The Burning Bush Devotional


May Truth be Revealed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


When God Says NO

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

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

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

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

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

God may at times tell us NO. God may tell us that we can't do that, or we can't take that, or we can't have that, or we can't go there. However, if God blocks us from doing what we want to do, that doesn't mean that God doesn't love us. It may be that God has a better plan for us, or it may be that God is just protecting us from ourselves. Whatever it may be, as God said to the apostle Paul, He says to us: "My grace is sufficient for you."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Miserly Fools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Better than Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

You don't have to go to Australia, or California, or Colorado to find gold. The psalmist says, "The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver (Psalm 119:72)." Dig into the riches of God's Word every day, and you will find genuine faith for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Living the Right Way

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

The Unwise:

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

The Drunk:

29-year-old Stacy Sanchez is in trouble, a lot of trouble. She was on her way home after spending hours at several Oceanside, California bars when she hit a homeless man with her vehicle. The man was killed by the impact; however, Stacy didn't stop her car, and she kept on going for a mile with the body of her victim stuck in her windshield. When she arrived at her home, her husband called police. Stacy has been charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter. (New York Post 06.28.16)

The Thankful:

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Put It Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Learning Your Lesson

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

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

Noah Elkins and Priscilla Simpson were driving along looking for a place to swim when they had a close encounter with a power pole and some tiny little creatures. It all happened in a rural area of Laurel County, Kentucky. Noah and Priscilla were high on some drugs (Suboxone, neurotin and Klonopin), but I digress. What were those tiny little creatures that viciously attacked these two thirty year olds? Bees! It was bees that immediately swarmed after them when they crawled out of their wrecked vehicle. The bees were stinging them all over; they grabbed a water hose from a home nearby, and tried to wash the bees off. Gary Anderson who lived in the home said the two were, "screaming and squalling, and running around about like a chicken with its head cut off." Gary didn't realize at first that the bees were stinging them, and just thought they were high on drugs.

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


How to Make God Smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Pokemon Go and Becoming the Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Pokemon Go and the Unseen World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Prayer Guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


An Outrage!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


All Peoples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is beyond sad the amount of violence that is occurring in black communities like there is in Chicago. Very strict gun laws in Chicago, but still horrific amounts of shootings mostly of what you would think of as being innocents. Why isn't Black Lives Matter protesting this far greater threat to black lives? I suspect it is because the police are a much easier target; whereas if they protested violence in their own communities, it is likely they would be exposed to being shot. I hope and pray that BLM will change their focus to the greater threat of black on black violence.

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


No Other Name

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

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

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

The new law was promoted by Putin as being needed to protect against terrorism according to a report by Radio Free Europe. Radio Free Europe also reported the law: "boosts state access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to the authorities. Encrypted programs must provide authorities a key, and the law also increases the number of crimes that 14-year-olds can be prosecuted for and restricts the activity of religious preachers." The law is in violation of International law and of the Russia's own constitution; however, the law, any law, doesn't seem to matter to dictators. (WND 07.07.16 Many thanks to World News Daily for this article!)

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


What is the Problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Human Logic

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Music of Silence

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah - Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV.

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Always Ready

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Do the Right Thing

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


A Change in Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


More of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

The "divine power" of Jesus "has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." For us to receive the "all things that pertain to life and godliness" Peter is telling us (2 Peter 1:1-7) that we need a growing relationship with Jesus. We can't just be Facebook friends with Jesus if we want to have the "all things." We need to know the "exceedingly great and precious promises." We must give our relationship with Jesus "all diligence." If we want to have the blessings of God, the "all things" we just need more of Jesus.

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Beast

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

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

I can't imagine the terror that you would feel to look back and see a huge alligator nipping at your heels. When I was a little boy I was out in our pasture and saw a large snake. That snake chased me; at least I imagined it chased me, all the way back to the house. I have been watching for snakes ever since then. At least we don't have pythons here in Oklahoma, like they do in Florida, or do we? But we do have rattlesnakes, copperheads, bobcats, mountain lions, and some bears.

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


No Surrender

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

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

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

When General McAuliffe first briefly looked at the message from the Germans his immediate response was, "Aw, nuts!" Military.com gives this insight into how the actual official response of General McAuliffe occurred: "When he told his commanders he didn't know what answer to send, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard said "That first crack you made would be hard to beat, General." Everyone laughed as a sergeant typed up the succinct response: "To the German Commander: Nuts! The American Commander." The 101st Airborne was able to hold on until they received relief from Patton's troops and weather cleared enough for air support. General McAuliffe would likely agree with Dictionary dot com's interpretation of the word "nuts" as being an expression of "disapproval, disgust, or defiance" meaning in essence "insane, or crazy." It might have been a temporary relief from the terrible conditions they were in to have surrendered, but that would have been "crazy!"

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


What's in Your Basement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Sheep Gone Wild

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Escapes from Death

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


God's Will be Done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Hearing Voices

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

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

Brad Sapp who owns a recycling business in Carroll, Iowa was hearing voices as he worked late one night. Actually, it was just one voice whispering, "Get out of here." When Brad told his wife, Carrie, about it she told him that he must be "afraid of ghosts." The next morning, Carrie was hearing voices too, as someone in the chimney yelled, "I'm in your chimney, I was playing hide and seek with my cousin. Don't call the cops; I just need the help getting out." Carrie did call the police, and the fire department. Firefighters punched a hole in the brick chimney to extricate 29-year-old Jordan Kajewski. Kajewski has been charged with trespassing. (Daily Times Herald 05.18.16; Yahoo News 05.19.16)

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

Please don't tell anyone, but I have been hearing voices, and they seem to be growing louder. Actually, just one voice, the voice of God. God speaks to me through His Word, He speaks to me through other believers, He speaks to me through His still small voice as I pray and go through my day. "I come to the garden alone. While the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing (The old hymn: In the Garden by C. Austin Miles)."

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Well-Meaning People

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Shepherdless

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


It's Not in the Ten Commandments

And God spoke all these words, saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Take Your Medicine

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

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

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

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

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

You know it is hard to "take your medicine" but there is something freeing about doing so. Confession is good for the soul; it is like having a heavy weight lifted off of you. That's what King David found out after he was confronted with his sins by Nathan the prophet. David cries out, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation (Psalm 51:12)." You can run and run from God like Jonah, but you will never escape. 1 John 1:9 says to do what? "Confess!" "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When you have messed up, when you have failed, when you have sinned horribly - Confess! Don't try to run, don't try to hide, it will never work! Confess! Then your God, can begin the healing that will restore the joy of your salvation.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You Trapped?

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

The Message puts John 8:34-35 as: Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will."

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Jesus Can Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Little Things

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

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

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

Little things can sometimes cause many problems and much irritation. I like Christian artist Francesca Battisteli's song "This is the Stuff." Francesca lists some of the little things that drive her crazy: losing her keys, can't find her phone, and getting a ticket for speeding just a little. According to Francesca's song these thing make her forget at times how much God has blessed her. Have you let the little things make you forget how much God has blessed you?

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Stairway to Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two paths in life, a life with God and a life without God. Jesus says, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14)." Entry to eternal life and a pass to the only stairway to Heaven is only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the "gate" to the path of eternal life and the only way of salvation (John 14:6). If you are still breathing, and you are on the wrong path, now is the time to change the road you are on before it is everlastingly too late. Receive Jesus as your Savior now!

The Burning Bush Devotional


Guard Your Heart!

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You Annoyed or Annoying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. You are always late and unreliable.

5. You are always competing.

6. You are selfish and temperamental.

7. You are plain rude.

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You in Prison?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

Rodney and Randy Gilliam both more than 40-years-old living in the same house had a little disagreement. Rodney thought that Randy had taken his pot roast, and became enraged; stabbing Randy several times in the head with a three-pronged fork. The result was that Randy had stitches all over his head and a swollen eye. When police arrived they found blood all over the place and arrested Rodney for aggravated battery. Randy says they had been drinking and that it was, "A family squabble, I mean, like I said I'm sorry he's going to jail for it. I don't want to see him do that but I guess, you know, you shouldn't stab me." Maybe it is something in the water in Muncie, Indiana that caused this? Because last summer a family was having a barbecue and one woman stabbed another in the eye with a fork over a rib. Now, in her defense, Sabrina says the other woman had a knife. (Fox59 04.30.16; Fox59 05.27.15)

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Count Your Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You Deluded?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Just Slipping By

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

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

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

I wonder how many years Joe had been slipping by without paying his tolls? I remember the first time I was on a new toll road and I thought I had enough money to pay the toll at the automated toll booth. However, the toll was 25 cents or more than I had, but there was no way to turn around at that point. I knew there was a large fine for failure to pay, and wasn't sure what to do. I finally saw a phone number on the booth and called it to locate where I could go and pay. When I left the booth, I drove directly to where the toll office was located and paid the $1.35, or whatever it was then that I owed. I can't even begin to imagine having failed to pay the toll 200 or more times! I have a PikePass now, which automatically pays the toll.

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Wrong Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Power of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Time Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You a Fake?

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

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. - Romans 12:9 The Message.

The Waffle House in Fayetteville, North Carolina almost had a robbery. One of the customers hiding in the restroom with her two children called 911 and said, "We're in the Waffle House on Reilly Road, and there's a guy who's trying to rob here, and he has a really big gun." Pretty scary and the robber might have had a successful robbery except for 70-year-old Phillip Brooks who had served two tours in Vietnam. The robber ran up to the cash register with his AK-47 and demanded, "Give me all the money in the drawer. Open the drawer." Brooks, who uses a cane, says that he saw immediately that the AK-47 was a fake, "This thing was wood almost all the way up to the end of the barrel. No trigger guard, no trigger. All the working parts were missing, so I just told the girls, 'don't give him anything. That's a fake gun.'" The robber's response? He pointed the fake gun at Brooks and said, "Well, I'm for real." Brooks' response? "I showed him how real I was. I hit him in the nose with my cane." Other customers helped out at that point, and the robber ran away.(WRAL 04.08.16; MyFox8 04.09.16)

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Close the Door

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Our Hiding Place - Redux

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

One of the worst of my acts of procrastination occurred while I was in college. I had to write a paper for a personnel management class. It wasn't like this was suddenly assigned; it was assigned at the beginning of the course with the deadline for it given. However, I waited until the Friday before the Monday it was due to begin writing the thing. Thirty hours later I had finished the monster and presented the paper on time Monday morning. Sadly, the professor thought the work was too good for me to have written it, and gave me only a marginal grade for the work. Maybe if I had been working on the paper the entire semester, I would have scored higher on the tests; participated more in class, and then the professor would have believed I could have written the paper.

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional



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

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

The video of a bear chasing a snowboarder in Japan has gone viral! If you haven't seen it yet you probably will soon! Kelly Murphy was taking a video selfie of herself snowboarding down a mountain in Japan when a bear chasing her was captured on video. Murphy was at the Hakuba 47 winter sports park near Nagano in Japan. Murphy in her YouTube post of the video writes: "OMG! I was going through my snowboarding videos and I found a bear chasing me!!! I nearly got eaten!!!" The bear on the video finally gives up the chase as Murphy speeds down the mountain oblivious to the danger singing a Rihanna song.

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Desires of the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Buying Hell

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

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:11-14 NKJV.

Hell is for sale, Hell, Michigan that is, and the price is a bargain having dropped from $1.3 million to just $900,000. Hell consists of five acres of commercial property and includes businesses along with the rights to several really hot slogans. One of those slogans is: "Beer in Hell is safer than water in Flint." Or, if you don't like that one, how about "Hell is safer than Detroit"? In lovely downtown Hell, there is the Hell Hole Bar, along with the Chapel of Love, and the Screams Ice Cream Shop. John Colone, the unofficial mayor, or is that devil-in-charge, is "willing to work with anyone." Who wouldn't want to own the town that has hosted the longest funeral hearse parade in the world?(Detroit Metro Time 03.11.16; Detroit Free Press 03.11.16; Livingston Daily 03.11.16)

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

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

I don't know about you, but buying a place in Hell appears to be far too high a price to pay. The sticker price on a place in Hell requires losing your soul, experiencing a second death, and burning for eternity. Seems like the price of Hell is a far too high to me.

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Stealing the Sign

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Bridal Bandits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Forgotten Treasure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The To-Do-List

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Selfishness - The Human Default Setting

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

The Message puts Philippians 2:3 as: If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care? then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Are You Cinderella?

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have received Jesus as your Savior (John 1:12) you have been "born again" into the royal family of the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the Cinderella princess or the Cinderella prince. Just like God had a great plan for Esther's life, God has a great plan for your life. Don't miss out on God's great plan! For "who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

The Burning Bush Devotional


Save me, O God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Overflow of Trash

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

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

Picture in your mind a river of white winding through hundreds of yards of the city of Jdeideh, a suburb of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. At first glance, it is almost beautiful until you realize that the white is the result of thousands, maybe even millions of white bags filled with trash. The closer you come to the river of trash, the more the smell becomes almost unbearable. You wonder how can people live with this river of stinking trash flowing by their homes? The trash river came about when the main city landfill was closed down in July 2015. One man said, "This used to be such a beautiful place, but look at it now. We can't even walk by it."

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Building Momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


Worldly Noise

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


What's so Good About Good Friday

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


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

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

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

It's a Good Day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Truth of Easter

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

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

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

Since September 2001, things have changed as to how many of us live our lives. We are more careful, more cautious aware of our surroundings when we leave our homes. Even in flyover country in United States where I live we know terrorist attacks from one group or another are possible. Many either carry a weapon or have one nearby. If you plan to fly, arrival at the airport a few hours early is now prudent. Also, we now know from Brussels that even walking into an airport exposes you to the risk of a terrorist attack.

Things have not changed for the better in the years since the towers came down. Terrorists have become bolder in their senseless horrific acts against the innocent. One of those innocents is a 19-year-old American citizen who had close brushes with death at the Boston Bombing, the Paris Massacre, and now at the Brussels attack where he received some non-life threatening injuries. If this young man could post his future itinerary we might all know where not to be. Why some are spared and some die in these attacks is something that only God knows for sure. But make no mistake; God is not responsible for these evil acts perpetrated upon the innocent. This evil flows from Satan, the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), into the lives of the demonically blinded and deceived.

The world this Easter is different from the Easter we celebrated prior to 2001. The world may have changed in 2001, but the meaning of Easter is still the same. The events of that Resurrection Day almost 2000 years ago speak to us this truth: Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords, and the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15)! He is the same "yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!" That first Resurrection Day gives us hope that evil has been defeated even though the battle still rages. There will come a day when every knee shall bow at the Name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10). There will come a day when evil will be no more upon this earth and we will live in peace (Revelation 21). The Truth of Easter is that the pain and suffering of this present world is a temporary condition for all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

The Burning Bush Devotional


God is on Your Side

Read Psalm 118

I can remember in grade school playing games like Red Rover. Games like that required that there be two teams with the leader of each team choosing one at a time those who would be on their side. In those days at my school there was no teacher supervision of that process, or of the playing of the game. I always dreaded those times, hoping that I wouldn't be the last one chosen! That would have been bad. If you were going to play the game you had to be on one side or the other.

In life who is on your side? Your spouse, your children, your parents, your co-workers, other members of your church, your pastor? You do have some people in life who are on your side. Most likely you are never as alone as it may sometimes seem. However, we need to remember that people are just people. Sometimes we humans do not always make the right decisions, even those who you think are on your side. Other people make mistakes just like you do and they have problems in their lives the same as you. There will be times when those that you believe to be on your side will fail to stand up for you. There will be times when you want their help, you ask for their help, for their support and those people will let you down. This is a sad fact of life that people will sometimes let you down.

When everything in life goes south and you wonder how you can go on, here's a tool that you can use to help. Psalm 118:6 NKJV says, "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" What can man do to you? What is the absolutely worst thing that can happen? The worst of the worst most likely will only occur in your life a few times over the course of a lifetime. If you can make it through it, you will have clear sailing for years. Here is something that can help you to survive. If you can come to the point where you can accept the worst that can possibly happen - then you can move forward. You can move forward knowing that regardless of what other people may do or say, God is on your side. "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" GOD. IS. ON. YOUR. SIDE! And, God proved that once and for all when Jesus suffered and died for our sins on the cross.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Let Us Fight!

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

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV.

By now you have heard about the latest horrific terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. More than 30 dead and 100 or more injured. There seems to be no end to the amount of misery that some humans want to inflict on other humans. This is not something that we want to think about; but we cannot, and must not ignore this threat to our peaceful existence.

We should be aware that terror is the physical manifestation of a spiritual war. Not only is there a war here on earth being fought, but there is also a spiritual war being waged. We may not be able to fight hand to hand with our terror enemies here on earth. However, we can and must engage our enemies on a spiritual basis. This is a war between all that is good and all that is evil and we cannot remain neutral. We can put our hands up in surrender and our enemy will still kill us.

We need not fight this war with worldly weapons when we have mighty spiritual weapons available. We have weapons with "divine power to demolish strongholds." This is a war where most of us will not be on an earthly battlefield, but must fight this war on our knees "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18)."

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17 NKJV)."

The Burning Bush Devotional


The Number 1

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

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. - 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 NKJV.

This morning I received two phone calls on my cellphone from the number "1". I answered both calls, said "hello" but there was no reply. I did attempt to return the call and was given an error message by an automated voice. I thought that perhaps my son or one of my close friends had tried to call me. However, no one that I contacted had attempted to call this morning.

As I was considering who or what the number "1" was that had called me, it occurred to me that God should be first above all things. Now, I don't believe that God actually tried to call my cellphone, but what if He had? What if God did routinely ring us up on our cellphones along with an occasional text message? That would be a game changer, wouldn't it? Imagine, you are busy with your normal routine when your cellphone rings, it's Number 1 again. When you answer, Number 1 asks, "Why didn't you talk to Me this morning?" Before you can answer He's gone, because Number 1 has a few more calls to make. Or, you are just about to commit your favorite sin, and your cellphone buzzes. It's a text from Number 1 which says, "Don't do it!" Or, you're praying about what decision to make about a critical life choice and just at the providential moment your cellphone rings, it is Number 1 calling to tell you which is the right choice.

For reasons only God knows we walk by faith and not by sight while we are physically alive upon this earth. The incredible thing is as born again believers we are not walking alone; because "...you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16)." We are to see while upon this earth, with eyes of faith. Romans 10:16 tells us how we can improve our spiritual vision: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Did you take a few moments this morning to visit with Number 1? Did you pray and read His Word? Have you put Him first today?

The Burning Bush Devotional


Time to Act

And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." - Exodus 14:15-16 NKJV.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out. - Numbers 13:30-32 NKJV.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, "Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, 'Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.'" - Joshua 1:10 NKJV.

It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him (Gideon), "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand." - Judges 7:9 NKJV.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. - Acts 16:9-10 NKJV.

Anthony Ruelas is a hero, even though he received a two day suspension from school for what he did. At Gateway Middle School a girl was having an asthma attack, wheezing and gagging. The teacher emailed the school nurse and waited for the nurse to respond. When 15-year-old Anthony saw the girl fall out of her chair he took action saying "We ain't got time to wait for no email from the nurse." In spite of the teacher ordering him not to, Anthony picked up the girl and carried her to the school nurse's office. The girl is doing well thanks to the prompt action of Anthony. Even though, Anthony received a two day suspension for defying the teacher, he says that he would "most definitely" do it again. (Washington Post; KCEN; KWTX 01.25.16)

Throughout the Bible we see the servants of God confronted with decisions requiring action. With Moses, when the Hebrews were trapped between the rapidly advancing Egyptian army and the Red Sea, Moses prayed. God's response was that the time for praying was over. Do what you know to do Moses. Use the rod Moses that I gave you to part the sea. When spies were sent into the Promised Land soon after the Hebrews escape from Egyptian slavery, ten of the spies did not have the faith to take action to possess the land. As a result, the Hebrews had to wander in the wilderness until all of the old generation except for Moses, Caleb and Joshua had died. Joshua again sent spies into the Promised Land at the end of this time. Through this we see that it is okay, and wise to check things out, but there will still arrive a time of decision to take action on the information that has been found. God had to prod Gideon into action, but he did act. With the apostle Paul, we see a heart attuned to the Voice of God and he immediately responds to the Macedonian call.

Are you faced with a difficult decision? Have you prayed about it? Have you researched all you can about the situation i.e. spied out the land? These are prudent things to do. However, it may just be time to act, and do what you know to do before it is too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Kind Hearts

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. - Genesis 6:5 NKJV.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:30-32 NKJV.

When six-year-old Zejd Coralic began school in Sarajevo, Bosnia his teacher, Sanela Ljumanovic, knew that Zejd was deaf. Sanela immediately noticed that Zejd would sit all by himself, because of his inability to communicate with his classmates. At first, Sanela tried creating her own signs to communicate with the boy. Surprisingly, one of the parents of another child had a much better idea. This parent's idea was for the whole class to learn sign language. Because of the parents of children in the class contributing funds a sign language teacher was employed to teach the children. Zejd's classmates all learned sign language in about three months, and are excited about being able to communicate with Zejd. The idea has now spread so that many other classes are learning sign language. Zejd's teacher believes this experience has made all of her students more sensitive to others with disabilities. (Skolegijum-onlist for school practice; avaz.ba 02.15.16)

With the situation with Zejd Coralic we see many kind hearted people demonstrating how "tenderhearted" people can make a difference. The teacher has a kind heart. The classmates of Zejd have kind hearts, and the parents of the classmates have kind hearts. This kind of tenderheartedness seems strange, and is almost shocking in a world where many are like the people of Noah's day when "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Do you have a kind heart? Or, do you have a wicked heart thinking evil continually as the people were during the time of Noah? Do you look for ways to extend kindness? Think of the difference you can make in the lives of those around you by touching them with kindness. One small act of kindness may be what someone going through a difficult time needs to make it through another day. One small act of kindness may be what someone needs to prevent their doing something terrible. One small act of kindness may be remembered for years, even generations.

How can you show others your kind heart today? Who has the Lord placed on your heart that needs a touch from a kind heart?

The Burning Bush Devotional


I Believe in Love

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV.

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

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:8 NKJV.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16 NKJV.

I confess, I watched the Super Bowl last night including the half-time show. I watched as dancers gyrated on a stage in the shape of a cross. In the stadium seats the words were spelled out I Believe in Love." The love being exhibited on the Super Bowl stage appeared to me to be a sacrilegious everything goes kind of love being offered on a worldly altar.

The Super Bowl half-time show reminded me of the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. While Moses was on the Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the people down below, had turned away from the One true God. An idol was made, which the people worshipped instead of the true God. But it was worse than that. Aaron made the gold calf and an altar. "Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (Exodus 32:6)." The word "play" indicates unrestrained sexual immorality as Exodus 32:25 says, "When Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies)." The Super Bowl half-time show appeared to portray a modern version of the incident; although muted somewhat, in order to be broadcast into our homes.

I believe in love, but not the kind of love portrayed by the Super Bowl half-time show. I believe in the kind of love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is further defined by 1 John 4:8 and 16, "God is love." I believe in the God of love who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)." I believe in the god of love who "demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)."

Let us reject the worldly Super Bowl half-time definition of love; and instead, embrace true love from the only true God, who gave Himself to save us from our sins. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)."

Reject the world, and embrace the God of true love!

The Burning Bush Devotional


More Fire

And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out. - Leviticus 6:12-13 NKJV.

Recently, I did a brief study in the Book of Leviticus, and it was a challenge. An important thing to remember about Leviticus, is that it is a book meant not just to be read, but to be studied. There are many lessons in Leviticus for us today as Christians. One of those lessons is the need to keep the fire burning, it should never die out. Every morning the Old Testament priests would lay more wood on the fire so that it would "never go out."

While the fire of the Holy Spirit may never really go out in the life of a child of God, it may appear that way. I think we all know some Christians who at least on the surface have very little spiritual life left. They were once on fire for God, assembling with other believers, teaching classes, witnessing to all who crossed their paths. Maybe something traumatic happened, a death, an illness, a job loss, a marriage failure, or something else, which led to the dimming of their fire. Or, maybe it was just the lack of new fuel being placed on the fire every morning?

We need the fuel of God's Word placed upon our spiritual fire every day. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4)." We need the spiritual fuel of communing with our Lord God through prayer every day. "...men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)." It is not a daily thing, but we do need the spiritual fuel of assembling with other believers when it is possible "in order to stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:24b)." We also need the spiritual fuel derived from serving our God because "we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us (2 Corinthians 5:2)." Have you done the work of an ambassador lately?

It is vitally important every day, every morning, to lay some more fuel on your spiritual fire. I know with our busy lives it is very easy to become distracted and rush by doing what we need to do. Here is what I do every morning, to make sure I have some new fuel on the fire, in case the urgencies of life interrupt my having a more lengthy quiet time. While I am preparing for the day, taking a shower, dressing, making my breakfast I am going to spend 20 minutes or more in prayer, and go through out loud or in my mind 36 to 50 memory verses. You may not have that many verses memorized, but you have some. Here are a few that you may have memorized that you could go through every morning.

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

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

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

Matthew 21:22: "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

Start with the verses you know, even if they are only a few, or even just one. Go through them several times every morning. Try to add a verse every few months to your list. This will build your spiritual fire and build your faith because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)." So, if you haven't already done so, throw some more wood on the fire!

The Burning Bush Devotional


Don't Run

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God." - Luke 9:23-27 NKJV.

Luke 9:23 from The Message: Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat-I am. DON'T RUN from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how."

Dogs can be a problem for postal service workers, parole officers, pastors and many other workers. Trying to visit in rural areas as a pastor I often encountered dogs of different breeds and temperament. Some dogs, you can just look at them and know not to even attempt to open the door of your car. In that kind of situation I usually honked the horn to obtain the owner's assistance in having the dog in a safe mode. Other times you may not even know there is a dog outside of the residence.

In a visit I once made to a rural residence, there did not appear to be any dogs around. I opened up the car door and stepped out, shutting the car door behind me. It was then that I saw the dog. It was a very large German Shepherd running straight at me. I thought he had to be going 90mph, although I know that is impossible! There was no time for me to open up the car door and reenter the car. I simply stayed still and faced the threat. Would the dog tear me apart? I didn't know, but I did know that if I ran the dog would take me down.

What happened was that the dog ran right by me just a few inches away. I then thought it might be safe to walk to the house and knock on the door. The dog watched me the entire time. No one was at home. I tried to visit at that home a few other times after that, and every time the dog would do the same thing. He would run at me as hard as he could, running right by me as I stood still, and faced the threat. The one time, I actually was able to visit the resident of the home, the dog was nowhere to be seen!

In life we will encounter all kinds of problems with threats to the left and to the right. We may face suffering from physical illnesses or injuries. We may suffer persecution for our faith. Don't run! As we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Day by day deny your fearful impulses, take up your cross, and follow your Lord.

The Burning Bush Devotional


Be Courageous

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:5-9 NKJV.

An old drug with a new approach to treatment may be able to cure some fears. The treatment approach involves reactivating a fear or phobia, and then taking the drug, which in their experiments with spiders appears to work. Of course, whether that will actually work with phobias, PTSD, and other fears has yet to be proved. Wouldn't it be nice whenever you are fearful just pop a pill and you become fearless? Isn't that what a lot of people are trying to do already with alcohol, meth, cocaine, pot, and the list goes on? Still, it would be nice to have some help for our fears.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize it takes courage to live life. It takes courage sometimes to get out of bed in the mornings, put on our clothes, and go to work. It takes courage when our knees or hips are hurting to walk across the room, much less leave the house to do anything. It takes courage to have a surgery when you know there will be so much pain involved. It takes courage to go through a course of chemo, or endure radiation treatment for cancer. It takes courage to live life.

To overcome our fears, we first need to realize that fear is an emotional response, and the courage we need to overcome it is an attitude. Courage is a decision that we make. God told Joshua as he faced leading a huge number of people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land to "Be strong and of good courage." Joshua needed courage because he knew that ahead lay the fortress city of Jericho, and he also knew there were giants in the land, which he had seen with his own eyes. We know God provided Joshua with the courage he needed to face the giants, and He can do the same for us.

To have courage we need to use the resources that God provides to develop and nurture that courage. The number one God given resource for developing and nurturing courage is the Word of God. God tells Joshua "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth." Speaking God's Word, reciting memory verses out loud, will help to develop and nurture your courage. God also tells Joshua that "you shall meditate in it (God's Word) day and night." The best way to do that is to have verses of Scripture memorized so that you can review them in your mind. And God tells Joshua to "observe to do according to all that is written in it (God's Word)." Speak, think, and do the Word of God, and godly courage will be developed and nurtured in your life; and, "you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." God is saying the same thing to you today that He said to Joshua: "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

The Burning Bush Devotional


Limitless Life

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NKJV.

You may have watched or heard of the movie, "Limitless" that was produced in 2011. There is also now a television series by the same name. Here is the official description of the movie: "Facing unemployment and his girlfriend's rejection, writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is sure that he has no future. That all changes when an old friend gives him a drug that produces enhanced mental acuity. Stoked on the untested chemical, Eddie rises to the top of the financial world and attracts the attention of a tycoon (Robert De Niro) who intends to use him to make a fortune. But terrible side-effects and a dwindling supply threaten to collapse Eddie's house of cards." The description of the TV series is similar: "A man gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain's capabilities. A television adaptation of the 2011 film, 'Limitless'."

The type of life portrayed in the "Limitless" movie and television series is science fiction. Will it someday be possible? That we do not know. What we do know is that our God offers through Jesus Christ a far better "limitless" life. Jesus gives us an indication of what this better "limitless" life is like in John 10:10b NKJV, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Also in John 7:38 Jesus says, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Jesus also tells us in Matthew 21:22, "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." The limitless life Jesus offers is far better with unlimited resources, strength and access.

Through Jesus we have unlimited resources which the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV, "so that you come short in no gift (do not lack any spiritual gift - NIV), eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Through Jesus we have unlimited strength or power and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV, "who will also confirm you (keep you strong - NIV) to the end." And through Jesus we have unlimited access to the Creator of all things, "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9)." The writer of Hebrews tells us, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)."

What is necessary for us to experience the limitless kind of life that God promises us through Jesus? What is necessary is the surrender of our will, our plans, our goals to the will of God for our lives. Only then will we begin to experience the limitless life that Jesus came to give us. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV)."

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