clearly in John 14:6, �I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.� There is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ! Jesus is the door through which entry is made into eternal life as He says in John 10:9, �I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.� The Bible is clear about the spiritual fact that there is no slipping by, no slipping into Heaven.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.27.16

The Wrong Race

I returned and saw under the sun that�The RACE is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. � Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV.

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish MY RACE with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. � Acts 20:22-24 NKJV

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the RACE, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. � 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and LET US RUN with endurance the RACE that is set before us. � Hebrews 12:1 NKJV.

LeeAdianez Rodriguez, 12-years-old, intended to run in the Rochester Wegman�s Family 5K marathon. Her mother dropped her off, because she was late, and she rushed to join the other runners at the Broad Street Bridge. There were more than two thousand runners that took part in that marathon. However, there was a problem. LeeAdianez was unknowingly running in the half-marathon of 13.1 miles; the 5K she was registered to run in started 15 minutes after the half-marathon. Two hours and 43 minutes later she completed the hilly course to the relief of her mother. While LeeAdianez was running, her mother was going crazy trying to find her daughter after she was not among the runners completing the shorter 5K. Officials finally spotted the girl in the longer marathon, spoke with her, and she just wanted to finish the race at that point. Her mother said, �She gave me a really big scare. It was such a scary moment, but rewarding for her in the end. I don't even know how she did it. I'm so proud of her.� LeeAdianez finished 1,885th of 2,111 of those participating in the half-marathon. (Yahoo 04.26.16; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 04.17.16)

It can be a shock; to find out what you thought you were doing right was actually doing something wrong. Have you ever studied the wrong material for a test? I have. Have you ever put together a shelving unit or a filing cabinet or some other project, and at the end realized you left out a critical step; then, you had to redo the whole thing? I have. Have you ever arrived for a doctor�s appointment or some other appointment only to find out you arrived on the wrong day or the wrong hour? I have. In our human condition we often think we are right when we are wrong. We make mistakes.

Life is pictured as a race in the Bible. We are racing through life to the finish line of death, or as Paul put it, the time of our departure. The apostle Paul was running his race with joy even though he knew from the testimony of the Holy Spirit to his heart that there were some hills and mountains he would have to run through. Paul knew he was in the right race, on the right course, on track to finish at the right time. What about you? Are you in the right race? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you living your life for Him? When you finish your race, will you find out you�ve been running the wrong one? What a horrible shock that would be! If you need a course correction, NOW is the time to make it!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.26.16

The Power of Love

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. � Romans 12:21 NKJV.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. � Proverbs 17:17 NKJV.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. � 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. � Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. � Philippians 1:9-10 NKJV.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. � 1 John 4:11 NKJV.

Srikanth Bolla is the CEO of an Indian company estimated to be worth more than $7.5 million. He is just 23-years-old, and was born into poor and uneducated family with a yearly income of only $300. Oh, and Srikanth was born blind. When Srikanth was born many of his parent�s friends encouraged them to abandon him, but they refused to do that. Instead, they showered their love upon him and Srikanth says of his parents, �They are the richest people I know.� Srikanth�s company Bollant Industries manufactures packaging solutions using recycled paper and leaves. The company hires the physically challenged as their employees.

Srikanth�s path to becoming the CEO of a large company was not easy. He struggled in school until placed in a school for those with special needs. He was rejected by India�s MIT, because he was blind; however, MIT accepted him and when he graduated he returned to his homeland to start Bollant Industries. Swarnalatha was his teacher at the special needs school and now helps train the physically challenged employees of the company. Swarnalatha says, �Srikanth is my true source of inspiration. He is not only my young friend and prot�g� but is also my mentor who teaches me daily that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.� (Indian Times 04.19.16)

It is hard to even imagine the poverty that Srikanth was born into. Even harder to imagine the choice that Srikanth�s family was encouraged to make of abandoning their baby. When our youngest son was born with Down Syndrome I was encouraged to give him up for adoption. That was never considered as a possibility by me; I just wanted to take him home from the hospital so that we could love him.

Love is at times incomprehensible. How can parents deep in poverty love a blind child so much? How could Jesus love us so much that while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:8), He died for us? There is such great power in love. Love is the greatest good, the greatest power upon this earth. Love will overcome the worst if it is allowed to touch even the unlovable. God is love (1 John 4:16), and God�s kind of love conquers all. Let the love of God loose! Let the love of God run wild in your life!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.25.16

Chaos

For God is not the author of CONFUSION but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. � 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.For where envy and self-seeking exist, CONFUSION and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. � James 3:13-18 NKJV.

Workers from two construction companies competing for a construction job in China engaged in a demolition derby against each other. Several bulldozers rammed into each other, one was knocked over, with the operator running for safety, and then other workers with a different machine attempted to upright it. Meanwhile, passenger cars fled this way and that, trying to move out of the way of the dueling behemoths. The chaos was brought on by the intense competition for construction work since the real estate construction sector is down two-thirds from a year ago. The investigation into the incident has not been completed with details about arrests and injuries still unavailable. (Yahoo News 04.18.16)

Dictionary dot com defines Chaos as: �a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.� The demolition derby scene that occurred in China is a picture of total confusion, disorder and chaos. It was brought about by �self-seeking.� Neither side in the battle cared about the other side. There was no attempt to negotiate some type of shared work on the construction project. It was either all, or nothing. If the two owners of the construction companies had contacted each other, and met together; maybe it would have been possible for each company to have some work.

Envy and self-seeking creates what? It creates confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more there is of envy and self-seeking, the greater the confusion, disorder, and chaos. However, it is worse than that as we are told in James 3:16, �For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.� �Every evil thing,� that takes in a whole lot of territory, and there is nothing good in any of it.

The cure for envy and self-seeking is this: instead of putting yourself first, put God first. �Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness� (Matthew 6:33).� Instead of demanding your way, your rights, be a peacemaker. We are told in James 3:18, �Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.� Seek the wisdom from above, which only God can give. His wisdom will make you ��peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17b).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.22.16

Time Travel

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God�s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. � Titus 1:1-2 NKJV.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. � James 4:14b NKJV.

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. � Colossians 4:5 NKJV.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. � Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. � 2 Timothy 4:6 NKJV.

In the movie �Back to the Future� Marty McFly travels back in time in a nuclear powered DeLorean. Being attacked by terrorists, Marty jumps in the DeLorean zooming off until the car, and Marty are zapped back in time. Apparently, someone tried to recreate the scene, although he just had a gasoline powered Dodge Challenger. He did succeed in traveling through the front of a tax preparation business, but missed the Pensacola Caskets business located next door. The car crashed through the entire building coming to a stop at the back. Thankfully, no one was at work on a Sunday morning, and the driver was not injured. He was, however, taken to a facility for a mental evaluation, which may have had something to do with his saying he was attempting to �time travel.� (Pensacola News Journal 12.15.16; New York Daily News 12.14.16)

Is time travel possible? That is a question many would like to answer in the affirmative. The creators of the comic superheroes increased the fascination with the idea of time travel having Superman zooming around the earth until he goes backward or forward in time. The Flash character could do the same thing. Of course the iconic science fiction novel by H. G. Wells in 1895 stirred interest in the subject. Wells was the creator of the term �time machine� in his novel. Time travel, in movies and novels, has been portrayed countless times since.

The word �time,� depending upon which translation is used, is mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible. God makes it clear that there is a beginning to time and there will be an ending to time as we know it. Before time began, God in His plan for humanity, planned for eternal life (Titus 1:2).

The truth is that we do not need a nuclear powered Delorean to travel through time. Why? Because, we are all time travelers. Every day and night we are journeying through time. All through our lives we have been passing through time. Our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14) that appears for a brief time and then passes away. During this brief journey through time there is important work for us to accomplish. We need to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5) and accomplish the purposes of God for our lives; because the time of our departure (2 Timothy 4:6) is fast approaching. If we know Jesus as our Savior we will soon pass from this journey through time into eternity where time never ends.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.21.16

Are You a Fake?

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Bekindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. � Romans 12:9-13 NKJV.

Love from the center of who you are; don�t fake it. � Romans 12:9 The Message.

The Waffle House in Fayetteville, North Carolina almost had a robbery. One of the customers hiding in the restroom with her two children called 911 and said, �We�re in the Waffle House on Reilly Road, and there�s a guy who�s trying to rob here, and he has a really big gun.� Pretty scary and the robber might have had a successful robbery except for 70-year-old Phillip Brooks who had served two tours in Vietnam. The robber ran up to the cash register with his AK-47 and demanded, �Give me all the money in the drawer. Open the drawer.� Brooks, who uses a cane, says that he saw immediately that the AK-47 was a fake, �This thing was wood almost all the way up to the end of the barrel. No trigger guard, no trigger. All the working parts were missing, so I just told the girls, �don�t give him anything. That�s a fake gun.�� The robber�s response? He pointed the fake gun at Brooks and said, �Well, I�m for real.� Brooks� response? �I showed him how real I was. I hit him in the nose with my cane.� Other customers helped out at that point, and the robber ran away.(WRAL 04.08.16; MyFox8 04.09.16)

Have you ever tried to fake something? Have you faked you knew how to do something when you didn�t. I have. In the oilfield, I did not really know how to operate electronic inspection units when I started working as an operator. I had been promoted to assistant operator for a company; and had sat at the console actually operating their inspection unit for about 15 minutes total, before being hired as an operator for another company. When I was called as a pastor, I did not really know everything I needed to know to be a pastor; although I had watched pastors at work, and had served as a deacon for several years. I guess you could call it on the job training.

Have you ever faked that you liked something when you really did not like it? Have you ever acted like you loved something when you hated it? Maybe you haven�t, but some of us have. The apostle Paul in says in Romans 12:9, �Let love be without hypocrisy.� The Message puts this as, �Love from the center of who you are; don�t fake it.� Paul is saying in effect, if you don�t have love for others, do you really have the love of God in your heart? Good question. How much love do you have in your heart? Enough to love others without faking it?

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.20.16

Truth

Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. � Psalm 85:10-11 NKJV.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! � Isaiah 5:20-21 NKJV.

A fatal hit and run of a pedestrian appears to have been solved. Christopher Lemek, Jr, who has a history of driving while intoxicated, has been charged with the crime. Lemek pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, although police say they have a confession. It took some time to find the perpetrator of this offense, because Lemek went to great lengths to hide his involvement. Apparently, Lemek used a track hoe or a similar construction machine to crush his pickup, dig a hole in his backyard, and bury the vehicle. Police while visiting Lemek at his home, noticed some freshly disturbed earth in the backyard, which led to the discovery of the vehicle involved in the hit and run incident. (22WWLP News 01.19.16; Mass Live 03.19.16)

Truth has a way of making itself known. One of the more famous verses in the Bible is John 8:32 which says: �And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.� There is freedom in the truth being made known. Lemek tried to cover up his crime and almost succeeded; however, now the truth is known. Now Lemek may suffer consequences for his crime, but he will not have to continually worry about the truth being revealed. The truth is known, and the victim�s family can now move forward knowing who was responsible for the death of their loved one. It has been more than 20 years since I received a letter from a serial murderer. He had been a truck driver and had murdered several people across the country. However, he came to a point where he could not live with what he had done and he turned to God. He contacted authorities and confessed to his crimes. Truth being revealed has allowed him to have freedom in Christ, even though he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In this election season, with the next President of the United States soon to be elected, it seems as though every candidate at times tries to hide the truth. The media also is a part of the deception with only six percent of the people in the country trusting the media. It is frustrating trying to perceive what is true, and what is not true. How refreshing it would be if every candidate and the media could always be counted on to tell the truth. Wouldn�t it be refreshing to always be able to believe what our government tells us?

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican there appears to be discontent within the parties. Many members of both parties are unhappy with the �Establishment.� I believe that part of this discontentment flows from the truth being hidden. Instead of truth we see the calling of evil good, and good evil. Nothing good will come from this hiding of the truth. That is exactly what Isaiah is saying and it is what the Psalmist is indicating in a reverse kind of way. I agree with what Matthew Henry says in his commentary where he says,�When there is no truth nor mercy all goes to ruin.� The Psalmist is saying that when there is truth and mercy, ��the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase.� May truth be revealed across our nation!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.19.16

Run

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. � 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 NKJV.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. � 1 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. � 1 Timothy 6:10-11 NKJV.

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. � 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV.

I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. � Psalm 119:147 NKJV.

In December 2015, there was an attempted armed robbery of a cellphone store in Springfield, Massachusetts. At least two people were involved, with the first robber entering the store appearing to be just another customer. Shortly after the first robber entered the store, employees heard a loud banging on the back door. This was when the first robber jumped over the counter brandishing a handgun. The robber then ran over to the back door to let his accomplice into the store. This was when the robbery went badly for the robbers. The two employees took advantage of this situation by screaming, and running out the front door of the store. The screaming for help scared the second robber who left the store; the first robber decided to leave the scene too, without taking anything. There was a suspect arrested almost immediately based on a photo from the surveillance system. However, this man was later cleared, because of his being able to prove he was at another store during the time of the robbery. (Masslive 12.09.15; The Republican 02.16.16)

The employees of the cellphone store did two things right during the attempted robbery. They screamed for help, which frightened off the second robber, and while they had the opportunity they fled out the front door. When we are faced with temptation or danger these two things can make a difference in your survival.

When faced with temptation our spiritual response should include two things. What are those two things? First, we should cry out for help, ask our God to help us as did the Psalmist (Psalm 119:147). Second, we should flee, run from the temptation. When we think of temptation the first thing we think of is the kind of temptation Joseph faced with Potiphar�s wife (Genesis 39). However, there is another temptation that can be just as powerful in its own way. Idolatry, putting money or anything other than God first (Matthew 6:33) in your life is a great temptation.

When you are tempted to succumb to a temptation remember this: �For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God�s (1 Corinthians 6:20).� Remember you belong to God, cry out for His help, and run from the evil temptation.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.18.16

Close the Door

Therefore, putting away lying, �Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,� for we are members of one another. �Be angry, and do not sin�: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Do not give the devil an opportunity � AMP). Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. � Ephesians 4:25-32 NKJV.

Just another morning for a PNC bank manager in Zebulon, North Carolina; until, he spotted a man wearing a mask, gloves, hoodie, and holding a gun. The bank manager sprang into action; he did not have time to lock the door so he held onto the door while the robber tried to pull the door open. It was a tug-of-war, but the manager won and the robber finally gave up and ran away. Thankfully, the robber did not fire his gun to try to gain entry. You just never know what may happen on a Monday morning! (ABC News; Fox News; AP 01.28.16)

What would have happened if the bank manager had not held the door closed preventing the robber from entering the bank? Most likely the robber would have entered the bank and demanded money. It is impossible to know how that scenario would have worked out. If the robber immediately was given all of the money he demanded and no one interfered the robbery may have ended without anyone being hurt. However, we know that sometimes robbers do not act rationally. One of the employees may have irritated him in some way resulting in the robber shooting the employee.

Just one week before the attempted robbery in North Carolina there was a bank robbery in Eufaula, Oklahoma. In Eufaula, the bank manager was shot and killed, a teller was shot but survived, and another employee was taken hostage. The robber was killed in a shootout with police and the hostage was also shot, but survived. Once the robber has entered through the open door there is no way to predict the damage that may occur.

In Ephesians 4 we are told not to give place to the devil, not to give the devil an opportunity. What happens if we give the devil an opportunity? There is no way to know for sure the damage that he will do. One thing for sure is that the devil will cause all of the damage in your life and the lives of those you care about that he possibly can. We open up the door for the devil when we sin. When we sin it�s like we have invited the devil to come in and cause us trouble; and, that old devil is very good at causing trouble, at creating havoc in lives. Close the door! Don�t give place to the devil! Don�t give the devil an opportunity to destroy your life! James 4:7-8a tells us how to close the door, ��submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.15.16

Our Hiding Place - Redux

Jesus answered them, �I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father�s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My HAND. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father�s HAND. I and My Father are one.� � John 10:25-30 NKJV.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. � Romans 8:37-39 NKJV.

An escaped inmate in Texas appears to have scored a first. Wesley Evans hid from law enforcement in a dishwasher! He was able to hide so well that the first search of his girlfriend�s apartment was unsuccessful. However, someone called in an anonymous tip, and the second search succeeded in the capture of the 6� tall 20-year-old with his slender body folded up inside of a dishwasher. Evans apparently took the racks out of the dishwasher to be able to hide inside. Doing a google search I was unable to find any other occurrence of a fugitive hiding in a dishwasher. A baby has hid inside of a dishwasher and a puppy, but no fugitives. The most popular hiding place for fugitives inside of a house is the clothes dryer. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have hidden inside of clothes dryers. You can look at the first �Our Hiding Place� devotional (02.06.12) to read of some of those fugitives hiding out in clothes dryers. (New York Daily News 04.15.16; Reuters 04.14.16; WALB News 04.13.16)

It is our vulnerable human condition that requires at times that we find somewhere, some place to hide; even if you are not an escaped inmate, or on the run from the authorities. Where do we go, what do we do when our world falls apart? What do we do when we unexpectedly lose or job and the bills are due with no way to pay them? If you are employed by a non-governmental employer, you know that your job can end at the whim of your boss. It is not much fun to be called into a meeting and be told that your services are no longer needed. Especially when you really do need the job and have no idea where to turn to find another one.

What do you do, where do you turn when your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse? A friend of ours thought she had a cold, but after a visit to her doctor and tests found that she had stage four cancer. My wife thought she had strained a muscle, but found out she had a large ovarian tumor and stage three cancer. In 2003, I was mowing the lawn one day and the next I was in hospital with ischemic colitis; it was nine days later before I was released from the hospital. So many people have experienced far worse health conditions that were not survivable or are chronic debilitating conditions. You need a hiding place when you receive news like that.

What do you do when you have a child born with a physical or mental handicap? What do you do when your child or your spouse suddenly dies? You need a hiding place. There are countless other human conditions that require that we need some place to hide away for a time. Where do we go what do we do when we need that hiding place? My hiding place has always been to turn to God to place myself in His hand, for His will to be done. He has never failed me, and He will not fail you. God has the power to hold you together, and take you step by step through the worst that this world can bring into your life. Place yourself in the hand of God, in the center of God�s love; that is the only hiding place that really works. Of course, you can hide in a dishwasher, but it won�t do you very much good!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.14.16

Procrastination

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. � Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV.

One of the worst of my acts of procrastination occurred while I was in college. I had to write a paper for a personnel management class. It wasn�t like this was suddenly assigned; it was assigned at the beginning of the course with the deadline for it given. However, I waited until the Friday before the Monday it was due to begin writing the thing. Thirty hours later I had finished the monster and presented the paper on time Monday morning. Sadly, the professor thought the work was too good for me to have written it, and gave me only a marginal grade for the work. Maybe if I had been working on the paper the entire semester, I would have scored higher on the tests; participated more in class, and then the professor would have believed I could have written the paper.

On a site called �Worst Procrastination Stories� I found another person who did something similar who says, �I did a 22,000 word document in 36 hours after having four months to do the work.� Of course, procrastinating about some things can get you into real trouble like the person who wrote, �Not doing my taxes for two years. Apparently Canada Revenue doesn�t like that. Who knew??� For those who don�t know, the IRS here in the US doesn�t like procrastinators either. So, for all you procrastinators the good news for US taxpayers is you have until the 18th of April this year to file your tax return.

Procrastination is a killer. It is a killer of your peace of mind and a creator of worry. The semester I was taking my personnel management class I had to worry the entire semester about writing that paper. I put it off, and put it off, and it created anxiety in my life. That�s what procrastination does.

Is there a cure for procrastination? Possibly; however, it is not a one and done kind of thing. The cure for procrastination is rooted in our relationship with our Lord. As we walk with our Lord and Savior listening for His Voice we will have a desire to do our best, which includes not giving in to procrastination. Whatever it is that we are doing, it should be God honoring, and when we do it we are serving the Lord. �And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.� Then, as we walk through each day with our Lord we will find ��in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.13.16

Oblivious

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. � 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. � Galatians 1:3-5 NKJV.

The video of a bear chasing a snowboarder in Japan has gone viral! If you haven�t seen it yet you probably will soon! Kelly Murphy was taking a video selfie of herself snowboarding down a mountain in Japan when a bear chasing her was captured on video. Murphy was at the Hakuba 47 winter sports park near Nagano in Japan. Murphy in her YouTube post of the video writes: �OMG! I was going through my snowboarding videos and I found a bear chasing me!!! I nearly got eaten!!!� The bear on the video finally gives up the chase as Murphy speeds down the mountain oblivious to the danger singing a Rihanna song.

Now some have questioned the authenticity of the video saying the bear is a brown bear when it is more likely if there had been a bear, it would have been a black bear, although there could be brown bears in the area. Really? Well, I didn�t even know there were bears in Japan and I couldn�t tell whether it was a brown bear or a black bear. Likely, Kelly Murphy had no idea there were bears in Japan either. Murphy told CNET: �The video is real, I couldn't believe it myself when I watched it back but there it was! So scary! I'm going to stick to the easy slopes with my friends from now on, no more back country runs.�(UPI 04.13.16: theguardian 04.13.16; various other news venues including CNET)

Kelly Murphy being chased unknowingly obliviously by the bear (Whether true or not.) could describe spiritually the lost that the god of this world, the devil, is chasing seeking to destroy them (John 10:10a). The lost, those without Christ Jesus as their Savior, are blinded to their need of salvation. The lost are flying down the mountain of life with the devil blinding them from seeing that they are headed for the lake of fire and eternal damnation.

What can be done to help these poor helpless creatures, the lost, headed for eternal doom? What can I do, what can you do? We can pray for them! We can pray that Almighty God will remove their spiritual blindness before it is everlastingly too late. Jesus prayed for the lost, �Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).� We can pray that God will send witnesses across their paths to share the truth with them (Matthew 9:37-38). We can be one of those witnesses to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:11). We can live holy lives that will point the lost toward our Lord and Savior as we are told in Jude 1:20-23, �But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.� The lost may be oblivious to the danger that they are in, but we are not! Let us do what we can to save them!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.12.16

Desires of the Heart

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the in heritance; for you serve the Lord Christ - Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV.

The NIV puts Colossians 3:23 as: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. � Psalm 37:1-6 NKJV.

Kevin Abosch is one of the most sought after photographers in the world. Kevin has photographed some of the most famous actors and actresses. He has also photographed many successful business people. However, Kevin�s real passion is taking photos of potatoes. Can you make money do that? Apparently, Kevin is able to do that. He recently sold one of his potato photos for more than one million dollars. His studio has this statement about the potato obsession: �Kevin likes potatoes because they, like people, are all different yet immediately identifiable as being essentially of the same species.� (Business Insider 01.20.16)

What is it that you are passionate about? If it is something that honors God, we are given a great promise in Psalm 37:4 that He will give us the desires of our heart. Now I may have a desire to take photos of potatoes and make millions of dollars; but I know, and you know, that this is not a desire of the heart that God is talking about. Psalm 37 desires of the heart are desires that God has placed inside of us. This kind of a heart desire is like the call of God upon the heart of Abraham. Stephen tells of Abraham�s call, �The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, �Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.� Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell (Acts 7:2-4 NKJV).�

It is easy to become distracted from where our true focus in life should be. There are the allures of the world; and, our neighbors and friends may have more than we do stirring up envy and jealousy. There are evil people who will attack you or cheat you. This has happened to me at times that I have been attacked or cheated. Sometimes, these things are happening and we do not become aware of them until later. But it still hurts, that even people you have trusted, and say they are believers could act in such harmful ways. God tells us what to do when we are in these situations: �Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.� Don�t fret; don�t vex your righteous soul as Lot did (2 Peter 2:7-8) with the things of this world or the actions of the evil-hearted. Instead, do this: �Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.11.16

Buying Hell

Then Jesus said to His disciples, �If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. � Matthew 16:24-17 NKJV.

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 according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. � Revelation 20:11-14 NKJV.

Hell is for sale, Hell, Michigan that is, and the price is a bargain having dropped from $1.3 million to just $900,000. Hell consists of five acres of commercial property and includes businesses along with the rights to several really hot slogans. One of those slogans is: �Beer in Hell is safer than water in Flint.� Or, if you don�t like that one, how about �Hell is safer than Detroit�? In lovely downtown Hell, there is the Hell Hole Bar, along with the Chapel of Love, and the Screams Ice Cream Shop. John Colone, the unofficial mayor, or is that devil-in-charge, is �willing to work with anyone.� Who wouldn�t want to own the town that has hosted the longest funeral hearse parade in the world?(Detroit Metro Time 03.11.16; Detroit Free Press 03.11.16; Livingston Daily 03.11.16)

What is the price of actually buying a reserved place in the Biblical lake of fire? The devil is running a fire sale; it will only cost you�everything. The only cost is the loss of your own soul; lose your soul, and experience the �second death.� What a deal!

In order, to complete your purchase of a guaranteed participation in the �second death� experience there are some obstacles you will need to avoid. You will need to avoid reading the Bible; you will need to avoid listening to any of those crazy Bible thumping preachers, and stay out of those Bible believing churches. You must also avoid listening to any of those testimonies Christians always want to corner you and share. It is an obstacle course, but if you are really really determined to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire you can do it. You can lose your soul!

I don�t know about you, but buying a place in Hell appears to be far too high a price to pay. The sticker price on a place in Hell requires losing your soul, experiencing a second death, and burning for eternity. Seems like the price of Hell is a far too high to me.

If the price of Hell is more than you want to pay, maybe you should consider Heaven as an alternative. The cost is far lower, in fact while �the wages of sin is death�but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).� What a deal! Receive Jesus as your Savior by believing in Him (John 1:12; John 3:16) and your name will be written in the �Lamb�s Book of Life.� Your place in Heaven, New Jerusalem, will then be guaranteed for eternity.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.08.16

Stealing the Sign

This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. � Acts 24:16 NKJV.

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience�. � 1 Timothy 1:18-19a NKJV.

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. � Hebrews 9:13-15 NKJV.

Signs are often the target of thieves, the more unusual the sign the more likely it is to be stolen. Reportedly, the most stolen sign (Actually two signs) is the US 1 Highway sign with the 0 Mile Marker sign in Key West, Florida. Although there is a road sign in Embden, Maine that may be stolen just as frequently. The �Katie�s C_____ Road� sign has cost the city so much money to replace that they want to rename the road. Some road signs are more important than others, and the removal of them, or poor maintenance of them can be dangerous. Remove a �Dead End� sign and someone could end up dead. When I ran off a dead end when I was a teenager, it would have been nice if there had been a sign. When I was leaving a doctor�s office Wednesday, the street is one way, and I was puzzled for a moment as to why the sign pointed in the wrong direction. Apparently, the top screw holding the �One Way� sign in place had come out causing the sign to point the wrong way.

New Smyrna Beach Police Department in Florida had a nice surprise this week and they posted this on their website: �The City of New Smyrna Beach recently received a strange package in the mail containing a large metal sign that said, NEW SMYRNA BEACH SAYS NO TO DRUGS. Taped to the sign was a hand written note which said: �Please accept this sign and funds to reinstall it, as well as my apologies. Sometime in the late 80�s, I stole this sign in a fit of youthful exuberance. Forgive Me!� Also inside the package was a money order for $50.� (New Smyrna Beach Police Department 04.06.16) The person who stole and returned this sign obviously had a guilty conscience, and it had been eating on him for 30 years. Of course, some people are not bothered by a guilty conscience like the man who failed to return a VHS tape to the rental store 18 years earlier. When he was stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation it was discovered that there was a warrant for his arrest. The video rental store was no longer in business, but he still had to pay a $200 fine, and suffer the indignity of being arrested.

Dictionary dot com gives these definitions for the conscience: �the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action; the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual; and, an inhibiting sense of what is prudent.� I don�t know if you have ever experienced a guilty conscience, but I have. It is not a pleasant experience. It took 30 years before the man who had stolen the sign in Smyrna Beach returned it. This reveals the convicting unrelenting power of the conscience, and why we should avoid doing or saying anything that we will regret. Let us say with the apostle Paul: �I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.07.16

Bridal Bandits

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. � Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV.

The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery ALL THE NATIONS WERE DECEIVED. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth. � Revelation 18:23-24 NKJV.

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. � 2 Corinthians 11:2 NKJV.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. � 2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV.

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. � 2 Peter 2:18-19 NKJV.

Brides, grooms, and wedding guests can now relax; the Bridal Bandit has been caught and given a seven year prison sentence. 50-year-old Denise Gunderson is the Bridal Bandit and as she posed as a guest she would steal everything she could. Denise stole cash, wallets, purses, and credit cards. She stole from the actual wedding guests and from bride and groom. She made fraudulent charges of thousands of dollars on the stolen credit cards. Most of the thefts were in San Diego County, although she was arrested in December for theft of a wallet at a church in Las Vegas. Denise admitted to having three prior felony convictions; however, since she used several aliases she may have had more. After she was arrested it was discovered there were warrants for her arrest already in San Diego and Riverside counties in California. (7SanDiego 04.06.16; KNSDtv; ABCNews; 10News 12.11.15)

Thankfully, I never had a bridal bandit attend any of the weddings I have officiated. However, there has been another type of bridal bandit show up at the churches where I have been the pastor. Let me explain. The church, which is not a building; but all born again believers, is the Bride of Christ. This picture of believers as God�s bride is in the Old Testament too as Isaiah 65:2 says, �And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.� In Hosea 2:19 God says, �I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy.� What would you call someone who leads believers away from the truth of the gospel? In 2 Peter we see that God calls them �false prophets� and �false teachers.�

These bridal bandits (false prophets and false teachers) work hard at stealing away the truth and joy of believers distorting the gospel, adding in false doctrines, and saying works are needed for salvation. Some of the bridal bandits I have encountered, spread the lie that you can live a perfect life, and must live without any sin to have salvation. In other words everything you think, do or say, or don�t do or say has to be without sin. This is a lie. Other bridal bandits demand that you work your way to Heaven by keeping certain rituals. Some claim that Jesus was not God, just an angel, or just a good teacher or not fully human and fully God. The lies of bridal bandits continue to multiply, but it doesn�t make them true. The good news is that there will be a day of judgment for the bridal bandits as we are told in the Book of Revelation.

How can we avoid becoming a victim of the bridal bandits? We must follow the example of the Bereans, �These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).� Search the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures, and the bridal bandits will find it very hard to make you one of their victims.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.06.16

Forgotten Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. � Matthew 13:44 NKJV.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. � 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises�. � 2 Peter 1:2-4a NKJV.

�add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. � 2 Peter 1:5b-9 NKJV.

In Logan, Pennsylvania police have a mystery on their hands, who put the jewels in the handbag? A woman shopping at a Boscov�s store bought a new purse; inside of the purse, she discovered a treasure of jewelry including necklaces, rings, watches and bracelets. The theory is that the purse was purchased previously, and returned to the store for some reason. The first purchaser apparently forgot about the treasure she had stored inside of the purse. The second purchaser of the purse turned the treasure over to the police hoping the owner will be found. (YahooNews 03.29.16)

It does seem strange that you could forget about a treasure of jewels. However, we humans are forgetful beings, especially about God. The children of Israel had this repeated problem in the Book of Judges. As times were good they would forget about their need for God and begin to worship false gods. When times grew difficult for them, usually because of a ruler that had become harsh, they remembered their God and would cry out to Him for help. God would respond by sending a deliverer, a judge who would lead them to freedom. This cycle was repeated many times. Why? Because they would forget about their need for the One True God.

We have the same problem, when times are good we tend to forget about our need for God. How can we forget about such a great treasure? Yet, God says through the apostle Peter that if we lack virtue, self-control, godliness, kindness, and love there is a problem. The problem is that we have forgotten about the treasure, forgotten that we were cleansed from our old sins. We have forgotten that in our earthen vessel dwells the Holy Spirit, there is no greater treasure. Let us not forget our Treasure!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.05.16

The To-Do-List

A worthless person, a wicked man,
Walks with a perverse mouth;
He winks with his eyes,
He shuffles his feet,
He points with his fingers;
Perversity is in his heart,
HE DEVISES EVIL CONTINUALLY,
He sows discord.
Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A HEART THAT DEVISES WICKED PLANS,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren. � Proverbs 6:12-19 NKJV.

The To-Do-List is a basic personal and business management tool for helping to manage your life. We�ve probably all used it at some point in time. Kristina Green and Gary Withers, who live in San Diego, are two people who also use the To-Do-List. On a Tuesday afternoon, they were busy taking care of one of the items on their list as they followed a mail delivery truck. The driver noticed a Dodge Charger following him, and also that after he delivered a package someone from the Charger would run up to the house and grab the package and the mail. The delivery truck driver called 9-1-1 and Sheriff�s deputies arrested the couple who were on probation for theft.

Inside of the Dodge Charger deputies found heroin, meth, stolen mail, a loaded firearm along with a To-Do-List. The To-Do-List included: apply for welfare, shoplift, steal mail, and kiss Mom. (7SanDiego 12.15.15; Times of San Diego 12.15.15 and various other news venues) Can you imagine being at a point in your life where your To-Do-List includes shoplifting and stealing mail? At least they were not planning to murder someone.

When you leave God out of your life the result is that your To-Do-List begins to fill up with not so good things, things which God hates. This will not end well as the writer of Proverbs points out: �Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.� Will the arrest of Gary and Kristina stop their downward spiral? It is unlikely, although possible if they turn to God. The sad thing about Gary and Kristina is that if they have children, the children will be trained to do the same evil things, and look upon them as being good things. Even their grandchildren will also make evil plans, and do evil things. Sad to even think about, but I have seen the truth of this too many times.

What is on your To-Do-List? Maybe you ought to take a look at it and make sure there isn�t an evil plan or two on there. Here are some things that you may want to include if they are not on your To-Do-List already: �Therefore, putting away lying, �Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,� for we are members of one another. �Be angry, and do not sin�: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:25-32 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.04.16

Selfishness - The Human Default Setting

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. � Philippians 2:3 NKJV.

The Message puts Philippians 2:3 as: If you�ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care� then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don�t push your way to the front; don�t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don�t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Last week, a plane flying from Hawaii to Japan had a problem passenger onboard and was forced to turn around. A 72-year-old man did not want to sit in his seat while his wife and others were eating. So, he went to the galley in the back of the plane and began doing yoga. The crew ordered him to stop and to return to his seat, he refused. Marines onboard the plane, were able to escort the South Korean, Hyongtae Pae back to his seat, although Pae did violently resist by trying to bite them. Pae has been charged with �Interfering with the crew of an aircraft� and he was released after posting a $25,000 bond. An FBI Spokesman Tom Simon says, �While yoga and meditation can be beneficial activities, it doesn't negate the need to obey flight crew instructions while in the air.� (AP 03.30.16; Reuters 03.31.16; CNN 03.31.16)

It does appear that Hyongtae Pae has some mental issues, but this is an example of what some will do to have their own way. Pae did not care what those in authority wanted him to do, and he did not care what his own wife wanted him to do. He did not care that he was violating the law, he knew what he wanted and he was going to do it, regardless of the consequences. Well there are some consequences in Pae�s situation, and he could even be incarcerated for a substantial period of time, although that is unlikely.

I did a Google search this morning for �getting your way� and was surprised to find 334,000 results for the search. At the very top of the list of search results was: �The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way: How to Speak, Write, Present, Persuade, Influence, and Sell Your Point of View to Others.� Then Monster dot com has the article �Five Tips for Getting Your Way Without Authority.� And there is even a song �Getting Your Way� by the English rock band, Mansun, and here are a few of the lyrics: �So proud when you get up and dance, Move centre on stage, Make sure that everybody can see, Exposure's maximum, Subconsciously, When you know that you are sitting on, Top of the tree.�

Getting your own way is the default setting for us human beings. Our natural nature is one of selfishness, looking out for number one: me, my, myself, before anyone or anything else. To change the default setting from selfishness to humility we must do this: ��put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them (Colossians 3:5-7 NKJV).� But how do we do this? We must do what we are told here in Colossians 3:1-2: �If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.01.16

Are You Cinderella?

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. � John 1:12 NKJV.

And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. � Revelation 19:16 NKJV. (See also 1 Timothy 6:15)

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, �Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb�s wife.� � Revelation 21:9 NKJV.

We remember the fairy tale of Cinderella and the Prince who finds the slipper she left behind. The slipper only fits the foot of Cinderella who becomes a Princess living happily ever after with the Prince. In Taiwan, there is now a beautiful glass slipper church 55 feet tall. It will be used primarily for weddings. The glass slipper church was inspired in part by the Cinderella story, but also by another well-known story in Taiwan. In the 1960s a 24-year-old woman named Wang was to be married, but she contracted the disease known as Blackfoot disease. The United States National Library of Medicine in an abstract says this about the disease: �Blackfoot disease is an endemic peripheral vascular disease found among the inhabitants of a limited area on the southwest coast of Taiwan, where artesian well water with a high concentration of arsenic has been used for more than eighty years.� The sad story of the young woman in Taiwan is that her legs had to be amputated. Her wedding was cancelled, she never married, and she lived the rest of her life in a church. (BBC 01.15.16)

There are many versions of the Cinderella story in many cultures of the downtrodden persecuted heroine being raised up from the lowest of the low to become royalty. The earliest known secular variant of the Cinderella story was written in 7 B.C. about Rhodopis. Rhodopis was a Greek slave girl who was raised up from slavery to marry the king of Egypt. However, it may be that all of these stories are based on the Biblical story of Esther who won the royal beauty contest (Esther 2:1-4) to become the queen of King Ahasuerus aka King Xerxes, ruling Persia from 486 to 464 B.C., one of the most greatest monarchs of the ancient world. This occurred while the Jewish people were in captivity. In this original Cinderella story God has a plan for this young orphan Jewish woman born in captivity and raised by her cousin or uncle Mordecai. Through Esther, all of the Jewish people are saved from the plot by the evil Haman who sought to destroy them.

Esther must risk her life to save her race by entering the presence of the king uninvited to tell him of the evil plot by Haman. Mordecai tells her: �Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king�s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father�s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14)?�

If you have received Jesus as your Savior (John 1:12) you have been �born again� into the royal family of the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the Cinderella princess or the Cinderella prince. Just like God had a great plan for Esther�s life, God has a great plan for your life. Don�t miss out on God�s great plan! For �who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.31.16

Save me, O God!

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. � Psalm 37:31 NKJV.

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. � Proverbs 24:16 NKJV.

Ropoto is a Greek town that has slid and sank out of existence. The town was located on a hilltop and everything seemed fine until 2012. On April 12, 2012, there was a landslide which made homes and buildings slide down the hillside. The town is also sinking a foot or so every year. There are still buildings there, but they are uninhabitable leaning this way and that. The town�s infrastructure was destroyed ruining the water system and electrical. About 300 families were forced out of their homes, some living in very difficult situations at first in barns. No one in the town wanted to leave their homes, but they were forced out by the disaster along with the threat of additional landslides. Yorgos Roubies narrates the tragic story in a documentary which GreekReporter dot com has produced. Roubies says, �The churches, everything was gone, there�s not even a cafe here. If someone gets sick, they won�t even be able to find a glass of water. We had never seen such a disaster.�

It is hard to imagine seeing your home slide down a hill and suddenly having no place to live. Of course, the town of Ropoto is not the only town or city to experience disaster. Disasters are a constant upon Planet Earth with mudslides, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, sinkholes, floods and I am sure there are also other disastrous situations. Besides natural causes of disasters there are manmade causes of disasters including war, environmental, and other things.

In our lives we may at times feel as though we are in the midst of a landslide sliding and sinking deeper and deeper. We are not alone in experiencing this kind of thing as the Psalmist cries out, �Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God (Psalm 69:1-3).� The Psalmists situation was one that he had no control of, it was not the result of sin. Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm and Jesus who was tempted at all points without sin applied verse 4 to Himself (In John 15:25): �Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it (Psalm 69:4).�

In other times this falling, sliding, and sinking in our lives comes about as a result of sin. In Proverbs 24:16 we see the possibilities for those who know God are different from those who do not know God. The righteous, the believers, even though they sin can repent of their sin and rise again to walk with their God. Once you have repented, storing up God�s Word in your heart will stop the slide, and will become steps for you to climb out of the pit (Psalm 37:31; Psalm 119:9,11). The wicked, the unbelievers, when they fall into sin have no desire to turn to God, they have no desire to repent and do not rise again.

Whatever the cause of your falling, sliding, or sinking the way out is to cry out to your God as did the Psalmist: �Save me, O God!�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.30.16

The Overflow of Trash

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. � Luke 6:43-45 NKJV.

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness (Trash � NLT). � Proverbs 15:14 NKJV.

Picture in your mind a river of white winding through hundreds of yards of the city of Jdeideh, a suburb of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. At first glance, it is almost beautiful until you realize that the white is the result of thousands, maybe even millions of white bags filled with trash. The closer you come to the river of trash, the more the smell becomes almost unbearable. You wonder how can people live with this river of stinking trash flowing by their homes? The trash river came about when the main city landfill was closed down in July 2015. One man said, �This used to be such a beautiful place, but look at it now. We can�t even walk by it.�

The truth is that the trash is affecting the health of the people by flushing toxins into the water system, and with warmer weather airborne toxins will become problematic. There could be a resulting rise in cancer rates. People are angry, even rioting at times. The government is trying to find a way of disposing of the trash, but have not yet succeeded. (The Guardian; CNN)

In Luke 6 Jesus speaks of trees bearing good and bad fruit. He then speaks of hearts that overflow with good or evil. Matthew Henry says that the tree represents the heart. Jesus is indicating that to have good fruit on the tree of our heart, and to have an overflow of good treasure flowing from our lives; there must be good treasure, good fruit stored up in our hearts.

Proverbs 15:14 speaks of fools who feed on trash, who store up trash in their lives. This brings to mind the ungodly of Psalm 1:4 who are �like the chaff which the wind drives away.� The Bible is clear about how to avoid being an unfruitful tree, on how to avoid having an overflow of evil coming from your life, to avoid being like the chaff that the wind blows away. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us what to do: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.29.16

Building Momentum

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. � Colossians 3:23 NKJV.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. � James 1:22 NKJV.

It has been said that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it, because they know how to get things done. There is a recent study which lends credence to this. The study shows that if a person is busy this tends to create momentum leading to more things being accomplished.

The reverse of building the momentum of accomplishment would be of doing less and less until nothing is accomplished. Procrastinators and those experiencing depression know what it is like to arrive at a standstill. How do you ever start moving when you are at a dead stop? How do you rise up out of the pit of depression when it feels like you have nothing to live for?

Having done my share of procrastination and at one point in my life experiencing depression I know it is hard to start moving again once the momentum has ceased. The way out of the procrastination and the depression is action. The way out of that life stoppage is by doing. This is where we as believers must have the attitude of our doing being unto the Lord. �Whatever you do� Paul says �do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.� The Message gives this translation of Colossians 3:23, but really it is more of a commentary: �Servants, do what you�re told by your earthly masters. And don�t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you�ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you�re serving is Christ.�

Once you take that first step of action, the next step is easier, and the one after that is even easier as every step builds momentum. In addition, you will generally find that change in feelings follow action. Each step you take as the Lord leads you will improve your attitude and will empower you. If you have come to a standstill in life, bow before the Lord asking for His help, and then rise up to take that first step of action in His power that will change your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.28.16

Worldly Noise

Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. � Isaiah 17:12-13 NKJV.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, �Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.� He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: �Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.� � Psalm 2:1-6 NKJV.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located three miles south of downtown Washington D.C. It is the closest airport to the capital. During the last year or so flight patterns over and around the airport have been changed and enlarged. These changes of flight patterns have resulted in 8,670 noise complaints in the last year. However, 6,500 of those complaints were made by just one individual averaging about 18 per day. But there have been no reports of any changes in the flight patterns in response to the complaints. (NewsBeatSocial 03.10.16; Wikipedia)

Wouldn�t it be wonderful if we could shut out completely the noise of the world? It is simply not possible unless we live in a cave in a very remote place with no modern conveniences. Oh, but it would be nice to have a mute button for everything evil.

Evil driven people bomb and shoot others, and nations plot to destroy other nations. �What will come of all of their evil? Here is what God will do: He who sits in the heavens shall LAUGH; the Lord shall hold them in DERISION. Then He shall speak to them in His WRATH, and distress them in His deep displeasure: �Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:4-6).��

Yes, there is evil lurking in this world seeking to attack us making a lot of noise, but God has our six. Jesus Christ the King of kings is alive and well at the right hand of the Father. As we are bombarded with all the noise of the world, as we face the threats against us we need to have the attitude of the apostle Paul: �For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).� Let us overcome this noise, this evil of the present world as will the saints of the Book of Revelation: �And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death (so much as to shrink from death � NIV) (Revelation 12:11).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.25.16

What's so Good About Good Friday

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. � John 19:17-20 NKJV.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, �I thirst!� Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, �It is finished!� And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. � John 19:28-30 NKJV.

Usually when we think of a good day we are thinking of a day like Peggy Lee described in the song she wrote, �It�s a Good Day.� The song was published in 1946 and versions of it were recorded by Judy Garland and Perry Como. Here are the lyrics:

It�s a Good Day:

Yes, it's a good day for singing a song, and it's a good day for moving along; Yes, it's a good day, how could anything be wrong, A good day from morning' till night

Yes, it's a good day for shining your shoes, and it's a good day for losing the blues; Everything to gain and nothing' to lose, A good day from morning' till night

I said to the Sun, "Good morning sun Rise and shine today" You know you've gotta get going If you're gonna make a showin' And you you've got the right of way.

'Cause it's a good day for paying your bills; And it's a good day for curing your ills, So take a deep breath and throw away the pills; 'Cause it's a good day from morning' till night.

That�s the kind of day that we all want to have every day. However, that surely was not the kind of day that Jesus had on Good Friday. Physically for Jesus it was a nightmare of a day being whipped, humiliated and crucified unjustly on a cruel Roman cross. Now in anyone�s mind that is a BAD day!

Spiritually for Jesus it was just the opposite of a bad day, it was a great day! That Friday was the day when the mission would be completed; that was the day when Jesus could cry from the cross, �It is finished!� That was finally the day when He would die �once for all (Romans 6:10).� That was the day when Jesus, �Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).�

It is thought that the word �good� originally meant �holy� in old English. The day Jesus was crucified is indeed good in the sense that it is holy as Jesus �entered the MOST HOLY PLACE once for all, having obtained eternal redemption� for you and me and all those who believe upon the Name of Jesus. �These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).�

Good Friday was the best day, the most wonderful day, the most good day in all of human history! On this Good Friday let us praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.24.16

The Truth of Easter

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, �Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.� So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, �Rejoice!� So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, �Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.� � Matthew 28:1-10 NKJV.

Since September 2001, things have changed as to how many of us live our lives. We are more careful, more cautious aware of our surroundings when we leave our homes. Even in flyover country in United States where I live we know terrorist attacks from one group or another are possible. Many either carry a weapon or have one nearby. If you plan to fly, arrival at the airport a few hours early is now prudent. Also, we now know from Brussels that even walking into an airport exposes you to the risk of a terrorist attack.

Things have not changed for the better in the years since the towers came down. Terrorists have become bolder in their senseless horrific acts against the innocent. One of those innocents is a 19-year-old American citizen who had close brushes with death at the Boston Bombing, the Paris Massacre, and now at the Brussels attack where he received some non-life threatening injuries. If this young man could post his future itinerary we might all know where not to be�. Why some are spared and some die in these attacks is something that only God knows for sure. But make no mistake; God is not responsible for these evil acts perpetrated upon the innocent. This evil flows from Satan, the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), into the lives of the demonically blinded and deceived.

The world this Easter is different from the Easter we celebrated prior to 2001. The world may have changed in 2001, but the meaning of Easter is still the same. The events of that Resurrection Day almost 2000 years ago speak to us this truth: Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords, and the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15)! He is the same �yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!� That first Resurrection Day gives us hope that evil has been defeated even though the battle still rages. There will come a day when every knee shall bow at the Name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10). There will come a day when evil will be no more upon this earth and we will live in peace (Revelation 21). The Truth of Easter is that the pain and suffering of this present world is a temporary condition for all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.23.16

God is on Your Side

Read Psalm 118

I can remember in grade school playing games like Red Rover. Games like that required that there be two teams with the leader of each team choosing one at a time those who would be on their side. In those days at my school there was no teacher supervision of that process, or of the playing of the game. I always dreaded those times, hoping that I wouldn�t be the last one chosen! That would have been bad. If you were going to play the game you had to be on one side or the other.

In life who is on your side? Your spouse, your children, your parents, your co-workers, other members of your church, your pastor? You do have some people in life who are on your side. Most likely you are never as alone as it may sometimes seem. However, we need to remember that people are just people. Sometimes we humans do not always make the right decisions, even those who you think are on your side. Other people make mistakes just like you do and they have problems in their lives the same as you. There will be times when those that you believe to be on your side will fail to stand up for you. There will be times when you want their help, you ask for their help, for their support and those people will let you down. This is a sad fact of life that people will sometimes let you down.

When everything in life goes south and you wonder how you can go on, here�s a tool that you can use to help. Psalm 118:6 NKJV says, �The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?� What can man do to you? What is the absolutely worst thing that can happen? The worst of the worst most likely will only occur in your life a few times over the course of a lifetime. If you can make it through it, you will have clear sailing for years. Here is something that can help you to survive. If you can come to the point where you can accept the worst that can possibly happen � then you can move forward. You can move forward knowing that regardless of what other people may do or say, God is on your side. �The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?� GOD. IS. ON. YOUR. SIDE! And, God proved that once and for all when Jesus suffered and died for our sins on the cross.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.22.16

Let Us Fight!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. � Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. � 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV.

By now you have heard about the latest horrific terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. More than 30 dead and 100 or more injured. There seems to be no end to the amount of misery that some humans want to inflict on other humans. This is not something that we want to think about; but we cannot, and must not ignore this threat to our peaceful existence.

We should be aware that terror is the physical manifestation of a spiritual war. Not only is there a war here on earth being fought, but there is also a spiritual war being waged. We may not be able to fight hand to hand with our terror enemies here on earth. However, we can and must engage our enemies on a spiritual basis. This is a war between all that is good and all that is evil and we cannot remain neutral. We can put our hands up in surrender and our enemy will still kill us.

We need not fight this war with worldly weapons when we have mighty spiritual weapons available. We have weapons with �divine power to demolish strongholds.� This is a war where most of us will not be on an earthly battlefield, but must fight this war on our knees �praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).�

�Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.21.16

The Number 1

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

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. � 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 NKJV.

This morning I received two phone calls on my cellphone from the number �1�. I answered both calls, said �hello� but there was no reply. I did attempt to return the call and was given an error message by an automated voice. I thought that perhaps my son or one of my close friends had tried to call me. However, no one that I contacted had attempted to call this morning.

As I was considering who or what the number �1� was that had called me, it occurred to me that God should be first above all things. Now, I don�t believe that God actually tried to call my cellphone, but what if He had? What if God did routinely ring us up on our cellphones along with an occasional text message? That would be a game changer, wouldn�t it? Imagine, you are busy with your normal routine when your cellphone rings, it�s Number 1 again. When you answer, Number 1 asks, �Why didn�t you talk to Me this morning?� Before you can answer He�s gone, because Number 1 has a few more calls to make. Or, you are just about to commit your favorite sin, and your cellphone buzzes. It�s a text from Number 1 which says, �Don�t do it!� Or, you�re praying about what decision to make about a critical life choice and just at the providential moment your cellphone rings, it is Number 1 calling to tell you which is the right choice.

For reasons only God knows we walk by faith and not by sight while we are physically alive upon this earth. The incredible thing is as born again believers we are not walking alone; because ��you are the temple of God and �the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).� We are to see while upon this earth, with eyes of faith. Romans 10:16 tells us how we can improve our spiritual vision: �So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.�

Did you take a few moments this morning to visit with Number 1? Did you pray and read His Word? Have you put Him first today?

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.17.16

Time to Act

And the LORD said to Moses, �Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.� � Exodus 14:15-16 NKJV.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, �Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.� But the men who had gone up with him said, �We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.� And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out� - Numbers 13:30-32 NKJV.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, �Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, �Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.�� � Joshua 1:10 NKJV.

It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him (Gideon), �Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.� � Judges 7:9 NKJV.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, �Come over to Macedonia and help us.� Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. � Acts 16:9-10 NKJV.

Anthony Ruelas is a hero, even though he received a two day suspension from school for what he did. At Gateway Middle School a girl was having an asthma attack, wheezing and gagging. The teacher emailed the school nurse and waited for the nurse to respond. When 15-year-old Anthony saw the girl fall out of her chair he took action saying �We ain�t got time to wait for no email from the nurse.� In spite of the teacher ordering him not to, Anthony picked up the girl and carried her to the school nurse�s office. The girl is doing well thanks to the prompt action of Anthony. Even though, Anthony received a two day suspension for defying the teacher, he says that he would �most definitely� do it again. (Washington Post; KCEN; KWTX 01.25.16)

Throughout the Bible we see the servants of God confronted with decisions requiring action. With Moses, when the Hebrews were trapped between the rapidly advancing Egyptian army and the Red Sea, Moses prayed. God�s response was that the time for praying was over. Do what you know to do Moses. Use the rod Moses that I gave you to part the sea. When spies were sent into the Promised Land soon after the Hebrews escape from Egyptian slavery, ten of the spies did not have the faith to take action to possess the land. As a result, the Hebrews had to wander in the wilderness until all of the old generation except for Moses, Caleb and Joshua had died. Joshua again sent spies into the Promised Land at the end of this time. Through this we see that it is okay, and wise to check things out, but there will still arrive a time of decision to take action on the information that has been found. God had to prod Gideon into action, but he did act. With the apostle Paul, we see a heart attuned to the Voice of God and he immediately responds to the Macedonian call.

Are you faced with a difficult decision? Have you prayed about it? Have you researched all you can about the situation i.e. spied out the land? These are prudent things to do. However, it may just be time to act, and do what you know to do before it is too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.15.16

Kind Hearts

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. � Genesis 6:5 NKJV.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. � Ephesians 4:30-32 NKJV.

When six-year-old Zejd Coralic began school in Sarajevo, Bosnia his teacher, Sanela Ljumanovic, knew that Zejd was deaf. Sanela immediately noticed that Zejd would sit all by himself, because of his inability to communicate with his classmates. At first, Sanela tried creating her own signs to communicate with the boy. Surprisingly, one of the parents of another child had a much better idea. This parent�s idea was for the whole class to learn sign language. Because of the parents of children in the class contributing funds a sign language teacher was employed to teach the children. Zejd�s classmates all learned sign language in about three months, and are excited about being able to communicate with Zejd. The idea has now spread so that many other classes are learning sign language. Zejd�s teacher believes this experience has made all of her students more sensitive to others with disabilities. (Skolegijum-onlist for school practice; avaz.ba 02.15.16)

With the situation with Zejd Coralic we see many kind hearted people demonstrating how �tenderhearted� people can make a difference. The teacher has a kind heart. The classmates of Zejd have kind hearts, and the parents of the classmates have kind hearts. This kind of tenderheartedness seems strange, and is almost shocking in a world where many are like the people of Noah�s day when �every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.�

Do you have a kind heart? Or, do you have a wicked heart thinking evil continually as the people were during the time of Noah? Do you look for ways to extend kindness? Think of the difference you can make in the lives of those around you by touching them with kindness. One small act of kindness may be what someone going through a difficult time needs to make it through another day. One small act of kindness may be what someone needs to prevent their doing something terrible. One small act of kindness may be remembered for years, even generations.

How can you show others your kind heart today? Who has the Lord placed on your heart that needs a touch from a kind heart?

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.08.16

I Believe in Love

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:8 NKJV.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16 NKJV.

I confess, I watched the Super Bowl last night including the half-time show. I watched as dancers gyrated on a stage in the shape of a cross. In the stadium seats the words were spelled out �I Believe in Love.� The love being exhibited on the Super Bowl stage appeared to me to be a sacrilegious everything goes kind of love being offered on a worldly altar.

The Super Bowl half-time show reminded me of the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. While Moses was on the Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the people down below, had turned away from the One true God. An idol was made, which the people worshipped instead of the true God. But it was worse than that. Aaron made the gold calf and an altar. �Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (Exodus 32:6).� The word �play� indicates unrestrained sexual immorality as Exodus 32:25 says, �When Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies).� The Super Bowl half-time show appeared to portray a modern version of the incident; although muted somewhat, in order to be broadcast into our homes.

I believe in love, but not the kind of love portrayed by the Super Bowl half-time show. I believe in the kind of love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, �Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.� The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is further defined by 1 John 4:8 and 16, �God is love.� I believe in the God of love who �so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).� I believe in the god of love who �demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).�

Let us reject the worldly Super Bowl half-time definition of love; and instead, embrace true love from the only true God, who gave Himself to save us from our sins. �For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).�

Reject the world, and embrace the God of true love!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.05.16

More Fire

And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out. - Leviticus 6:12-13 NKJV.

Recently, I did a brief study in the Book of Leviticus, and it was a challenge. An important thing to remember about Leviticus, is that it is a book meant not just to be read, but to be studied. There are many lessons in Leviticus for us today as Christians. One of those lessons is the need to keep the fire burning, it should never die out. Every morning the Old Testament priests would lay more wood on the fire so that it would �never go out.�

While the fire of the Holy Spirit may never really go out in the life of a child of God, it may appear that way. I think we all know some Christians who at least on the surface have very little spiritual life left. They were once on fire for God, assembling with other believers, teaching classes, witnessing to all who crossed their paths. Maybe something traumatic happened, a death, an illness, a job loss, a marriage failure, or something else, which led to the dimming of their fire. Or, maybe it was just the lack of new fuel being placed on the fire every morning?

We need the fuel of God's Word placed upon our spiritual fire every day. �Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).� We need the spiritual fuel of communing with our Lord God through prayer every day. �...men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).� It is not a daily thing, but we do need the spiritual fuel of assembling with other believers when it is possible �in order to stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:24b).� We also need the spiritual fuel derived from serving our God because �we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us (2 Corinthians 5:2).� Have you done the work of an ambassador lately?

It is vitally important every day, every morning, to lay some more fuel on your spiritual fire. I know with our busy lives it is very easy to become distracted and rush by doing what we need to do. Here is what I do every morning, to make sure I have some new fuel on the fire, in case the urgencies of life interrupt my having a more lengthy quiet time. While I am preparing for the day, taking a shower, dressing, making my breakfast I am going to spend 20 minutes or more in prayer, and go through out loud or in my mind 36 to 50 memory verses. You may not have that many verses memorized, but you have some. Here are a few that you may have memorized that you could go through every morning.

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

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

Philippians 4:13: �I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.�

Matthew 21:22: �And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.�

Start with the verses you know, even if they are only a few, or even just one. Go through them several times every morning. Try to add a verse every few months to your list. This will build your spiritual fire and build your faith because �faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).� So, if you haven't already done so, throw some more wood on the fire!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.03.16

Don't Run

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. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father�s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.� - Luke 9:23-27 NKJV.

Luke 9:23 from The Message: Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: �Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You�re not in the driver�s seat�I am. DON'T RUN from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I�ll show you how.

Dogs can be a problem for postal service workers, parole officers, pastors and many other workers. Trying to visit in rural areas as a pastor I often encountered dogs of different breeds and temperament. Some dogs, you can just look at them and know not to even attempt to open the door of your car. In that kind of situation I usually honked the horn to obtain the owner's assistance in having the dog in a safe mode. Other times you may not even know there is a dog outside of the residence.

In a visit I once made to a rural residence, there did not appear to be any dogs around. I opened up the car door and stepped out, shutting the car door behind me. It was then that I saw the dog. It was a very large German Shepherd running straight at me. I thought he had to be going 90mph, although I know that is impossible! There was no time for me to open up the car door and reenter the car. I simply stayed still and faced the threat. Would the dog tear me apart? I didn't know, but I did know that if I ran the dog would take me down.

What happened was that the dog ran right by me just a few inches away. I then thought it might be safe to walk to the house and knock on the door. The dog watched me the entire time. No one was at home. I tried to visit at that home a few other times after that, and every time the dog would do the same thing. He would run at me as hard as he could, running right by me as I stood still, and faced the threat. The one time, I actually was able to visit the resident of the home, the dog was nowhere to be seen!

In life we will encounter all kinds of problems with threats to the left and to the right. We may face suffering from physical illnesses or injuries. We may suffer persecution for our faith. Don't run! As we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV, �Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.� Day by day deny your fearful impulses, take up your cross, and follow your Lord.

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.26.16

Be Courageous

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 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 1:5-9 NKJV.

An old drug with a new approach to treatment may be able to cure some fears. The treatment approach involves reactivating a fear or phobia, and then taking the drug, which in their experiments with spiders appears to work. Of course, whether that will actually work with phobias, PTSD, and other fears has yet to be proved. Wouldn't it be nice whenever you are fearful just pop a pill and you become fearless? Isn't that what a lot of people are trying to do already with alcohol, meth, cocaine, pot, and the list goes on? Still, it would be nice to have some help for our fears.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize it takes courage to live life. It takes courage sometimes to get out of bed in the mornings, put on our clothes, and go to work. It takes courage when our knees or hips are hurting to walk across the room, much less leave the house to do anything. It takes courage to have a surgery when you know there will be so much pain involved. It takes courage to go through a course of chemo, or endure radiation treatment for cancer. It takes courage to live life.

To overcome our fears, we first need to realize that fear is an emotional response, and the courage we need to overcome it is an attitude. Courage is a decision that we make. God told Joshua as he faced leading a huge number of people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land to �Be strong and of good courage.� Joshua needed courage because he knew that ahead lay the fortress city of Jericho, and he also knew there were giants in the land, which he had seen with his own eyes. We know God provided Joshua with the courage he needed to face the giants, and He can do the same for us.

To have courage we need to use the resources that God provides to develop and nurture that courage. The number one God given resource for developing and nurturing courage is the Word of God. God tells Joshua �This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.� Speaking God's Word, reciting memory verses out loud, will help to develop and nurture your courage. God also tells Joshua that �you shall meditate in it (God's Word) day and night.� The best way to do that is to have verses of Scripture memorized so that you can review them in your mind. And God tells Joshua to �observe to do according to all that is written in it (God's Word).� Speak, think, and do the Word of God, and godly courage will be developed and nurtured in your life; and, �you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.� God is saying the same thing to you today that He said to Joshua: �Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.18.16

Limitless Life

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NKJV.

You may have watched or heard of the movie, �Limitless� that was produced in 2011. There is also now a television series by the same name. Here is the official description of the movie: �Facing unemployment and his girlfriend's rejection, writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is sure that he has no future. That all changes when an old friend gives him a drug that produces enhanced mental acuity. Stoked on the untested chemical, Eddie rises to the top of the financial world and attracts the attention of a tycoon (Robert De Niro) who intends to use him to make a fortune. But terrible side-effects and a dwindling supply threaten to collapse Eddie's house of cards.� The description of the TV series is similar: �A man gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain's capabilities. A television adaptation of the 2011 film, 'Limitless'.�

The type of life portrayed in the �Limitless� movie and television series is science fiction. Will it someday be possible? That we do not know. What we do know is that our God offers through Jesus Christ a far better �limitless� life. Jesus gives us an indication of what this better �limitless� life is like in John 10:10b NKJV, �I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.� Also in John 7:38 Jesus says, �He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.� Jesus also tells us in Matthew 21:22, �And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.� The limitless life Jesus offers is far better with unlimited resources, strength and access.

Through Jesus we have unlimited resources which the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV, �so that you come short in no gift (do not lack any spiritual gift - NIV), eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.� Through Jesus we have unlimited strength or power and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV, �who will also confirm you (keep you strong - NIV) to the end.� And through Jesus we have unlimited access to the Creator of all things, �God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).� The writer of Hebrews tells us, �Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).�

What is necessary for us to experience the limitless kind of life that God promises us through Jesus? What is necessary is the surrender of our will, our plans, our goals to the will of God for our lives. Only then will we begin to experience the limitless life that Jesus came to give us. �I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.14.15

Overcoming Addiction

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: �They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?� - Proverbs 23:29-34 NKJV.

Zhang Rui is 30-years-old, and he is an alcoholic who lives in Bengbu, China. Up until six months ago, Zhang had a job as a truck driver, he had a wife and children, and he was gentle non-violent person. All of that changed after Zhang began drinking, because he became very violent and abusive. In a very short period of time he lost his job, his wife and children and found himself on the streets begging for money for another drink.

Zhang, unlike many, has decided to do something about his alcoholism. He has chosen an unusual way of doing that, and one I wouldn't recommend, but it may just work. Zhang is living at home now with his mother. Doesn't sound too bad, but Zhang is chained up where he cannot leave his attic room. The locked 12 ft chain weighs 22lbs and is wrapped around his neck. He plans to stay locked up in the attic for at least six months, or until his desire to drink is gone, in the hope that this will solve his alcohol addiction. (Shanghaiist 12.10.15)

The problem for Zhang, and for most with addictions is the tendency to relapse. From my observations of, and conversations with the addicted, it is clear that for some there may be several relapses before a sustained period of abstinence is obtained. 30-day treatment programs or even Zhang's radical approach are effective for drying a person out, but not much else. The longer the addiction treatment program, the longer the abstinence that is usually obtained. Traditionally, the legal system has mandated aftercare programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Sometimes counseling sessions with an addiction counselor is also required. AA, NA, and Addiction counseling are all helpful tools, but they do not guarantee success.

From my observations as a parole officer and as a pastor I do not know of any addicts who have successfully abstained from their addiction for years without there being a spiritual component. Sounds like there is not much hope for someone with an addiction, but there is hope. The very best way of all to overcome an addiction is not to develop one. However, that is of no help to anyone who has one. Here is what I would recommend to anyone that does have an addiction:

1. Turn to God in repentance and ask for His help to overcome the addiction.

2. Use the tools of treatment programs and aftercare which is just good common sense.

3. Use the tools that God provides: Prayer, Bible, and Church. Immerse yourself in the resources of God. The closer you are to God, the less power the addiction will have over you (�Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded� - James 4:7-8 NKJV).

The Burning Bush Devotional

10.20.15

Fear Not

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.

My Mother worked in the civil service at Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in Oklahoma for five years during 1960-65. The base, which is no longer an active Air Force base, is only about six miles from our home; but we do still have B-52s flying over our house from Altus Air Force Base. My Mother worked as a food service worker for about a year, and then began working as a keypunch operator on base. To gain entry to the base, there was only one way, and that was through an armed guard station on the east side. Every vehicle, to gain entry had to have a government issued decal on the front bumper. If you did not have the decal, you had to obtain a visitor's pass, which usually was only available during the daytime.

Because of an accident, my parents traded cars, and the new car did not yet have the approved decal. My memory is somewhat blurry of the details of why, but I remember well the night my Mother infiltrated the Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base. This was during the time of the tensions of the cold war, and there were always B-52s with nuclear weapons fueled and ready to take off. We could see them from the road with armed guards and German shepherds. If I remember right, if scrambled, all of the planes could in the air in fifteen minutes. The air base should have been a very secure location, and it was for the most part.

Apparently my Mother had left something at her workplace, or needed something from her workplace; but because of it being nighttime, and not have the authorized decal she was unable to obtain access. However, that did not stop my Mother. With my sister and I with her in the car (I was probably ten or eleven years old.) she simply drove through a place between two houses where there was a small gap in the fence. She drove between those two houses, across their grass, into the street and then to her workplace. We left the base the same way we came; across the lawns, between the houses, and through the gap in the fence. So much for being a secure facility!

Fear, I experienced fear the night my Mother invaded the air base. It is not a pleasant experience, but it was one of the first times in my life that I experienced real intense fear. Looking back I realize now that not much would have happened to us even if we had been caught. Likely they would have given my Mother a stern warning, and sent us on our way out the front gate.

Since that time, I have experienced fear many times, but I never seek it out. Fear usually seems to come upon us unexpectedly, often suddenly. Often fear like that night on the air base is exaggerated, blown up out of proportion. Later we realize that things are not as bad as we thought they were, and that we will live another day. In the daylight, things never seem as bad as they do in the middle of the night.

Whatever you may be going through, if you know Jesus as your Savior, He is there with you. The Lord knew this thing was going to happen, and He is not in a panic mode. The Lord never panics. This is what our Lord would want you to know: �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.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.24.15

Just Taking a Nap

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. - John 5:24 NKJV.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, the person who hears My word [the one who heeds My message], and believes and trusts in Him who sent Me, has (possesses now) eternal life [that is, eternal life actually begins�the believer is transformed], and does not come into judgment and condemnation, but has passed [over] from death into life. - John 5:24 AMP.

Along a highway in eastern Pennsylvania drivers were horrified to see a man's body. The body was seen by several drivers on Highway 33 about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. When highway patrol troopers responded they found a man laying near an exit against a guardrail. Troopers woke up the man who said he was just �Taking a nap� and the man then left the area. (Lehighvalleyonline.com 09.21.2015 - just discovered this free access newspaper)

Jesus makes it clear in John 5:24 that if you know Jesus as your Savior that you have eternal life. We are told this through the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20: �I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.� In other words, if you know Jesus as your Savior you are alive! It seems strange, but talking with some Christians, some believers, they seem more dead than alive. Maybe, they are just taking a nap?

In our lives there are definitely times when we �feel� more alive than at other times. These times when we �feel� more alive may occur during major events such as a wedding, birth of a child, graduation from high school or college, beginning a career, vacations, illness, accidents and other events. Spiritually, there may also be times when we �feel� more alive than at other times. Sometimes our �brook� dries up as it did for the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17). In baseball, a dry spell is described as being a �slump.� Maybe you are in a �slump,� a dry spiritual period? It happens to the best, it even happened to Elijah.

What do you do when your joy is not overflowing? What do you do when everything feels wrong and you're not sure why? What do you do when you are in a spiritually dry time? Jesus says in John 15:9-11, �As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father�s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.� It is God's will for you to be alive, to be filled with joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, �But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).� When we are dry spiritually we must continue to �abide� in Jesus meaning we need to return to the well of �living water (John 4:10).�

When we are going through dry times spiritually this is a time to draw nearer to God (James 4:7-8) and not a time to withdraw from Him. These are times when we need more of the �living water� and we cannot receive that from the things of this world. We must immerse ourselves in the things of God, spending more time in prayer and in His Word. Abide in Him, and the dry times will end, and you will be filled with His joy. Believe it! Live it!

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.21.15

The Message

But He answered and said, �It is written, �Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.�� - Matthew 4:4 NKJV.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. - Ephesians 6:17 NKJV.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12 NKJV.

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. - Psalm 119:9,11 NKJV.

The message has finally been received! It only took a little over a century, but the message finally got through! The message was contained in a bottle which was thrown into the North Sea in the early 1900s as part of a marine research project by the Marine Biological Association in the UK. Likely it was part of a project researching ocean currents. The bottle was found by a couple on a beach at Amrum in Germany. The couple sent the bottle, and the message to the Marine association, and they received a shilling that was promised in the message for doing so. Message received, reward given. (Yahoo News 08.21.15; CBC News 08.21.15)

How thrilling it must have been to find the old bottle containing the message! It must have been exciting too for the marine association to actually receive this old message. Even the possession of an old letter or reading the words from it can be meaningful. A year or so ago, we discovered online a couple of letters written by my two great grandfather telling of how he had traveled from Tennessee to Missouri and back. In the letter he also talked about how scarce paper was at that time, which explains why there were not more letters. A few words written down in a message can change your view of people, and of the world.

Did you know there is a letter written to you that is thousands of years old? You know what I am writing about. I am writing about the Bible. It is a message, a living message. Using many human authors God has written you a message. Now, you would think that if God Himself wrote a letter to you and you found it in your mailbox you would immediately open it up and read it. Can you imagine? You open up your mailbox, there is a letter in there, and the return address simply has: GOD. I think I would want to read that letter!

God Himself has written you a letter and tossed it out into the waves of time. Miraculously, even more miraculously than a message in a bottle being found, most of us have a copy of that letter. Have you read it?

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.19.15

Are You Crazy?

When Jesus came into a house, many people gathered around Him again. Jesus and His followers could not even eat. When His family heard of it, they went to take Him. They said, �He must be crazy.� - Mark 3:20-21 NKJV.

Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, �Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!� - Acts 26:24 NKJV. (driving you insane - NIV; crazy - NLV; mad - KJV � �mad� coming from Greek work mania)

At a popular tourist spot on a river in Alaska where grizzly bears can be seen feeding on fish, a man suddenly appeared in a complete bear outfit. Not only did the man appear, but he ran toward a grizzly and her two cubs, jumping up and down. There were differing reports as to whether the man approached on two feet or four. The grizzly man came within ten feet of the cubs before a wildlife worker took action to scare the actual grizzly and cubs away by shouting. Carl Koch, the wildlife biologist, said �As you can imagine, that's a really dangerous thing for the guy to do.� What did the grizzly man do? He walked back to his car, got in, and drove away without removing his costume. The incident took place about 500 miles east of Anchorage. (Reuters 08.14.15; CBS Seattle 08.17.15)

Most of us know crazy when we see it. A man running at a grizzly mother bear with cubs in a bear suit jumping up and down would get you committed to a mental institution for observation in most states. Maybe not in Alaska, but most states. Did the man want to commit suicide by bear? Did he want to gain fame? Or, was he just mentally unbalanced i.e. crazy? I think most of us would go with crazy, as in insane!

As Jesus went about doing good and teaching, not only did Jewish leaders think he was crazy, but his own family, relatives, friends, and everyone in his hometown thought he was crazy. The apostle Paul encountered the same kind of thing. As Paul gave his defense before King Agrippa and Governor Festus, Festus thinks the great learning of Paul has driven him insane. Paul is simply sharing his testimony of the hope he and the Jewish people have in the resurrection of the dead, and of how Jesus had worked in his life. The recounting of how the crucified and resurrected Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus may have been a bit much for Festus to swallow.

Jesus and the apostle Paul were both called crazy for proclaiming God's truth and actually living it. What about you and me? Has anyone ever accused us of being crazy for being on fire for God? Are you insanely crazy for Jesus? If not, why not? What has happened to your fire? Has the cares of this world choked out your fervor? Throw off the chains of this world, and let's all go crazy for Jesus!

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.12.15

Begin

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1 NKJV.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it� lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, �This man began to build and was not able to finish�? - Luke 14:27-30 NKJV.

There are many weeds that have sprung up on our property since the drought has ended. In the ten years since I have taken over the care of the grounds around this home from my father, there has not been anything like this. I look at all of the weeds and grass, and I think of it as being a jungle. How am I ever going to tame this jungle? Where do I even begin? I did arrive at a conclusion yesterday that it really does not matter so much as to where I begin, as it does that I actually begin cutting down the jungle. So, I mowed as much as I could, and then got out my 4-cycle weed wacker and began to cut down the jungle. It still looks like an almost impossible task, but since I have actually started do something about it, I think it may just be possible to tame my jungle. Beginning the work has made the impossible appear to be possible.

Beginnings are important. God made a beginning as we read in Genesis 1:1, �In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.� Now Jesus does warn about counting the cost of building a tower before beginning to build, and of the cost of following Him. However, if a person who wants to build a tower does not begin, it will never be built. Also, if a person does not actually begin to follow Jesus, the spiritual journey will never begin.

Most of us have had many beginnings in our lives. We were born. We began to attend school, we began our careers, we began our married life (for many of us), and we may have begun a business venture or countless other things.

Spiritually, there are beginnings. The first step spiritually is to be �born again� as Jesus says in John 3:3. Once we know Jesus as our Savior having been born again, we need to take up our cross and follow Him. In the following of Jesus there are many beginnings. I remember the first time I memorized Scripture in a Vacation Bible School one summer. I remember beginning to pray, not just every so often, but faithfully every day. I remember making a commitment that I was going to attend church faithfully whenever it was possible for me to do so whether my family went with me or not. I remember making a commitment to read God's Word and to memorize it. I remember how God called me to ministry and how there was a beginning that went beyond knowing to actually making public in a church that God had called me. I remember beginning to preach, that first time. I remember selling our home and moving into a parsonage as we began our lives in ministry. There was a beginning as I began to send out devotionals by email. There was a beginning as I created a website and began to post the devotionals there. Many beginnings....

At some point, we need to begin in the Christian life. At some point, we need to actually pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.05.15

Time for Action

And the Lord said to Moses, �Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.� - Exodus 14:15-18 NKJV.

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God�s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. - Philemon 1:1-6 NLT.

On July 4th, in DeLand, Florida, Heather Charlebois was sitting outside at a table at the Cafe Da Vinci. There was a lot of noise from fireworks being exploded when she suddenly felt a sting on her leg. Heather says, �My first thought was somebody hit me, slapped me open handed really hard on my leg and pinched me, but it did not make any sense because I didn't see anyone.� She went to the bathroom to try to see what was causing the pain. There was a spot on her leg with a little blood, and some fluid draining from the spot causing her pain. Heather says she just thought that somehow she had been hit by an errant firework. Five days later as the wound did not heal, and the pain was becoming unbearable with friends encouraging her to seek medical aid, she finally did go to a hospital emergency room. An X-Ray revealed a .38 caliber bullet lodged close to an artery. Heather says, �I feel very fortunate, I have four kids and we have been through a lot.� It is thought that during the fireworks someone fired a gun into the air from some distance away, which landed, unfortunately in Heather Charlebois' leg. Or, fortunately the bullet landed in her leg, because it could have been her head. (Daytona Beach News-Journal 07.09.15; Fox News 07.10.15)

What would have happened if Heather had not finally relented and sought medical aid? It is likely that an infection could have become severe enough for it to be necessary for part of her leg to be removed to save her life. Of course, we put off medical treatment when it may not be necessary, because of the hassle and the expense. However, sometimes you have to take action, because the failure to do so would have horrific consequences.

Action is required in other areas of our lives too, including spiritually. We often pray and pray about things when what is needed is for us to actually do something. Moses was in this situation as Pharaoh had the Hebrews trapped between them and the Red Sea. Moses was praying, crying out to God for help. What did God say? �Why do you cry to Me?� In effect, God told Moses to do something; that Moses had all the tools needed to get them through this situation. When Moses acted the Hebrews were able to walk across the Red Sea on dry ground to safety, and the Egyptians were destroyed.

The apostle Paul pleaded with Philemon to put into action his faith saying, �And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.� Of course, we need to pray, but there are times when action, our action is required. It may be that God is saying that you have all the tools and resources that are needed. Do Something!

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.28.15

Kicking Yourself

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, �Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?� And he said, �Who are You, Lord?� Then the Lord said, �I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.� - Acts 9:1-5 NKJV.

Saul answered, �Who are You, Lord?� He said, �I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me.� - New Life Version (NLV).

Puskar Nepal has set a new world record. A lot of strange records have been set, and this one is pretty strange as well. Puskar has set the record for the number of times a person is able to kick themselves in the head in 60 seconds. Puskar's new record: 134 times! He lives in Nepal, and it was in Kathmandu that the record was set, and will now be recorded in the Guinness World Records. This is the eighth time that the Kicking Yourself in the Head record has been broken since 2003. The first record was set by Michael Lloyd with 42 kicks to the head in 60 seconds. Amazing! I can't even make my foot touch my head....

Before the apostle Paul was the apostle, he was known as Saul the persecutor of Christians aka the Way. Saul was on his way to Damascus to try to destroy the followers of this Jesus who lived there. He was consumed with hate, his every thought was of the killing out of this sect that had arisen. It took something drastic to change the course of Saul's life. It took something never heard of before to gain his attention. It took Saul being struck blind, and for the risen Lord Himself speaking to him. What was it that Jesus told Saul? Jesus told Saul that by attacking those of the Way, by trying to attack Jesus, Saul was just hurting himself. Jesus told Saul, �You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me (NLV).� Gamaliel had warned in Acts 5:39, "...if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it�lest you even be found to fight against God.� Saul had been fighting against God Himself. He had just been kicking himself in the head.

Which side are you on? Are you on the side of God? Or, are you on the other side? If you are not on God's side, you are just hurting yourself; you are just kicking yourself in the head over and over and over again. Saul finally came to an understanding of the truth, and changed sides. What about you? Have you become a part of the Way? Have you joined the side of Jesus Christ who is �the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)?�

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.17.15

Ending Chaos

This devotional was originally written 08.02.02. Posting it again in the archive to include the update.

(Update: There is an increasing amount of chaos across the world with much of it coming from Islamic extremism. Yesterday, a jihadist attacked in Chattanooga, Tennessee killing four marines and severely wounding one sailor. There was chaos in that city, and even though we may not live there, many of us felt that chaos in our hearts. Islam cannot end chaos, it can only create it. Only the One True God has the power to end chaos in our hearts and replace it with peace. � Ed Wrather 07.17.15)

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. - Romans 3:10-17 NKJV.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. - Proverbs 4:14; 17-19 NKJV.

Why did a 54-year-old French woman drive 12 miles (18 km) up the wrong side of a French highway? No one knows, but she was arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. Really it was a wondrous miracle that the woman was not killed in her wrong way drive! There were, however, seven accidents involving 18 vehicles as they tried to avoid the woman. Two people were injured slightly in the chaos created between the cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux, and it is even more of a miracle that no one was killed or severely injured in the chaos created by the wrong way drive.

There are many whose lives resemble the wrong way drive of the 54-year-old woman made in France. Is your life like a car being driven the wrong way up a major highway? If so, many of the accidents, and much of the chaos in the lives of everything around you may very well be the result of your wrong way life. You may realize that things are not quite right in your life, but that�s the way it has always been, and so you think it can never change. Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs, �The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.� The apostle Paul writes in the New Testament, ��destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known.�

You do not have to live your life in the darkness, in destruction and misery. You do not have to live your life continually stumbling. You do not have to live your life causing chaos for all those around you. You do not have to live your life in frustration and depression, because you can come out of the darkness! Solomon also writes, �But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.�

We can become �just� not through any good works that we may do, but through Jesus. We are told in Romans 5:1, ��having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.� When we receive Christ as our Savior and focus our lives upon Him, we will come to an end of chaos in our lives. Romans 8:5-6 makes this clear, �For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.�

Even further direction is given by the apostle Paul about how you can put an end to chaos in your life in Romans 13:12-14, �The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.�

Let us �put on the Lord Jesus Christ� and then our path will be �like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.10.15

Good for Your Soul

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. - Psalm 33:20 NKJV.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. - Psalm 94:14 NKJV.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. - Proverbs 16:24 NKJV.

Kate Steinle was walking with her father along the Pier 14 waterfront in San Francisco when she was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant. Pier 14 is a popular tourist spot and gathering spot for local residents. Kate was out for an evening stroll with her Dad. She was just 32-years-old. Liz Sullivan told the San Francisco Chronicle soon after her daughter was killed that it was unbelievable, surreal, and �I don't think I've totally grasped it.� The killer is Francisco Sanchez who is an illegal immigrant, reportedly a drug dealer who has been deported at least five times (Although having used 30 aliases over 25 years it could possibly be more.). Brad Steinle, Kate Steinle's older brother wrote this: �The day before Kate died she changed her Facebook cover photo with a saying that said �Whatever's good for your soul..........do that.� Please always remember Kate and live your life by these words.� (From multiple news venues)

So, what is good for your soul? I do not believe we can fully understand what is good for our soul unless we understand what is bad for the soul. The Bible makes it clear what is bad for the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that �fleshly lusts war against the soul.� Lot living in the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah �tormented (vexed - KJV)� his soul �day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:4-9).� If we commit adultery we destroy our own soul (Proverbs 6:32). According to Proverbs 15:32, he who �disdains� instruction in righteousness, �despises his own soul.� By being around angry people you may learn their ways (Proverbs 22:24-25) and �set a snare for your soul.� If you sin against God, you wrong your soul and love death (Proverbs 8:37).

From learning what is bad for our soul, we can see what is good for our soul. These things are good: abstaining from sin, being around godly people, the Bible, praying, church, helping others, having a generous heart, and putting God first in our lives. The number one thing, or should I say person that is good for our soul, is Jesus. Only through Jesus, can we have eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the �anchor of our soul.� Let us �put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14).� Therefore, whatever is good for your soul�do that!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.29.15

America's Downward Spiral

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. - Proverbs 14:34 NKJV.

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. - Psalm 12:1 NKJV.

Ben Carson says America is in a downward spiral because �we have abandoned God.� Carson also said: �It was our Judeo-Christian values that allowed this to be an exceptional country, that allowed us to move forward so incredibly quickly and as we abandon God, you can see that we are spiraling downward just as quickly.� (A Google search for this will give results for multiple articles.)

Justice Antonin Scalia said this in 2013: �To the extent that the country is in a downward spiral, it�s not because of the law, it�s because of the people. You can�t have a good country without good people. I fear we have lost some of the virtues that characterized Americans in the past.� (The Daily Revielle 10.13.13 - Q & A at Baton Rouge Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society)

According to the Christian Examiner (07.01.2012) polls show morality in America is on a �disappointing downward spiral." Gallup polls revealed that more than 50% of America believed homosexuality was morally acceptable, believed having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and 38% believed abortion was morally acceptable.

An article by Carol Brooks, �What Happened When the Praying Stopped� gives statistics as to the moral downward spiral in America since 1962. Here are a few of them:

�Since 1963 violent crime has increased 544%. Illegal drugs have become an enormous and uncontrollable problem. The nation has been deprived of an estimated 30 million citizens through legal abortions just since 1973.� Read more at: http://www.inplainsite.org/what_happened_when_the_praying.html

Billy Graham wrote this in 2012: �Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation�s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, �If God doesn�t punish America, He�ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.�� In the same letter Graham wrote: �Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.��

Psalm 12:1 describes what is occurring in America with those faithful to the God of the Bible disappearing, �Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.� Without faithful believers who are the �salt of the earth� and �the light of the world� immorality is without restraint.

America has been exalted among the nations and along with that exaltation has come God's protection. As sin has become more and more a �reproach� there is less of God's protection. As sin increases, evil increases and more attacks upon America are successful. It is the same in an individual's life. If we turn away from God we will find ourselves in a downward spiral with our lives falling apart. The solution for our country and individually is to turn back to God. When we turn back to God, He will begin to bring healing, putting things back together in our country and our lives.

How low do we have to go? How bad does it have to become before we turn back to God?

What can we do if we personally are in a downward spiral? James 4:7-8 tells us what to do, �Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.�

What can we do to stop the downward spiral of America? As Christians, to the best of our ability we must stand for what is right, what is the straight principled way of God. Will we fear what man can do? Or, will we stand up for our God? They hate us, because they hate God. They hate the light that exposes the evil, which condemns them. May we do all we personally can to shine the truth of God across this country. May we pray without ceasing for the people to turn back to God, for there to be revival before it is too late, before judgment comes, and our future as a nation is destroyed.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.02.15

Throw Him Out!

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV.

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. - Nehemiah 13:4-9 NKJV.

In Pennsylvania, an elderly woman with some physical disabilities was unable to climb the stairs to the second story in her home. The elderly woman had a caregiver, which unknown to the homeowner, had invited the caregiver's boyfriend to live in the second story of the home. Apparently, the boyfriend had been living in the second floor of the home for several weeks before visiting family members discovered him hiding in a closet. Local police were able to remove the man, and have charged him with some law violations. The family has now found another caregiver and will be much more watchful of what might possibly be lurking in the upstairs of the home. (NBC News 05.22.15)

It would be shocking and even frightening, to know that a stranger was living unknown in your home. What Nehemiah discovered in the temple at Jerusalem was even more shocking. He found that Eliashib, the priest, allowed Tobiah the enemy of God to actually live in the temple. Tobiah, along with Sanballat were leaders of those attempting to prevent Nehemiah from rebuilding the wall of protection around Jerusalem. Not only was Tobiah living in the temple, but Eliashib had �prepared� the �large room� for Tobiah to live in. Nehemiah had a solution to the problem which grieved him, �I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.�

What does this have to do with us? The body of a believer in Jesus is the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, �You are the temple of God.� What are you allowing to live in the temple of God? Have you invited sin to dwell alongside of the Spirit of God? The Bible says, �If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.� The solution is not easy, it wasn't easy for Nehemiah either; but Tobiah, sin, must be thrown out. Throw him out!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.01.15

Unworthy

Christ Jesus who died�more than that, who was raised to life�is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - Romans 8:34-35 NKJV.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 NKJV.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, �I will never leave you nor forsake you.� - Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

Alfred Guercio wanted to give his friends a nice and generous Christmas gift. So, he bought them a set of knives, which they accepted, and placed on top of their refrigerator. A few months later Guercio discovered that his friends had not used his gift, and the knife set was still on top of their refrigerator. Guercio decided that his friends were unworthy of having his generous gift, so he went to their house one afternoon to take the gift back. That's what he told JMS (a woman), since they were not going to use the knives he wanted them back. JMS was willing to give the knives back, and told the man to wait while she went to get them. Guercio did not want to wait; wedging his foot in the door as JMS was trying to close it. He then forcefully shoved the door open, proceeded to the kitchen grabbing up the knives as JMS screamed at him. JMS called 911. Guercio was arrested, charged with second degree burglary, and could go to prison for 90 days to ten years. I think it should have been first degree burglary, since there was a person in the home when he violently stole the knife set. (Minneapolis City Pages 03.17.15; kstp.com 03.16.15)

Can you imagine the shock of someone you thought of as your friend, showing up at the door of your home unexpectedly, demanding the return of a Christmas gift? I think Guercio should be happy that his �friends� actually had kept the knives, because they could have regifted them to another family. Just in case you didn't know, when you give a gift to someone else, it is no longer yours!

Whoever receives Christ Jesus as their Savior can be thankful that it is not Alfred Guercio who sits in judgment of their worthiness to continue in possession of the gift of eternal life. Of course, there are many humans today who do want to do exactly that; they, in what they believe to be their higher level of godliness, think it is their right to judge us. These human judges put themselves in the place of God to condemn what God has forgiven. These human judges would say that if we have sinned at any point that Christ Jesus has forsaken us. We can take comfort knowing that the Bible makes it absolutely perfectly clear that this is not, and will never be true; because Jesus Himself says, �I will never leave you nor forsake you.� We will lose our fellowship, and peace when we sin, but not our salvation. To have that fellowship and peace restored we should confess our sins in repentance to Jesus seeking His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says what? �If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.�

God has given to us who know Jesus as our Savior a most costly, generous and precious gift. God's gift was generous and unbelievably costly, �But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).� God's gift was, and is so very precious, �For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).� Are you worthy of this gift? Am I worthy of this gift? Isaiah 6:6a tells us how worthy we are, �But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.� We can only say with the apostle Paul, �Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!�

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.29.15

Things Happen

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, �My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.� Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ�s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV.

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size�abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. - 2 Corinthians 12:10 MSG.

Joseph T. Brennan, Jr. had an accident, sort of. Brennan describes the cause of his accident by saying: �I lit a cigarette with the gunpowder in the front seat.� The cigarette ignited the gunpowder, and then, BOOM!, there was an explosion. He reportedly told the police, �I wasn�t going to do anything malicious.� The explosion blew out the car windshield along with other car windows, and blew Brennan out of his car. He suffered burns, and his hair was singed. Officers searched his car, searched his house, and charged him with one count of possession of components of a destructive device and three counts of possession of a destructive device. Police officials say that Brennan did not have malicious intent, and his neighbors were not in any danger. Well, unless he decided to smoke a cigarette at his house. (Patriot Ledger 04.14.15)

Joseph Brennan was the source of his accident; however, many of us simply encounter unexpectedly things that just happen. James Crawford was on his way to work in New Jersey in 2012 when the operator of a construction crane allowed a gigantic steel beam to float into the traffic stream. The beam ripped off the entire top of Crawford's van. Crawford suffered a few cuts and a broken thumb. Morgan Lake in 2013 was on her way to visit relatives when her accident occurred. It was not her fault that a large semi-truck did not slow down, and pushed Morgan's car off of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The windshield and the driver's side window had been shattered by the impact, and the car plunged three stories into the bay. The vehicle quickly began to sink; Morgan unbuckled her seat belt, somehow got out of the shattered driver's side window, and swam to the surface. She suffered only bruises from her accident.

These accidents that I have mentioned are only a few of the millions of things that happen to people every day. Some accidents are caused by our own carelessness, or the carelessness of others. The cause of some accidents, are hard to explain. Of course the crash of a plane on a routine flight in the Congo, was easy to determine. Someone had brought a small crocodile onto the plane. The pilot and 18 passengers were killed in the crash. The crocodile escaped from the bag it was in, and the passengers panicked; stampeding forward, they caused the plane to plummet to the ground. There was one survivor, and he reportedly took care of the crocodile with a machete before exiting the remains of the plane (Mailonline 07.23.14).

Every day on Planet Earth, there are millions, perhaps billions of good and bad things that happen. This is a fact of life, and the proof of this is all around us. These good and bad things happen not only to non-believers, but also to believers. The message from God through the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 in part is that we should not let these things that happen hinder our service to the Lord. Through the writer of Ecclesiastes God gives us a similar message: �If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 NKJV).� The message is the same; don�t let the things that happen on this earth prevent you from sowing a crop. Continue on living the Christian life, share the gospel, and sow the seeds of Truth (John 14:6) everywhere and every time you possibly can.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.26.15

Can't Be True!

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know� Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. - Acts 2:22-24 NKJV.

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, �Be saved from this perverse generation.� Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. - Acts 2:40-41 NKJV.

If someone applied to work at your business in these days you would of course be careful about hiring a new employee. So, if someone filled out their application saying they had previously lived in the city of North Pole, graduated from North Pole High School, and had work experience working as an elf in Santa Claus' House...would you hire her? That cannot possibly be true! However, the truth is that Joyclin Jaksons grew up at North Pole, Alaska, and did graduate from North Pole High School. She also does have work experience having worked as an �elf� in Santa Claus' House, which is a souvenir shop. The shop does a lot of business during the summer. Joyclin went to college in Oklahoma, and did have some trouble finding a job, because of her unbelievable background. The good news is that someone did check out her story, found it to be true, and found an excellent employee. (Edmond Life and Leisure 05.07.15; Daily Oklahoman 05.23.15; Fairbanks Daily News 05.19.15)

It had to be shocking to hear the apostle Peter preaching that the one who had been crucified, the one whom they had shouted to have crucified, had come back to life! How could this possibly be true? But God, through the Holy Spirit, was speaking with that double edged sword of truth with every word Peter spoke that day. Three thousand were saved and brought into the Kingdom of God, because they were able to see that the unbelievable was actually true. That was just the beginning!

In Acts 3, we read that a man who had been born �lame� unable to walk all of his life, was healed through the power of God. How could that possibly be true? Peter says to the lame man begging for money, �Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3:6 NKJV).� The man then jumped up, running into the Temple; leaping, and praising God!

When the High Priest had the apostles thrown into prison, the angel of the Lord released them, and sent them back to testify to the �words of this life.� The High Priest then forbid them to preach, and Peter said, �We ought to obey God rather than men.� They plotted to kill the apostles then, but Gamaliel warned, �if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it�lest you even be found to fight against God.�

Saul, who became the apostle Paul, persecuted the church until on the Road to Damascus, �As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ��Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me (Acts 9:3-4 NKJV)?�� Saul, came to understand that what could not possibly be true, was indeed true!

It may sound like the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot possibly be true, but it is true! If you have been rejecting, and rejecting, and rejecting the truth of Jesus being the only way to salvation (John 14:6); Gamaliel would tell you not to be found fighting against God. Saul, who became the apostle Paul, would tell you not to wait for the blinding light of truth to bring you to a sudden stop in your life, because the Gospel is true, it is all true! Billions have believed the truth since the powerful sermon of truth preached by the apostle Peter nearly 2,000 years ago. It is still true! Believe it!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.23.15

Behaving Wisely

And David behaved wisely (The Hebrew word is sakal) in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. - 1 Samuel 18:14-16 NKJV.

18-year-old Austin Hatfield who lives in Hillsborough County, Florida, is in the hospital in serious condition; because�he kissed a snake! Oh, he not only kissed the snake on top of its head once, but 13 times, and that last time was when the Cottonmouth (aka Water Moccasin) bit Austin on his face. Reportedly, Austin had caught the snake while swimming and decided to keep it. Apparently he had also performed the snake kissing on a previous occasion. A friend, James Belcher, said they were at Austin�s home when this incidence occurred. Belcher says that, �We were sitting in the kitchen and he ran out of the room saying, �Hospital, hospital, now, now.�� (yahoo7news 04.23.15; WTVY 04.22.15)

In this life there are some things we know, without being told, that we should not do. Kissing a poisonous snake is one of them! However, is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than smoking a cigarette when you know it causes cancer and heart disease? Is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than drinking or doing drugs when you know the horrible toll they will take on your body? The difference only seems to be in the time frame. Kissing a poisonous snake results in immediate negative reinforcement whereas with smoking, drinking, or doing drugs the negative consequences may take years to have full effect. Austin Hatfield may possibly recover from his snake bite, but smoking, drinking and doing drugs will likely result in permanent damage.

King David behaved wisely (sakal) before the people and the Lord. In other words, David didn�t go around kissing snakes! David behaved wisely when confronted with the jealousy of Saul. Saul threw a spear at David intending to kill him. However, David did not throw the spear back, although he could have. David acted wisely by not overreacting and harming Saul, the Lord�s anointed.

The Hebrew word sakal carries the idea of prospering through wisdom and understanding. We see the word used in regard to David�s behavior. The word is also used 69 other times in the Old Testament including Joshua 1:8, �This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.� The word �success� in Joshua 1:8 is the Hebrew word sakal. Someone who has �sakal� is a person who is teachable; and, able to learn and obey the Lord.

You too can have �sakal.� You can avoid kissing poisonous snakes and behave wisely following the example of David. Don�t overreact when there is opposition in your life. Do develop God honoring relationships with other believers as David did with Saul�s son, Jonathan. Do grow in wisdom by studying the Word of God. Then, you will behave wisely and have �good success.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.10.15

Trapping Yourself

A fool�s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool�s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. - Proverbs 18:6-7 NKJV.

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them. - Proverbs 22:4-5 NKJV.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. - 2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV.

�not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. - 1 Timothy 3:6 NKJV.

Everyone in Fairfield, Maine can now rest easy because the notorious police evader and social media poster, Christopher Wallace, has now been caught. The arrest was made thanks to his posting his exact location on Snapchat. Wallace was arrested on burglary charges stemming from theft of propane and wood stoves and violation of administrative release. The arrest of the man was made possible by the participation of many notifying the Sheriff�s Office of his social media posts.

When Christopher posted on Snapchat that he was at his home in Fairfield, Maine citizens notified the Sheriff�s Office; deputies and police officers then responded going to Wallace�s house and searching it for him. Law Enforcement was unable to locate Wallace, until�he posted on Snapchat that police were searching his house, and he was hiding in a cabinet. Many citizens then called the Sheriff�s Office again reporting where in the house the man was hiding. The Sheriff�s Office posted this on their facebook page after the arrest: �Over the past few weeks, since our press release looking for the public's assistance in locating him, Mr. Wallace had become cocky. Which led to his downfall.� (Huffington Post 03.24.15; Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine via AP 03.24.15)

On one of the trips we made in our country, I observed a couple of older High School boys say to another boy, �What are you doing acting like you are something?� I think it had to do with the way the boy was dressed, and he just ignored the other two boys. Apparently Christopher Wallace thought that he was, �something!� You could say that he was like the devil in that he was �puffed up with pride.�

Have you ever thought you were �something?� Pride is a dangerous thing which blinds us to reality. It blinds us to our need for God, and as with the devil, pride can cause us to believe that we are almost a god ourselves. Because of whatever has made us think we are �something� we tend to think of ourselves as better than others, and smarter than others. As we see with Christopher Wallace, this can cause us problems just as pride resulted in the devil being kicked out of Heaven.

Pride is an insidious thing, which is, as the Bible indicates a snare for our soul. Proverbs 22:5a says, �Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse.� �Perverse� in Strong�s Concordance means �distorted, false, crooked, froward.� The word �perverse� originates from Middle English meaning, �facing the wrong way.� Pride is the complete opposite of what God wants the attitude of His children to be, and with the devil, we can see the ultimate outcome of pride. Pride is literally �facing� away from God, and it is the sitting of a snare, a trap for our souls. We must as Proverbs 25b says, guard our souls against the snare of pride. The good news is as Proverbs 22:4 says, �By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.� If we will humble ourselves before God, we will avoid much evil in this life, and He will lift us up (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.18.15

Made for More

Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. - Luke 12:23 NKJV.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. - John 10:10b NKJV.

For if by the one man�s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:17 NKJV.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37 NKJV.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! - Matthew 7:11 NKJV.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. - Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV.

Jamie Fox has a unique job description, he is a human scarecrow. Jamie is 22-years-old, with degrees in music and English, and he knows this scarecrow thing is just a temporary job before beginning a career in teaching. Although, he is making $400 a week working an eight hour shift to scare away partridges, which seem to love the canola in the ten acre field. The farmer told Jamie to �Bring a deckchair and a good book.� Jamie also plays his ukulele, but it doesn�t seem to bother the partridges any, they may even like it. He says �The only way to get rid of the them (the partridges) is to walk down the field and push them off.� Who knew partridges liked canola? Before hiring the human scarecrow, the partridges would eat all the leaves of the plants leaving them to die. (Huffington Post UK 07.10.12)

One thing Jamie knows, and that is that eventually he will pursue a more meaningful career than that of scarecrow. It may not have happened yet, but he knows the more meaningful career is coming at some point. Have you ever felt that way? You know that what you are doing is temporary and there is more ahead for you? Something more meaningful? Now, you may be trying to fulfill the spirit of Colossians 3:23 in your life and work �And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men�; but still you sense God has more for you.

God did not and does not want us to plod through life as human scarecrows in a meaningless existence. There is more to real life than having food to eat and clothes for the body. Jesus came to give us life, real life, abundant life. As children of the One true God, we are �more than conquerors through Him who loved us.� We are meant to �reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.�

So, if we believe God has more for us in this life what do we do? Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, ask, seek, and knock. God wants to give good gifts to His children, the best gifts, but often we fail to ask (Matthew 7:11). God tells us what we should do in Jeremiah 33:3, �Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.17.15

What Have You Learned?

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. - Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. - Psalm 27:11 NKJV.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. - Psalm 32:8 NKJV.

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law. - Psalm 94:12 NKJV.

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. - Psalm 143:10 NKJV.

�God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.� Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:5c-7 NKJV.

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5 NKJV.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. - James 4:10 NKJV.

Frano Selak claims to have faced death and survived more times than most. Frano worked as a music teacher in Croatia, and if Frano is still alive he would be 86-years-old now. Frano�s first brush with death occurred in 1962 when the train he was riding in came off the tracks crashing into a river. Selak was pulled to safety, but 17 passengers drowned. In 1963, on the only flight he has taken, a door came open and he was blown out. The plane crashed and 19 people were killed. Frano survived having landed on a haystack (There is no record of a plane crash in Croatia in 1963; however, records in that time period for that area were not perfect.). In 1966, Frano came close to death again when the bus he was riding in slid into a river. He was able to swim to shore, but four passengers drowned. In 1968, he was teaching his youngest son how to shoot a gun when he shot himself, and once again he survived. In 1970, his car caught on fire and he barely escaped before the gas tank exploded. In 1995, a bus hit him, but he only had minor injuries. In 1996, while driving on a mountain road, he swerved to miss a truck with his car which then crashed through a guard rail. Frano was thrown from the car, just before the car plunged 300 feet into a canyon.

Frano has encountered and escaped some bad things in his life, even if only half of his stories are true. One thing we know for sure is that in 2003 Frano won $1,110,000 in a lottery. We also know that Frano has learned some things through his experiences in life. For a while he lived in a mansion, but came to the conclusion that as he puts it, �money cannot buy happiness.� Frano sold the mansion, and gave away most of his money to family, friends, and church. He then moved back to where he used to live in a much smaller and humbler home. (The Telegraph; BBC; Wikipedia 05.14.10 and various other news venues)

Proverbs 9:9 tells us, �Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.� It took Frano Selak a substantial part of his life to become a wise man. He has been married five times, but is now very happy with wife number five. He has experienced what it is like to be rich, but now is much happier since giving his riches away. The Psalmist says, �Blessed is the man whom You instruct.� No doubt God was busy in Frano�s life trying to gain his attention and to teach him. It appears that Frano has finally listened gaining much peace of mind and heart in the process.

How do we arrive at a point where God can teach us, and we can be wise enough to put His instruction to work in our lives? The key appears to be having or gaining humility. I believe in my own life facing adverse circumstances increased my humility and dependence upon God. Almost losing my wife, multiple car accidents, losing jobs, losing a business, and struggling financially decreased my pride and increased my humility. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says in the Beatitudes, �Blessed are the meek.� This word �meek� is sometimes translated in other versions of the Bible as �humble.� Peter and James both tell us to humble ourselves. Peter says to humble ourselves �under the mighty hand of God� and James says to humble ourselves �in the sight of the Lord.� If we do humble ourselves before God we will be wise (Proverbs 9:9), we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), God will lift us up (James 4:10), and God will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.06.15

For a Limited Time Only

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: �The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, �Tell those who are invited, �See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.�� But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, �The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.� So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.� - Matthew 22:1-10 NKJV. (Read the rest of the parable Matthew 22:11-14)

But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. - John 1:12 NKJV.

James Patterson has a new book that could revolutionize reading and learning. Patterson has developed a book for purchase on a one time basis for only $294,038. Who would ever buy such a book especially when learning that the book explodes, self-destructs in 24-hours? The book does come with some perks though including a countdown clock, binoculars plated in 14 karat gold, and air travel to an undisclosed luxury hotel for a two nights stay. The book owner will also receive a five course dinner with the author. Why has the author created a book that may need a bomb squad present at the end of the 24-hours? Patterson�s ad agency spokesperson, Susan Holden says, �He likes to market. He�s an ex ad guy. He believes in advertising and he believes that�s a significant reason why his books have been so successful.� (Wired 01.26.15 and various other news venues)

Can you imagine how self-destructing books could be teaching tools? Read the homework chapters assigned completing the questions in the allotted time or your book explodes in your face�maybe with some red dye or something�. I probably would have turned in my homework on time with that kind of incentive! Of course, there would have been quite a few of us walking around the school hallways with red faces for a week or two.

What if God were to send you a personal message so important that it has a time limit and is priceless? If the message from God is not read with in the allotted time it will no longer be available for you to access? In a way this is what God has done.

God has sent you a personal message called the Bible. It is available for most people to read whether through print, digital, or online. It does, however, have an expiration date. You only will be able to read this book while you are physically alive. There is, thankfully, an exception for some people.

Those who do read and receive the message (John 1:12), and those who may not actually read it; but are told about the message, and receive it, will receive some special perks. What are those special perks? You will live in the House of the Lord (the author of the book) forever continuing to hear God�s Words! While you are there you will participate in the �marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:9)� and you will be clothed in a special wedding garment, the �Robe of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).� Also, since you have received that special message from God, He has adopted you into His family, the royal family of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.23.15

The Challenge of the Call

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, �Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.� They immediately left their nets and followed Him. - Matthew 4:18-20 NKJV.

Hu Huiyuan is a 21-year-old woman who lives in the Anhui Province in China. Hu is writing a novel, and has written six chapters of it, approximately 60,000 words. Many people, perhaps millions, write novels. However, how many of them write their novels by typing with a toe on their left foot? She has cerebral palsy; the only parts of her body not paralyzed are her head and left foot. Hu�s mother has been a dedicated teacher providing her with an education; in addition to helping her learn how to perform physical tasks most of us take for granted. Hu�s mother says, �When I was teaching her how to speak, I had to be very patient as every single word might take a thousand times of repeating.� Hu says about her education, �I�m not a genius, but I�m very focused. When I watched TV in my childhood, I often learned words with subtitles.� It is surprising that Hu is now able to type on her keyboard, while strapped in a wheelchair, 20 to 30 words a minute! (Shanghaiist 01.26.15)

Life will always provide us with challenges, we may not have to try to write a book typing with our toe, but it may seem like it at times. Every person who comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior is called to a challenging life of service. We are told this in Luke 9:23, �Then He (Jesus) said to them all, �If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.�� The indication here from Luke 9:23, is that the call is not a call to a life of ease, but to a life of sacrifice. The phrase �take up his cross daily� makes this clear, because we know what a cross meant in the first century. The cross in the first century was a horrific instrument of execution, which the condemned would often be required to carry on their backs to the place of their death. The amazing thing to consider is why would anyone follow Jesus, especially in the first century, when He was calling them to a life of cross carrying?

Even the apostle Paul faced great challenges as he lived out the call God had placed upon his life. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:5, ��when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.� But Paul also says, �I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4).� Then Paul says, �Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more (2 Corinthians 6:5-7).�

Whatever challenges you face in life, whatever God has called you to do, the God �who comforts the downcast� has what you need. You may think you simply cannot take another step physically or mentally, but then God makes His presence known. It may be that God shows up through the words of a book, a devotional, or as the apostle Paul experienced through the coming of a trusted friend who encourages you. Cross carrying has never been easy, but it has always been possible as we look to the One who called us to help us take one more step, or even to type one more letter. May God show up in some way today in your life to encourage, to strengthen, to empower, and to comfort you.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.17.15

How to Find God�s Plan

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. �For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,� says 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. - Isaiah 55:6-9 NKJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. - Psalm 147:5 NKJV.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5 NKJV.

Ashley McIntyre and Danny Robinson are soon to be married. They began dating in May, and Danny asked Ashley to marry him on Christmas day 2014. Their romance began in a completely unexpected way. Ashley happened to overhear her mother talking with someone about a 25-year-old man who lived in their city, Louisville, Kentucky. The discussion Ashley overheard was about this man�s need of a kidney since his kidneys had stopped functioning. The man�s story seemed tragic as his father had recently died, and not only that, his house had also burned. Ashley felt a compulsion to do something about this and called to volunteer as a donor. Of course, what are the odds of being a donor match for a perfect stranger? She had all the tests performed to determine whether she could be a donor and it was found that she was a perfect match. The surgery was performed in April, and afterwards they stayed in contact texting and calling until they began dating. Ashley says, �As soon as we started dating, not long after that, was when we realized this was it. I never in a million years imagined this would happen, it was a whirlwind. It's crazy how it all worked. It was all planned out by God.� (Orange News 02.13.15)

I have often pondered Philippians 4:7 where we are told, �and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (NKJV).� The old KJV puts this as, �the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.� Having experienced that peace which surpasses, passeth �all understanding� many times, I am always amazed at how God does that.

God is God because He is beyond our understanding; He has abilities beyond what we can comprehend. We see examples of this in creation. There are besides human beings, creatures roaming this earth that are very intelligent: cats, dogs, apes, dolphins and more. However, the abilities that we have intellectually are beyond those creatures abilities to understand.

God�s plans have often perplexed humans, and we see examples of this in the Bible. Think of Noah building a huge ark on dry ground. Think of God�s plan for the defeat of the great walled city of Jericho. Think of Gideon and God�s method of choosing a far smaller number of warriors to defeat the enemy. Instead of thousands of men, God only thought Gideon needed a few hundred, and God was right!

God does have thoughts toward you, and those thoughts are �of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.� God does have a plan for your life and the key to finding that plan is as the writer of Proverbs says, �Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.� Noah, Joshua, and Gideon all had to �lean not� on their �own understanding� and with eyes of faith put their complete trust in the Lord. And, that my friends, is how you find God�s plan for your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.04.15

Keep Calm

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. - Psalm 62:2 NKJV.

Then He (Jesus) arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, �Peace, be still!� And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39 NKJV.

In Orland Park a suburb of Chicago, a man only identified as Steve, was walking along peacefully when his next step sent him suddenly falling down 20 feet into a storm sewer. One of his legs was broken with other �trauma� to the lower part of his body. He was trapped and couldn�t move. Steve did have his cell phone and was able to connect to 911 asking for help. It took about 15 minutes to locate the area where Steve had fallen, and then by his shouting, the exact hole was found. It took 70 minutes to extricate the man from the storm sewer hole. From 911 tapes that were released, we know that Steve remained calm throughout his ordeal of almost two hours. Steve said from the hospital, �While I'm in a great deal of pain, I am thankful to be alive and grateful to the fine men and women who rescued me and are treating me here in the hospital.� To whom was Steve thankful? I believe he was thankful to God for his being able to survive his horrific ordeal. (Yahoo News; Fox News; 5NBC Chicago 12.31.14)

Within the last two years the �Keep Calm� phenomenon has arisen with all kinds of admonitions to �Keep Calm.� Here are a few of them: keep calm and carry on, keep calm and ignore the haters, keep calm and stay positive, keep calm and relax, keep calm and never give up, keep calm and have fun, keep calm and stay strong, keep calm and be cool, keep calm and eat a banana, keep calm and dream on, keep calm and google it, keep calm and ride on, keep calm and be yourself, keep calm and hug a husky, keep calm and rock on, keep calm and smile, keep calm and go shopping, and keep calm and love yourself. There appear to be countless other variations of the admonition to keep calm.

According to Wikipedia, �Keep Calm and Carry On� was a motivational poster produced by the British government in preparation for the Second World War. Some 2.45 million of the posters were produced, although it was rarely displayed and mostly forgotten until a copy was found in 2000. The current fad of the �Keep Calm� phenomenon may have been spurred on by the discovery of 20 copies of the original poster, which were featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.

I think we can all agree that to keep calm in trying circumstances is usually a good thing to do. But how do you do that? The Psalmist was able to �silently wait� and to not be �greatly moved.� The Psalmist was able to do that by his fully trusting in God saying, �He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense.� To keep calm in difficult circumstances is possible, and there is a way to do that as the prophet Isaiah says about his God, �You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).�

Whether you suddenly fall into a sewer drain hole and break a leg, or you are called into the head office and told your employment has been terminated, it is helpful to know how to keep calm. The first thing to remember is that God is not surprised by this sudden catastrophe in your life. He most likely did not cause it, but He knew it was going to happen. The second thing to remember is that the God who can say �Peace be still!� to the waves stilling them can calm the sudden storm in your life whatever it may be. The third thing to remember is to ask God to help you. Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, �Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.� Don�t forget to �ask� for help from the One who is able to help you! And, keep calm�.

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.15.15

The Wall of Truth

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, �Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?� And he said, �Who are You, Lord?� Then the Lord said, �I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.� So he, trembling and astonished, said, �Lord, what do You want me to do?� Then the Lord said to him, �Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.� - Acts 9:1-6 NKJV.

One night this week, I got out of bed in the dark to walk to the bathroom. I seemed to have enough light to see where I was going, although I usually take a flashlight. However, I apparently fell asleep while walking, but I woke up when my head slammed into a wall! While I was sleep walking, I thought I could see where I was going and I believed I was on the right path. It was a sudden shock to realize how wrong my perception of reality was.

Saul was likely in charge of the execution of the godly Stephen (Acts 7:58-60). You could say that Saul was a religious fanatic determined to eradicate those of �the Way� who believed Jesus was God�s Messiah. There was absolutely no doubt in Saul�s mind that he was doing the will of God by killing those errant people who had gone off the rails blaspheming the One true God. However, Saul was completely absolutely wrong, and he ran into a wall of truth because Jesus is ��the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).� Jesus says in John 8:32, �And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.� Saul slammed into the wall of Truth and the Truth blinded Saul making him fall to the ground. Then, the Truth set Saul free when Saul finally understood that Jesus was God.

In the world today, we have seen the rise of the Islamic religious fanatics who are absolutely completely convinced that they are on the right road with their lives. These religious fanatics are similar to Saul, in that they believe wrongly that it is their religious duty to wipe off the face of the earth all those who do not believe as they do. I pray that they will run into the same wall of Truth as did Saul before it is everlastingly too late for them.

Sadly, it is not just religious fanatics that are walking down the wrong roads, the wrong paths, with their lives. Many today appear to be blissfully unaware of the reality of their need for Jesus. These blissfully unaware people are rushing full speed ahead toward a wall of Truth where they will slam into eternity facing judgment by the One true God. �And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).� �For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18).� What do you do if you are not sure if you are on the right road with your life? The Psalmist says this: �Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).�

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.19.14

Boiling the Ocean

�I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, �Move from here to there,� and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. - Matthew 17:20 NKJV.

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

While I was waiting for a haircut today, I read some magazines, and learned a new phrase or saying that I had not heard before: �Boiling the Ocean.� The Urban Dictionary defines �boiling the ocean� as: �To attempt something that is way too ambitious, effectively impossible. An idea too broad in scope to accomplish.� They also had this to say about usage of the phrase: �Jargon often used by self-important corporate middle managers prone to bloating their speech with meaningless and unnecessary buzz-words.� An example of someone using this phrase according to the Urban Dictionary is, �Herb, buddy, you're really �boiling the ocean� on this one. We can't manufacture and nationally distribute fifteen-thousand widgets in ten minutes.�

In these days of the 21st Century, more and more things appear to me to be like trying to �boil the ocean.� If I had known that phrase this morning when I was attempting to move an old sleeper sofa out of the house, I would have said that would be like trying to �boil the ocean.� Jeanie has wanted to do this for two years, and today was the day she wanted to �boil the ocean.� Really, things do appear far more difficult than they did a few years ago having so many technological advances in such a short period of time. Synching your phone with your car�I�m not sure I can do that. My new phone should be synched now, but it still doesn�t work right. Some houses are so technologically advanced that you probably have to synch your phone with your house. For me that would be like trying to �boil the ocean!�

Even though things may appear difficult, with God it may be as easy as telling a mountain to move from here to there (Matthew 17:20). If you look back through the pages of the Bible, you will find that there was a lot of ocean boiling going on. Noah built the ark to save mankind and every animal species. Abraham left his home only knowing God wanted him to leave, not knowing where he was going. Moses and the Israelites walked across the Red Sea on dry ground, while the Egyptians were pursuing them. Water coming out of rocks, and the walls of Jericho falling down after the people walked around it several times and they all shouted. Caleb conquered a mountain full of giants when he was 80-years-old. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego made it through the fiery furnace, and Daniel survived a night sleeping with the lions in their den. David killed Goliath, the giant, with a slingshot. Peter walked on water and Paul survived being stoned almost to death, being drug outside of Lystra and left for dead; but he rose again after they had a prayer meeting and went back into the city (Acts 14:19-20).

The greatest of all ocean boiling moments occurred when God in His audacity came down from the glories of Heaven to be born as a tiny baby into a lowly carpenter�s family. What ocean boiling that was, to think that a tiny baby could become the Savior of all who would seek Him. But that�s what God did because �God so loved the world�.� So the next time someone tells you that you need to stop trying to boil the ocean, tell them that sometimes even greater things happen. And that is what Christmas is all about; a Savior was born because our courageous God loved you and me. Let us follow His example, attempt those great things for God, because sometimes mountains do move.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.18.14

Christmas Gift Ideas

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:6-7 NKJV.

�wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, �Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.� - Matthew 2:1b-2 NKJV.

�behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. �they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:9; 11 NKJV.

Heavy dot com has a list of unusual Christmas gifts for Christmas 2014. Here are some of them: An extendable selfie stick with Bluetooth remote, $25.99. Place your cell at the end of the stick and extend it out to 40 inches. You too can take the perfect selfie! Then there are the Zombie Cajun Hot Sauce Sampler, Pressed Flower iPhone6 Case, and the Japanese Candy and Snack Pack.

The DoDoBurd has a list of 100 of the most unique Christmas gifts for 2014. Here are some of them: A 60-hour candle for $30, Live Video Camera Drone $1300, Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock $139.99, Staple-less Stapler $16, 3D Printing Pen $100, Authentic Pac-Man Arcade Game $3500, Automatic Cordless Tire Inflator $90 (I�d like to have one of those�), Automatic Home Canning System $299.95, Polaroid Camera $180 (Photos come out the side now.), 3 Wheel Folding Electric Scooter $1800, and the Giant Piano Mat $90.

What do you give to the man, or in the case of the Magi, the babe (Or, toddler depending on when the Magi actually visited.) who really does have everything because He made everything? John 1:3, �All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.� The Magi brought three gifts, and we can understand the gift of �gold.� The family of the King of kings might need some gold to take proper care of Him. Then there is the �frankincense.� What kind of a store do you go to when you want to buy frankincense? Wikipedia gives this information about it: �Frankincense was one of the consecrated incenses (HaKetoret) described in the Hebrew Bible.� Frankincense in modern usage is believed to have many health benefits. �Myrrh� has many medicinal uses even today as well, but it was also used in embalming. While there were likely practical uses for these gifts there was the symbolism representing the true identity of Jesus. Gold was for His being the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15). Frankincense was for His being our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and Myrrh pointed toward His death once for all on the cross (Romans 6:9-10).

We know what the presents were that the Magi or wise men gave to Jesus. But what can we possibly give to God Himself who made everything and owns everything? If you think of the night Jesus was born fully man and fully God upon this earth there was something that He needed. That something He needed was a place to be born, because there was no room in the Inn. Jesus is seeking a place to dwell in your life, to make your body His Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; Revelation 3:20). This Christmas, give Jesus a room in your Inn, give Him your heart.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.17.14

Don�t Burn the Goat!

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, �Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.� And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: �Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!� - Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Since 1966 in G�vle, Sweden, a huge straw Christmas goat 42� feet tall (13 meters) weighing 3.6 tons has been erected in the town square every December. The Yule Goat is one of Scandinavia and Northern Europe�s oldest traditions. Sadly, vandals have burned down the straw goat at least 24 times before Christmas during the years since 1966. In 1977, the goat only lasted six hours before burning to the ground. In 2012, the goat only made it to December 12th when it was burned down. Last year, the goat was treated with a flame retardant and it was thought that it would solve the problem; however, it was still burned down again.

There is a live cam which I looked at this morning of the Christmas Goat and it is a pretty sight that is apparently still standing so far this year. It is reported that the Goat has Twitter and Instagram accounts and provides updates about itself in Swedish and English. To deter future goat arsonists let�s be clear, it is against the law to burn the goat, and at least one American has been arrested for setting fire to it. (Yahoo News; Huffington Post; The Report; Wikipedia; and numerous other news venues)

Making it to and through Christmas without burning down the goat can be challenging for most of us. Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations can be challenging. How many have been injured falling off of a ladder or slipping down the roof? Shopping for those Christmas gifts can sometimes be more like a full contact sport fighting the crowds and rushing from store to store. There is the yearly ritual of sending out the Christmas cards. In addition, the Christmas season usually has the most events that families must attend. Schools always have Christmas programs as do churches that families must attend. It is also a time of many sporting events which children are involved in along with band events, choir events, and on and on. Then there is the scheduling of Christmas gatherings with all the families, driving there, or flying there, just getting there. The cooking, the eating, and did I mention the credit card bills?

The Christmas season can be so frustrating that it can make the most kind and peaceful person want to burn down the goat. Let us remember the reason for Christmas is not the giving and receiving of presents. The reason for Christmas is not the gathering of families and fellowship with friends. The reason for Christmas is not even the helping of the unfortunate. What is the reason for the Christmas season? The short answer is, JESUS! The reason for the �good tidings of great joy which will be to all people� is as the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, �For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.� So, whenever we become so frustrated that we could burn down the Christmas goat, let us remember what the real reason for the season is, and that reason is JESUS. Instead of frustration, place Jesus in the center of your heart and of your Christmas celebration; and He will give you, �great joy.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.11.14

Turning Green

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. - James 3:13-16 NKJV.

Also, if a garment has a leprous plague in it, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, whether it is in the warp or woof of linen or wool, whether in leather or in anything made of leather, and if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a leprous plague and shall be shown to the priest. - Leviticus 13:47-49 NKJV.

And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. - Leviticus 14:37-38 NKJV.

There is a new tourist attraction in Varna, Bulgaria which is a seaside resort. The new attraction has nothing to do with fun in the sun on the sea. Instead, the new attraction is all about a cat, which is apparently friendly because it purrs. What makes this cat so special? The cat has turned green! Emerald green! It was thought at first that a cat hater or a group of cat haters had dyed the cat�s fur. There was even a facebook page set up seeking the perpetrators of this hateful action. Now it is known that the cat�s fur has become greener over time discounting the possibility of someone actually dying the animal. I�m wondering now how long it will be until the people of Varna begin to turn green too? That ought to be a real tourist attraction! (The Independent 12.08.14)

Green, as a color, has a better reputation in these days than it has had in past days. The �Hanging of the Green� is a frequently attended service at many churches in the United States at the beginning of the Christmas Season. I have been present at a few of those services and it can be very beautiful and meaningful. One church on their website actually says it is their most meaningful service of the year.

It was not long ago when the phrase �turning green with envy� was heard often. Why has there been a reduction in its use? �Green with envy� shows up in a Google search 790,000 times. The Urban Dictionary defines �green with envy� as: �Wishing very much that you had what someone else has. A longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another.� But where did the phrase originate? I believe it came about because envy is a sin. In the Old Testament, there would often be a physical manifestation of sin called, leprosy (Having leprosy in these times does not mean that the person has sinned.). Leprosy, in the Old Testament was a vivid picture of the damage sin causes to a person and even to the possessions of a person. There was not only the leprosy of people, but also of clothing and of houses. Clothing with leprosy, and even houses with leprosy would sometimes turn, GREEN.

The Christmas Season, in some ways is also the envy season. When we see others who are able to give so much more to their families than we are, we envy. When we see others with homes more brightly decorated than ours, we envy. When we hear others tell about everything they are giving or have received in the way of Christmas presents, we envy. If our clothing or our houses could still turn green with leprosy, how many of us would be living in green houses wearing green clothes? Perhaps those of us who have so much, should be careful about how we show off what we have and what we give. Maybe it would make the Christmas Season, a little less GREEN, and a little less painful for those who do not have quite so much.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.10.14

Courage Through Faith

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV.

Manon Ossevoort has finally made it to the South Pole, and it only took nine years! Manon used a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor to drive there. I�m wondering when John Deere will step up to the plate here? Because it looks like Massey Ferguson may have the best tractor? Manon is now 38-years-old and a mother of a young daughter. The adventure began in 2005 from her hometown in the Netherlands. She drove the tractor 23,612 miles (38,000 km) from Europe to Cape Town in South Africa, but missed the ship because of delays that would have taken her to Antarctica. Manon then had to wait four years before making the final 1,553 mile (2,500 km) part of the journey across the Antarctica land mass.

Manon�s expedition was named Antarctica2 honoring Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the journey in 1958 on a tractor which had tracks. Manon�s Massey Ferguson has inflated tires. The Antarctic part of the journey was the most difficult traveling 23 hours and sometimes more every day. The seven member team faced -56C temperatures, crevasse fields, solid ice-waves, and altitude sickness. Manon said this after arriving at the South Pole, �Wow! I've made it! To have dreams is beautiful but to see them realized is the most extraordinary feeling. I'm inspired.� She says this about this amazing feat, �Fear holds people back from pursuing their dreams, and many believe that putting them into reality is as impossible as driving a tractor to the South Pole. The tractor for me symbolizes this very down to earth fact that if you want to do something, maybe you will not be so fast but if you keep going and keep your sense of humor you will get there.� Manon is also an actress, which makes me wonder if maybe John Deere can have an actress like Angelina Jolie make a trip down south too? (Orange News 12.10.14; Daily Mail 12.10.14)

What is it that Jesus told Mary? �For with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37 NKJV).� It was a tremendous statement of courage that Mary responded with her statement of faith, �Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38 NKJV).� God called Mary to put aside her fears. Just as Manon said, fear does hold back many from pursuing their dreams. God called Mary, and I believe God calls every child of God to put away the fear, and to face life with courage.

When you respond to the call of God, it is not necessarily an easy life that He will lead you through, and it will require endurance as you run the race of life. The call of God for most will be in some ways as challenging and difficult as driving a tractor to the South Pole. We have a choice in life. We can choose to allow the emotion of fear to rule us, or we can choose to act in courage. Fear is an emotion, but courage is an action. We can decide as Mary did to act with courage even though we may be �troubled (Luke 1:29)� by what we are facing.

How can we have the courage to act when the fear of the known and of the unknown is so powerful; even overwhelming at times? We can have courage by having faith. How do we have faith? �So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).� Mary responded courageously because of the faith that was instilled in her upon hearing the Word of God spoken by the angel, �For with God nothing will be impossible.� You can have that same faith, because our God has not changed. �Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV.�

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.20.14

Doing Good

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. - Galatians 6:9 NKJV.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38 NKJV.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV.

Then He said to His disciples, �The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.� - Matthew 9:36-37 NKJV.

Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi who live in Australia have created a mobile laundry service for the homeless. They have installed an industrial washer in dryer in the back of their van. (Yahoo News 11.10.14) A millionaire from Korea living in Bahrain wakes up before dawn every morning to�clean the streets. He says he has been doing this for 11 years because there is a lot of garbage and it makes people sick. (Elite Daily 11.06.14) Mark Bustos a hair stylist in New York uses his Sunday day off to give haircuts and shaves to the homeless. In eastern Zhejiang Province of China passers-by banded together to lift a car off of a woman trapped in an accident. Give, the United States and Myanmar have a 64% generosity rating, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia also are generous in their giving (Yahoo News 11.18.14).

Searching for stories about people doing good things, I quickly realized there are far more stories about people doing bad things than good things. This points to the need for us Christians to be more proactive in following the example of our Lord by going about doing good in every way that we can. I like the motto of Charles Wesley and think that it should be the motto of every child of God: �Do all the good you can: By all the means you can; In all the ways you can; In all the places you can; At all the times you can; To all the people you can; As long as ever you can.�

Sadly, before many of us can do good to others we need to stop doing bad to others. Jabez recognized this problem and we are told this in 1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV, �And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, �Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!� So God granted him what he requested.� If you have been causing more pain than good in the lives of others, pray the prayer of Jabez every day and it will change your life. If you want to increase the amount of good that you are doing in the lives of others, pray the prayer of Jabez every day and God will enlarge your territory empowering you to do more good.

Doing good things will not save your soul as Ephesians 2:8-10 makes clear; however, we become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10) in Jesus to follow His example of doing good. What is the greatest good that you can do in another person�s life? Share Jesus with them! There is nothing wrong with the harvest, just a lack of workers.

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.11.14

Finding Inner Peace

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6 NKJV.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14 NKJV.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses (passeth - KJV) all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Leanne aka Shyanne is a 40-year-old website designer living in Australia. Leanne has a completely unique way of finding inner peace, she becomes a pony! She dresses up as a pony even with a bit in her mouth and a saddle on her back! Her method of finding peace is not cheap and the pony outfit costs at least $8,000. Leanne is not worried about what others think as she experiences freedom acting like a horse and a sense of peace. She says, �For me, it�s spiritual, it�s a different realm. You�re not worried about bills, you�re not worried about going to work.� (Mail Online 09.26.14, 10.09.14; Dmax 09.30.14; wearechampionmag.com 10.06.14; and various other news venues)

How do you find inner peace? Many people seek an inner peace and serenity through spending hours in the practice of yoga. Michael Grab seeks that inner peace through balancing rocks. Damian Aspinall says that he finds peace by raising gorillas. In South Korea some people are checking into a prison to reduce stress and find peace. It is a privately owned facility with a prison theme. Dan Price has been living in a tiny underground hole in Oregon for twenty something years to reduce stress and find peace. A social club in Tokyo says that they reduce stress and find peace by cleaning public toilets together on the weekends. Jodi Rose says that she has found peace by marrying a 600-year-old bridge. Luo Dan says he has found inner peace by wearing a deer head mask which releases his inner deer. One thing is clearly seen here and that is that people are stressed, anxious, and are seeking relief in whatever possible way they can to find peace in their lives.

This morning I awakened from an unpleasant dream about our shed being damaged by the wind. There has been an artic front blowing into our state with winds in the 40 to 50 mph range. Hearing those winds while I was asleep may have triggered the anxiety I felt early this morning. After praying briefly, I began to read the Bible in the Psalms, and in only a few brief minutes my anxiety was gone, and I was blessed with the peaceful presence of my Lord. You see, there is a much easier more effective, and surefire way to reduce stress and obtain inner peace.

It is not the Christmas season yet, but Isaiah 9:6 reveals several truths that we need year around. One of those truths we need to remember and hold onto when we are stressed, anxious, and about to lose it, is that Jesus is the �Prince of Peace.� In Philippians, we are promised �the peace of God, which surpasses (passeth - KJV) all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus� when we bring our anxieties to our God in prayer. In John 1:14, we see that Jesus is the Word of God become flesh. When we pray, when we read God�s Word, the Prince of Peace shows up and anxiety is defeated by His increased presence.

Throw off the pony outfit, the deer mask, and leave the prison behind, because the Prince of Peace can give you real peace anywhere, and every day of your life in just a few moments of time.

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.10.14

Fish or Cut Bait

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. - Matthew 7:13 NKJV.

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

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. - Acts 1:8 NKJV.

Fish or cut bait is an old colloquial expression dating from at least the mid-1800s in the United States; although, even then the meaning was not entirely understood by some. What does it mean? Yesterday, as I was talking about this at our church we found that all of us had heard the term used by our parents when we were growing up, and there were two apparent uses. One use of the term was to decide whether to continue fishing or cut the fishing line with the bait and go home. The other apparent use would be to decide between whether to continue cutting up bait to use in fishing or to begin to actually start fishing. So, it appears that the term is used in relation to decision making. I liked the definition I found in Wiktionary, �To make a decision, especially after a period of delay; to either take action now or forgo the opportunity.� Wiktionary gives the following as a use of the term, �It's time to fish or cut bait: either we buy this house now, or we must start looking for another one.�

Why am I writing about this term, fish or cut bait? Because, I believe that God has been bringing it to my attention over the last couple of weeks. Am I really giving my all in service to my Lord? If not, God is calling me to a time of decision and commitment.

Jesus warns of the �broad� way as compared to the �narrow gate� in Matthew 7:13. This is a fish or cut bait kind of decision. Will a person enter the �narrow gate� through receiving Jesus as their Savior or will they instead continue down the �broad� way that leads to destruction? Joshua called the Israelites to a fish or cut bait kind of decision, would they worship false gods or follow the one true God? Joshua made his decision, and commitment very clear, �as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.�

The disciples had followed Jesus for three years and then they fled for their lives when Jesus was arrested and crucified. When the resurrected Christ Jesus appears to His disciples He once again calls them to a fish or cut bait kind of moment. In Acts 1:4, �And being assembled together with them, He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, �which,� He said, �you have heard from Me.�� The disciples confronted with the truth of the resurrection are obedient as they wait in the upper room for power from on high to come upon them (Acts 1:8).

God is continuously calling us daily (Luke 9:23) to either fish or cut bait. Our part is to make the decision to follow, to make the commitment. God�s part is that He does not throw us to the sharks, but provides us with the empowerment (Acts 1:8) as we see demonstrated with Peter becoming the awesome preacher of Pentecost. God is still calling, will we fish or cut bait today?

The Burning Bush Devotional

10.29.14

The Last Straw

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:2-8 NKJV.

The Free Dictionary defines �The Last Straw� as �The last of a series of annoyances or disappointments that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust, or hope.� The dictionary says the saying comes from an old proverb, �It's the last straw that breaks the camel's back.� It appears that quite a few people have experienced that �Last Straw� considering some of these headlines:

Great Grandmothers Fist Fight in Hospital Maternity Ward

Golfer Attacks Partner with Putter after Dispute over Marking Ball

Man Arrested After Stabbing Watermelon

Man Jailed After Fight Over Church Pew

Irate Man Walking on Boardwalk with Chainsaw Yelling at People

Math Teacher Faces Termination for Cussing out Students

High School Principal Charged with Trying to Burn Down School

TSA Officer Arrested, Accused of Making Terrorist Threat

Seattle Man goes Nuts Destroying Several Homes with Bulldozer

Bus Driver Accused of Choking Student

Those headlines were found on Drudge Report and there were many others far worse than these of people who experienced that Last Straw.

Have you ever lost it? Have you been down to the proverbial Last Straw and someone piled more onto your back? Many of us have been, and most of us are not proud of our actions when it occurred. Once when I lost it, I attacked a cousin, had him on the ground choking him, threatening verbally to kill him. It happened at school during recess when I was in the fourth grade. No, I did not kill him or even really hurt him, but I am still ashamed of the way I acted.

As Christians, we do not want to ever come to the point in our lives when there is a Last Straw that breaks our back resulting in our acting in an inappropriate manner. To assure that we never arrive at our Last Straw back breaking point we must tap into the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Through being �partakers of the divine nature� we can ��add to (your) faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love (2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV).�

If we are to be �partakers of the divine nature� as the apostle Peter says, we must do what? We must have contact with the divine, with God. If you never pray, never read the Bible, never assemble with other believers, never even think about God�don�t be surprised if that proverbial Last Straw that breaks the camel�s back, breaks yours!

The Burning Bush Devotional

10.13.14

Inadequate

For with God nothing will be impossible. - Luke 1:37 NKJV.

Contemplating my life, I have decided that it does not matter what task I have done during my lifetime, I have always been inadequate. Let me list how pitifully inade