The Burning Bush Devotional
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For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. - Matthew 18:11-13 NKJV.

It was several years ago now that I first encountered Big Daddy the cat. He was hanging around our house, and at that time we had a cat outside. Big Daddy would eat our cat’s food and so I tried to scare him away. I threw rocks at him. I yelled at him. I chased him. I shot at him with a sling shot and a BB gun. But he kept coming back. Big Daddy was a big (larger than any cat I had seen before), solid white cat, and you could tell that he had been in a lot of fights; one ear had been damaged, and he was just scary to look at. It took about three years before Big Daddy was able to tame me. He was able to tame me because I grew tired of trying chase him off, and so I finally let him eat our cat’s food. Before long he was up on our bench on our back porch waiting to be fed every night. One night I risked his tearing my hand off and petted him, he liked it and made some kind of noise. He apparently had been someone’s pet in the past, and just wanted some human attention. This lasted for a few months until he stopped showing up at night, and now I am sorry that I didn’t get to know Big Daddy sooner than I did. He was just a big baby in a scary cat’s body!

The illustration that Jesus gives of a shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find one that is lost, gives us an idea of the lengths that God will go to so that the lost person might come to know Jesus. Our Lord is persistent. He is persistent much like Big Daddy was persistent in his pursuit of me. We try to scare away the Son of Man, but He doesn’t leave. We try to act like He’s not there, but He doesn’t leave. We flee from His presence like Jonah tried to do, but He follows us, He pursues us. He woos us (John 6:44 “draws” us). Jesus says in John 6:44 NKJV, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” This word “draws” comes from the Greek word “Helcuo”. Other verses where this word is used translates it as drag, or dragged. The picture is almost one of God dragging us kicking and screaming to salvation. In the end, we have a choice. However, if we choose to reject God, our rejection of God is not based on any lack of God’s exertion or effort at “taming” us.

We have the example of the Son of Man coming to seek and save the lost. What are we to do who know Jesus as our Savior? Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).” As believers, we should follow the example of our Lord. We should go to great lengths to win the lost that we know to the Lord. They will try to chase us away. They will try to scare us. They will try to act like we are not there, but we must not give up. We must keep on, no matter how many times they reject us. We must keep on until finally they have been “tamed” and know the Lord as their personal Savior.

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An Early Christmas

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

The word is that the “Black Friday” shopping day after Thanksgiving has been pushed back by some stores and will actually begin on Thanksgiving Day. Christmas decorating and shopping seems to come earlier every year. A few days ago, 44-year-old Terry Trent who lives in Ohio, was already putting up Christmas decorations in a home. Trent lit the Christmas candle and put out the Christmas wreath; then he settled in to watch a little TV, and enjoy his bath salts (what!?). According to the police report Trent, who was high on bath salts, broke into a home; put up Christmas decorations, and then relaxed on the family couch watching some TV. A family member discovered the man when he came home, and the man said, “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I'll get my things and go.” Trent has been arrested. I am wondering what he has been charged with…maybe, unlawful and early Christmas decorating? (Orange News 11.14.11)

It is sad that the retail shopping season has intruded on families being together on Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. Last year, when I was paying for some things at a store, the clerk was almost in tears having just found out that she was scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day. She was newly married and had been looking forward to spending her first Thanksgiving Day with her husband. Since I did not see her at the store after that day, I believe she must have decided some things were more important than her employer’s desire to make money. I do realize that the economic reality is that many of us simply must work on holidays, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or another day. In addition, protecting public safety requires that many be in their place of service to protect and serve on holidays. Doctors, nurses, EMTs and countless others give of their holiday time to serve others. However, I am certainly in favor of sparing as many people from having to do that as possible.

What is Thanksgiving really all about? It is about giving thanks to our God for all that we have. It is also about thanking God for a Savior, Jesus Christ. What is Christmas about, or should it be about? It is the celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Maybe it is okay to celebrate Christmas early on Thanksgiving by giving thanks to God for Jesus. In fact, maybe it would be okay to celebrate Christmas early every day by giving thanks to God for our Savior, Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

However, that does not mean that I have to like “Black Friday”, or retailers forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving Day. So, instead of having employees work on Thanksgiving, perhaps the employer should trust God to provide the sales that they need on the other days before Christmas. Hmm? Maybe God would bless a decision like that? I think He would!! And, maybe those of us who have been participating in the mad scramble to buy Christmas gifts on Thanksgiving, and on Black Friday should just opt out this year. Maybe God would bless a decision like that? I think He would!!

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Children of God

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.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV.

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. - 1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV.

Can you imagine being a 46-year-old woman, and at the bedside of your dying mother, learn that you were not even adopted; your “parents” bought you as a baby for $2500? That is the situation that Cyn Bird has found herself to be in along with many others. She is one of perhaps several thousand “Cole” babies. Dr. Katherine Cole of Coral Gables, Florida, naturopathic physician, sold babies along the Eastern Seaboard. The original birth certificates of those babies were all falsified showing the couples who bought them as being the natural parents. In addition, Dr. Cole actually placed birth announcements in newspapers stating the birth parents were the ones who bought the babies. There has been little success in determining who the birth parents were of these children because Dr. Cole did not leave a paper trail. (Daily Oklahoman 10.21.11)

It is hard to imagine the shock and emotional pain that Cyn Bird suddenly had thrust upon her upon learning of her origin. However, Cyn was blessed to have “parents” who loved her, and cared for her even though they were not her birth parents. Sadly, there are countless millions of orphans without natural parents, without adopted parents, and even without parents who bought them. Since Dr. Cole operated an abortion clinic, no doubt there were also thousands of babies who never had a chance to be bought. Cyn Bird was doubly blessed by having been given life by her birth mother and by having “parents” who loved her. If only all babies were able to have at least that level of opportunity.

Whether you were adopted or not, many people have had unfortunate, and difficult childhoods. For some people, it might have been better if they had been adopted, or even bought when they were a baby. No matter what your paternal situation there is good news. Your Heavenly Father loves you (John 3:16) and He wants you to be part of His royal family. What an incredible offer! The King of kings, and the Lord of lords wants YOU to be a part of HIS family. Not only that, YOU will be HIS heir and receive an inheritance. Is there a catch? The catch is that you must believe and receive JESUS as your personal Savior.

I really like the song “Children of God” by the Christian group, “Third Day”. Here are some of the lyrics:

A mystery is revealed to the universe
The Father above has proven His love
Now we are free from the judgment that we deserve
And so we are called the children of God

We are the saints
We are the children
We've been redeemed
We've been forgiven
We are the sons and daughters of our God

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Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ - Luke 14:15-20 NKJV.

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9:57-62 NKJV.

A survey by CareerBuilder.com of employers and workers revealed some of the unusual (insert “lamo” here) excuses employees have given for missing work. Lamo is not in most dictionaries, but it is in the Urban Dictionary which has several definitions. Here are a couple: “Someone possessing the quality of lameness,” and “A situation, comment or person that is almost too stupid or odd for words.” Here are some of those lamo work missing excuses:

“Bats got in my hair.”
“A deer bit me during hunting season.”
“I fell out of bed and broke my nose.”
“I hurt my back chasing a beaver.”
“I ate too much at a party.”
“I have a headache after going to too many garage sales.”
“A refrigerator fell on me.”
“I caught a cold from my puppy.”
“I drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the ER.”
“My brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel.”
“My child stuck a mint up his nose and had to go to the ER.”

(CareerBuilder.com 10.20.11)

When Jesus invited people to follow Him, many had excuses for not doing so. In these days, people still have excuses for not following Jesus, and many of those excuses are just as lamo as the “not showing up for work” excuses.

When does Jesus ask you to follow or obey Him? Jesus asks that you obey Him by receiving Him as your Savior. In Luke 14, we see the many excuses that some people have for not receiving Christ as their Savior. My favorite is the “I have a wife” excuse. After you know Jesus as your personal Savior, the obeying and the following of Him has not ended; that is just the beginning. When you hear the small, still voice of God speaking to you about witnessing to a friend, that is Jesus saying “Follow Me.” When the small, still voice of God speaks to you about giving financially to support the Kingdom of God, that is Jesus saying “Follow Me.” When you are asked in the church to teach a class, that is Jesus saying “Follow Me.” When you hear the small, still voice of God saying _________ (you can fill in the blank here), that is Jesus saying “Follow Me.”

We fight, we struggle, we resist, we make excuses to avoid doing what God wants for our lives. The strange thing is that after all of that resistance, and avoidance; when we finally do what God wants, we have such peace, such joy, and know that our lives have meaning. Why did we wait so long to do what we know God wanted us to do?

Can you hear Him? Jesus is saying to you, “Follow Me.” Will you follow? Or, do you have another lamo excuse?

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Bad to the Bone

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. - Mark 5:1-6.

Toni Silvey has a few problems, including charges of stalking her ex-boyfriend. Stalking is perhaps too mild of a word for the actions of this woman toward her ex, Peter Main. Over a three month period, Toni attempted 1,001 phone calls to Peter, sent him 700 emails, egged his house, and…crashed her car into his vehicle. Many of her stalking activities are documented in her blog. When police questioned her about the stalking, she responded with, “Read my blog.” Which they did. After police officers warned her against any further stalking activities, she immediately began behaving like any normal human being would. Peter Main can only wish that were true! Later on the same day, after police warned her, Toni went to Peter’s property with…eggs, and proceeded to egg things. (Houston Chronicle 10.11.11)

As with most situations, there are probably two sides to this story. However, Toni’s actions do appear to be a little over the top. I once had a woman tell me that she took a hammer, and used it on her ex-boyfriend’s new pickup truck. Having seen the woman, if I was her ex-boyfriend, I might have considered moving to another state, and assuming a new identity. Sadly, we know that many relational problems end in even more tragic ways. But what is it that make some go far, far beyond the acceptable norms of society in seeking revenge, and others in just their way of living life?

I believe there is a spiritual component, to the bad actions that we so frequently see. In the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark chapter five, we are told about a man that is completely out of control. If you want to talk about bad, this man was bad, he was uncontrollable; and the people had tried to control him, tried to stop his bad behavior. Concerned citizens had wrapped this man in chains, but he broke the chains, pulling them apart. The shackles they put on his arms and legs; he broke into pieces. He was always in the mountains crying out and cutting himself. Everyone that knew him had long ago written him off. There was no way this person could ever change. There was no way that anyone could ever help this person. There was no hope. You could say that he was just bad to the bone.

Everyone who wrote off the uncontrollable, bad to the bone man of Mark chapter five, were wrong! Enter Jesus to the scene. Jesus does what? Jesus made the thousands of demons who inhabited the man to leave. Then, this man who had been bad to the bone was “sitting and clothed and in his right mind.”

Is everyone who acts badly demon possessed? Not necessarily, but we would be wrong to dismiss the possibility. Some people are not necessarily demon possessed like the man in Mark chapter five, but are being influenced demonically. We are told in Ephesians 6:16, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” The apostle Paul is not writing to lost people in this verse. He is writing to believers who know Jesus as their personal Savior.

Christians must be on guard against demonic influences, i.e. “fiery darts” being sent into their lives. We have our fleshly desires, but many also have compelling thoughts suggesting that they should do things like: abuse alcohol and drugs; look at p_rn, or indulge other s_xual addictions; gamble; cut themselves, like the man in Mark chapter five; and, many other things which are wrong for Christians to do. Let us “Put on the whole armor of God, that (we) you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).”

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Stealing the Bridge

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. - Ephesians 4:28.

So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners. - Proverbs 1:19.

He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house…. - Proverbs 15:27a.

Two men have been arrested in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania for stealing the Covert’s Crossing Bridge, and it was 50 feet long by 20 feet wide. Benjamin Arthur Jones, 24-years-old, and Alexander William Jones, 25-years-old used a cutting torch to cut the bridge up into sellable pieces. The men then sold the bridge, worth an estimated $100,000, as scrap metal for approximately $5,000. The men are in jail facing multiple felony charges. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10.15.11)

Hard to believe that anyone would attempt to steal a bridge! I wonder how they arrived at the decision? Maybe, one day they were out driving around, probably drinking some beer, and drove over the bridge. One man said to the other, “Hey, we could steal this bridge. We could cut it up in little pieces and sell it for scrap.” The second man may have said, “But won’t someone miss the bridge?” Man number one says, “Yeah, they may miss it when they run off here and wreck, but we can get thousands of dollars out of this thing.” The second man must have said, “Where’s that cuttin’ torch at?”

The men not only had a disregard for property belonging to others; they also had a disregard for human life. It was apparently of no concern to them if someone was injured crashing because of a missing bridge. In addition, because of their greed, the men were blind to the consequences of their actions. They were blind to the possibility that the scrap they were selling would be recognized as being from a bridge, and reported. They were blind to the possibility that they could be arrested, and end up being sent to prison for years. They were blind to how much pain their actions would cause their families when they were arrested, and incarcerated. Their greed demonstrates the truth of Proverbs 15:27 and Proverbs 1:19. Greed is a life destroyer. Greed is a maker of a world of trouble for anyone who is greedy.

For anyone who is involved in making a living out of stealing, or who steals for the fun or thrill of stealing, it is made clear in Ephesians 4:28 that this is against the will of God. As we are told in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer….” If you are involved in this kind of the thing…stop now, before you destroy your life. Stop now, before your greed brings trouble to your door, and to your family.

So the next time, you are out driving around in the country, and drive over a perfectly functional metal bridge, just be thankful that Benjamin and Alexander Jones have yet to discover it.

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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.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” - John 14:1-6.

Rob Sloan was thought to have been the third place runner in the Kielder Marathon, in northern England. However, he has been stripped of his medal due to disqualification. During the run, he took a shortcut via a spectator bus. As event Director Steve Cram describes, “He’s the only runner in the whole of the race who ran the second half of the race quicker than the first half.” You can do that if you ride a bus! It makes the whole marathon thingy much more pleasant! (Reuters 10.13.11)

Rob must have thought that he would actually be able to deceive everyone about his marathon performance. He found out though that his great plan for an easy run had a few flaws in it. His plan was not allowed by the event officials. That’s why it’s called a marathon. You run every step, in every mile, without any shortcuts via buses. Rob tried to bluff his way through, denying what he had done, until he was finally forced to admit his attempted deception.

Many apparently believe that there is a shortcut to Heaven, to the “Father‘s house.” No need to include Jesus in this plan, just take the turn onto the broad way, through the wide gate, and it will all turn out fine. Because, everyone knows, that everyone is going to Heaven; some are just taking a different road. At least that’s what I seem to be hearing more and more in recent days. The Biblical spiritual fact is that Jesus is the only “way” provided by which we may travel to Heaven (i.e. “the Father”), or as King David says, the “house of the LORD (Psalm 23:6).”

Attempts to travel to Heaven by any other means than through Jesus will fail. The event coordinator of this Heavenly event is God Himself. God has given one prerequisite for dwelling in the “house of the LORD forever.” That most important prerequisite is Jesus. We are told this in Romans 10:9-13, “…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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ 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.’” In John 1:12, we are told, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Have you taken a ride on a bus down the broad road of destruction, or are you on that narrow road through Jesus that leads to life eternal?

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In His Image

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

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Herbert Chavez who lives in the Philippines is being transformed by plastic surgery to look more and more like Superman. He has had surgery on his chin, his nose, and plans to have surgery on his abdomen. He has also had silicone injections and implants. Chavez says, “I have been a life long fan of Superman after being given the costume when I was a child. As I am only 5 feet 6 inches and Superman is 6 feet 2 inches I wouldn’t rule out surgery to make me taller.” Chavez is also a collector of Superman memorabilia and his home is filled up with Superman collectibles. (Orange News 10.10.11)

If you know Jesus as your Savior, there is a change going on in your life. Herbert Chavez is changing himself to look more like he thinks Superman should look like. God is changing His children spiritually to be more and more like Jesus. We are not doing the changing. You are not doing the changing. God is at work in your life through the Holy Spirit, and you “are being transformed.”

I am far from being perfect, but God has been at work in my life chipping away at all the things that do not conform “to the image of His Son.” The lies that used to so easily flow from my mouth have been chipped away. My desire for riches has been chipped away. My selfishness is slowly being chipped out of my heart. My worldly lusts are being removed piece by piece. Sometimes this renovation project that God has going on in my life is enjoyable, and sometimes it is far from enjoyable; in fact, it is downright painful. Looking at the image of Jesus that I see painted in the Word of God, I can see that there is still a long, long way to go before this transformation project that God has begun will reach completion.

How can God ever change the wickedness of my heart, or the wickedness of your heart? I do not know, but as the apostle Paul told the Philippians (Philippians 1:6), “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” I do know that God will never give up on what He has begun in my heart and life. He will bring it to completion. God is not going to give up on what He has begun in your life either. He will see it through to the very end.

We have the promise of God that some day, some how, we will be like Jesus. We are told this in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Let us hold onto this promise of God that some bright shining wondrous day “we shall be like Him.”

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On the Edge

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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 10:12-13.

Nearly all of us saw the video, captured of a cliff in north Cornwall, England, that crashed into the ocean. Thousands of tons of rock unexpectedly split away and tumbled down into the water. A geologist estimated that 100,000 tons of rock fell down. (Orange News 10.10.11) I know that I had never even thought about the possibility of such a thing. Of course, we know about landslides, rock falls, and avalanches; but 100,000 tons of a cliff? Can you imagine being on a cliff like that, and hearing the rock suddenly beginning to fall away? That would be scary!

If you knew of the likely possibility of a cliff falling into an ocean, would you make it a practice to go, and stand on the edge of that cliff every day? Of course not! However, we know many who call themselves Christians who do engage in that kind of risky behavior. How do they do that? They do this by drinking alcohol, even though they know that some who drink become alcoholics, some damage their health, some become involved in violent behavior, and some who drink are arrested for drinking and driving. Others are out there standing on cliffs because of their abuse of legal drugs or use of illegal drugs. Some are on that unstable cliff because of flirting or worse with the opposite s_x. I probably left something out, but I think you understand how dangerous these things can be.

Yes, “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.” However, we are told in Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God….” Jesus said exactly this when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:7). Now consider this: If you know that it is risky to do something, but you continue to do it again and again, are you not tempting God?

Yes, we are all sometimes tempted, but there is a way of escape, because God says there is one. You can refuse to walk out to the edge of that cliff. You can refuse to have another drink. You can refuse to do another drug, or pop another pill. You can turn away from those who would lure you into inappropriate behavior. Will this be easy? No! 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.”

Make no mistake, when you are tempted, there is a way out. Ask God to reveal that way out to you. Ask Him for the strength you need to take the way out that leads off of that cliff you are standing on before you fall. As we are told in 1 Corinthians 10, “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Get away from the edge of that cliff!!

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Limited or Limitless

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding (immeasurable - Amplified Bible) riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 4:5-7.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite (limitless - The Message). The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. - Psalm 147:5-6.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above (infinitely more - NLT; God can do anything - The Message) all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21.

Using Google to search for the word, “limitless”, there were nearly 100 million results. It appears that we human beings do not like limits, and would like to be free of them. At the same time that we would like to throw off our limits, we place our human limitations upon our God. Our human view of God is too often that God can do little more than most humans. In our area of the country, we have experienced a severe drought. We had a community prayer meeting to pray for rain several weeks ago. It rained some that evening. Last week we received more than two inches of rain. I know that this was in response to the prayers of many. However, I have heard some express that they never pray for rain, because they do not believe that God answers those prayers - or is it that they do not believe that God has the power to answer those prayers?

Limitless is defined by the Free Dictionary as: “Having no limit or limits; unrestricted: limitless authority.” That is a description of the power and authority of the One true God. Our God is unlimited in His ability. However, there are some limits upon our ability to tap into that power and authority for the living of our lives. Ephesians 3:20-21 describes the ability of God to do more than we can ever imagine. It also describes a limit upon how that power is used in our lives. We are told how God is able to do more than we can imagine in our lives, “according to the power that works in us.” If we believe, for example, that God is unable to answer a prayer for rain, then God will not answer that prayer for you. You have less of His power working in you than someone else who does believe God can send rain.

Another limit upon God’s power to answer our prayers is His will. If what we ask for is according to His will, there is no limit to what God can do. However, if what we are asking for is not according to His will it will appear that His power is limited. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “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.”

If we believe, the possibilities are limitless for God to work in, and through our lives. Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, “…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.” So let us believe in the limitless power and authority of God and “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).”

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The Real Reality

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. - 1 John 4:4.

Emergency services in England scrambled to help after receiving a call from a young man who was hanging from the edge of a sea cliff. Fire crews, coastguard, and police officers all responded and searched the coast for the man. After searching for several hours, an intoxicated 19-year-old man was finally found about a mile away from the coast on a slope next to where he had parked his car. (Metro.co.uk 02.23.10)

Customs in a Frankfurt, Germany airport temporarily confiscated what was thought to be a “blood diamond” worth 2.2 million pounds (3.4 million dollars). The wannabe smuggler from Angola was detained while what appeared to be an illegally mined diamond was examined. Everyone was surprised, especially the wannabe smuggler, when it was found that it was only a fake diamond worth at the most 18 pounds (28 dollars). The smuggler apparently had paid a substantial amount of money for the fake diamond. (Orange News 02.22.10)

How many times has it happened to you? You thought something was true, but later found out that it was not true; or something you thought was real, was not real. The young man in England was surely convinced that he was hanging from an edge of a cliff, and about to die. The Angolan smuggler thought he had a diamond that was worth millions; instead, he lost a fortune. What a shock when the truth is revealed!

There is another deception being perpetrated upon many of us right now. This world we are living in may appear to be very real. We are told that this is reality. However, this is not the real, reality. As we are told in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” All of these things that are so very real to us right now on this earth will some day pass away. Our earthly worries will some day no longer be of importance. Because these earthly things are temporary.

In addition, we have so many things that cause us stress, cause us worry, and cause us pain. Much of this stress, worry, and pain is the result of perception. We perceive that we are all alone in the face of all these things that are pressing in upon us. However, that is not the real, reality for the believer. What is the reality for a believer? “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).” The Spirit of God resides in every believer (1 Corinthians 3:16) and “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:27).”

Never forget as a child of God you are not by yourself. God lives inside of you, and through Him you are always more than a conqueror. Let us look beyond these earthly things surrounding us to the real, reality, to “the things which are not seen.”

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Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” - Luke 15:15-17.

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. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. - Jonah 1:17 - 2:1.

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 9:8-9.

A scuba diver has been found in South Africa in the wrong place, at the wrong time. A rescue operation was mounted after a report from a friend of a scuba diver, that his friend was missing. The search was called off, after the mother of the diver, called to say that her son had been located. The diver had called his mother to let her know that he was in jail at a police station. He had been arrested, because he was diving “without a permit in a protected marine environment.” (Orange News 09.16.11)

The scuba diver’s problems began when he chose to dive illegally in a marine environment protected by law. While everyone was searching for him, he found himself locked up in jail. He was safe, but still in uncomfortable circumstances because of the choice that he had made to break the law.

In the Bible, there are several individuals who found themselves in difficult circumstances because of the choices they had made. The Prodigal Son chose to take his inheritance early, and went off to a “far country” to party it away. The Prodigal Son found himself in a condition so terrible that he was ready to eat what the pigs were eating if he could have done so. We all know that Jonah’s refusal to respond to God’s call resulted in his finding himself in the belly of a great fish. Nothing pleasant about that! Then, there is Saul, aka the yet to become apostle Paul, who found himself struck blind by the Lord Jesus.

The Prodigal Son, Jonah, and Saul all had decisions to make after finding themselves in these terrible predicaments. They could have chosen to remain as they were, and see things grow even worse. The Prodigal Son could have stayed there and eaten pig food if he could have found some. Jonah could have refused to change his mind, and rotted away in the belly of the big fish. Saul could have refused to give up his hatred of those who believed in Jesus, and remained blind for the rest of his life. Those would have been terrible decisions, but they could have decided to keep going in the same direction that had brought these terrible situations upon them. I think we all know people, or have heard of people who are just that stubborn, who are just that addicted to their drugs, or their beliefs, or their ideas, or their way of doing things; that refuse to change, even when they know they are wrong.

The thing that we see in the lives of the Prodigal Son, Jonah, and Saul is that people can change the direction of their lives. They may not want to change, but they can turn around anyway. The Prodigal Son surely did not want to go home, and face his father, or his brother. We know Jonah still hated the Ninevites, even after he preached to them. Saul had to turn his back on everything that he had believed, even his friends to change from the direction his life had been headed.

People can change the direction of their lives. You can change the direction of your life. It begins with a decision. A decision has to be made. A decision to be obedient to your Lord Jesus. If that decision needs to be made in your life, there is no better time than now to make it.

Where did God find you today?

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He Can Do It!

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.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13.

John Ortberg in his book “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat” tells of how he had a problem with fainting when he first began to preach. Eventually, the problem went away, but it did take courage to persist in preaching, when he never knew when this might suddenly happen again.

I shared with my church Sunday a secret that I have never told anyone. That secret is that nearly every Sunday since I began to preach I have thought to myself that “I can’t do this” before preaching. The reasons for that have varied. At first, it was in part because I am basically an introvert, and it was difficult for me to speak in front of crowds. It was also, because I do not have a powerful voice, and when speaking without a sound system it was difficult to project my voice. Other times I have been ill, but nearly always still preached in spite of whatever may have been going on with me physically.

In the last five years, I have developed a problem with my voice. It has improved substantially from how it was five years ago, although it has not gone away completely. The problem is that sometimes my voice cuts off, and I am unable to speak. Usually, it goes away in a minute or two, and I am then able to continue preaching. However, it is very uncomfortable to be standing before a room full of people who are listening attentively to hear your next word without having the ability to speak. Fainting might be more merciful! The fact is, and the truth is, that I cannot continue to preach in my own strength. I do not have the power in myself to preach another Sunday. However, my Lord Jesus does have the strength, and for the past twenty-one years He has been faithful, in providing the strength, and the courage that I have not had in myself. I can’t do it! But He can!!

The spiritual fact is that you cannot successfully live the Christian life in your own strength either. You can’t do it! But He can!! You can’t get out of the boat, and walk on water. But He can!! God wants to give you His power to live the abundant life that Jesus came to give you (John 10:10b). Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “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 there knocking, and He wants to give you the strength, the power to really live life. However, He is not going to force you to receive His power. He is not going to make you walk on water. It’s up to you. Do you want His strength? Do you want His power? Then ask for it!

Remember you can’t do it in your own power, and strength. But He can!! I can’t do it! But the Lord continues to empower me every time I ask. He will do the same for you!

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Code Red

To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD. I am weary of holding it in. - Jeremiah 6:10-11.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. - Colossians 1:27-28.

Monday morning when we returned to the hospital to check on our grandson, we had an interesting experience. We had just entered into the hospital when an alarm began to sound, along with a voice announcing, “Code Red”, “Code Red”. Every few seconds the voice would announce, while the alarm, continued to sound, “Code Red”, “Code Red”.

As we entered an elevator, I asked a woman who got onto the elevator with us if she knew what “Code Red” meant. She said she didn’t know, but thought it couldn’t be anything good. Immediately after we left the elevator, the woman asked another woman who had a hospital ID what “Code Red” meant. The hospital staff member responded calmly and sweetly that, “Oh, it’s a fire alarm.” The other woman then asked her if it was a fire drill. The staff member said “No, it’s a fire.” And then she said, “It’s in the basement, and it happens all the time.” Since we were on the lower level, a fire in the basement was a little concerning to us. However, with the alarm still sounding, and with the voice still announcing “Code Red”, “Code Red”; everyone calmly continued on their way as if there were no alarm blaring in their ears!

The disregard of the people at the hospital for the warnings of the fire alarm reminds me of the disregard people have for the warnings of the Word of God. Not only do they disregard and dismiss God’s warning through His Word; they also disregard and dismiss warnings from His messengers. Jeremiah continually, at great personal risk, warned of the consequences of the immorality of the Hebrew people. The consequences were to be taken into captivity by a foreign country, which did finally occur.

The people of this world have not changed much from the people Jeremiah’s time. The people today are just as dismissive, and have just as much disregard for God’s Word and His messengers, as did the people of Jeremiah’s day. The only difference is that it may be worse today than it was in the time of Jeremiah.

At some point in time, for every person, we will come to the end of the road of life, and face the consequences for our decisions. As we are told in the Book of Hebrews, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” We are told more about what is ahead in Revelation 20:11-15 where John says, “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.”

Is your name written in the Book of Life? Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If not, the alarm is sounding, and all of Heaven is shouting “Code Red”, “Code Red”. Can you hear the warning? “Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).” I plead with you to receive Jesus today as your personal Savior before it is eternally too late.

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

Six years ago Megan Ashton bought a beat up 40-year-old VW Beetle for $316 (200 GBP). Today that same car is worth an estimated $40,000 (25,000 GBP). What happened to that car? Megan was 20-years-old when she bought the car dreaming of one day being able to drive, not a VW Beetle to her wedding, but a Porsche 356. Megan is a Royal Navy engineering officer, and her father owns a garage. Over a six year period, the VW Beetle was stripped down and rebuilt into a replica of the Porsche 356. That ugly duckling of a VW Beetle has been transformed into a beautiful vehicle. The replica Porsche 356, was driven proudly by Megan to her wedding, as she had dreamed of doing for so many years. (Mail Online 09.15.11)

The transformation of Ashton’s VW Beetle into the now beautiful Porsche 356 replica is a picture of the Christian life. It is a picture of how God takes the ugly duckling worm of a sinner and transforms that person into an “ambassador for Christ”; an ambassador for the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.

There is a beginning point to becoming a Christian. We do not become a Christian by becoming a member of a church, or by being baptized. We do not become a Christian by being born into a family that happens to be Christian. We become a Christian by being “born again” as Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3. We are birthed into the Kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11) and sealed until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We are “born again” into the family of God as spiritual babies (1 Corinthians 3:1) and are to grow to maturity (Philippians 3:15).

God will continue this process of transforming us from the sinners that we were into being like Christ as long as we are alive on this Earth (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:29). Some bright shining day the ultimate transformation into perfection with our glorified bodies will be completed. In Philippians 3:20-21 we are told this, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

When we are “born again” that old sinner creature that we were is no more. God begins the transformation process giving us a new life with new desires, and new dreams. We grow from baby Christians to mature Christians. The process of that growth is fast, or slow, depending upon how much of the Lord Jesus Christ we put on (Romans 13:14). You can put on (clothe yourselves - NIV) more of the Lord Jesus, by reading and studying the Word of God. You can put on more of the Lord Jesus, by spending time in prayer. You can put on more of the Lord Jesus, by assembling with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-15). You can put on more of the Lord Jesus, by living for Him, by being His ambassador upon this Earth.

My old dreams have faded away. I can barely remember how evil my desires used to be. I am far from being perfect. However, I am being transformed more and more into the image of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that you are being transformed too!

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Helping Hands

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. - 1 Corinthians 12:27.

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. - Ephesians 5:29-30.

You have most likely seen the video and heard all about the rescue of a motorcyclist that occurred Monday. It happened in Utah when 21-year-old Brandon Wright crashed into a BMW coming out of a parking lot. Wright did lay the bike down in an attempt to avoid the car, but still hit it, and both vehicles caught fire. Wright was trapped underneath of the BMW. That’s when about ten bystanders jumped into action, lifting the car on one side, while Wright was dragged out from under the BMW. Wright was not riding a helmet, but does not have any trauma to his head. He does have a couple of broken legs, his pelvis is broken, burns on a foot, and some road rash. His condition has been upgraded to satisfactory after being moved from intensive care. (Fox News, CNN, youtube, and various other news venues)

It is such a wonderful, awesome thing to see all of those people risking their lives to save someone that none of them knew! With all of the terrible, ugly, awful news that we continually hear and see, it was simply fantastic to see this video! This is what the body of Christ, i.e. the church, should be all about.

Together, believers can always do more than by themselves. We can do more in prayer. Jesus says in Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” We can do more in giving. An example of this is the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program. Those churches participating in the program give a percentage of all of their undesignated offerings to it. The program funds missionary efforts across the world, and of every penny given in a participating church, part of it combine with others to fund these efforts. We can do more in helping during major disasters as we see many denominations come together along with the Red Cross to meet the needs of the hurting.

Perhaps the most often used quote, about the hands and feet of Jesus, are the words of Saint Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

For those of us who make up the Body of Christ, Casting Crowns asks in their song these questions:

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

There are still people who care, who want to do the right thing as we have seen demonstrated in the rescue of the motorcyclist. If you had been there, what would you have done? What will you do today, as part of the Body of Christ?

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The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. - Proverbs 14:11-12.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. - Psalm 1:6.

Rayna Garrett had a frightening experience in Kansas City when a man with a gun suddenly jumped onto the hood of her car. The man, 26-year-old Dionette L. Price, demanded that Rayna, “drive”. “Drive, or I will blow your head off.” So, that’s what Rayna did; she drove. She sped up, trying to make the man fall off, but it didn’t work. She kept driving for two miles to a Kansas City police station, where she honked her horn, and finally rammed a door to gain their attention. All during this time Dionette was threatening to kill Rayna. After Rayna rammed the door, Dionette fled from the police station. He was arrested a short time later at a bus stop without any problems. Dionette now faces charges of unlawful use of a weapon and felonious restraint. (Reuters 09.08.11)

Did Dionette believe that he was doing the right thing when he stepped in front of Rayna’s car, forcing her to slow down? Did he believe that he was doing the right thing, when he threatened Ryana with death? Why would anyone do something like that? The most likely answer would be that the man has some mental issues. It may be that some how, this man believed that what he was doing was the right thing to do. If this were the situation, you might say that the man was delusional. Dictionary dot com gives these definitions for delusional: “maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts”, and “having false or unrealistic beliefs or opinions.”

Spiritually, there are a whole lot of delusional people in this world. They think they are on the right path in their lives. Most of them don’t appear to be crazy like Dionette, and appear to be fairly “normal”. These delusional people live their lives as if there were no God. They live their lives as though this world is all there is, and that they will never face death. They are delusional. They are delusional because they know that people grow old and die. They are delusional because people become sick and die, or have an accident and die. They know this to be true because they have seen it happen to people that they personally know. The Bible tells us this will happen, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” We will all die a physical death unless we are believers, and our Lord comes back first.

There is a way that seems right to people, and that way does not include God, and that way does not include any thoughts about what will happen after death. The reason it seems right to them is because they are delusional. Why are they delusional? We are told this in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4a, “…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded….” 2 Corinthians 4:6 then says, “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.” We who know Jesus as our Savior were at one time blind, delusional, and walking in darkness. That was our condition until the glory of God through Jesus gave light to our lives.

The only hope for the spiritually delusional of this world is Jesus Christ. Let us share Jesus with them, and their blindness will be removed. Let us share Jesus with them, and they will no longer be delusional. Let us share Jesus with them, and they will find the right path for their lives. Give them Jesus!

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The Best Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Safety Rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One Brave and Wise Man

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

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. _- 1 Samuel 17:37.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13.

No when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled and realized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 4:13.

Allen Havron, a family friend, recently passed away. Allen was my Mother’s supervisor at the Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base at Burns Flat, Oklahoma. Beginning in 1955, Allen was in charge of the computer operations center at the base, and later at the Altus Air Force Base. Our families became close, as we would often go to the lakes together to cookout and water ski. During the years that our families were close, and during one vacation that we all took together, I never heard Allen do or say anything inappropriate. I never heard him yell at the kids, and he never seemed to be stressed about anything. You know there are very few people that you can say that about. Allen’s son, Rex, said that he began to realize how wise his Dad was, when he found himself in a foxhole on his 21st birthday; in Vietnam, in the middle of a firefight. Rex said he realized, that if he had listened to his Dad, he probably would not have even been in that situation.

About a year ago, I found out that Allen was a combat veteran who had fought in the Asian theater of operations during WWII. After a few years of civilian life, Allen again found himself in the midst of combat in the Korean War. On Thanksgiving Day 1950, Allen was severely wounded. Of the 120 men in his company, only 12 survived that day. Allen was sent to a hospital in Japan for six months, and then he was ordered back to the war in Korea. He received several bronze stars for his actions during WWII, and the Purple Heart during the Korean War.

At the end of a visit with Allen a few months before he passed away, I ask him if he would like for us to pray together. In response he said this, “Prayer is always good.” Visiting with the family a couple of days before the funeral service, they shared that their Dad talked about praying through the night many times during the wars.

How did Allen Havron become such a wise and brave man? I believe it all flowed from his relationship with His God and Savior Jesus Christ. As Allen said, “Prayer is always good.” Where did the bravery of the great servants of God in the Bible come from? If you were to ask David, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, or Daniel; they would all tell you that their courage flowed from the relationship they had with their Lord. How did the apostle Paul find the courage and strength to endure all that he faced serving God? Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Where did Peter and John obtain their great boldness and wisdom? “They had been with Jesus.”

If you need courage, if you need boldness, if you need strength, if you need wisdom - there is only one way to receive it spiritually. You just need to spend time with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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The Sky is Falling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Way Out

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23.

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

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. - Hebrews 4:15.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. - Hebrews 9:27-28a.

We have all heard many stories about postal mail being delivered many years after the letter or postcard was actually sent. Some letters were sent 50 or 60 years before and they somehow appeared at the post office or someone found them elsewhere. Recently I received an email dated January 15, 1970! Amazing! Now, I know that you can change the date and time on your computer, but without knowing that it would certainly be an eye opener! A somewhat similar thing happened last month when Elizabeth Taylor passed away. As you would expect there was an obituary for her in the New York Times. The obituary was written, at least he was listed as the author, by Mel Gussow. Nothing unusual about that except that he died nearly six years before Elizabeth Taylor!

What do those two stories have in common? We know what happened, someone made a mistake. Someone set the date wrong, really wrong, by mistake. Someone listed Mel Gussow as the author of the obituary, by mistake. We’re not really all that surprised by it. Why? Because we are used to it. People mess up all the time. I make mistakes, you make mistakes, everyone I know makes mistakes of one kind or another.

Not only do we all make mistakes, all of us also sin. There are times when we all do bad things that we know we should not do. We have all sinned, done bad things, and “come short of the glory of God.” All of us, are sinners, and the bad news is that “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” The plain ugly truth is that what ought to happen to us is that we should go to hell when we die, because we are sinners.

The Good News is that we have a way out if we choose to take it. In comparison to all of us, Jesus Christ who was fully God, and at the same time fully human, never messed up, never made a mistake, never sinned. The Bible tells us in the Book of Hebrews that Jesus (Our high priest) “…was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Because of this Jesus was able to be the perfect sacrifice, dying on the cross for all of our sins; past, present, and future. He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). The writer of Hebrews explains: “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever (Hebrews 7:26-28).

God has given us a way out, a way to be reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ. Believe upon Him (John 3:16). Let Him in (Revelation 3:20). Receive Him (John 1:12). Call upon Him (Romans 10:13). Confess Him (Romans 10:10). Jesus says, “I am the WAY, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).” Jesus is the WAY out. Take it!

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Getting What You Want

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until Jesus Returns

Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” - Luke 19:12-13.

With the rise of the Islamic world, and with the current instability in the middle east, we see the rapid approach of the conditions necessary for the end times as described in the Bible to become reality. With Islam we see a radical, violent, religion that desires, and demands that all of the world become Islamic. With Islam we see a religion that believes that their 12th Iman will only come onto the scene through destruction and chaos. The Islamic 12th Iman as currently described by Islamic leaders, has similar characteristics to the antichrist described in the Book of Revelation. It appears that there is very little standing in the way to prevent the beginning of the seven years of tribulation.

The United States and Israel are the primary things holding back the Islamic tide. However, the United States is rapidly being neutralized in regard to support for Israel. It also appears, that our liberal courts are making it easier for the implementation of Sharia law in the United States.

It is only a matter of time before Israel is attacked by the Islamic countries that surround the country, and by other countries that hate them. It may even be a coalition of the willing sanctioned by the United Nations. When that attack occurs it will be devastating for those countries attacking Israel. When that devastating attack occurs it will trigger, I believe, the rapture (Which could occur, and I hope occurs, prior to the attack.), and the seven years of tribulation. With that in mind I want to address what we as believers should be doing between now, and when these events occur.

First, we should be increasing in maturity as believers, becoming more and more like Jesus. We are told this in 2 Peter 3:11-12, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” In 2 Peter 3:14 we are told “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

Second, we are to evangelize the lost. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He told His disciples their priorities in Acts 1:6-8, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 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.’” Jesus made it clear that they were, and we are, to be His witnesses.

Third, we are to encourage other believers. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told, “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.”

It is easy with all of the horrible things happening, and the prospect of terror attacks in our own countries to just throw up our hands, and think what is the use of doing anything. We must not lose sight of our Lord’s instructions. The precise timing of the Lord’s return is not important, although His return is closer than ever before. What really counts is taking as many people to heaven with us as we possibly can. What should you be doing when He returns? Where should you be when the trumpet sounds, when the archangel shouts, when in a twinkling of an eye we are changed, and rise into the clouds to meet Him?

What has the Lord given you to do? Do that. Do business until He returns.

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Just Pretending

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ - Matthew 7:21-23.

When I was growing up on the farm, I remember hearing an amazing thing about one of the bankers in the area. The man had bought two new tractors, but he was not going to actually farm with them; instead, he bought them to depreciate their value. Somehow, he had found a way to improve his tax situation. He was pretending to the IRS that he was using those tractors to farm. Since then, I have heard about others who really don’t farm as we would think of it.

There are others who have an acre or two of land, and try to use that to claim falsely to the IRS that they are farmers. We would not think that these people were real farmers - would we? I think we could call these people pretend farmers. I wonder how many young people, who actually want to farm - how many of them plan to grow up to be pretend farmers? None of them. Of course not! If you’re going to farm, you plan to really farm. Spiritually, there are people who are similar to the pretend farmers. We could call them pretend Christians. These pretend Christians say they are Christians, but they never do any of the things that real Christians do. They rarely if ever come to church, they don’t read their Bible, they don’t pray, they don’t witness, and they don’t serve.

Now there are some exceptions, because the pretend Christian will come to church, will read their Bible, will pray, and will witness, and will serve - If, someone they want to impress is watching. Kind of like the relationship of the pretend farmer, and the IRS.

What does the Bible say about pretend Christians? Jesus is talking about them in Matthew 7:21-23. In one of the most famous sermons ever preached, Jonathan Edwards at Enfield, Connecticut (July 8, 1741 - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) used as his text Deuteronomy 32:35, and I think he was talking about pretend Christians. At least it was meant for the Israelites who were God’s people, and who were not living like God’s people. “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them (Deuteronomy 32:35).” Edwards had these words that he spoke quietly to the people gathered there: “In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained void of counsel, having no understanding in them….” Edwards went on to say, “Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell....they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it...the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them.…” Edwards completed his sermon by saying, “Therefore, let everyone that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the wrath to come.”

If you have just been pretending to be a Christian, I would say to you as Edwards did, “…let everyone that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the wrath to come.”

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What If?

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

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

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

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

Today as I researched those “what if” questions I found that others have had the same thoughts. David Gregory has actually written a book called the “Last Christian” about the possible future in the year 2088, as the daughter of missionaries emerges from isolation, to find she is the last Christian. You can find out more at http://www.davidgregorybooks.com/ Others such as Dr. Manford George Gutzke have written about the very real possibility of being the only Christian in various groups in the world today. Gutzke addresses how the Christian should respond to being the only Christian in your family, your community, your school, and in other situations. You can access his 14 page PDF document through this link: http://www.thebibleforyou.org/books/PDF/BP259.pdf

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

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

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

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The Pretenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Be Yourself

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

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.

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. (The Message translates this as: I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.)

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

When I was a teenager I often heard of others who when facing arrest claimed to be someone else to escape the potential charges. Often the claim would be as a result of having a fake ID that was used to purchase beer, and usually the story did not end well for those involved. In 2007 in Dallas, Texas, Mario Miramontes was facing arrest for violation of his parole when he used the “I’m not that person excuse.” Using a name of someone he knew, he claimed to be his cousin, Christopher Ayala. Unknown to Mario, his cousin was also wanted by the police with a warrant out for a much more serious charge. When Mario found out that he was facing more time in prison if he were actually his cousin, he began to try to convince everyone that he was actually, who he actually was; as in “Hey, I’m really Mario!” “I’m telling the truth this time!” It took 13 months for Mario to be released from jail compared to the possible 60 days he would have served on the parole violation. (Dallas Morning News 1.8.2011; TrueCrimeReport.com 1.13.2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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Trapping Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Classic from 2002


When Problems Come

Today’s devotional is from an article written in 2002 by my son, Clark Wrather, for his church newsletter. Clark was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma when he wrote this article. Clark was called to be the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Yukon, Oklahoma in July of 2012. The title and Scripture were added for the devotional.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. - Jeremiah 17:7-8.

“No one really wants to hear that their baby is not perfect.” Those were the words Libby and I heard from a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital in Dallas a few weeks ago. All I could do was nod my head. The doctor continued and said, “...we’re most likely looking at surgery.” The phrase hit me like a shot to the belly from Evander Holyfield.

Mason, the newest addition to our family was born with three dimples at the base of his spine. According to his doctors, this could be nothing or it could be something. Sometimes these dimples indicate that there is an underlying problem with the spine. The problem could be several different things and most of them are easily correctable by surgery. Often there is a connection that leads from the dimples on the outside all the way to the spinal cord on the inside.

There could be a microscopic opening from the dimples all the way to the spinal cord. This means any infection that Mason has could enter through these openings and travel to his spinal cord. An infection there could cause paralysis or death. Because of this, the neurosurgeon did not recommend that we wait until Mason was older to do surgery. Because it has the potential to be very dangerous, the doctor said that exploratory surgery should be done even if an MRI does not show anything.

“Surgery” - the word just reverberated through me when I heard it. “How could they do surgery on such a small baby,” I wondered to myself. Needless to say, Libby and I were dazed and upset during our drive home from Dallas. The upcoming months no longer seemed like a future full of wonderful opportunities waiting to be discovered. Instead, they loomed dark and menacing inspiring the kind of fear that only the great unknown can give.

At times, I have thought about why this happened or that it seemed unfair. A couple of times the thought, “how could God do this to my family,” would float across my mind. Usually, another phrase would come to me at these times: “they killed my Son (God speaking).” It was a still and quiet voice, but gave the impression of iron beneath velvet. My Lord was right. It could be much, much worse. I should be deeply thankful that Mason’s problem may be correctable with surgery.

I know my Father in heaven did not make this bad thing happen, but he could use it as an opportunity to work creatively in my life. I also know that whatever happens in the dark weeks ahead, my Good Shepherd will be right beside me, leading and guiding me through them.

(As of 2014, it has been 12 years since this devotional was written. Mason is doing well, and has had three surgeries for his condition, even though he still has some physical problems. We love him very much, and thank God for him! - Ed)

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This is NOT Your Day!

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18.

48-year-old Johnnie Butts tried to sell some fake gold jewelry to the wrong man. It happened in a Sudbury Farms store in Massachusetts. The man Johnnie picked to try to sell the jewelry to was Randolph Chief of Police, William Pace. Chief Pace also owns a jewelry store. Chief Pace says that he told the man that, “…this is really not your day. First of all, I’m a cop, and second of all, I’m in the jewelry business.” Johnnie has been charged with attempting to commit larceny by false pretense. (Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Massachusetts - January 20, 2011)

Everyone of us have probably had a bad day of one kind, or another. Maybe not as bad as Johnnie had, but we still felt like it was horrible. Of course, some of you have had even worse days, at least some of us would think that you did.

How should the Christian respond when you have a bad day? The apostle Paul had more than his share of bad days as he shares in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” In spite of suffering these things Paul still was able to say, “Rejoice always.” Paul also said that in everything that we should give thanks for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.

Having joy during the bad times is a choice. We choose to have joy. We choose to be thankful during the worst of times. What do we have to be joyful about when everything is going down in flames around us? We can rejoice that Romans 8:28 is true knowing “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We can be thankful even during the very worst of times that God demonstrated “His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” We can be thankful, and rejoice, because we “can consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest (we) you become weary and discouraged in (our) your souls (Hebrews 12:3).”

So, make the choice! When the world would say you are having a bad day, rejoice! Because you have a Savior who loves you, and died for you. When world says this is just not your day, thank God that He will bring good out of what the world says is bad. “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

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A Short Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An Empty Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fear God - Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fear God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear God.

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Do What You Can Do - Part 4

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ - Matthew 25:34-40.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. - Galatians 5:22-26.

Near Tecumseh, Oklahoma, Garrison Reneaux has lost all that he had. He lived in a small travel trailer with his dogs. There was no running water or electricity, but there was heat from a butane heater. It is thought the heater was what caused the fire that destroyed Reneaux’ home. Neighbors, and a local church are helping him with temporary shelter, and other aid.

In another story from Oklahoma a family also lost their home in a fire. However, someone has anonymously given the family $1000.00 to help them move forward from the disaster they have experienced.

A few years ago we were caring for a foster child with neuroblastoma. He was only about seven years old, and had been through so much. We live in far western Oklahoma, but had to be at Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City one morning at 8:00 a.m. for a procedure. I was surprised, when I dropped him and Jeanie off, and as I went to park our car to see Oklahoma University head football coach, Bob Stoops, unloading a box from his SUV. While we were there at the hospital the coach visited with the children for several hours giving away hats, footballs, and other OU memorabilia. As the coach left I thanked him, and he simply said, “No problem.” What the coach did that day meant a lot to those kids, and it is appreciated.

The truth is that we can all extend a helping hand to those around us in one way or another. It may be a gift of money to someone in need. It could be a drink of cold water, or a little bit of food to someone who has very little. It could be the giving of some clothes, or visiting someone in a hospital, or nursing home, or in jail, or prison. It may be only a kind word of encouragement, to someone that is hurting.

You can do what you can do this year by exercising the “fruit of the Spirit.” You can, instead of being mean spirited, hard hearted and stingy…you can be loving, kind, gentle, and good toward all that cross your path this year. Surely, that is what your Lord Jesus would have you to do. Do what you can do this year through His power, and for His glory!

The Burning Bush Devotional
There were 4010 new subscribers during 2010!!


Do What You Can Do - Part 3

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” - John 4:34-38.

…when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 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 9:36-38.

At OpenAirOutreach dot com there is a forum and the question is asked “Do people read tracts? (as in gospel tracts).” Here are a few of the responses:

One man shared: “Over 13 years ago, the Lord was dealing with my heart to repent from my sins and surrender to HIM. A man walked into my place of business, purchased a couple of items then walked out. He purchased his few items, walked out, then a couple of minutes came back in. He handed me a couple of tracts. He said this was something I could read. I saw he was a little nervous doing this. I said thank you and he walked out. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the work of GOD. That was just one of GOD's loving ways to reach to me. It was not two weeks later I came to know CHRIST as my SAVIOR.”

Another man shared this: “I have handed tracts to waitresses and people at counters at stores, and when I went back to check and ask them what they thought about them, many have said they gave their lives to Christ. I was at a homeschoolers convention and there was a lady working a cash register at a snack shop. I gave her a tract and told her I would come back later and check on her. I walked away and prayed for her. Finally I saw her reading it during a break and bowing her head as she got near the end. I went over as she wiped the tears from her eyes to welcome her as my new sister in Christ.”

Another shared: “Elsa was invited to an evangelical church with a schoolmate. She went, doesn't remember a word that was said, but noticed a display board that had all kinds of tracts for the taking in the foyer. She took one, and kept it. A couple of months later she was having a hard time. Remembers she still has this tract she picked up at the church, read it, and surrendered her life to Jesus.”

This was also shared: “A man was handed a tract by an evangelical on mainland Mexico. We just met him today, in fact. He still hangs onto this tract, dog-eared as it is, and wants to learn more. My husband, and I are taking him a Bible in Spanish tomorrow.”

Everyone of us can be a witness for the Lord if we will just do it. We can give gospel tracts to people. We can leave gospel tracts in a multitude of places. In distributing gospel tracts we become sowers of the Word of God. Someone else will reap the harvest, but we have just as much a part of what happens as the harvester does. Gospel tracts are inexpensive. You can do a search on the Internet for “printable gospel tracts” and find one that you like.

Being a witness for the Lord is something that you can do. Distributing gospel tracts is something that you can do. This year, commit yourself to do what you can do by distributing gospel tracts, sowing the Word of God.

The Burning Bush Devotional
There were 4010 new subscribers during 2010!!


Do What You Can Do - Part 2

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 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. - 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. - 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

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.

One of the very most special people that God placed in my life was my great aunt Carey Hall Wrather. I did not know her very well, and my first memories of her were after her husband, my Dad’s uncle had a severe stroke. We began to visit them more frequently then. They lived about 100 miles from us, so it still was not that often. My great uncle’s stroke had left him unable to communicate. He could dress himself, and he could eat; however, he did not seem to actually recognize anyone. Adair lived for about 15 years after his stroke, and Carey took care of him at home during that time. Adair grew up on a farm, but for most of his life he worked on the railroad.

When I was 40 years old, I made public God’s call upon my life to preach the Word of God. Soon after, I was sharing this with my parents, and that was when I learned of the prayers of my Aunt Carey. After I told my parents about my decision, they did not seem all that surprised. They then said that my Aunt Carey had been praying that I would not miss God’s call to preach! I later learned that Carey had been praying first, that I and my son would come to know Jesus as our Savior, and then that we would not miss God’s call to preach. She said that she was doing this, because Adair had always felt like he had missed God’s call.

About that same time, we learned that my three great grandfather, Baker Wrather, had been a Methodist evangelist and pastor. Baker was Adair’s great grandfather, and I am sure that Adair would have known about this. Baker was born in Virginia but lived most of his life in Tennessee. Baker began his career in ministry with an evangelistic trip in the very early 1800s, through Kentucky, and into Illinois. We know that he was the pastor of McKendree Methodist Church in Nashville in 1810, and later several other churches in Tennessee.

I believe it was because of my Aunt Carey’s prayers that I and my son, Clark, came to know Jesus as our Savior. I believe it is also because of her prayers, that we have both heard God’s call to preach His Word.

Do what you can do this year. Pray! Pray for yourself as Jabez did, but also pray for your family, pray for those around you, pray for God’s missionaries, pray for the leaders of the countries across this world, and pray for the lost to be saved. Pray, pray, pray, pray and pray some more. Pray more than you ever have before, because this is something that you can do, and it will make an eternal difference!

The Burning Bush Devotional
There were 4010 new subscribers during 2010!!


Do What You Can Do

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13.

And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.’ - Zechariah 12:5.

(CEV translates Zechariah 12:5 as: Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the LORD All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength.)

Xu Yuehua lost her legs in an accident when she was 12-years-old, while gathering coal on a railway - a train hit her. After both of her parents died, she was placed in an orphanage, where she learned how to walk by herself using two stools, and she still uses that method to move around. Xu is 55-years-old now, and has cared for 130 orphans during the years since teaching herself to walk on stools. One child, Sheng Li, believes Xu saved her life and says “Without Big Mum (Xu), I would have died long ago. Her stool walking was the most beautiful sound to me then.” Xu says, “I am actually not a great person, but do what I have to do - to bring these poor kids a mother's love.” (Rational Review News Digest - the freedom movement’s daily newspaper)

What is it that you can do for the Kingdom of God in 2011? As human beings, we are capable of great things, greater things than any of God’s other creations upon this earth. It is amazing what Xu Yuehua has accomplished with her life even though she has no legs! We do not know whether she knows the Lord as her Savior or not, but surely God is pleased with the life of Xu Yuehua. Let us pray that she comes to know Jesus Christ as her personal Savior if she is not already a Christian.

Natalie Grant has a song that she sings called, “Human.” She sings that we are called to be “Human.” Yes, we are called to be human; however, as children of God we can be so much more. We should do all that we can do, plus all that God would have us to do. When we add God into the doing equation, the result will be exponentially more than what we can do only with our human abilities (Philippians 4:13).

There is a poster I once saw that said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” In a way, this is true. Jesus is knocking at the door of our heart (Revelation 3:20), but we must open the door. God calls (Matthew 4:19), but we must follow. God speaks (1 Kings 19:12), but we must listen. If we only have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), we can move mountains. First, however, we must make the decision in our hearts to use that faith. William Carey, the father of modern missions, and missionary to India, had this motto: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Carey went beyond thinking about doing things, to actually trying to do things for the Kingdom of God.

You may feel like you have few abilities that God can use. You may think that you do not have the education, or training that is necessary to do anything for God. You may feel as though you are too old, or too young, or too sick, or too handicapped, or ________, to do anything for God. If that is what you think, you are wrong! Do what you can do, add God into the equation, and the possibilities are limitless!

This year, let us make the commitment to go beyond just thinking about doing great things for God, to actually attempting great things for God.

Copyright � 1998 - 2019. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.