The Burning Bush Devotional


Overcoming Addiction

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

Zhang Rui is 30-years-old, and he is an alcoholic who lives in Bengbu, China. Up until six months ago, Zhang had a job as a truck driver, he had a wife and children, and he was gentle non-violent person. All of that changed after Zhang began drinking, because he became very violent and abusive. In a very short period of time he lost his job, his wife and children and found himself on the streets begging for money for another drink.

Zhang, unlike many, has decided to do something about his alcoholism. He has chosen an unusual way of doing that, and one I wouldn't recommend, but it may just work. Zhang is living at home now with his mother. Doesn't sound too bad, but Zhang is chained up where he cannot leave his attic room. The locked 12 ft chain weighs 22lbs and is wrapped around his neck. He plans to stay locked up in the attic for at least six months, or until his desire to drink is gone, in the hope that this will solve his alcohol addiction. (Shanghaiist 12.10.15)

The problem for Zhang, and for most with addictions is the tendency to relapse. From my observations of, and conversations with the addicted, it is clear that for some there may be several relapses before a sustained period of abstinence is obtained. 30-day treatment programs or even Zhang's radical approach are effective for drying a person out, but not much else. The longer the addiction treatment program, the longer the abstinence that is usually obtained. Traditionally, the legal system has mandated aftercare programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Sometimes counseling sessions with an addiction counselor is also required. AA, NA, and Addiction counseling are all helpful tools, but they do not guarantee success.

From my observations as a parole officer and as a pastor I do not know of any addicts who have successfully abstained from their addiction for years without there being a spiritual component. Sounds like there is not much hope for someone with an addiction, but there is hope. The very best way of all to overcome an addiction is not to develop one. However, that is of no help to anyone who has one. Here is what I would recommend to anyone that does have an addiction:

1. Turn to God in repentance and ask for His help to overcome the addiction.

2. Use the tools of treatment programs and aftercare which is just good common sense.

3. Use the tools that God provides: Prayer, Bible, and Church. Immerse yourself in the resources of God. The closer you are to God, the less power the addiction will have over you "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" - James 4:7-8 NKJV).

The Burning Bush Devotional


Fear Not

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10 NKJV.

My Mother worked in the civil service at Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in Oklahoma for five years during 1960-65. The base, which is no longer an active Air Force base, is only about six miles from our home; but we do still have B-52s flying over our house from Altus Air Force Base. My Mother worked as a food service worker for about a year, and then began working as a keypunch operator on base. To gain entry to the base, there was only one way, and that was through an armed guard station on the east side. Every vehicle, to gain entry had to have a government issued decal on the front bumper. If you did not have the decal, you had to obtain a visitor's pass, which usually was only available during the daytime.

Because of an accident, my parents traded cars, and the new car did not yet have the approved decal. My memory is somewhat blurry of the details of why, but I remember well the night my Mother infiltrated the Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base. This was during the time of the tensions of the cold war, and there were always B-52s with nuclear weapons fueled and ready to take off. We could see them from the road with armed guards and German shepherds. If I remember right, if scrambled, all of the planes could in the air in fifteen minutes. The air base should have been a very secure location, and it was for the most part.

Apparently my Mother had left something at her workplace, or needed something from her workplace; but because of it being nighttime, and not have the authorized decal she was unable to obtain access. However, that did not stop my Mother. With my sister and I with her in the car (I was probably ten or eleven years old.) she simply drove through a place between two houses where there was a small gap in the fence. She drove between those two houses, across their grass, into the street and then to her workplace. We left the base the same way we came; across the lawns, between the houses, and through the gap in the fence. So much for being a secure facility!

Fear, I experienced fear the night my Mother invaded the air base. It is not a pleasant experience, but it was one of the first times in my life that I experienced real intense fear. Looking back I realize now that not much would have happened to us even if we had been caught. Likely they would have given my Mother a stern warning, and sent us on our way out the front gate.

Since that time, I have experienced fear many times, but I never seek it out. Fear usually seems to come upon us unexpectedly, often suddenly. Often fear like that night on the air base is exaggerated, blown up out of proportion. Later we realize that things are not as bad as we thought they were, and that we will live another day. In the daylight, things never seem as bad as they do in the middle of the night.

Whatever you may be going through, if you know Jesus as your Savior, He is there with you. The Lord knew this thing was going to happen, and He is not in a panic mode. The Lord never panics. This is what our Lord would want you to know: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Just Taking a Nap

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. - John 5:24 NKJV.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, the person who hears My word [the one who heeds My message], and believes and trusts in Him who sent Me, has (possesses now) eternal life [that is, eternal life actually begins-the believer is transformed], and does not come into judgment and condemnation, but has passed [over] from death into life. - John 5:24 AMP.

Along a highway in eastern Pennsylvania drivers were horrified to see a man's body. The body was seen by several drivers on Highway 33 about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. When highway patrol troopers responded they found a man laying near an exit against a guardrail. Troopers woke up the man who said he was just "Taking a nap" and the man then left the area. (Lehighvalleyonline.com 09.21.2015 - just discovered this free access newspaper)

Jesus makes it clear in John 5:24 that if you know Jesus as your Savior that you have eternal life. We are told this through the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." In other words, if you know Jesus as your Savior you are alive! It seems strange, but talking with some Christians, some believers, they seem more dead than alive. Maybe, they are just taking a nap?

In our lives there are definitely times when we "feel" more alive than at other times. These times when we "feel" more alive may occur during major events such as a wedding, birth of a child, graduation from high school or college, beginning a career, vacations, illness, accidents and other events. Spiritually, there may also be times when we "feel" more alive than at other times. Sometimes our "brook" dries up as it did for the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17). In baseball, a dry spell is described as being a "slump." Maybe you are in a "slump," a dry spiritual period? It happens to the best, it even happened to Elijah.

What do you do when your joy is not overflowing? What do you do when everything feels wrong and you're not sure why? What do you do when you are in a spiritually dry time? Jesus says in John 15:9-11, "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." It is God's will for you to be alive, to be filled with joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)." When we are dry spiritually we must continue to "abide" in Jesus meaning we need to return to the well of "living water (John 4:10)."

When we are going through dry times spiritually this is a time to draw nearer to God (James 4:7-8) and not a time to withdraw from Him. These are times when we need more of the "living water" and we cannot receive that from the things of this world. We must immerse ourselves in the things of God, spending more time in prayer and in His Word. Abide in Him, and the dry times will end, and you will be filled with His joy. Believe it! Live it!

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Message

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" - Matthew 4:4 NKJV.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV.

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

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

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. - Psalm 119:9,11 NKJV.

The message has finally been received! It only took a little over a century, but the message finally got through! The message was contained in a bottle which was thrown into the North Sea in the early 1900s as part of a marine research project by the Marine Biological Association in the UK. Likely it was part of a project researching ocean currents. The bottle was found by a couple on a beach at Amrum in Germany. The couple sent the bottle, and the message to the Marine association, and they received a shilling that was promised in the message for doing so. Message received, reward given. (Yahoo News 08.21.15; CBC News 08.21.15)

How thrilling it must have been to find the old bottle containing the message! It must have been exciting too for the marine association to actually receive this old message. Even the possession of an old letter or reading the words from it can be meaningful. A year or so ago, we discovered online a couple of letters written by my two great grandfather telling of how he had traveled from Tennessee to Missouri and back. In the letter he also talked about how scarce paper was at that time, which explains why there were not more letters. A few words written down in a message can change your view of people, and of the world.

Did you know there is a letter written to you that is thousands of years old? You know what I am writing about. I am writing about the Bible. It is a message, a living message. Using many human authors God has written you a message. Now, you would think that if God Himself wrote a letter to you and you found it in your mailbox you would immediately open it up and read it. Can you imagine? You open up your mailbox, there is a letter in there, and the return address simply has: GOD. I think I would want to read that letter!

God Himself has written you a letter and tossed it out into the waves of time. Miraculously, even more miraculously than a message in a bottle being found, most of us have a copy of that letter. Have you read it?

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You Crazy?

When Jesus came into a house, many people gathered around Him again. Jesus and His followers could not even eat. When His family heard of it, they went to take Him. They said, "He must be crazy." - Mark 3:20-21 NKJV.

Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" - Acts 26:24 NKJV. (driving you insane - NIV; crazy - NLV; mad - KJV - "mad" coming from Greek word "mania")

At a popular tourist spot on a river in Alaska where grizzly bears can be seen feeding on fish, a man suddenly appeared in a complete bear outfit. Not only did the man appear, but he ran toward a grizzly and her two cubs, jumping up and down. There were differing reports as to whether the man approached on two feet or four. The grizzly man came within ten feet of the cubs before a wildlife worker took action to scare the actual grizzly and cubs away by shouting. Carl Koch, the wildlife biologist, said "As you can imagine, that's a really dangerous thing for the guy to do." What did the grizzly man do? He walked back to his car, got in, and drove away without removing his costume. The incident took place about 500 miles east of Anchorage. (Reuters 08.14.15; CBS Seattle 08.17.15)

Most of us know crazy when we see it. A man running at a grizzly mother bear with cubs in a bear suit jumping up and down would get you committed to a mental institution for observation in most states. Maybe not in Alaska, but most states. Did the man want to commit suicide by bear? Did he want to gain fame? Or, was he just mentally unbalanced i.e. crazy? I think most of us would go with crazy, as in insane!

As Jesus went about doing good and teaching, not only did Jewish leaders think he was crazy, but his own family, relatives, friends, and everyone in his hometown thought he was crazy. The apostle Paul encountered the same kind of thing. As Paul gave his defense before King Agrippa and Governor Festus, Festus thinks the great learning of Paul has driven him insane. Paul is simply sharing his testimony of the hope he and the Jewish people have in the resurrection of the dead, and of how Jesus had worked in his life. The recounting of how the crucified and resurrected Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus may have been a bit much for Festus to swallow.

Jesus and the apostle Paul were both called crazy for proclaiming God's truth and actually living it. What about you and me? Has anyone ever accused us of being crazy for being on fire for God? Are you insanely crazy for Jesus? If not, why not? What has happened to your fire? Has the cares of this world choked out your fervor? Throw off the chains of this world, and let's all go crazy for Jesus!

The Burning Bush Devotional



In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1 NKJV.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it - lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish?" - Luke 14:27-30 NKJV.

There are many weeds that have sprung up on our property since the drought has ended. In the ten years since I have taken over the care of the grounds around this home from my father, there has not been anything like this. I look at all of the weeds and grass, and I think of it as being a jungle. How am I ever going to tame this jungle? Where do I even begin? I did arrive at a conclusion yesterday that it really does not matter so much as to where I begin, as it does that I actually begin cutting down the jungle. So, I mowed as much as I could, and then got out my 4-cycle weed wacker and began to cut down the jungle. It still looks like an almost impossible task, but since I have actually started do something about it, I think it may just be possible to tame my jungle. Beginning the work has made the impossible appear to be possible.

Beginnings are important. God made a beginning as we read in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Now Jesus does warn about counting the cost of building a tower before beginning to build, and of the cost of following Him. However, if a person who wants to build a tower does not begin, it will never be built. Also, if a person does not actually begin to follow Jesus, the spiritual journey will never begin.

Most of us have had many beginnings in our lives. We were born. We began to attend school, we began our careers, we began our married life (for many of us), and we may have begun a business venture or countless other things.

Spiritually, there are beginnings. The first step spiritually is to be "born again" as Jesus says in John 3:3. Once we know Jesus as our Savior having been born again, we need to take up our cross and follow Him. In the following of Jesus there are many beginnings. I remember the first time I memorized Scripture in a Vacation Bible School one summer. I remember beginning to pray, not just every so often, but faithfully every day. I remember making a commitment that I was going to attend church faithfully whenever it was possible for me to do so whether my family went with me or not. I remember making a commitment to read God's Word and to memorize it. I remember how God called me to ministry and how there was a beginning that went beyond knowing to actually making public in a church that God had called me. I remember beginning to preach, that first time. I remember selling our home and moving into a parsonage as we began our lives in ministry. There was a beginning as I began to send out devotionals by email. There was a beginning as I created a website and began to post the devotionals there. Many beginnings....

At some point, we need to begin in the Christian life. At some point, we need to actually pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Time for Action

And the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen." - Exodus 14:15-18 NKJV.

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. - Philemon 1:1-6 NLT.

On July 4th, in DeLand, Florida, Heather Charlebois was sitting outside at a table at the Cafe Da Vinci. There was a lot of noise from fireworks being exploded when she suddenly felt a sting on her leg. Heather says, "My first thought was somebody hit me, slapped me open handed really hard on my leg and pinched me, but it did not make any sense because I didn't see anyone." She went to the bathroom to try to see what was causing the pain. There was a spot on her leg with a little blood, and some fluid draining from the spot causing her pain. Heather says she just thought that somehow she had been hit by an errant firework. Five days later as the wound did not heal, and the pain was becoming unbearable with friends encouraging her to seek medical aid, she finally did go to a hospital emergency room. An X-Ray revealed a .38 caliber bullet lodged close to an artery. Heather says, "I feel very fortunate, I have four kids and we have been through a lot." It is thought that during the fireworks someone fired a gun into the air from some distance away, which landed, unfortunately in Heather Charlebois' leg. Or, fortunately the bullet landed in her leg, because it could have been her head. (Daytona Beach News-Journal 07.09.15; Fox News 07.10.15)

What would have happened if Heather had not finally relented and sought medical aid? It is likely that an infection could have become severe enough for it to be necessary for part of her leg to be removed to save her life. Of course, we put off medical treatment when it may not be necessary, because of the hassle and the expense. However, sometimes you have to take action, because the failure to do so would have horrific consequences.

Action is required in other areas of our lives too, including spiritually. We often pray and pray about things when what is needed is for us to actually do something. Moses was in this situation as Pharaoh had the Hebrews trapped between them and the Red Sea. Moses was praying, crying out to God for help. What did God say? "Why do you cry to Me?" In effect, God told Moses to do something; that Moses had all the tools needed to get them through this situation. When Moses acted the Hebrews were able to walk across the Red Sea on dry ground to safety, and the Egyptians were destroyed.

The apostle Paul pleaded with Philemon to put into action his faith saying, "And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ." Of course, we need to pray, but there are times when action, our action is required. It may be that God is saying that you have all the tools and resources that are needed. Do Something!

The Burning Bush Devotional


Kicking Yourself

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." - Acts 9:1-5 NKJV.

Saul answered, "Who are You, Lord?" He said, "I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me." - New Life Version (NLV).

Puskar Nepal has set a new world record. A lot of strange records have been set, and this one is pretty strange as well. Puskar has set the record for the number of times a person is able to kick themselves in the head in 60 seconds. Puskar's new record: 134 times! He lives in Nepal, and it was in Kathmandu that the record was set, and will now be recorded in the Guinness World Records. This is the eighth time that the Kicking Yourself in the Head record has been broken since 2003. The first record was set by Michael Lloyd with 42 kicks to the head in 60 seconds. Amazing! I can't even make my foot touch my head....

Before the apostle Paul was the apostle, he was known as Saul the persecutor of Christians aka the Way. Saul was on his way to Damascus to try to destroy the followers of this Jesus who lived there. He was consumed with hate, his every thought was of the killing out of this sect that had arisen. It took something drastic to change the course of Saul's life. It took something never heard of before to gain his attention. It took Saul being struck blind, and for the risen Lord Himself speaking to him. What was it that Jesus told Saul? Jesus told Saul that by attacking those of the Way, by trying to attack Jesus, Saul was just hurting himself. Jesus told Saul, "You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me (NLV)." Gamaliel had warned in Acts 5:39, "...if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to fight against God." Saul had been fighting against God Himself. He had just been kicking himself in the head.

Which side are you on? Are you on the side of God? Or, are you on the other side? If you are not on God's side, you are just hurting yourself; you are just kicking yourself in the head over and over and over again. Saul finally came to an understanding of the truth, and changed sides. What about you? Have you become a part of the Way? Have you joined the side of Jesus Christ who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)?"

The Burning Bush Devotional


Ending Chaos

This devotional was originally written 08.02.02. Posting it again in the archive to include the update.

(Update: There is an increasing amount of chaos across the world with much of it coming from Islamic extremism. Yesterday, a jihadist attacked in Chattanooga, Tennessee killing four marines and severely wounding one sailor. There was chaos in that city, and even though we may not live there, many of us felt that chaos in our hearts. Islam cannot end chaos, it can only create it. Only the One True God has the power to end chaos in our hearts and replace it with peace. - Ed Wrather 07.17.15)

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. - Romans 3:10-17 NKJV.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. - Proverbs 4:14; 17-19 NKJV.

Why did a 54-year-old French woman drive 12 miles (18 km) up the wrong side of a French highway? No one knows, but she was arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. Really it was a wondrous miracle that the woman was not killed in her wrong way drive! There were, however, seven accidents involving 18 vehicles as they tried to avoid the woman. Two people were injured slightly in the chaos created between the cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux, and it is even more of a miracle that no one was killed or severely injured in the chaos created by the wrong way drive.

There are many whose lives resemble the wrong way drive of the 54-year-old woman made in France. Is your life like a car being driven the wrong way up a major highway? If so, many of the accidents, and much of the chaos in the lives of everything around you may very well be the result of your wrong way life. You may realize that things are not quite right in your life, but that's the way it has always been, and so you think it can never change. Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs, "The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." The apostle Paul writes in the New Testament, "...destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known."

You do not have to live your life in the darkness, in destruction and misery. You do not have to live your life continually stumbling. You do not have to live your life causing chaos for all those around you. You do not have to live your life in frustration and depression, because you can come out of the darkness! Solomon also writes, "But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day."

We can become "just" not through any good works that we may do, but through Jesus. We are told in Romans 5:1, "...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." When we receive Christ as our Savior and focus our lives upon Him, we will come to an end of chaos in our lives. Romans 8:5-6 makes this clear, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

Even further direction is given by the apostle Paul about how you can put an end to chaos in your life in Romans 13:12-14, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

Let us "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and then our path will be "like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Good for Your Soul

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. - Psalm 33:20 NKJV.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. - Psalm 94:14 NKJV.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. - Proverbs 16:24 NKJV.

Kate Steinle was walking with her father along the Pier 14 waterfront in San Francisco when she was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant. Pier 14 is a popular tourist spot and gathering spot for local residents. Kate was out for an evening stroll with her Dad. She was just 32-years-old. Liz Sullivan told the San Francisco Chronicle soon after her daughter was killed that it was unbelievable, surreal, and "I don't think I've totally grasped it." The killer is Francisco Sanchez who is an illegal immigrant, reportedly a drug dealer who has been deported at least five times (Although having used 30 aliases over 25 years it could possibly be more.). Brad Steinle, Kate Steinle's older brother wrote this: "The day before Kate died she changed her Facebook cover photo with a saying that said 'Whatever's good for your soul..........do that.' Please always remember Kate and live your life by these words." (From multiple news venues)

So, what is good for your soul? I do not believe we can fully understand what is good for our soul unless we understand what is bad for the soul. The Bible makes it clear what is bad for the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that "fleshly lusts war against the soul." Lot living in the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah "tormented (vexed - KJV)" his soul "day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:4-9)." If we commit adultery we destroy our own soul (Proverbs 6:32). According to Proverbs 15:32, he who "disdains" instruction in righteousness, "despises his own soul." By being around angry people you may learn their ways (Proverbs 22:24-25) and "set a snare for your soul." If you sin against God, you wrong your soul and love death (Proverbs 8:37).

From learning what is bad for our soul, we can see what is good for our soul. These things are good: abstaining from sin, being around godly people, the Bible, praying, church, helping others, having a generous heart, and putting God first in our lives. The number one thing, or should I say person that is good for our soul, is Jesus. Only through Jesus, can we have eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the "anchor of our soul." Let us "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14)." Therefore, whatever is good for your soul-do that!

The Burning Bush Devotional


America's Downward Spiral

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. - Proverbs 14:34 NKJV.

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. - Psalm 12:1 NKJV.

Ben Carson says America is in a downward spiral because "we have abandoned God." Carson also said: "It was our Judeo-Christian values that allowed this to be an exceptional country, that allowed us to move forward so incredibly quickly and as we abandon God, you can see that we are spiraling downward just as quickly." (A Google search for this will give results for multiple articles.)

Justice Antonin Scalia said this in 2013: "To the extent that the country is in a downward spiral, it's not because of the law, it's because of the people. You can't have a good country without good people. I fear we have lost some of the virtues that characterized Americans in the past." (The Daily Revielle 10.13.13 - Q & A at Baton Rouge Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society)

According to the Christian Examiner (07.01.2012) polls show morality in America is on a "disappointing downward spiral." Gallup polls revealed that more than 50% of America believed homosexuality was morally acceptable, believed having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and 38% believed abortion was morally acceptable.

An article by Carol Brooks, "What Happened When the Praying Stopped" gives statistics as to the moral downward spiral in America since 1962. Here are a few of them:

"Since 1963 violent crime has increased 544%. Illegal drugs have become an enormous and uncontrollable problem. The nation has been deprived of an estimated 30 million citizens through legal abortions just since 1973." Read more at: http://www.inplainsite.org/what_happened_when_the_praying.html

Billy Graham wrote this in 2012: "Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation's moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, 'If God doesn't punish America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.'" In the same letter Graham wrote: "Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control."

Psalm 12:1 describes what is occurring in America with those faithful to the God of the Bible disappearing, "Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men." Without faithful believers who are the "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" immorality is without restraint.

America has been exalted among the nations and along with that exaltation has come God's protection. As sin has become more and more a "reproach" there is less of God's protection. As sin increases, evil increases and more attacks upon America are successful. It is the same in an individual's life. If we turn away from God we will find ourselves in a downward spiral with our lives falling apart. The solution for our country and individually is to turn back to God. When we turn back to God, He will begin to bring healing, putting things back together in our country and our lives.

How low do we have to go? How bad does it have to become before we turn back to God?

What can we do if we personally are in a downward spiral? James 4:7-8 tells us what to do, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

What can we do to stop the downward spiral of America? As Christians, to the best of our ability we must stand for what is right, what is the straight principled way of God. Will we fear what man can do? Or, will we stand up for our God? They hate us, because they hate God. They hate the light that exposes the evil, which condemns them. May we do all we personally can to shine the truth of God across this country. May we pray without ceasing for the people to turn back to God, for there to be revival before it is too late, before judgment comes, and our future as a nation is destroyed.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Throw Him Out!

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV.

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. - Nehemiah 13:4-9 NKJV.

In Pennsylvania, an elderly woman with some physical disabilities was unable to climb the stairs to the second story in her home. The elderly woman had a caregiver, which unknown to the homeowner, had invited the caregiver's boyfriend to live in the second story of the home. Apparently, the boyfriend had been living in the second floor of the home for several weeks before visiting family members discovered him hiding in a closet. Local police were able to remove the man, and have charged him with some law violations. The family has now found another caregiver and will be much more watchful of what might possibly be lurking in the upstairs of the home. (NBC News 05.22.15)

It would be shocking and even frightening, to know that a stranger was living unknown in your home. What Nehemiah discovered in the temple at Jerusalem was even more shocking. He found that Eliashib, the priest, allowed Tobiah the enemy of God to actually live in the temple. Tobiah, along with Sanballat were leaders of those attempting to prevent Nehemiah from rebuilding the wall of protection around Jerusalem. Not only was Tobiah living in the temple, but Eliashib had "prepared" the "large room" for Tobiah to live in. Nehemiah had a solution to the problem which grieved him, "I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense."

What does this have to do with us? The body of a believer in Jesus is the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, "You are the temple of God." What are you allowing to live in the temple of God? Have you invited sin to dwell alongside of the Spirit of God? The Bible says, "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." The solution is not easy, it wasn't easy for Nehemiah either; but Tobiah, sin, must be thrown out. Throw him out!

The Burning Bush Devotional



Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - Romans 8:34-35 NKJV.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 NKJV.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

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

Alfred Guercio wanted to give his friends a nice and generous Christmas gift. So, he bought them a set of knives, which they accepted, and placed on top of their refrigerator. A few months later Guercio discovered that his friends had not used his gift, and the knife set was still on top of their refrigerator. Guercio decided that his friends were unworthy of having his generous gift, so he went to their house one afternoon to take the gift back. That's what he told JMS (a woman), since they were not going to use the knives he wanted them back. JMS was willing to give the knives back, and told the man to wait while she went to get them. Guercio did not want to wait; wedging his foot in the door as JMS was trying to close it. He then forcefully shoved the door open, proceeded to the kitchen grabbing up the knives as JMS screamed at him. JMS called 911. Guercio was arrested, charged with second degree burglary, and could go to prison for 90 days to ten years. I think it should have been first degree burglary, since there was a person in the home when he violently stole the knife set. (Minneapolis City Pages 03.17.15; kstp.com 03.16.15)

Can you imagine the shock of someone you thought of as your friend, showing up at the door of your home unexpectedly, demanding the return of a Christmas gift? I think Guercio should be happy that his "friends" actually had kept the knives, because they could have regifted them to another family. Just in case you didn't know, when you give a gift to someone else, it is no longer yours!

Whoever receives Christ Jesus as their Savior can be thankful that it is not Alfred Guercio who sits in judgment of their worthiness to continue in possession of the gift of eternal life. Of course, there are many humans today who do want to do exactly that; they, in what they believe to be their higher level of godliness, think it is their right to judge us. These human judges put themselves in the place of God to condemn what God has forgiven. These human judges would say that if we have sinned at any point that Christ Jesus has forsaken us. We can take comfort knowing that the Bible makes it absolutely perfectly clear that this is not, and will never be true; because Jesus Himself says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." We will lose our fellowship, and peace when we sin, but not our salvation. To have that fellowship and peace restored we should confess our sins in repentance to Jesus seeking His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says what? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

God has given to us who know Jesus as our Savior a most costly, generous and precious gift. God's gift was generous and unbelievably costly, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)." God's gift was, and is so very precious, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)." Are you worthy of this gift? Am I worthy of this gift? Isaiah 6:6a tells us how worthy we are, "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." We can only say with the apostle Paul, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

The Burning Bush Devotional


Things Happen

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV.

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size-abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. - 2 Corinthians 12:10 MSG.

Joseph T. Brennan, Jr. had an accident, sort of. Brennan describes the cause of his accident by saying: "I lit a cigarette with the gunpowder in the front seat." The cigarette ignited the gunpowder, and then, BOOM!, there was an explosion. He reportedly told the police, "I wasn't going to do anything malicious." The explosion blew out the car windshield along with other car windows, and blew Brennan out of his car. He suffered burns, and his hair was singed. Officers searched his car, searched his house, and charged him with one count of possession of components of a destructive device and three counts of possession of a destructive device. Police officials say that Brennan did not have malicious intent, and his neighbors were not in any danger. Well, unless he decided to smoke a cigarette at his house. (Patriot Ledger 04.14.15)

Joseph Brennan was the source of his accident; however, many of us simply encounter unexpectedly things that just happen. James Crawford was on his way to work in New Jersey in 2012 when the operator of a construction crane allowed a gigantic steel beam to float into the traffic stream. The beam ripped off the entire top of Crawford's van. Crawford suffered a few cuts and a broken thumb. Morgan Lake in 2013 was on her way to visit relatives when her accident occurred. It was not her fault that a large semi-truck did not slow down, and pushed Morgan's car off of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The windshield and the driver's side window had been shattered by the impact, and the car plunged three stories into the bay. The vehicle quickly began to sink; Morgan unbuckled her seat belt, somehow got out of the shattered driver's side window, and swam to the surface. She suffered only bruises from her accident.

These accidents that I have mentioned are only a few of the millions of things that happen to people every day. Some accidents are caused by our own carelessness, or the carelessness of others. The cause of some accidents, are hard to explain. Of course the crash of a plane on a routine flight in the Congo, was easy to determine. Someone had brought a small crocodile onto the plane. The pilot and 18 passengers were killed in the crash. The crocodile escaped from the bag it was in, and the passengers panicked; stampeding forward, they caused the plane to plummet to the ground. There was one survivor, and he reportedly took care of the crocodile with a machete before exiting the remains of the plane (Mailonline 07.23.14).

Every day on Planet Earth, there are millions, perhaps billions of good and bad things that happen. This is a fact of life, and the proof of this is all around us. These good and bad things happen not only to non-believers, but also to believers. The message from God through the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 in part is that we should not let these things that happen hinder our service to the Lord. Through the writer of Ecclesiastes God gives us a similar message: "If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 NKJV)." The message is the same; don't let the things that happen on this earth prevent you from sowing a crop. Continue on living the Christian life, share the gospel, and sow the seeds of Truth (John 14:6) everywhere and every time you possibly can.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Can't Be True!

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. - Acts 2:22-24 NKJV.

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. - Acts 2:40-41 NKJV.

If someone applied to work at your business in these days you would of course be careful about hiring a new employee. So, if someone filled out their application saying they had previously lived in the city of North Pole, graduated from North Pole High School, and had work experience working as an elf in Santa Claus' House...would you hire her? That cannot possibly be true! However, the truth is that Joyclin Jaksons grew up at North Pole, Alaska, and did graduate from North Pole High School. She also does have work experience having worked as an "elf" in Santa Claus' House, which is a souvenir shop. The shop does a lot of business during the summer. Joyclin went to college in Oklahoma, and did have some trouble finding a job, because of her unbelievable background. The good news is that someone did check out her story, found it to be true, and found an excellent employee. (Edmond Life and Leisure 05.07.15; Daily Oklahoman 05.23.15; Fairbanks Daily News 05.19.15)

It had to be shocking to hear the apostle Peter preaching that the one who had been crucified, the one whom they had shouted to have crucified, had come back to life! How could this possibly be true? But God, through the Holy Spirit, was speaking with that double edged sword of truth with every word Peter spoke that day. Three thousand were saved and brought into the Kingdom of God, because they were able to see that the unbelievable was actually true. That was just the beginning!

In Acts 3, we read that a man who had been born "lame" unable to walk all of his life, was healed through the power of God. How could that possibly be true? Peter says to the lame man begging for money, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3:6 NKJV)." The man then jumped up, running into the Temple; leaping, and praising God!

When the High Priest had the apostles thrown into prison, the angel of the Lord released them, and sent them back to testify to the "words of this life." The High Priest then forbid them to preach, and Peter said, "We ought to obey God rather than men." They plotted to kill the apostles then, but Gamaliel warned, "if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to fight against God."

Saul, who became the apostle Paul, persecuted the church until on the Road to Damascus, "As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me (Acts 9:3-4 NKJV)?'" Saul, came to understand that what could not possibly be true, was indeed true!

It may sound like the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot possibly be true, but it is true! If you have been rejecting, and rejecting, and rejecting the truth of Jesus being the only way to salvation (John 14:6); Gamaliel would tell you not to be found fighting against God. Saul, who became the apostle Paul, would tell you not to wait for the blinding light of truth to bring you to a sudden stop in your life, because the Gospel is true, it is all true! Billions have believed the truth since the powerful sermon of truth preached by the apostle Peter nearly 2,000 years ago. It is still true! Believe it!

The Burning Bush Devotional


Behaving Wisely

And David behaved wisely (The Hebrew word is sakal) in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. - 1 Samuel 18:14-16 NKJV.

18-year-old Austin Hatfield who lives in Hillsborough County, Florida, is in the hospital in serious condition; because-he kissed a snake! Oh, he not only kissed the snake on top of its head once, but 13 times, and that last time was when the Cottonmouth (aka Water Moccasin) bit Austin on his face. Reportedly, Austin had caught the snake while swimming and decided to keep it. Apparently he had also performed the snake kissing on a previous occasion. A friend, James Belcher, said they were at Austin's home when this incidence occurred. Belcher says that, "We were sitting in the kitchen and he ran out of the room saying, "Hospital, hospital, now, now." (yahoo7news 04.23.15; WTVY 04.22.15)

In this life there are some things we know, without being told, that we should not do. Kissing a poisonous snake is one of them! However, is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than smoking a cigarette when you know it causes cancer and heart disease? Is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than drinking or doing drugs when you know the horrible toll they will take on your body? The difference only seems to be in the time frame. Kissing a poisonous snake results in immediate negative reinforcement whereas with smoking, drinking, or doing drugs the negative consequences may take years to have full effect. Austin Hatfield may possibly recover from his snake bite, but smoking, drinking and doing drugs will likely result in permanent damage.

King David behaved wisely (sakal) before the people and the Lord. In other words, David didn't go around kissing snakes! David behaved wisely when confronted with the jealousy of Saul. Saul threw a spear at David intending to kill him. However, David did not throw the spear back, although he could have. David acted wisely by not overreacting and harming Saul, the Lord's anointed.

The Hebrew word sakal carries the idea of prospering through wisdom and understanding. We see the word used in regard to David's behavior. The word is also used 69 other times in the Old Testament including Joshua 1:8, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." The word "success" in Joshua 1:8 is the Hebrew word sakal. Someone who has "sakal" is a person who is teachable; and, able to learn and obey the Lord.

You too can have "sakal." You can avoid kissing poisonous snakes and behave wisely following the example of David. Don't overreact when there is opposition in your life. Do develop God honoring relationships with other believers as David did with Saul's son, Jonathan. Do grow in wisdom by studying the Word of God. Then, you will behave wisely and have "good success."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Trapping Yourself

A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. - Proverbs 18:6-7 NKJV.

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them. - Proverbs 22:4-5 NKJV.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. - 2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV.

...not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. - 1 Timothy 3:6 NKJV.

Everyone in Fairfield, Maine can now rest easy because the notorious police evader and social media poster, Christopher Wallace, has now been caught. The arrest was made thanks to his posting his exact location on Snapchat. Wallace was arrested on burglary charges stemming from theft of propane and wood stoves and violation of administrative release. The arrest of the man was made possible by the participation of many notifying the Sheriff's Office of his social media posts.

When Christopher posted on Snapchat that he was at his home in Fairfield, Maine citizens notified the Sheriff's Office; deputies and police officers then responded going to Wallace's house and searching it for him. Law Enforcement was unable to locate Wallace, until-he posted on Snapchat that police were searching his house, and he was hiding in a cabinet. Many citizens then called the Sheriff's Office again reporting where in the house the man was hiding. The Sheriff's Office posted this on their facebook page after the arrest: "Over the past few weeks, since our press release looking for the public's assistance in locating him, Mr. Wallace had become cocky. Which led to his downfall." (Huffington Post 03.24.15; Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine via AP 03.24.15)

On one of the trips we made in our country, I observed a couple of older High School boys say to another boy, "What are you doing acting like you are something?" I think it had to do with the way the boy was dressed, and he just ignored the other two boys. Apparently Christopher Wallace thought that he was, "something!" You could say that he was like the devil in that he was "puffed up with pride."

Have you ever thought you were "something?" Pride is a dangerous thing which blinds us to reality. It blinds us to our need for God, and as with the devil, pride can cause us to believe that we are almost a god ourselves. Because of whatever has made us think we are "something" we tend to think of ourselves as better than others, and smarter than others. As we see with Christopher Wallace, this can cause us problems just as pride resulted in the devil being kicked out of Heaven.

Pride is an insidious thing, which is, as the Bible indicates a snare for our soul. Proverbs 22:5a says, "Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse." "Perverse" in Strong's Concordance means "distorted, false, crooked, froward." The word "perverse" originates from Middle English meaning, "facing the wrong way." Pride is the complete opposite of what God wants the attitude of His children to be, and with the devil, we can see the ultimate outcome of pride. Pride is literally "facing" away from God, and it is the sitting of a snare, a trap for our souls. We must as Proverbs 25b says, guard our souls against the snare of pride. The good news is as Proverbs 22:4 says, "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life." If we will humble ourselves before God, we will avoid much evil in this life, and He will lift us up (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional


Made for More

Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. - Luke 12:23 NKJV.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. - John 10:10b NKJV.

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

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37 NKJV.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! - Matthew 7:11 NKJV.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. - Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV.

Jamie Fox has a unique job description, he is a human scarecrow. Jamie is 22-years-old, with degrees in music and English, and he knows this scarecrow thing is just a temporary job before beginning a career in teaching. Although, he is making $400 a week working an eight hour shift to scare away partridges, which seem to love the canola in the ten acre field. The farmer told Jamie to "Bring a deckchair and a good book." Jamie also plays his ukulele, but it doesn't seem to bother the partridges any, they may even like it. He says "The only way to get rid of the them (the partridges) is to walk down the field and push them off." Who knew partridges liked canola? Before hiring the human scarecrow, the partridges would eat all the leaves of the plants leaving them to die. (Huffington Post UK 07.10.12)

One thing Jamie knows, and that is that eventually he will pursue a more meaningful career than that of scarecrow. It may not have happened yet, but he knows the more meaningful career is coming at some point. Have you ever felt that way? You know that what you are doing is temporary and there is more ahead for you? Something more meaningful? Now, you may be trying to fulfill the spirit of Colossians 3:23 in your life and work "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men"; but still you sense God has more for you.

God did not and does not want us to plod through life as human scarecrows in a meaningless existence. There is more to real life than having food to eat and clothes for the body. Jesus came to give us life, real life, abundant life. As children of the One true God, we are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us." We are meant to "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

So, if we believe God has more for us in this life what do we do? Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, ask, seek, and knock. God wants to give good gifts to His children, the best gifts, but often we fail to ask (Matthew 7:11). God tells us what we should do in Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."

The Burning Bush Devotional


What Have You Learned?

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. - Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. - Psalm 27:11 NKJV.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. - Psalm 32:8 NKJV.

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law. - Psalm 94:12 NKJV.

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. - Psalm 143:10 NKJV.

"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:5c-7 NKJV.

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5 NKJV.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. - James 4:10 NKJV.

Frano Selak claims to have faced death and survived more times than most. Frano worked as a music teacher in Croatia, and if Frano is still alive he would be 86-years-old now. Frano's first brush with death occurred in 1962 when the train he was riding in came off the tracks crashing into a river. Selak was pulled to safety, but 17 passengers drowned. In 1963, on the only flight he has taken, a door came open and he was blown out. The plane crashed and 19 people were killed. Frano survived having landed on a haystack (There is no record of a plane crash in Croatia in 1963; however, records in that time period for that area were not perfect.). In 1966, Frano came close to death again when the bus he was riding in slid into a river. He was able to swim to shore, but four passengers drowned. In 1968, he was teaching his youngest son how to shoot a gun when he shot himself, and once again he survived. In 1970, his car caught on fire and he barely escaped before the gas tank exploded. In 1995, a bus hit him, but he only had minor injuries. In 1996, while driving on a mountain road, he swerved to miss a truck with his car which then crashed through a guard rail. Frano was thrown from the car, just before the car plunged 300 feet into a canyon.

Frano has encountered and escaped some bad things in his life, even if only half of his stories are true. One thing we know for sure is that in 2003 Frano won $1,110,000 in a lottery. We also know that Frano has learned some things through his experiences in life. For a while he lived in a mansion, but came to the conclusion that as he puts it, "money cannot buy happiness." Frano sold the mansion, and gave away most of his money to family, friends, and church. He then moved back to where he used to live in a much smaller and humbler home. (The Telegraph; BBC; Wikipedia 05.14.10 and various other news venues)

Proverbs 9:9 tells us, "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." It took Frano Selak a substantial part of his life to become a wise man. He has been married five times, but is now very happy with wife number five. He has experienced what it is like to be rich, but now is much happier since giving his riches away. The Psalmist says, "Blessed is the man whom You instruct." No doubt God was busy in Frano's life trying to gain his attention and to teach him. It appears that Frano has finally listened gaining much peace of mind and heart in the process.

How do we arrive at a point where God can teach us, and we can be wise enough to put His instruction to work in our lives? The key appears to be having or gaining humility. I believe in my own life facing adverse circumstances increased my humility and dependence upon God. Almost losing my wife, multiple car accidents, losing jobs, losing a business, and struggling financially decreased my pride and increased my humility. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the meek." This word "meek" is sometimes translated in other versions of the Bible as "humble." Peter and James both tell us to humble ourselves. Peter says to humble ourselves "under the mighty hand of God" and James says to humble ourselves "in the sight of the Lord." If we do humble ourselves before God we will be wise (Proverbs 9:9), we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), God will lift us up (James 4:10), and God will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional


For a Limited Time Only

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.'" But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests." - Matthew 22:1-10 NKJV. (Read the rest of the parable Matthew 22:11-14)

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

James Patterson has a new book that could revolutionize reading and learning. Patterson has developed a book for purchase on a one time basis for only $294,038. Who would ever buy such a book especially when learning that the book explodes, self-destructs in 24-hours? The book does come with some perks though including a countdown clock, binoculars plated in 14 karat gold, and air travel to an undisclosed luxury hotel for a two nights stay. The book owner will also receive a five course dinner with the author. Why has the author created a book that may need a bomb squad present at the end of the 24-hours? Patterson's ad agency spokesperson, Susan Holden says, "He likes to market. He's an ex ad guy. He believes in advertising and he believes that's a significant reason why his books have been so successful." (Wired 01.26.15 and various other news venues)

Can you imagine how self-destructing books could be teaching tools? Read the homework chapters assigned completing the questions in the allotted time or your book explodes in your face- maybe with some red dye or something. I probably would have turned in my homework on time with that kind of incentive! Of course, there would have been quite a few of us walking around the school hallways with red faces for a week or two.

What if God were to send you a personal message so important that it has a time limit and is priceless? If the message from God is not read with in the allotted time it will no longer be available for you to access? In a way this is what God has done.

God has sent you a personal message called the Bible. It is available for most people to read whether through print, digital, or online. It does, however, have an expiration date. You only will be able to read this book while you are physically alive. There is, thankfully, an exception for some people.

Those who do read and receive the message (John 1:12), and those who may not actually read it; but are told about the message, and receive it, will receive some special perks. What are those special perks? You will live in the House of the Lord (the author of the book) forever continuing to hear God's Words! While you are there you will participate in the "marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:9)" and you will be clothed in a special wedding garment, the "Robe of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:10)." Also, since you have received that special message from God, He has adopted you into His family, the royal family of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords!

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Challenge of the Call

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him. - Matthew 4:18-20 NKJV.

Hu Huiyuan is a 21-year-old woman who lives in the Anhui Province in China. Hu is writing a novel, and has written six chapters of it, approximately 60,000 words. Many people, perhaps millions, write novels. However, how many of them write their novels by typing with a toe on their left foot? She has cerebral palsy; the only parts of her body not paralyzed are her head and left foot. Hu's mother has been a dedicated teacher providing her with an education; in addition to helping her learn how to perform physical tasks most of us take for granted. Hu's mother says, "When I was teaching her how to speak, I had to be very patient as every single word might take a thousand times of repeating." Hu says about her education, "I'm not a genius, but I'm very focused. When I watched TV in my childhood, I often learned words with subtitles." It is surprising that Hu is now able to type on her keyboard, while strapped in a wheelchair, 20 to 30 words a minute! (Shanghaiist 01.26.15)

Life will always provide us with challenges, we may not have to try to write a book typing with our toe, but it may seem like it at times. Every person who comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior is called to a challenging life of service. We are told this in Luke 9:23, "Then He (Jesus) said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" The indication here from Luke 9:23, is that the call is not a call to a life of ease, but to a life of sacrifice. The phrase "take up his cross daily" makes this clear, because we know what a cross meant in the first century. The cross in the first century was a horrific instrument of execution, which the condemned would often be required to carry on their backs to the place of their death. The amazing thing to consider is why would anyone follow Jesus, especially in the first century, when He was calling them to a life of cross carrying?

Even the apostle Paul faced great challenges as he lived out the call God had placed upon his life. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:5, "...when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears." But Paul also says, "I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4)." Then Paul says, "Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more (2 Corinthians 6:5-7)."

Whatever challenges you face in life, whatever God has called you to do, the God "who comforts the downcast" has what you need. You may think you simply cannot take another step physically or mentally, but then God makes His presence known. It may be that God shows up through the words of a book, a devotional, or as the apostle Paul experienced through the coming of a trusted friend who encourages you. Cross carrying has never been easy, but it has always been possible as we look to the One who called us to help us take one more step, or even to type one more letter. May God show up in some way today in your life to encourage, to strengthen, to empower, and to comfort you.

The Burning Bush Devotional


How to Find God's Plan

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:6-9 NKJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. - Psalm 147:5 NKJV.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5 NKJV.

Ashley McIntyre and Danny Robinson are soon to be married. They began dating in May, and Danny asked Ashley to marry him on Christmas day 2014. Their romance began in a completely unexpected way. Ashley happened to overhear her mother talking with someone about a 25-year-old man who lived in their city, Louisville, Kentucky. The discussion Ashley overheard was about this man's need of a kidney since his kidneys had stopped functioning. The man's story seemed tragic as his father had recently died, and not only that, his house had also burned. Ashley felt a compulsion to do something about this and called to volunteer as a donor. Of course, what are the odds of being a donor match for a perfect stranger? She had all the tests performed to determine whether she could be a donor and it was found that she was a perfect match. The surgery was performed in April, and afterwards they stayed in contact texting and calling until they began dating. Ashley says, "As soon as we started dating, not long after that, was when we realized this was it. I never in a million years imagined this would happen, it was a whirlwind. It's crazy how it all worked. It was all planned out by God." (Orange News 02.13.15)

I have often pondered Philippians 4:7 where we are told, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (NKJV)." The old KJV puts this as, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Having experienced that peace which surpasses, passeth "all understanding" many times, I am always amazed at how God does that.

God is God because He is beyond our understanding; He has abilities beyond what we can comprehend. We see examples of this in creation. There are besides human beings, creatures roaming this earth that are very intelligent: cats, dogs, apes, dolphins and more. However, the abilities that we have intellectually are beyond those creatures abilities to understand.

God's plans have often perplexed humans, and we see examples of this in the Bible. Think of Noah building a huge ark on dry ground. Think of God's plan for the defeat of the great walled city of Jericho. Think of Gideon and God's method of choosing a far smaller number of warriors to defeat the enemy. Instead of thousands of men, God only thought Gideon needed a few hundred, and God was right!

God does have thoughts toward you, and those thoughts are "of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." God does have a plan for your life and the key to finding that plan is as the writer of Proverbs says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Noah, Joshua, and Gideon all had to "lean not" on their "own understanding" and with eyes of faith put their complete trust in the Lord. And, that my friends, is how you find God's plan for your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Keep Calm

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. - Psalm 62:2 NKJV.

Then He (Jesus) arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39 NKJV.

In Orland Park a suburb of Chicago, a man only identified as Steve, was walking along peacefully when his next step sent him suddenly falling down 20 feet into a storm sewer. One of his legs was broken with other "trauma" to the lower part of his body. He was trapped and couldn't move. Steve did have his cell phone and was able to connect to 911 asking for help. It took about 15 minutes to locate the area where Steve had fallen, and then by his shouting, the exact hole was found. It took 70 minutes to extricate the man from the storm sewer hole. From 911 tapes that were released, we know that Steve remained calm throughout his ordeal of almost two hours. Steve said from the hospital, "While I'm in a great deal of pain, I am thankful to be alive and grateful to the fine men and women who rescued me and are treating me here in the hospital." To whom was Steve thankful? I believe he was thankful to God for his being able to survive his horrific ordeal. (Yahoo News; Fox News; 5NBC Chicago 12.31.14)

Within the last two years the "Keep Calm" phenomenon has arisen with all kinds of admonitions to "Keep Calm." Here are a few of them: keep calm and carry on, keep calm and ignore the haters, keep calm and stay positive, keep calm and relax, keep calm and never give up, keep calm and have fun, keep calm and stay strong, keep calm and be cool, keep calm and eat a banana, keep calm and dream on, keep calm and google it, keep calm and ride on, keep calm and be yourself, keep calm and hug a husky, keep calm and rock on, keep calm and smile, keep calm and go shopping, and keep calm and love yourself. There appear to be countless other variations of the admonition to keep calm.

According to Wikipedia, "Keep Calm and Carry On" was a motivational poster produced by the British government in preparation for the Second World War. Some 2.45 million of the posters were produced, although it was rarely displayed and mostly forgotten until a copy was found in 2000. The current fad of the "Keep Calm" phenomenon may have been spurred on by the discovery of 20 copies of the original poster, which were featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.

I think we can all agree that to keep calm in trying circumstances is usually a good thing to do. But how do you do that? The Psalmist was able to "silently wait" and to not be "greatly moved." The Psalmist was able to do that by his fully trusting in God saying, "He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense." To keep calm in difficult circumstances is possible, and there is a way to do that as the prophet Isaiah says about his God, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3)."

Whether you suddenly fall into a sewer drain hole and break a leg, or you are called into the head office and told your employment has been terminated, it is helpful to know how to keep calm. The first thing to remember is that God is not surprised by this sudden catastrophe in your life. He most likely did not cause it, but He knew it was going to happen. The second thing to remember is that the God who can say "Peace be still!" to the waves stilling them can calm the sudden storm in your life whatever it may be. The third thing to remember is to ask God to help you. Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Don't forget to "ask" for help from the One who is able to help you! And, keep calm.

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Wall of Truth

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." - Acts 9:1-6 NKJV.

One night this week, I got out of bed in the dark to walk to the bathroom. I seemed to have enough light to see where I was going, although I usually take a flashlight. However, I apparently fell asleep while walking, but I woke up when my head slammed into a wall! While I was sleep walking, I thought I could see where I was going and I believed I was on the right path. It was a sudden shock to realize how wrong my perception of reality was.

Saul was likely in charge of the execution of the godly Stephen (Acts 7:58-60). You could say that Saul was a religious fanatic determined to eradicate those of "the Way" who believed Jesus was God's Messiah. There was absolutely no doubt in Saul's mind that he was doing the will of God by killing those errant people who had gone off the rails blaspheming the One true God. However, Saul was completely absolutely wrong, and he ran into a wall of truth because Jesus is "...the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)." Jesus says in John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Saul slammed into the wall of Truth and the Truth blinded Saul making him fall to the ground. Then, the Truth set Saul free when Saul finally understood that Jesus was God.

In the world today, we have seen the rise of the Islamic religious fanatics who are absolutely completely convinced that they are on the right road with their lives. These religious fanatics are similar to Saul, in that they believe wrongly that it is their religious duty to wipe off the face of the earth all those who do not believe as they do. I pray that they will run into the same wall of Truth as did Saul before it is everlastingly too late for them.

Sadly, it is not just religious fanatics that are walking down the wrong roads, the wrong paths, with their lives. Many today appear to be blissfully unaware of the reality of their need for Jesus. These blissfully unaware people are rushing full speed ahead toward a wall of Truth where they will slam into eternity facing judgment by the One true God. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)." "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18)." What do you do if you are not sure if you are on the right road with your life? The Psalmist says this: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24)."

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