The Burning Bush Devotional
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One More Night

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD.” And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.” So he said, “Tomorrow.” And he said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.” - Exodus 8:8-10.

Last night we attended a Christmas event with several pastors, staff members, and their families from this area. The entertainment was the Lambert family, and they sang many old Gospel songs including one about Pharaoh wanting one more night with the frogs. If you remember the story, you know that Pharaoh had refused to let God’s people leave Egypt. In response, God sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians, including a plague of frogs. When Pharaoh had all he could take of the frogs, he called for Moses and Aaron; to ask them to ask God, to remove the frogs. When Pharaoh was asked when he wanted them to be removed, strangely, Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow.” Apparently, Pharaoh wanted one more night with the frogs!

The Bible makes it clear that the plague of frogs was a most unpleasant thing, as also in Exodus 8 we read about what would happen if Pharaoh refused to let the people go, as Moses through Aaron was to say this to Pharaoh, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants (Exodus 8:1c-4).” The frogs were everywhere, there was no escape from them, and it was so horrible that even the hard hearted Pharaoh needed relief.

The response of Pharaoh, waiting in misery one more night, when he could have been immediately free from the frogs, is the response of many when asked to give up the misery of their sins. One of the most common responses that I receive after sharing the Gospel with someone is this “I’m not ready yet.” What does that mean? It means for one thing that they are not yet ready to give up their frogs; they want to spend some more time in the misery of their sins.

Look at the misery of addiction whether it is substance abuse, se_x_ual addictions, or gambling. Often it is a combination of those addictions that force people down into the gutter of misery. If that is where you are, you don’t have to stay there! You don’t have to spend another night with the frogs! Cry out to Jesus and ask Him to take away the frogs now! If you are lost and without Christ, then now is the time, before it is eternally too late, to receive Jesus as your Savior.

I don’t know about you, but I surely do not want to spend even one more hour with those stinking frogs!!

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Helpful Clues

In Manchester, New Hampshire, a Rite Aid pharmacy was robbed by a woman wearing a ski mask. The police drove to the woman’s home and arrested her. How did they know who she was, and where she lived? They had a helpful clue. A witness observed the robber leaving in a vehicle with a vanity plate, on which were the letters, “B-USHER.” With that helpful clue, and a little research with the Department of Motor Vehicle records, the police drove to the home of Bonnie Usher and arrested her. (Reported by WCVB-TV)

It does help to solve crimes, and other mysteries when there are helpful clues leading the way. When born into this world every person is face with a mystery. How did they come to be where they are and who they are? God has provided some helpful clues and we are told of that in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” All you have to do, to solve the mystery according to the Bible; is to look around at the world you live in, and there is an obvious conclusion. The obvious conclusion is that there is a God, and that God designed, and created everything.

With the mystery of creation solved we can move on to another one. That mystery is this: how does God want us to live? Again there are very helpful clues, actually specific instructions, for how we are to live our lives. There are many passages of Scripture that provide the instructions that we need, about how to live our lives. Romans 12:17-19 gives us this helpful guide to living, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

With the mystery of creation, and the mystery of how we should live our lives solved; we are then confronted with another mystery. There is the mystery of death. What happens after we die? Is that the end, or is there something else that occurs at that point? Again the Bible provides us with the clues that we need to understand. In Hebrews 9:27 we are told, “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” From this clue we can see that not only does our existence not end at physical death, but we are also held accountable for how we have followed the instructions we have been given.

With this judgment after death in mind, we begin to think about all of the other instructions that God has given to us in the Bible, about how we are to live. We read in James 2:10, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” How can anyone do everything that we are commanded in the Bible perfectly? No one can, and no one has, except of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). So, are we all doomed? No, because Jesus who lived a perfect life became the once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10) dying for our sins, for our mistakes. Do we automatically receive forgiveness for our mistakes because of the sacrifice of Jesus? No, we must believe (John 3:16) that God has done this for us and receive Jesus (John 1:12) as our personal Savior.

We have been given the clues, very obvious clues - all we have to do is follow them.

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Falling Back - Part 2

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. - 1 Corinthians 10:12.

We know of some things now that are not pleasing to God. But what is it that pleases God? Here are a few:

First, To receive Jesus as our personal Savior pleases God. The angels in Heaven rejoice whenever someone is born again. “...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:10).”

Second, we please God through faith. In Hebrews 11:6 we are told, “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.”

Third, we please God by growing in wisdom. In Luke 2:52 the Bible says, “...Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” We should seek the wisdom that comes from God.

Fourth, we can please God by walking in righteousness. In John 14:21 Jesus says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

Fifth, we can please God by praising Him. The Psalmist says in Psalm 69:30-31, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs.”

So, what if you have a desire to please God, you know some of things to please God, but still you are having problems actually doing what you know you need to do? The Bible does give us some instructions, some guidance, about how to actually live a God pleasing life. In 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 we are told, “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.” When you are tempted to do what you know will not please God, look for the way of escape. Ask God to show you the way of escape. There will be one.

What does Paul say in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” How is it that Paul can do all things? What is it that strengthens Paul? He says, “through Christ.” Paul does not say that he is such a strong, wise person that he can do everything in his own strength. The apostle Paul could not do all things in his own strength, and we can’t either. We need the empowerment of Christ, to live a life pleasing to God.

How do we get it? How do receive the empowerment of Christ to live God pleasing lives? We get it by taking advantage of, and using God’s resources. We must pray - Jesus says, “Men ought to always pray and not faint.” We must read, study, memorize, meditate upon the Word of God. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:9-11, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”

If we want live lives pleasing to God we must pray, we must have God’s Word in our lives, and we need the church - we need each other. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….”

So, if you have been falling back, stop it! Turn back to God, ask for His help. Pray, read His word, assemble with other believers; and you will find yourself empowered, enabled to live a life that is pleasing to God.

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Falling Back - Part 1

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. - 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

Fall back, spring forward. Daylight Saving Time, we all love it right? I’ve seen several people writing about how difficult this last week has been since Daylight Saving Time has ended. For me this last week has been great! I’ve gotten back that hour of sleep, finally, that the government stole from me back in the spring when we all moved our clock forward an hour. It is so much easier for me to fall back, to have another hour; than it is to spring forward, and lose an hour. (You can find out much more about Daylight Saving Time at this website http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/)

Spiritually it is the same way, in that it is so much easier to go backwards, than it is to move forward in our spiritual lives. Spiritually, we are either moving forward, or going backwards - we are never standing still. I once preached a series of messages about springing forward in God’s power. Only in His power can we grow as Christians; only through His power, His resources, can we become more conformed to the image of Christ. Without God’s power, without His resources, His guidance, we will fall back, and it is very easy to do. If we want to keep from falling back, and instead move forward in our spiritual lives; it will take some action on our part, it will take some effort.

Why do we want to move forward spiritually? It should be obvious, but for some it may not be. In the Old Testament, after the Children of Israel escaped the slavery of Egypt, we are told that God was not pleased with them. In 1 Corinthians 10:5-7 we are told, “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.” God was not pleased with most of them because, why? Because when the twelve spies went into the Promised Land, ten of them came back with a bad report. God was not pleased with them when they murmured and complained about the manna, and not having meat to eat. God was not pleased with them when they made a golden idol while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. God was not pleased with them for their sexual immorality.

The example here tells us who are living today something about what we should want to avoid. That something is this: we do not want to NOT please God, we do not want our lives to be unpleasing to God. Let me be clear, I do not think that God will send a plague of snakes among us like He did the Israelites. I do not think that He will literally make us wander in a real desert until we drop dead, like a whole generation of Israelites did. What I really think is that we do not want to find out what God will do when are lives are not pleasing to Him. Most of all, we do not want to miss out on His blessings because we have failed to please Him.

It comes down to our hearts. Do you have a desire to please God with your life? Or, do you really just not care, whether you do, or not? If you want to please God, then you will be able to keep from falling back, and move forward in your walk with Him.

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Coincidence or Providence?

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9.

Can you imagine this, you are laying in bed having a hard time going to sleep, and decide that you will get up for awhile. Maybe, look at the Internet, read a little, because you just cannot sleep. It’s 2:00 am in the morning, why can’t you sleep? As soon as you walk away from your bed, you hear a terrible noise as a car smashes through the wall of your bedroom, and smashes the bed you have just left! Unbelievable! But it happened to Demitrios Bisbelis in Melbourne, Australia. Demitrios says, “My bed's been disintegrated. It's completely shattered. I'm sure I wouldn't have made it had I been in bed at that time.” Reportedly, the car hit a curb, launched into the air, crash landing into Demitrios’ bedroom, and bed. Police authorities report the driver and a passenger escaped without injury.

Was this just a coincidence that Demitrios decided to leave his bed at just the right time to escape severe injury and likely death? Coincidence is defined by dictionary dot com as being: “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.” According to the definition there was a coincidence, which has occurred. But was it more than a coincidence? Was it not just a coincidence, but providence? Providence, as in God spurring Demitrios to rise from his bed at just the right time to spare his life?

From reports about the incident we do not know whether or not Demitrios is a believer in Jesus. We do not know his background, or what has been going on in his life. Was God trying to get his attention? Why would God care about Demitrios or anyone who is not a believer? Because as we are told in 2 Peter, God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Does God always intervene providentially to spare the lives of those threatened with danger? No. So, if I were Demitrios, or anyone who has escaped death or severe injury; I would be examining my life, and seeking the Lord to hear from Him about the event. The Bible says that God is “longsuffering” - not that He will endure rebellion, and rejection, forever.

As believers in Jesus, we can see the events that occur in our lives wrapped in the providence of God. We can say with the Psalmist:

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever. - The 23rd Psalm.

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Being Jesus

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. - 1 Corinthians 11:1.

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

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” - Luke 9:23.

In Des Peres, Missouri, an uninvited guest attempted to attend the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Can you imagine the nerve of someone showing up uninvited at a church on a Sunday morning? Who was this uninvited person? It was Jesus, actually it was Neal Thompson wearing attire as most would imagine Jesus to be wearing. However, there was a glitch in the plan as an alert deacon spotted Thompson, stopping him short of his goal of entering the church sanctuary. Thompson was a determined Jesus imitator, and church members called the police, which convinced him to leave. Reportedly, Thompson who goes to a different church every Sunday dressed like Jesus, has stayed in character by forgiving the church.

In a previous pastorate, we actually did have a man show up dressed like Jesus, who said a few words, and then left. He had been invited to do so by a member of our church, unknown to me, until a few minutes before the man arrived. I think that it made for an unremarkable service being turned into a very memorable one. I can also understand, when in some large churches; with intricate services being planned, that such an interruption would be unwelcome.

Whatever we may feel about someone dressing up like Jesus, there is a sense in which all Christians are called to imitate how Jesus would act. The apostle Paul says that we should imitate him as he strives to imitate Christ. In Romans 8:29, we are told that we are predestined to be “conformed” to the image of Christ, the Son of God. Being conformed to His image would I think, include imitating the actions, and the behaviors of Christ Jesus.

Jesus is not physically walking upon this earth today, but His followers are. Those who believe in Jesus are His hands, arms, feet, legs, and eyes upon this Earth today. Every Christian is called to represent Jesus to those around them. Every Christian is called to act like Jesus would act. That does not mean, necessarily, that we grow a beard, wear our hair long, dress up in a robe, and sandals. It does mean that we demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit as we live our daily lives. In Galatians 5:22-23a we are told, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are the characteristics that Jesus demonstrated, lived out before those He encountered as He walked upon this Earth.

Every time you interact with another person in any way you are on a stage, and you are being observed. Would the person observing you conclude that you are imitating the apostle Paul as he imitated Jesus? Would the person observing you conclude that you are being more and more conformed to the image of Jesus? Would the person observing you conclude that you have taken up your cross, denied yourself, and are following Jesus? Would the person observing you think of you in any way as being like Jesus to them?

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Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. - James 1:21-27.

Are you a gurner? I have seen some people do this before, but never knew that it was almost a sport. Gurning contests are a rural English tradition that have been around for a couple of hundred years or more. Gurning consists of making a face, i.e. distorting the facial features. At least one man had his teeth removed so he could more easily contort his face. A face frequently made in these contests is known as the duck face. Anne Woods has won the contest at the Egremont, England Crab Fair 27 times. Tommy Mattison, the men’s champion has won it 11 times. Both Woods, and Mattison will be in the next Guinness World Records book.

Some people purposely distort their faces, and some people purposely distort their thinking. The apostle James writes about some mental gurners in his letter. Apparently, there were people who heard what God said they should do, knew what God wanted them to do, but still they did not do it. Hmm, that sounds a lot like the majority of the people who call themselves Christians today. We go to church on Sunday, and then go out and live like the devil the rest of the week. Maybe, it isn’t quite that bad, but surveys have shown that the goals, the desires, and actions of those who call themselves Christians - are not much different from those who do not consider themselves to be Christians. James says that this kind of religion is “useless”!

The apostle Paul has this to say about the mental gurning of Christians in Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Paul goes on to say in verses 12 - 14 of chapter 6, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Are you a Christian gurner, mentally distorting the Word of God to fit your life, and your circumstances? If your mindset is that you will go ahead and commit a sin, because you know God will forgive you, then you are gurning in your thinking. There is always a cost to sin because “…the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” The price of sin will always be more than you want to pay.

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But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank…. - Daniel 1:8.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “…we have no need to answer you in this matter. … our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand…. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” - Daniel 3:16-18.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. - Joshua 24:15.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-14.

Howard Partridge at the age of 73 was faced with a challenge. He is handicapped, and uses a wheelchair; and, he, and his sister were stuck in the snow. They had went for a drive near Sweet Home, Oregon to view the beautiful fall foliage. That was on Wednesday, by Friday, Howard knew something had to be done if they were to survive. He decided to go for help, in his wheelchair, in the snow. Howard made it three miles to where he was finally found by some hunters. Both Howard, and his 61-year-old sister are reported to be in good condition, thanks to the determination that Howard demonstrated.

Determination, that is what Howard Partridge had, that saved his life, and the life of his sister. Determination, that is what Daniel had, when he refused to eat the king’s rich unhealthy food. Determination, that is what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had, when they refused to bow down and worship the king’s golden idol. Determination, that is what Joshua had, when he determined that he was going to serve the Lord. Determination, that is what Nehemiah had; and David, and Esther, and Noah, and Ruth, and Abraham, and so many of the great servants of God. The apostle Paul had it, when he pressed on toward the goal, even when he faced great opposition that came in many forms.

Determination, can change the impossible into the possible. Determination, can change an ordinary life into an extraordinary life. Determination, can enable you to keep moving forward when everything is saying you should just give up. Determination will give you victory; even when everyone, and everything, says you are headed for defeat.

Who are you serving with your life? Determine today, choose today, whom you will serve. Jesus says, “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).” Determine today to seek first, to put first, what God wants in your life; and, you will see a transformation take place in every area of your life.

Determination, do you have it? Do you have a determination to do what is wrong, or a determination to do what is right? It is your choice. God will not force you to do what is right. As Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14b, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther determined to do what was right, and she saved the Jewish race. It is no accident that you were born in this time, because the Kingdom of God needs you to determine to do the right thing this day, and forever more.

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Civic Responsibility

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan. - Proverbs 29:2.

In Brazil, a former manager of a McDonald’s franchise has sued McDonald’s. The court did not reveal the identity of the 32-year-old man. The former manager is suing because he gained 65 pounds during his employment. He claims it is because the franchise offers free food to employees, and he felt compelled to sample the food to maintain quality. The former manager is seeking $17,500 in compensation for damages.

There are some things that we are responsible for, and we should take responsibility for them. If we choose to overeat, and to eat foods high in fat content, we ought to be prepared to accept the consequences of those choices.

If we live in a country where we have the freedom to vote for our leaders, it is a civic responsibility to do so. The result of the failure to exercise our freedom, and civic responsibility by voting, may be our having to endure bad leadership.

In the United States, we are having an election on Tuesday and it will determine the course of the country for at least the next two years. We have the freedom to vote, and we have little to fear by going to the polls, and voting. In some places, as in Iraq, voting in the past has meant that you must risk your life. Not so, in the United States. Why then is voter turn out so low? According to the Federal Election Commission, turnout for the 2008 election was only 56.8%.

There are a wide variety of reasons given for a lack of voter participation. The number one reason appears to be cluelessness, or a failure understand the need to participate in the process. Another reason given is the failure to register to vote. It does take some effort to register, and it does take some effort to actually vote. So, the underlying reason for this reason for not voting is laziness. Others avoid registering to vote so that they will not have to participate in other civic responsibilities; such as, jury duty. Then there is the feeling that many express, that their vote will not make any difference. So, why make the effort, when it is thought that it will not matter any way?

Why is it that we pay our bills, make a living, obey the laws, pay our taxes and all those other things that we are expected to do? It is called being responsible. It is expected as responsible human beings that we do those things. Voting ought to be on that list of things we do in order to fulfill our responsibilities as well. Not only should we vote to fulfill our civic responsibility, but we should vote to fulfill our moral responsibility. If there were only two people voting in an election; and you failed to vote resulting in a terrible leader being elected, it is obvious that would be a moral failure to fulfill your responsibility. Even though there are millions of people voting, just because there are more people making the decision, that does not lessen your responsibility before God.

Tomorrow is an important day in the United States. If we want to have righteous leaders who will make decisions that will be pleasing to God, it is critical that we vote. I hope that you will not only vote, but also that you will search your heart as to how God would want you to vote, prior to marking your ballot.

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Time Travelers - Part 2

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. - Hebrews 13:8-9.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it! - 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.

Yesterday, I shared with you the 1928 Charlie Chaplin silent film clip that appears to show an older woman talking on a cell phone. There are many reasonable explanations for what is seen; including, that the woman is simply shielding her face from the sun with something. With our modern mindsets we immediately jump to the conclusion that it looks like a cellphone. Here is the link to the youtube video again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF8WF3vGUn8

What if, the leaders of our country suddenly appeared on TV with someone who claimed to be a time traveler from the future? Would we believe it? What if, someone appears on the world stage claiming to be an alien from another planet with advanced technology demanding that we worship and obey them? Would we believe it and do it? Here are a few things that some people say they believe:

>Extra Terrestrial powers are observing our planet and they will intervene in 2012 and save us from self-destruction.

>Jose Arguelles, the founder of Earth Day in 1970, “feels” that we are traveling through a Galactic Synchronization Beam which we entered in 3114 B.C. and will leave in 2012.

>Some believe that the Galactic Synchronization Beam will affect our DNA, zapping it, and we will be born again.

>Believers in the Galactic Synchronization Beam of 2012 teach that everyone goes to heaven because there is no sin, only a failure of synchronicity with your higher self.

The crazy things that people will believe; could, and have filled up volumes of books. Do we believe in something just because someone “feels” we are going through some kind of beam? Do we believe in something just because someone thinks it would be great if the cosmos were to operate according to the rules that they happen to dream up?

When anyone claims they have heard some magnificent new truth from a time traveler, or an alien, or in a dream, or that they just feel this to be true - BEWARE! We do not need a new truth, or a new feeling, or a better synchronicity. We have the Word of God. Jesus says this, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).” Jesus is the Word of God become flesh (John 1:14) and He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8).

When they tell you their lies and attempt to deceive you; open up the Word of God, and share the unchanging truth. The truth of the Word of God will overcome as the Bible says in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” The Word of God will win the battle because, “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”

We must remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His Word does not lie, it does not change, and He (The Word become flesh - John 1:14) will win the final and eternal victory.

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Time Travelers

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. - Hebrews 13:8-9.

I was fascinated today by a story about a 1928 Charlie Chaplin silent film. George Clarke, who is a filmmaker and also a Chaplin fan, bought a collection of Chaplin films on DVD, and found something verry, verry, interesting. What Clarke stumbled onto is what appears to be an older woman talking on something similar to a cell phone. At the very end of the clip, when the woman turns toward the camera, her lips do appear to be moving. One obvious explanation of the scene would be that it is a time traveler. Of course, they did not have cell towers back then; however, a time traveler would probably have access to technology that might be more advanced than what we have today. Various explanations have been offered, and you can read many of them at the youtube link to the video of the clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF8WF3vGUn8

Is time travel possible? In the opening of the Gospel of John we are told this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).” In 1 Timothy 6:14-15 the Bible says, “that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Then in Revelation 19 we are told, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. …He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. …And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Jesus was present in the beginning. Jesus was present upon this earth as the Son of Man who suffered and died for our sins; and Jesus will be present upon this earth at the end, as the conqueror who will defeat all of the enemies of God.

Jesus does not need a cell phone, or any other device, to see across the centuries of time. Jesus is not limited by time as we are. He is able to see all things past, present, and future at one time. They exist in the present for him in eternity. It is like being able to see the beginning of a parade and the end of the parade all at one time.

There are an increasing number of strange, and even bizarre doctrines emerging, that appear to have a substantial number of followers. Beware of anything, or anyone who seeks to marginalize the importance of Jesus.

There is only one Jesus Christ; but there have been, there are, and will be many imposters who seek to add to the Gospel just like the Judaizers of the days of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11 to the church at Corinth, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it!”

We need to always remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

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Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-8.

Daniel Collins may not have been literally flushed down the toilet, but he might as well have been. Daniel was working on the Raymore, Missouri sewage system as part of a crew employed by Rosetta Construction. Usually the work is safe, and he had a safety line hooked to him. The trouble for the worker began when that safety line somehow became detached, and he was suddenly plunged down a pipe only 27 inches wide. He kept going down that pipe for more than a mile. Meanwhile, his fellow workers and firefighters were frantically searching for him. Daniel was able to call out one last time loud enough for someone to find him. One of the firefighters, who is also a paramedic, heard Daniel and was able to bring him to safety. The man had bruises, and may have swallowed some of the nasty water; but everyone believes it is miraculous for him to be alive, and in such good physical shape.

Daniel did at least a couple of things right during his ordeal that helped him to survive. He did not give up, and he kept on calling out believing that someone would hear him, and come to his rescue. If Daniel had given up on the hope of rescue any sooner, he might never have been found. If he had believed that dying in the sewer pipe was going to happen whether he called for help or not - then, it would likely have been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At times, you may find yourself in a situation in life that feels like you have been flushed down a toilet or worse. However, it is doubtful that a situation like that, is God’s permanent will for your life. Some of God’s greatest servants did go through some horrifically difficult periods of time in their lives. Moses for years hid out as a fugitive on the backside of the desert and thought that he was doomed to live out the rest of his life that way herding sheep. Elijah was so depressed that he was just going to lay down and die. King David was living for a while in a cave being hunted like an animal. Gideon thought that he was the lowest person in the social hierarchy of his entire nation; being of the smallest tribe, and the smallest family of the tribe, and the smallest or weakest person in his family. Moses, Elijah, David, and Gideon were all wrong in their perceptions of their real situation in life. God had more for all of them to do. In God’s timing, He lifted them up to serve in greater and more powerful ways.

God wants to use you in a greater and more powerful way. How do you arrive at that point when God calls you up from the reserves, and puts you on the front lines? Number one, is that you simply refuse to give up on God. You keep believing, keep trusting, keep doing what you know is right and good. You keep reading your Bible, keep on going to church, keep on praying, keep on serving in whatever way that you can. What you are doing is humbling yourself before God, accepting what He has for your life. Then, at a time, and possibly at a place you least expect it, when you have almost given up - God will “exalt you in due time.” I like the way the NIV puts this, that God will “lift you up in due time.” That is what God did for Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph stayed the course, stayed faithful no matter how miserable his life situation became, and God lifted him up to be the prime minister of the nation of Egypt.

Humble yourself under God’s hand, stay faithful, and He will lift you up; exalt you, when the right time comes.

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Look to Him

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. - Hebrews 12:3.

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. - Isaiah 26:3.

An interesting study has been published in the Liver Transplantation Journal. In the study, it was found that those who believe in God survive the transplantation of a liver better than those who do not believe in God. Dr. Franco Bonaguidi led the study, which found that those patients who “sought God’s help had a more prolonged post transplant survival than patients with low religiosity.”

There is a woman in our church who had a liver transplant several years ago. She teaches a Sunday School class and is our prayer coordinator. She was on the waiting list for some time, and the actual procedure was many hours in length. Since then, she must take care of her health, being careful to always take her medications properly, and being careful about what she eats and drinks. I cannot imagine facing something like that, going through something like that, and then living with it, without leaning heavily on my God.

No wonder the survival rate for transplant patients is not as good for those who do not believe in God. How can people go through life without God? I know that I need Him every day. I need his strength, His peace, His guidance, His wisdom for everything in my life. God will give you His peace if you do what? If you let Him have your anxiety, if you let Him have your cares. How can you do that? Through prayer. The apostle Paul writes, “…but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Then, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

One more thing is necessary. We must let go of our cares, our worries, our anxieties, and cast them upon, place them upon the Lord. Part of what is involved in doing that is after we have prayed, we do not continue to dwell upon our problem, or whatever has been causing our anxiety. Instead, we focus upon our Lord Jesus. We cease to worry, by instead thinking about how great is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament, when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness, they were led by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). They learned to follow, to look to that pillar of cloud or fire, as God led them from place to place. We must “consider Him”, look to Him, as we go through each day; and then we will not “become weary and discouraged.”

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Jesus Wants You!

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. - Revelation 3:20.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. - John 6:44.

Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. - Isaiah 45:22.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9.

Selma Elmore now knows that she is wanted. She knows for sure because she waved a police officer over in a suburban area of Cincinnati, and asked if there were any warrants for her. Most of us never have to worry about whether we have a warrant out for us or not, but some people do. While I was a parole officer, I would have clients come to my office for their monthly report, and I would arrest them because of an outstanding warrant. The most common reasons would be for failure to appear, failure to pay a fine for Driving Under Suspension (or some other fine), and failure to comply with a rule of their probation or parole. Since my office was inside of a police station, I would open up a door to the lobby and invite them to enter directly into the booking area. It was very secure, and there was no place to run. However, it did cause some clients to miss their reporting dates when they thought that they might have a warrant out for them.

Selma Elmore, after finding out that there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for failure to pay a fine related to a drug conviction, tried to escape. She was captured, and now not only has a fine to pay, but also has an additional charge of Resisting Arrest. (This story was reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer.)

We may not know whether or not we are wanted by the police unless we ask; however, we need have no doubt about our being wanted by God. God wants you! Have no doubt about that! The Holy Spirit is wooing, witnessing to the heart of every person (John 6:44; Revelation 3:20) of how God wants them. Some reject that witness but their rejection makes it no less real.

It is not God’s will that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and that is why Jesus suffered and died on the cross as the “once for all” sacrifice (John 3:16; Hebrews 7:27). If you have ever wondered whether you were loved, or whether anyone wanted you - wonder no more! God wants you! God loves you! All of the Bible closes out with one more great invitation, one last plea with these words, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).”

Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart, and He wants to come in. Don’t make Him keep standing out there, open up the door of your heart and invite Him to come in. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and be your Savior and Lord. Jesus will do it, because He wants you!

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Slow of Heart

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. - Luke 24:25-27.

For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways.’ - Psalm 95:10.

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.

Do most people keep their bottle of superglue on the shelf next to their eye drops? Well, Irmgard Holm who lives in Glendale, Arizona must keep her eye drops next to her superglue, as she picked up the superglue instead of the eye drops. She then put a few drops of the superglue into her eye. As you can imagine the results were not good. Irmgard immediately noticed a burning sensation, and tried to wash the superglue out of her eye. However, it was too late, and her eye was glued shut. Thankfully, emergency room staff were able to remove the hardened glue, and it does not appear that Irmgard received any permanent damage. (Reported by KSAZ-TV http://www.fox10phoenix.com/ )

There are things that will harm us. Superglue, we now know, is not good for our eyes. It is also not a good idea to keep the eye drops stored next to the superglue. There are some things worse than damaging your eyes. Heart damage is even worse, physically, and especially on a spiritual level. In Proverbs 4:23 we are told, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The NIV says that the heart is the “well spring of life.” Whatever has the potential of damaging our hearts we need to keep out of the reach of children, and everyone else, including ourselves.

Commonsense is not always in opposition to the will of God, and a little commonsense can help to protect your heart from becoming bogged down in the muck of the world. Exposing your heart to sinful things will slow down your heart as far as doing the will of God is concerned. In 1 Peter 2:11 the Bible says, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” Put the sinful things out of sight and out of reach.

We can, however, make our hearts more sensitive to the things of God and quicker to respond to His will. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 119:32 “I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.” He is saying that he will live according to God’s commandments and God will then enlarge his heart. If you want your heart to be enlarged, if you want your heart to be quick to respond to the will of God, if you want your heart to bring forth good things - then, live as God wants you to live. Put away the sinful things and fill your life up with all the good things of God. Learn the ways of God, and your heart will be enlarged, as will all of your life.

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Believing Lies

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! - Isaiah 5:20.

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.

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. - John 8:44.

In Wading River, New York two employees of a liquor store have been cited for illegal possession of an animal. They claim they were only taking care of the three foot alligator for a fellow employee, and they had been told that it was not an alligator but a monitor lizard. Looking at a photo of the alligator it would be apparent to most people that this particular animal is not a lizard but an alligator. There is power in suggestion, and suggesting to her fellow employees that her lizard was an alligator may have been enough to make them believe that what she said was true.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are in a continual battle against those who love evil. Our enemies have no qualms about telling a lie if it will advance their cause or help them obtain something that they want. Our enemies have no problem with calling “evil good, and good evil.” We see this with the terrorists who lie about their religion being peaceful while killing those who do not believe as they do. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 we are told about this, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

We need to understand that just because a sincere sounding person is able to tell a lie with a straight face does not mean that what they are saying is true. In the political arena we have been overwhelmed with lie after lie. If they were sworn in before a court of law to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on penalty of perjury perhaps it would reduce the number of lies; although I am sure that some would continue to lie anyway. We must be aware that there are those all around us who will lie, cheat, steal, and even murder if it will advance their cause or enlarge their bank account.

One of the greatest spiritual lies now being told is that there are multiple ways to Heaven. To say this is to call Jesus a liar because Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Another spiritual lie that is prevalent today is that it does not matter what you believe because everyone is going to Heaven. Again, to say this is true is to call Jesus a liar because He says in Matthew 7:21a, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven….” Jesus also says in John 3:17-18, “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.”

Beware of those who seek to deceive you and “Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).” “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 (1 John 4:1).”

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Some Problems…

Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” - Mark 9:17.

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” - Mark 9:23-29.

Elsie O’Conner, 65-years-old, was arrested last week for driving while intoxicated. In Marion County, Florida a deputy received a call from his dispatcher about someone driving erratically, and he spotted Elsie. After the deputy pulled Elsie over, Deputy Calvin Batts reported that he was able to smell alcohol on the breath of the woman, and found a couple of bottles of vodka in her Cadillac SUV. One of the bottles was empty, and one was still about half full. In addition, the woman failed a field sobriety test. Later the level of alcohol in her blood was found to be three times the limit legally allowed. Deputy Batts reported that O’Conner told him after her arrest, “Come on now, I’m a grandma, can’t you do something for me since I’m not that bad. I could have brought you back to my house and made you a grilled cheese sandwich.” (This story was reported by the Star-Banner in Ocala, Florida.)

Some problems cannot be fixed with just a grill cheese sandwich. Some problems cannot be fixed by just a brief, half-hearted prayer, or even by a long sincere prayer. In these days in which we now live some things are unfixable. It is no longer God’s will to raise people back up from the dead when they have been dead for a few days or even longer. I know a man who went out to his daughter’s grave, and even though the daughter had been dead for more than a year, prayed there all night with another man for God to raise his daughter up. He was sincere, and had great faith in his God, but some things once they have occurred cannot be undone. As David said about his son that had died in 2 Samuel 12:22-23, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Considering other problems and situations that occur, or that have developed, it may be God’s will that they be fixed or solved. King David gives us an example of what to do when someone is ill, he prayed while fasting for the healing of his son. As Jesus tells His disciples, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” If you have a serious problem of any kind, prolonged prayer with fasting may be necessary; because, some problems cannot be fixed with just a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Still Here

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. - 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.

Edward Rosenthal went for a little hike in Joshua Tree National Park in California. It was supposed to be just a one day kind of a hike but it lasted six days, because he got lost. Edward had made some good progress making it six to seven miles outside of the original search area. He made good progress but he just kept going in the wrong direction. When searchers found Edward he did have some injuries and was suffering somewhat from exposure. He had become so sure that he would not ever make it back home that he began to write notes on his hat to his family and business partners. His last entry prior to being found was, “Still here.” Edward’s wife Nicole believes that his rescue and survival is miraculous.

Some of our lives are a little like Edward Rosenthal’s six day ordeal. How is that? We think we are making good progress although we have no idea where we are headed or when we will arrive. If someone charted our lives it might look like a large fish that has been thrown up on a beach or pulled into a fishing boat; still alive, but flopping around all over the place. We are still here, still alive, still kicking as some would say, but what are we doing with our lives?

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4 that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels….” We need to ask ourselves what we are doing with this treasure, which is our lives. Are we frittering it away using up the time on things of absolutely no eternal value? Even worse, are we using our time hindering those who would live their lives in a meaningful way?

If we have lived very long upon this earth, no matter who we are, or where we live, we have gone through some difficult times of one kind or another. Edward Rosenthal went through a horrific six days of being lost and when he wrote he was “Still here” it meant something. I don’t know what Edward is going to do with the rest of his life; however, I do know that he and his wife will treasure the remaining time that they do have together. Does it mean anything to you that you are still here? Is that of any value to you? It ought to mean something that you have lived life for the years that you have lived. It ought to mean something that you have survived all this time. Life is a gift. A gift that is cut short for countless people every year through illness, injuries, accidents, even by being lost out in a wilderness area.

Tomorrow when you wake up make a fresh start. Praise God for giving you your life and for all He has brought you through. Then, sit down and talk to your God about how He wants you to use the incredible treasure that your life is, while you are still here on this earth.

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Scientifically Explained Miracles

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. - Exodus 14:21.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. - Exodus 14:26-28.

In the release of a recent study scientists say that the parting of the Red Sea described in Exodus 14 could have been caused by strong winds. The scientists believe that the strong winds may have opened up a land bridge. They also found that whenever the wind died down the water would have covered up the land again. Carl Drews of the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research stated that “The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.”

The scientists could have saved the taxpayers some money just by reading the Exodus account of the miracle and believing it. Of course, this is an attempt to somehow downplay the miraculous and make it appear to be simply a natural occurrence. However, in this specific instance even if it was a natural occurrence, it was still miraculous in that the Children of Israel fled Egypt at just the right time to be there for the natural occurrence. Also, Pharaoh changed his mind and decided to pursue them at just the right time for them to follow the Hebrews into the sea bed and be drowned when the waters returned. I do believe that still qualifies as an incredibly wondrous miracle! This is another instance of science simply confirming the truth of the Bible.

There is no contradiction between science and Scripture. Many continually try to prove that there is; however, invariably, after someone claims that the Bible is wrong at some point then the truth about the truth of the Scriptures is uncovered some time later. Scientists are not perfect and their observation of the known universe is fallible. This is continually seen as old discoveries give way to new discoveries proving the old ones wrong. It is not the nature that scientists observe that is in conflict with the Scriptures. It is the fallible opinions of scientists that are sometimes in conflict with God’s Word.

We need to remember Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” As we are told in the Gospel of John chapter one, Jesus is the Word become flesh. He never changes, His Word never changes, and in a constantly changing world Jesus is the only One that will always be there, will never change, and His truth will always stand. The truth of the Word of God has stood the test of time, and it will stand the test of a few doubting scientists.

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Going Through the Motions

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. - Acts 19:11-16.

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

In Duncansville, Pennsylvania there was an attempted robbery at a book store by two women both in their twenties. The robbery failed even though they pointed a gun at the clerk. It failed because the clerk recognized the gun as being just a toy, and he told the two women to “get a real gun”. Then he told them “First, if you’re going to rob someone, get a real gun. Second off, you’re not getting any money.” The clerk then ran the women out of the store and chased them until they escaped in a van. The police were able to find the van and arrest the suspects through the clerk’s description. (This story was reported in the Altoona Mirror.)

The two women in the failed robbery can be thankful that the clerk recognized that their gun was fake, and they can be very thankful that he did not have a real gun behind the counter to open fire on them. This story reminded me of the story in Acts 19 of the sons of Sceva. The sons of Sceva had the ritual down; they knew what the apostle Paul said when he cast out demons. It is likely that they had seen Paul as through the Name of Jesus people were healed and demons were cast out. However, they discovered that just knowing about Jesus, and just knowing about the ritual of using the Name of Jesus was not enough to actually cast out a demon. It just took one demon possessed person to completely overwhelm seven men; so much so that not only were they wounded, but they had their clothes torn off in the attack.

Evil spirits, aka demons, aka fallen angels know who knows Jesus as their Savior, and who doesn’t. If the sons of Sceva had known Jesus the demon possessed person would not have been able to overpower them. Because not only do demons tremble at the knowledge of there being a God they also flee if we resist them as is written in James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” In addition, 1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

The question for each of us, is whether we know the real Jesus as our Savior, or whether we only know about Him. We may know the rituals, we may know to pray in the Name of Jesus, but would a demon possessed person laugh in our face if we confronted them like the sons of Sceva did in the Book of Acts? Would they say to us, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 1 John 5:13 says this, “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.” Do you really know Jesus? Or, are you just going through the motions?

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Brace for Impact

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 20:11-15.

The emergency landing today of Delta Flight 4951 with the flight attendant shouting “heads down”, “stay down” over and over while one wing scrapes along the runway with sparks flying is scary even on the video. It also brings back memories of other landings that were close calls. The one that I think will always come first to my mind is the “miracle on the Hudson” landing piloted by then 57-year-old Captain Chesley B Sullenberger III. Julian Williams was one of the passengers on the flight who described it in this way, “I was looking out of the window and I saw one of the engines blow. The pilot started trying to turn around to go back but then three minutes later he said, 'Brace for impact' and then we went down.”

Can you imagine the terror that fills the minds of the passengers as the pilot calmly announces “Brace for impact?” Although, on a lower level on the terror scale we have all braced for impact with one thing or another. We may have braced for impact as our vehicle was soon to be involved in a crash. We may have braced for impact as we saw the economy nosedive and our employment became at risk. We may have braced for impact as we sat in a doctor’s office and heard the dreaded news that we have cancer or some other disease, or must have some kind of surgery.

We know what it means to “brace for impact”; however, after we have “braced for impact” so many times facing physical dangers it is difficult for us to take seriously spiritual dangers. It is hard because the spiritual dangers are unseen and do not appear to be occurring in our immediate future. When you are struggling to make enough to keep your home or car from being repossessed, or fighting to hold your marriage together, or trying to keep your job when others are being laid off around you every day, it is hard to focus seriously on the possibility of unseen and even unknown spiritual dangers.

Those spiritual dangers are very real and the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart about them. The Spirit is not shouting like the flight attendant during the emergency landing today. No, the Holy Spirit is speaking in a still, small, calm voice warning you to “Brace for impact.” Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If not, your spiritual landing will be difficult as you crash into the Lake of Fire. Your spiritual crash landing may not be 50 years from now, it could be tomorrow, or even today. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2c).” If you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior; today is the time to do so, now is the time to turn from your sins and turn to the Lord (Romans 10:13).

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How precious (priceless - NIV) is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. - Psalm 36:7-8.

The Sanchez family of Las Cruces, New Mexico is having a very public disagreement over their family finances. It was not so public until, Regina attacked her husband during an argument over recent expenses and the amount he had paid for her wedding ring. Regina punched and scratched her husband with the wounds visible enough that she was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Mr. Sanchez was in trouble with his wife because Regina believes he is not making enough money, spent $1300 on a vet bill for their dog’s broken leg, and had no gas in the car. In addition, Regina found out that her husband had only paid $200 for the wedding ring she has compared to the $3200 he paid for his first wife’s ring.

Some things are priceless, or at least they should be, like the cost of wedding rings. The first wedding rings that Jeanie and I wore cost less than $130 and the ones we wear now cost less than $1000. Somehow money paid for a ring has become the equivalent of saying how much you love or do not love your wife. Some things, as in the love a husband and a wife have for each other, should be considered priceless.

For the average couple beginning their married life today it would be better to pay $200 for rings, and if they have $3000 more, to use that to establish their household and for unexpected expenses that will be sure to come. I feel the same way about exorbitantly expensive weddings. For most couples the money used for a huge wedding would be better used to secure the future of the family. Jeanie and I were married in her parent’s home with a few family members present, and if we had it to do again we would definitely do the same thing. Our love for each other is not defined by the price of our wedding rings or the size of our wedding. If you feel that your love for your husband-to-be or wife-to-be is defined by those things; you should take time to think seriously about whether you are making a lifetime commitment, or if you are really just in it for the money.

God’s love is and should be considered not only precious but priceless. Much as some place a monetary value on things like human love they sometimes do the same with the love of God. If God doesn’t give them the great job that they believe they should have then they are angry with Him. If God doesn’t provide the wonderful house that they believe they should be living in then God must not be real and on and on. As with human relationships if that is how we see God as only one who can provide material things for us then we need to examine our relationship with Him. Is there a relationship? If it is only based upon those kinds of things it is unlikely.

Whether it is the love of a husband and a wife, or the love of a believer for His God, that love should be priceless. As the Psalmist says we should be “satisfied” with that love. Knowing that we have the love of our husband or our wife should be enough for us to be satisfied in our relationship with them. Knowing that our God loves us should be enough too for us to be “satisfied” in our relationship with Him.

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No Redundancy

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” - John 14:5-6.

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 4:8-12.

Phyllis Engleson filed a federal lawsuit in Minnesota in 2001, however, it was dismissed in November 2002. Phyllis was suing the Little Falls Area Arts and Crafts Fair because of injuries she sustained from tripping over a bright orange traffic cone. There were approximately 99,999 other visitors to the arts and crafts fair that year who did not trip over a traffic cone. Judge Donovan Frank essentially found that the purpose of bright orange traffic cones is to warn of imminent risk and therefore should not require a warning of a traffic cone ahead. In other words, a sign warning of a bright orange traffic cone would be redundant.

One definition for the word redundant is: “being in excess; exceeding what is usual or natural” according to dictionary dot com. Redundancy is defined as “the provision of additional or duplicate systems, equipment.” Certainly, a warning sign warning of a warning traffic cone would be redundant. However, if there were a warning sign warning of a traffic cone there would be redundancy. Of course, as the court found that would be unnecessary, and most would think a little crazy to have to post a warning for a warning.

Spiritually, there is no backup way, no backup plan of salvation. God has provided through Jesus Christ a completely adequate way of salvation for all who receive Christ as their personal Savior. This way of salvation was bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. All who believe upon Jesus belong to Him and have been purchased (1 Corinthians 6:20) with the blood of Jesus Christ. The God approved way of salvation is completely free of cost and is a gift to those who will believe and receive Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, for God to provide another way of salvation would be redundant, and far more unnecessary than a warning sign for a bright orange traffic cone.

Believe it! Receive Him! Because “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus would say to you the same as He did to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

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For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. - 1 Corinthians 14:3.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 1:1.

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. - Philippians 1:1.

…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. - Ephesians 1:18-19.

Shelby Heggs who lives in Macon, Georgia is trying to change his name along with his life. Shelby wants to change his name to Saint Jody Almighty Bedrock. In the past, he has been convicted of drunk driving and possession of marijuana. He also has a pending charge of Aggravated Battery but claims that was simply a case of self-defense. A name change can be denied if a person is trying to hide their previous criminal record and the District Attorney is opposing the new name on that basis. Shelby says about his reason for the new name that “I wanted a name that everybody would know when they were talking to me that they were talking to a man of God. I wanted that to be expressed in my name. I wanted to start fresh.” Shelby’s family and friends are already calling him, Saint Jody.

There is no doubt that some in the Bible are saints, as in Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and all of the apostles. However, it appears from how the Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write that every child of God is a saint. If Shelby Heggs is a believer i.e. he knows Jesus as his Savior, then he is already a saint, and it is unnecessary to change his name to show that he is a new creation in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17). As we see written in the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul identifies the “saints” as those “who believe” in Ephesians 1:19. Further evidence that all who believe are saints is seen in how the epistles of Paul are addressed: “to the saints who are in Ephesus” and “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.”

There is, however, something more important for the believer than being called a saint and recognized legally as a saint. The more important thing is whether we are living like a saint or not. As a believer it is still so very true that your life, how you are living it, may be the only Bible that many ever read.

Would you have to have your name legally changed to “Saint” before anyone would begin to think of your life as being saint like? What needs to be changed in your life before non-Christians would begin to associate you with being saintly? If someone reading your life story would never know that you are a saint? If those who know you would not find enough evidence in the way that you have been living to convict you of being a saint? Why waste any more time, drop to your knees and confess your sins to your Savior and Lord (1 John 1:9). Rise up and walk with Him, living like a saint ought to live. “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 5:2).”

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Finding Lost Love

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” - Revelation 2:1-4.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. - John 15:4-5.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. - John 15:7.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. - John 15:9-12.

On the History Channel about a week ago there was a story about a couple being trapped in a cave for a few days. They came close to dying while inside the cave. The even more interesting part of this story was that this was a first date for the couple! Just 24-hours after their rescue they announced their engagement, and they have now been married more than 40 years and are still very much in love. One other thing they shared was that they have not been back inside of a cave since their rescue.

How is your spiritual love life? Are you still in love with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? That is a good question to ask ourselves from time to time. The church at Ephesus had a problem with their spiritual love life. They had lost it. Now the church at Ephesus was not a bad church because Jesus does commend them for not bearing with evil or false prophets. He commends them for not being weary in laboring in the Name of Jesus.

The Ephesus problem is a problem, we in the modern church face frequently. We are busy people, our doctrine is correct, we are against evil, and we continue to labor in teaching, preaching, and sharing Jesus. Along the way somehow we like the Ephesians fell out of love with our Lord. How does it happen? It happens when we work for the Lord but no longer spend time with the Lord. We no longer truly “abide” in Him.

There we are, loveless people who are working hard for the Lord. How do we find our lost love, return to our first love? How did the couple trapped in the cave find love? They spent time together. That is how we can fall in love with our Lord once again as well. The more time that we spend with Jesus, the more we “abide” in Him, the more love we will have for Him. How do we do that? We must do what we know to do. We must spend time with Him in prayer. We must spend time with Him in the Bible, and we must spend time with Him by assembling with other believers i.e. go to church.

Your love will not instantaneously return but it will return if you “abide” in Him.

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Be Friendly

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

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24.

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, who sharpen their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows - bitter words, that they may shoot in secret at the blameless; suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear. - Psalm 64:2-4.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. - John 15:13.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8.

Indians in the state of Rondonia in western Brazil have had a difficult existence in the last part of the 20th and into the 21st Century. They face pressures from those who want their land for various reasons. Several tribes are extinct or close to being so because of those pressures which from what I read may have even been murderous massacres. It is no wonder that one remaining member of a tribe that digs rectangular holes in the center of their tents (or used to) is reluctant to make contact with the outside. There was found what appeared to be a campsite of about 14 huts with the same rectangular holes in the center that had been bulldozed. Did I say that the remaining tribe member was reluctant to make contact with the outside world? The last government agent who came close to the lone tribesman was shot with an arrow that hit him in the chest. That last near contact was back in the 1990s.

There are lessons here for individuals and for churches. One of those lessons is that there have always been and always will be those who would harm us if they could for their own reasons. Sometimes those reasons are financial, sometimes those reasons may be that they simply enjoy hurting others, sometimes it is because of their prejudices, and other times it may be for some unknown reason. There are those who hate Christians and who hate the church, and they will cause us harm if they have the opportunity.

Having in mind the known possibility of there being some people who are hostile to us and hostile to the church, how do we continue to move forward in fulfilling the Great Commission? As Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” There must be some balance in that we do not completely throw away caution; however, there will always be some risk involved in doing anything our Lord calls upon us to do. God may not call us to go to the lone member of this lost tribe in Brazil, but He may call us to go to our neighbor who lives next door.

Another lesson for us as individual Christians and churches is that we will not gain more friends, and we will not grow as churches by shooting arrows at people. When you have people who visit your church, or you visit them in their homes you must yourself “be friendly.” We may not shoot people with arrows today, but we may shoot off our mouths with words that are almost as deadly. When did Jesus lay down His life for us? He did it while we were still sinners, still enemies as one translation puts it. Our neighbors, our guests at church are likely not to be “perfect people” and they are likely not to be just like us. But Jesus still died for them, just as He died for us.

What do you think Jesus would have us to do? What does Jesus want you to do?

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Stop Digging

An ungodly man digs up evil…. - Proverbs 16:27a.

Near Greeley, Colorado a man was arrested for DUI, handcuffed, and he was put inside of a police vehicle. Police officers interviewed a witness while the intoxicated man waited in their car. At least the officers thought that the arrested man was waiting. The arrested man was able to bring his hands handcuffed behind him around in front of himself. He then escaped by driving off in the police vehicle. It was a short drive as officers were able to stop him about a mile down the road. Now, instead of one charge for DUI he will have two DUI charges. In addition, he will be charged with escape, attempting to elude, and possibly resisting arrest. If he tried, in his escape, to ram another police vehicle or run over an officer or someone else, he could be facing even more serious charges. In retrospect, when he sobers up, he will probably be thinking that just one count of DUI wouldn’t have been all that bad.

There is actually a webpage devoted to giving instructions for digging a hole. Here’s the link in case you have a hole to dig: http://everything2.com/title/How+to+dig+a+hole According to the digging a hole webpage you may need a round point shovel, a square point shovel, a posthole digger, a digging bar, a measuring tape, and a rope. As one who has dug some holes in the ground, including postholes, I know that digging holes takes some effort. The effort exerted will depend, to some extent, on the hardness of the ground. When you have reached the depth that you wanted to go to how do you stop? You simply stop digging. It is an old, old saying filled with wisdom, which says, “When you are in a hole, stop digging.”

The man arrested in Colorado for DUI apparently had not dug his hole as deep as he wanted, and so he kept on digging. The result is the possibility of several charges being added to the one that he was arrested for originally. The writer of Proverbs has a good and wise point, “An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire (Proverbs 16:17).” Those who are not led by the Spirit of God will dig up evil. It may be in the form of gossip that they will spread, or it may be like the DUI man in Colorado, who dug up some more trouble for himself.

In Romans 8:5-6, we are told this, “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.” If the man in Colorado had been led by the Holy Spirit, he would not have been drunk, he would not have been arrested, and he would have a much more peaceful life than he will have as he spends some time in jail, or possibly even prison.

Instead of spending all of the effort necessary to dig yourself a hole in life, set your heart and mind upon the Lord. So if you find yourself digging a hole, and want out of the hole, step one is to stop digging. Stop doing evil, and stop storing up provision for evil (Romans 13:14). Step two is “live according to the Spirit.” That is how you can get out of the hole and start to really live life, a life filled with peace.

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A Devotional Classic from 2001 ~ In Remembrance of 9/11
With Some Thoughts for Today


No More…

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4.

It is clear from this verse that there will be death, sorrow, crying, and pain even for Christians while on this earth. There is more than enough to go around. New York City, Washington D.C. and Afghanistan are the most recent names, which symbolize the pain of human agony.

It has been said there are no atheists in a foxhole. I have not heard any atheists testify to their unbelief since this tragedy and how their unbelief helped them make it through it. But I have heard survivor after survivor tell of how they prayed and how God protected them and helped them. Yes, some Christians died, some Christians were injured, and some Christians lost material possessions. But as Christians we have a peace which is beyond understanding, a joy that is unspeakable, and a hope that good will come from the bad.

The unbeliever only has more of the same and worse to look forward to after death. The Christian has hope, the unbeliever has nothing. For the Christian death will bring a New World. In this New World, the “former things” will “have passed away.” God will wipe away our tears, and “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.”

Some Thoughts Nine Years Later

Tonight for the first time I heard two survivors of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center tell of their escape. They spoke of their prayers and how God answered them. They spoke of how after their escape their first thoughts were to find a church and thank God.

We do have some things to be thankful about. We can be thankful that there were not thousands more people inside of the World Trade Center when the 9/11 attack occurred. We can be thankful that the economy of the United States and of the world did not collapse as it appeared for a while that it might. Although there have been more attempted attacks on the United States there have been none of the magnitude of 9/11.

The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Let us give thanks this anniversary of 9/11 for all that our God has done for us. We do have much for which to be thankful.

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:8)

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Your Identity

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His.” - 2 Timothy 2:19a.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…. - Ephesians 1:13-14.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. - Ephesians 4:30.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:15.

And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. - Revelation 2:17.

Paola Londono took a cruise with her nine-month-old son to the Caribbean enjoying her trip until she returned to the U.S. at Fort Lauderdale. Paola was arrested after going through customs for failing to appear in court on charges for prostitution and drug possession. However, law enforcement officers had the wrong woman! Can you imagine being arrested while holding your baby and sent to jail? Because it was a holiday weekend it took some time before Paola’s attorney was able to convince a judge to order her release. Back in March, another woman with the same name was arrested and released with a court date set for her appearance in court. When she failed to appear as ordered a warrant for her arrest was issued. Sadly, the innocent Paola must still appear in court providing proof as to her identity.

Stolen identities and mistaken identities have reached an epidemic level in the United States. Kimberly Shields was arrested, strip searched, and held in jail for 24-hours because someone stole her identity. In addition, the stolen and mistaken identity problem can cause all kinds of problems financially and even for their relationships.

Spiritually, we do not have to worry about being mistaken for someone else by God or someone stealing our spiritual identity. Because at the moment that we believe upon Jesus as our Savior, we are birthed into the Kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit (John 3). Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) and the Holy Spirit seals us (Ephesians 4:30) “for the day of redemption.” In addition, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (The book is mentioned in Revelation 13:8; 21:27).

Boyce Evans was a powerful evangelist whom I heard preach a couple of times and still have a little book of a few of his sermons. One of those sermons I heard him preach and that is also in his sermon book is “God’s White Stone.” Evans tells of how it is only the High Priest with the white stone in his breastplate that was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. We who know Jesus are now able to go boldly to the “throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)” through prayer. Evans recites instances in Roman life when a white stone would be given to people. A white stone would be given when a man was accused of a crime but found innocent. A white stone would be given to a slave who was set free. Winners of Olympic games would be given a white stone which entitled the one possessing it to certain benefits. A white stone would be given as an invitation to a feast. A white stone would sometimes be given a badge of friendship, and a white stone would be given to a son by a father as a symbol of authority.

If you know Jesus as your Savior you have overcome and have been given a white stone and on that stone is a new name written that only God knows. Your spiritual identity is eternally secure because Jesus says of all who know Him as their Savior, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28).”

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Short Term Thinking

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

Have you ever heard an official of a government urge the citizens of the country to smoke and drink more? It has now happened. The finance minister of Russia is urging their citizens to smoke and drink more to raise more tax money for their social services. Alexei Kudrin, the Russian Finance Minister says, “If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates. People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state.” To generate more income for the state, taxes on cigarettes will increase by more than 100% in the next three years.

Russia already has a large percentage of their population addicted to nicotine and to alcohol. Sixty-five percent of men in the country smoke and based on current consumption the average Russian drinks 19 quarts (18 liters) of alcohol every year. Thousands of Russians die every year from alcohol related causes and the government has recently implemented laws designed to help with the problem. Vodka now has a minimum price, which also ought to help the state coffers. Increased levels of drunk driving enforcement along with no night-time sales of alcohol are hoped to help reduce the number of deaths.

In the short term Kudrin is likely to be proven right that if Russians smoke and drink more tax revenues will increase. In the long term net revenues will decrease. Why? Because there will be an increased strain on their social services for which Kudrin wants to increase funding. Increased smoking and drinking will cause health related diseases to increase causing a greater burden on the social services system.

We see the same kind of thinking in our own lives all the time. In the short term buying a new car or a new house with a huge payment will make us feel better. However, in the long term when we start making those huge payments we will begin to feel trapped and burdened by our purchase.

We can go out and party getting high on alcohol and drugs and in the very short term we may feel very good about it. However, the next day, if not sooner we experience the consequences of a hangover, the need for another fix, or even worse wake up in jail because of what we have done while we were high.

We can have a brief relationship with another person that is not our wife or husband and in the short term we may feel very good about it. However, in the long term it will complicate our lives, and it could leave us with a STD, or send us spiraling out of control in the wrong direction.

Not only can short term thinking damage your body, and your relationships, but it will prevent the implementation of God’s will, His plan in your life. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Please do not let short term thinking rob you of “peace” and of a “future and a hope.”

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The Rescue

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver (rescue - NIV) 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.

He has delivered (rescued - NIV) us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:13-14.

It all happened on a railroad bridge in Montana between Roundup and Billings. Someone called and reported that two of them were stranded on a half foot wide slanted ledge on the bridge. There was some confusion about exactly where they were located and so no rescue could be attempted until a second call came in with a more exact location. Sandy Church who observed the rescue said, “The whole time, we thought they were going to fall off. These guys are just babies.” Signal Peak Energy that runs a nearby mine volunteered a huge cherry picker and both of them were plucked to safety. Both of the young female goats are now in good condition at an animal shelter. The goats both have collars, and it is hoped that their owner will hear about the story and contact the shelter.

Two thousand years ago there was another rescue well planned and well executed. The human race was in trouble, and they needed a Savior. Jesus volunteered for the mission and agreed that He would arrive on Planet Earth as a tiny baby born into a peasant family. He would appear to be just a normal human being, a normal boy growing up. He would feel pain, joy, and the full range of human emotions, feelings, and sensations. He would learn the trade of His step-father, Joseph and become a carpenter until He was about the age of thirty. Then Jesus would become a teacher, what some would call a rabbi, gathering followers, disciples for about three years. At that time, Jesus would be crucified, He would give His life for the sins of the people, for all who would look to Him and receive Him as their Savior.

The rescue went as planned. It was the perfect plan carried out by the perfect Savior, who lived a perfect life, and died an extraordinary death. He lived, He died, and He rose again on the third day. He ascended back into Heaven and is at the right hand of the Father. The rescue, the mission was completed. Now, the Savior awaits all those who will believe in Him. The temptation has been endured, the pain has been borne, the work has been done, the blood has been shed because as Jesus say in John 19:30, “It is finished!”

Sadly, some do not realize they need to be rescued. As we are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4, there are some “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.” What should we who have had the light of the Gospel shined upon us do? The Bible has some guidance for us as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” We are also told in Jude 1:22-23, “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.” What does that mean? It means if we are still here breathing on Planet Earth that there are some rescues that need to be made. You and I are the designated rescuers. Let’s roll!

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The Kingdom of Heaven

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. - Luke 15:8-10.

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.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. - Matthew 13:45-46.

Picture the scene of ten or more professional football players, Miami Dolphins, down on their hands and knees out on the football field after practice is over. What are they doing? Are they sick? Are they exhausted? No, they are looking for an earring! Kendall Langford, a defensive player, lost one of his earrings during practice. You might think that they are silly to be trying to find an earring until you learn it has a 2.5 carat diamond and could be worth $50,000. The Dolphins use two practice fields, which makes it a large area that needs to be searched. No updates have been found so apparently the diamond is still out there somewhere. Not sure if Kendall is still crawling around looking for his earring or not. If we had lost a $50,000 earring, we would probably still be out in the grass looking for it too!

The coin in the parable of the ten silver coins is much more important and valuable to the woman than a 2.5 carat diamond. Many believe that the coin the woman lost was part of a wedding headdress and because of that the coin had great value not just as money but sentimentally too. The focus in the Parable of the Lost Coin is on the focus of Heaven. The Bible never talks about Heaven rejoicing over a new church facility, or a new church van, or a new church sign, or whatever of the material world. Heaven rejoices over people who are saved, who turn from their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. As Jesus says, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).” God has placed the emphasis on people and each person is of immense value to Him. You are of immense value to God.

In the parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price we see a different view. In these parables, the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl represent how valuable Heaven should be to us. The Kingdom of Heaven, having eternal life, is of such value that we should gladly give everything that we have and are to enter it.

Is there anything in this world keeping you from receiving Jesus as your personal Savior? A relationship? A job? Money? Land? A house? Nothing of this world is of as much value as knowing Jesus as your Savior and Lord. If there is anything preventing you from following Jesus, let it go. All of Heaven will rejoice when you call upon the Name of the Lord.

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Temptations - Part 2

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. - 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men…. - 1 Corinthians 10:14-15a.

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.

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.

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.

Di Huanran is enjoying the flooding in northeast China because he is looking for what others think is dangerous. He likes to dive from waterfalls, and he holds the world record according to Guinness for a 75 foot waterfall dive. He used to work as a chauffeur before giving it up to pursue waterfall diving full time. He stages diving performances at a water park to pay for his danger seeking record breaking dives. Even though Huanran is 51-years-old, he still makes 100 or more of the difficult waterfall dives each year. Huanran enjoys trying to find danger but we as Christians need to avoid the dangerous risk that temptations pose to our spiritual well being.

There may be some spiritual pride involved in enduring some temptations when it would be better just to avoid them. King David would have saved himself a lot of pain and heartache if after he had seen Bathsheba bathing he had just gone back down into the palace and forgotten about it. It was the time when kings go to war, and he should have saddled up a horse and headed for the front. When David thought that his son Absalom was going to take over the country, he told his servants, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:14a).” That is what he should have done when he saw Bathsheba. There was a way of escape from the temptation, but he chose not to take it.

We do not enhance our Heavenly rewards when we choose to be endure temptation when we could simply take the way of escape that God provides. That was what Abraham's nephew Lot who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah was doing as God says in 2 Peter “and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed (vexed his righteous soul - old KJV) by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:7-9).”

There is no need to “vex” your soul enduring temptation when there is a way of escape. Joseph fled when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. It caused Joseph some pain, as in sitting many years in prison to do what was right. However, Joseph stayed the course and he was God’s man in the right place at the right time to save the lives of those in his family and the lives of thousands, perhaps even millions of others.

Are you being tempted? Flee from it! Look for the way of escape, and take it!

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Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. - Matthew 6:19-20.

On his death bed, Ban Jing’s father revealed a secret that he had buried $31,000 dollars ($20,000 pounds) in their garden. Ban Jing says, “I ran out there and dug it up, but it had been shredded by a mouse for a nest, it was damp and moldy - a real mess.” Thankfully, a bank has agreed to help Ban with the situation and try to put the pieces together if he will open an account with them. The bank has been trying to put the pieces together and has put about 2,000 of the notes back together, but they have a long way to go.

Do you have a good place to store your money? How about the stock market? Well, if you had money there you have lost some of it by now. How about banks? In the United States, we have guarantees from the government that our money is safe up to a certain amount. Sometimes though they do close banks, and you may not immediately have access to your money. It happened to us once. Of course, what if the government’s word or guarantee is no longer honored by other governments or anyone else? That does sometimes happen with hyper-inflation. As we see with Ban Jing’s father, hiding your money in the garden ground is not foolproof either. When I was a boy I had 50 or 60 comic books that might have been worth a lot now. I say might have been because they were stored in another building on the farm and mice or rats ate holes in them.

Jesus knows about all of our worries and how we worry about our money. He has the foolproof place to put your money where it will always be safe. Where is it? Store your money up in Heaven. Give your money away here on Earth to support the Kingdom of God and that money is stored up in Heaven. The suggested amount of your income or increase to give is ten percent but that is just the starting point.

When I was a new Christian I was somewhat shocked to learn about this practice of giving money to God through the church. I was okay with giving five or ten dollars but 50 dollars or 100 dollars? Let’s get real here! It took a while for me to realize that I was never able to out give God. I could live and still can live better on 90% of my income than on 100% of it. Because God will always bless the giver of a gift that is given with the right attitude. I have never regretted having given money to God. I do regret having spent money in other ways.

Giving your money to the Kingdom of God is, painful, difficult, and hard? No! Giving to the Kingdom of God is wise, obedient, a joy, and really it is not our money because we are only stewards of the material things that we have. All of it belongs to God. What giving of your money to God is, is an act of worship; or at least it should be.

Listen to what Jonah says to God after he has repented in the belly of the great fish, “…I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD (Jonah 2:9).” If we really want to be in a right relationship with the Lord we will give as the Lord places it upon our heart to give. However, we should remember that God loves a “cheerful giver” as the apostle Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

So next Sunday or even before if you really want to worship God, and you want your money to be really safe, give it to God.

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There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades (hell - KJV), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” - Luke 16:19-26.

In North Conway, New Hampshire, Jeff Allard got a surprise when he took out the trash. Jeff threw his trash into the trash dumpster and a 300lb black bear popped out swinging his paw. The bear did manage to give Allard a wound that needed 16 stitches. Normally, the dumpsters in the area have a bar on top that prevents bears from opening them. However, this bear was able to squeeze inside anyway and then was unable to get back out. After taking a swing at Jeff with his paw the bear ran away.

What a surprise to take out the trash, and suddenly you are face to face with a bear! Life has a way of giving us some surprises along the way and all of us have encountered surprises in some form or another. However, are you prepared for the ultimate surprise? There are those who will die and wake up in…hell! Surprise! Where’s the fun in that? Actually there will not be any fun at all in that, only misery. The rich man in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus has experienced the ultimate surprise. As good as life was for him here on Earth, he surely was surprised that the non-life he has now in hell can be so bad.

The Rich Man must have been surprised to find out that there actually was a hell. There will be some who are living today who will be just as surprised. Even though the New Testament mentions the place 23 times many try to explain it away. Then there are those who think that because they are living a somewhat moral life that a good God will send them to Heaven. Others believe that God is sending everyone to Heaven regardless. Won’t they be surprised! No one will be in Heaven because of their good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that clear, “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.” Only by believing in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior while still living and breathing will anyone go to Heaven. Jesus is the only way as He says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Not only was the Rich Man surprised by there actually being a place called hell, but he must have also been surprised that there was no escape possible, and that it lasts forever. We have enough surprises in this life without having another one when we die. Do you know where you are going when you die? There are only two destinations possible: Heaven or Hell. You choose by deciding to believe in Jesus or reject Jesus. It’s your choice. Which place do you want to be in for eternity?

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Sitting it Out

The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. - Numbers 14:29-30.

Can you imagine a nine day traffic jam? It has been taking place on a highway going to Beijing, China. Reportedly, the traffic jam is nearly over caused by road work but traffic is backed up into Inner Mongolia and into the province of Hebei. We have our share of traffic jams here in the United States, and I have sat in a few for more than an hour but can you imagine nine days? There must be some really cranky people sitting in those trucks and cars! While they have been sitting out everything they usually do they still have to live. There have been complaints about inflated food prices. They have been at the mercy of whoever will bring them food and water, sitting, and sitting, and sitting for nine days!

In our spiritual lives sometimes we are forced to the sidelines by God. The Children of Israel had this happened to them after they refused to go into the promised land after the majority report of the spies. For 40 years the Children of Israel were sitting on the sidelines, and it was a forced sit out. They were forced out of spiritual action because of their complaining and unbelief. Jonah had a briefer period that he was forced to sit out after his rebellion against God. Jonah sat in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights until he finally repented deciding he would do what God wanted.

In other situations the Bible records those who through no sin of their own are forced to the sidelines. Joseph of the Old Testament is one of those individuals. His brothers sold him into slavery, and he was taken to Egypt. He rose to prominence in Potiphar’s house until Potiphar’s wife lied about his attacking her. Joseph was then sitting it out again this time in prison until finally through his interpretation of dreams (Joseph makes clear the ability was given to him by God) he is again placed in the action. God uses Joseph to save the people of Egypt and his own family. Joseph says to his brothers at the end of the narrative in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Are you sitting it out? Is it because of sin in some form? Rebellion, complaining, grumbling, or immorality of some type? If so I urge you not to go the route of the Children of Egypt wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years. Instead, repent quickly, even quicker than Jonah did and move forward with your life. The best way to handle sin and avoid sitting out the spiritual action is to immediately confess and forsake it asking for the Lord’s forgiveness.

Then there is the possibility that you have been sitting it out because of reasons unknown to you like Joseph. You are in a holding pattern, and you are waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Trust the Lord because He means it for good. Take advantage of the time to better prepare yourself for the challenge that He has ahead for you. Remember Isaiah 40:30-31, “…those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” And as the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

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Are You a Fool?

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. - Romans 1:20-21.

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” - Psalm 53:1a; Psalm 14:1a.

A. Renault is no fool because he has complained about the billboards funded by the Humanist Society which according to A. Renault are offensive and mock the Christian faith. The billboards say things like “In the beginning, man created god, there’s probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Also there is a sign that states, “We are all atheists about most gods, some of us just go one god further.” Mr. Renault complained to the Advertising Standards Authority; however, they have now rejected his complaint because they do not believe the billboards violate the advertising ethics rules. Mr. Renault is no fool but apparently there are a few fools still out there.

Why is someone a fool not to believe in God? The answer is obvious according to the apostle Paul, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” In other words, you just have to look around at the world in which you live, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe and for anyone who has a brain it is obvious there is an intelligent designer and Creator responsible for all of creation. Or, as some have said, you just have to look at your thumb to know that there is a Creator!

Our enemies have captured different pieces of our technology and have successfully reverse engineered the technology to create their own devices. The brightest human minds have been busy for decades trying to reverse engineer the human body. The result, progress has been made but any doctor will tell you that we know little compared to what we need to know. If you take all the chemicals that make up the human body and throw them into the air, how many times will it take until they fall to the earth in the form of a human being? I would submit to you that you could do it a billion or trillion times, and it will never happen! Why? Because only God, the One true God can create life, breathing life into His creation.

You may not be able to talk to or see Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone, but you know that the telephone did not think itself up and create itself. The telephone had a creator. There is a Creator for every living organism upon this planet. This planet did not think itself up and create itself. No, the Planet Earth had a Creator and that Creator is God.

Would you like to meet the Creator of all things? Would you like to meet God? You can by coming to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is, of course, your choice. You can choose to be a fool and deny what is obvious to anyone who honestly considers the evidence. You can do that, but as the Psalmist declares you are a fool if you do.

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience - NIV), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. - Galatians 5:22.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. - Colossians 1:10-12.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (patience - NIV); bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. - Colossians 3:11-13.

Walter and Rose Martin of Brooklyn, New York have had their patience tried. Actually, they have had their patience tried more than 50 times beginning in 2002. What is it that is trying their patience? The NYPD keeps showing up at their house to either raid it or to ask questions. Hopefully, the problem is fixed now, but they have said it was fixed in the past, and they keep coming to their house. The NYPD blames it on a computer glitch which occurred when the software they are using was first installed. The randomly chosen address used to test the software was that of the Martins. Rose Martin is not so sure the problem has been solved and wants a letter from the city that she can show to the invading officers in the future.

The even stranger thing is that problems with the address go back not to 2002 but to 1997. A previous resident had police or fire crews show up at his house 30 times or so because someone was calling them from a pay phone reporting fires or crimes. The previous resident couldn’t take it any more and simply moved. His patience must have run out! Mine would have run out too!

Dictionary dot com gives this definition of patience: “the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.” Patience is one of those fruits of the Spirit that I hesitate to pray that I receive although I do pray for it. Why? Because to have patience it has to be developed and tested. It appears that Walter and Rose Martin have passed the test!

Patience is one of the marks you could say that a mature Christian has. Someone with patience is “long-suffering” as the KJV puts it. They will put up with things when most would simply bail out and try to escape from the problem, or irritation, or frustration, or whatever is trying their patience.

How do we develop patience? We “put on” patience. How do we do that? What is our patience? The better question is, who is our patience? Jesus. We “put on” Jesus. Jesus says this in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” If you want patience, you must “put on”, abide in, Jesus.

So, the next time something, or someone is trying your patience just “put on” a little more of Jesus, and you will find your suffering does not seem nearly as long.

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It’s the Law

Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him - fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 24:17-22.

A man in Saudi Arabia is facing the implementation of the Islamic law that calls for punishment in accordance with an eye-for-an-eye. In this case the man caused the paralysis of Abdul-Aziz Al-Mutairi during a fight over two years ago. Al-Mutairi was injured during the fight when he was hit in the spine with a meat cleaver. The judge in the case has contacted hospitals to see if it is possible to medically cause the paralysis of the man who injured Al-Mutairi. From reports, it appears that it is rare for these harsh eye-for-an-eye punishments to actually be carried out. The victim or the victim’s family can choose to be compensated monetarily instead of seeking physical punishment. However, Al-Mutairi wants his attacker to be paralyzed the same as he has been.

Justice is defined according to dictionary dot com as: “the maintenance or administration of what is just by law” or as “the administering of deserved punishment or reward.” Islamic law and Mosaic law requires an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a tooth as being necessary for justice. If you kill someone you will be put to death, if you cut off another person’s arm, according to the law your arm would be cut off. It sounds harsh but it is justice. I am thankful that in the country that I live that the law of the land is not the Islamic law or the Mosaic law. If because of an accident or even in a fight I cause someone else to lose an eye, it may be just, but I do not want the court to order that one of my eyes be surgically removed. I would want the court to have mercy!

According to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned” and Romans 6:23 tells us that the “wages of sin is death.” How much sin can you sin and avoid the spiritual death penalty? James 2:10 gives the answer, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” Justice requires the spiritual death penalty for one sin, whether it is a lie, or a murder. Thank God for His mercy! “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).” “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…(Titus 3:5a).”

If you have not yet asked for God’s mercy by believing upon Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I urge you to do so now before it is eternally too late.

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Shine the Light

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. - Proverbs 29:2.

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. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. - John 3:19-21.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. - Matthew 5:14-15.

Los Rios Community College in Rancho Cordova, California is getting a great deal on some land for a satellite campus. They had planned to buy the land for $8.6 million dollars; however, the college backed out of the deal about three years ago. Now, the City of Rancho Cordova is using eminent domain to grab the same property, and they have a deal to sell the property for $4 million dollars to…Los Rios Community College. It looks like a $4.6 million dollar better deal for the college. Sam Fong is the owner of the property, and he says that the property has been in his family for 40 years. Fong said this about the eminent domain action against his property, “…they are absolutely stealing this property, and it's just un-American."

Religion of all types is losing influence among the leaders of the United States. At least that is what 62% of the people in a recent survey believe (As reported on Fox News). Maybe that is the reason we are seeing so much corruption among governmental officials. On the IRS.gov website there is a listing of examples of convictions for public corruption in 2009:

Former Director of Linden Housing Rehabilitation Program Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison for Taking Bribes

Illinois Mayor’s Assistant Sentenced for Misapplication of Property and Filing False Income Tax Return

Administrator of the Lackawanna County's Workers Compensation Fund Sentenced to 70 Months in Prison for fraud, money laundering, and tax charges

Former Florida County Sheriff Sentenced to 71 Months in Prison

Former Louisiana Film Commission Director Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

Former Pennsylvania State Senator Sentenced on Fraud, Tax, and Corruption Charges

Leader of D.C. Property Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 17 ½ Years; Ordered to Pay Over $48 Million

Veteran Florida County Commissioner Sentenced in Public Corruption Probe

There are ten more listed for 2009 but these are only examples, and you have to assume there are far more than those listed who were convicted. In addition, you have to wonder how many more have gotten away at least for now with their crimes?

Then there are the three city administrators in Bell, California, who were paying themselves huge salaries. It may have been legal, but it certainly was not right. They resigned from their positions after their salaries were revealed to the citizens of the city.

The lesson of Bell, California is that when the evil is exposed it leads to a correction of the corruption. We as Christians are the “light of the world", and we need to let the “light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)” shine into those dark places of this world. We know that we need to pray for all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-3) but often those prayers will lead to actions to expose the evil of corruption.

As the United States turns further away from God, we can only expect to see an increase in corruption in government and in private business. The result will be more pain and anguish for the people.

Where do you need to shine your “light” today?

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Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. - Nehemiah 4:7-9.

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. - Acts 14:19-20.

Rev. Luke Strand who is the priest at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin had a great idea to gain more attention for God. His idea was to put an oval decal (black background on top with white background on the bottom) with the words “God Squad” on his solid black Volkswagen Beetle. Admittedly, the word “Squad” on the bottom is similar to that of Best Buy’s “Squad” in their Geek Squad decal which they also have on a Volkswagen Beetle. Best Buy’s Beetle is black and white. Best Buy has served Rev. Strand with a cease-and-desist order claiming the God Squad decal is a violation of their trademark of the “Geek Squad”. Rev. Strand has agreed to stop using his “God Squad” decal on his Volkswagen Beetle.

Rhea Behlke who is a spokeswoman for the church said that Rev. Strand had been using the decal on his Beetle for several years. She also said that the God Squad Beetle was a “creative way to bring God to the streets” and that it has made it more comfortable for some people to approach a priest.

In defense of Rev. Strand, the term “God Squad” does have a completely different meaning than that of “Geek Squad.” The term God Squad has been in use for many years and is still in use by various individuals and organizations. Rev. Strand had used his decal promoting his God Squad for a number of years prior to Best Buy deciding to take action against him. Here is part of the definition of infringement of trademark from NOLO (the free dictionary of law terms and definitions), “Unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark (or a substantially similar mark) on competing or related goods and services.” It is immediately clear that God Squad is not competing with the Geek Squad and that Rev. Strand is not offering for sale any related goods or services.

Here we have an obvious situation of Christianity being intimidated and threatened by the world. It is likely if the trademark infringement that Best Buy claims went to court that they would lose. However, it is very costly to fight claims like this, and it could expose the priest’s church to substantial legal obligations.

What do you do when you are faced with such intimidation and threats? You continue on to the extent that you can, which is what Rev. Strand intends to do. He will not be using the decal, but he will still be driving his black Beetle around the community. When the apostle Paul was stoned at Lystra and dragged outside the city and left for dead he did not run away. No, he got up and went back into the city to continue to preach the Gospel of Christ. When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites mocked and threatened Nehemiah and the people of God, they did not stop building the wall. No, they armed themselves and continued to build at an even faster pace. We must do the same when we face the intimidation and threats of the world.

As a Christian I will no longer buy anything from Best Buy and will not use their Geek Squad because of how they have treated Rev. Strand and because of what a former employee has shared at this link: http://easytechtalk.com/2008/05/04/dont-use-geek-squad/

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The Legacy

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6.

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4.

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. - 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

I wonder if Thomas Beach Scott is proud of his son, who is following in his career path as a…criminal. Police in Midwest City, Oklahoma were able to catch the father and son duo using a trailer that was equipped with a GPS tracking unit. Thomas and his son, Kyle, took the bait and made off with the trailer and thought they had succeeded once again with their theft. However, officers were able to track down the 41-year-old father and his 20-year-old son arresting them and charging them with grand larceny, possession of CDS, and drug paraphernalia. They are both currently residing in the Midwest City, Oklahoma Jail.

The reality of life is that children do learn from the behaviors of their parents. The writer of Proverbs is right in that you can train up a child in the way that they will live their lives, and that is the way they will live. The living example is seen with Thomas Scott and his son Kyle. Thomas has trained up his son to be a thief, and he has succeeded. It also appears that Thomas has succeeded in training up his son to be an abuser of illegal drugs. Perhaps there should be some type of special enhanced sentence for fathers like Thomas that so pervert the lives of their children.

Consider those great men and women of God, who provide instead of a legacy of pain and grief, a legacy of righteousness. J. Hudson Taylor who founded the China Inland Mission touched countless lives through his faithfulness to God while he was living. Since his death, some of his descendants have continued in his footsteps that we know about including James Hudson Taylor III and James Hudson Taylor IV. In addition J. Hudson Taylor has inspired and influenced the lives of countless people, including Amy Carmichael, Eric Liddell, Jim Elliot, Luis Palau, and Billy Graham. Certainly, I was inspired too when I read his biography. What a wonderful legacy J. Hudson Taylor has given to his family and to this world.

We are leaving a legacy with the way that we live our lives. It may be a legacy like that of Thomas Beach Scott, or it could be a legacy like that of J. Hudson Taylor. However, it is more likely that our legacy may be and probably will be somewhere in between. But make no mistake you are leaving a legacy by your actions, by your words, and even by your inactions while you are living here on this planet.

To those who had a father or mother like Thomas Scott, I want you to know that you can create a different kind of legacy beginning now by placing your life into the hands of Jesus Christ. He will help you to recreate your legacy into a legacy that will have an eternal impact for good upon all who know you and are touched by your life.

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Left Hanging

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. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. - Romans 12:1-3.

A construction worker in St John, Canada was working on a roofing job when some rotten wood gave way. Thankfully, he was wearing a safety harness but was still left hanging four stories above the ground. He was eventually lowered slowly to the ground by firefighters using a ladder. The Deputy Fire Chief said that the worker had observed “proper safety protocols” which made the worker’s rescue easier. Without observing those safety protocols and wearing the safety harness things could have turned out much worse for the worker.

Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what to do in some situations. You want to do what God wants you to do but what is it that He wants? It may seem somewhat like the construction worker who was left hanging in the air; you are left hanging and wondering in what direction you are to go. It can be frustrating especially when the clock is ticking and time is running out on your having to make a decision.

There are some things that you can do to help speed up the process of understanding God’s will. The place to start is to ask God as we are told 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.”

It may be that a thorough search of the Scriptures will give you guidance for your decision because God will not want you to do anything that is forbidden in His Word. You may want to do it, it may sound like a good deal, but if it is anything illegal, dishonest, or immoral, God does not want you to be a part of it. Knowing God’s Word will help to prevent you from being left hanging without know what to do. The more you know and are familiar with the Bible the easier it will be to discern God’s will.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to do when you are left hanging not knowing what you are to do is to trust in God’s timing and His way of doing things. God is rarely early in giving you the guidance or what it is that you need for a decision. God is always on time, and you can miss out on God’s best by rushing your decision making process. The timing of God’s answer may in itself be a confirmation that this is indeed from God.

Finally, the apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 12 that knowing God’s will results from a lifestyle choice. If you want to know God’s will you must be a “living sacrifice(s)” not living like those in the world but living with a spirit of humility. This is not something that you can turn on and off. It must be how you continually live your life, and then you will be able to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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Demons aka Martians

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. - John 10:10a.

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. - Ephesians 6:10-12.

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.

50-year-old Keith Rasmussen says that he was on his way to kill his sister with a knife when he was distracted by the Visions Night Club in Racine, Wisconsin. After Keith was kicked out of the club, he then rammed his car through the wall of the night club. A police spokesman, Joel DeSpain, reports that Rasmussen was located nine blocks from the night club and that he “denied driving the SUV to that location” because “he said that he arrived there with the help of Martians.” Keith was charged with Driving while Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, Hit and Run, Reckless Endangerment, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Damage to Property, and he was surprisingly released after he posted a $2800 bail.

In a small city close to where I live a man drove his vehicle through the wall of a doctor’s office. I thought at first that this was just an accident, but then I read that he backed the car up and rammed his car into the doctor’s office a second time. There has been no mention after that in the newspaper of what caused the man’s actions, but maybe it was just those Martians!

If you have never read Frank Peretti’s books “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” you ought to. Peretti provides in his books a vivid presentation of the spiritual warfare that is going on all around us. There is a constant spiritual battle going on for the souls of all men, women, boys, and girls on Planet Earth. Satan has been at work causing trouble for the human race since the very beginning in the Garden of Eden. It was satan aka the serpent who tempted Eve saying in Genesis 3:1-5, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan and his demonic minions have been busy ever since causing havoc everywhere they can. However, 60% of Americans according to a poll conducted in 2004 do not believe satan is a living being but only a symbol of evil. Maybe it is just those Martians!

The Bible makes it clear that demons are not merely a psychological hallucination, and that they are very real. It is recorded in the Bible that Jesus cast demons out of people (Matthew 17:18; Mark 1:34; Mark 5) as did the apostle Paul. To deny that there is a devil and demons is to deny the truth of the Bible. You can blame it on the Martians, or you can be spiritually aware of the war that is being fought around you. As the apostle James says you should “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

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Can’t Cope With That - Part 2

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

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. - Isaiah 26:3.

Melodi Dushane had a “can’t cope with that” moment back on New Years Day. It was early in the morning about 6:00am on January 1 of 2010 when Melodi lost it at a Toledo, Ohio McDonald’s drive thru window. According to reports at this particular McDonalds, the drive thru is open 24-hours a day. However, they do stop serving the dinner menu and switch over to the breakfast menu at 2:30am. This is where Melodi had an issue with them because she wanted her McNuggets and they refused to give them to her. She attacked the McDonald’s workers through the drive thru window eventually breaking out the window, and they attacked her trying to pull her through the window by her hair. Dushane was arrested, charged and convicted of vandalism, given 60 days jail time, three years of probation supervision, and a $1500 fine. Maybe it is just the McNuggets, because in Ft Peirce, Florida in March of this year a woman called 911 three times complaining about not getting her McNuggets. That woman was charged with misusing 911.

Few of us will ever be upset enough about our food order to lash out in anger at the restaurant employees or call 911 to complain about it. Let me rephrase that, few of us will ever lash out to the extent that we have our names all over the newspapers, TV, and Internet because of our anger over a food order. I have seen many unhappy people in restaurants because of their food order, and I have been a little unhappy about my food order before too. One time in particular I remember, although it was more hilarious than anything. We had waited for about an hour for my order when it was finally served. It was not what I had ordered, but I agreed for it to be substituted. As the server was placing my order on the table she commented, “The smell of your food is making me sick!” On the other side I have seen many food service workers treated terribly by those that they are serving.

Isn’t it amazing that we can become so enraged by such really little things? Of course, the little things that cause us to have our “can’t cope with that” moments are usually only the tip of the iceberg. Things have been building up in the lives of most people prior to their reaching the point where they actually “lose it” lashing out at those around them. How do we keep it from happening? How do we avoid those “can’t cope with that” moments? It is helpful to keep things in perspective and the apostle Peter is speaking to that when he writes, “…the end of all things is at hand.” The world may not end tomorrow but none of us know how long we have to live. In the great realm of living, dying, and eternity is that little thing that someone just did really of enough importance to “lose it”?

Peter also says that we should “be serious” in our prayers. There are more serious things, much more important things going on in life than not getting the order we wanted or the Chicken McNuggets. Not only should we “delight” in the Word of God as I wrote yesterday - we should also be praying seriously, watchfully everyday about everything and everyone in our lives.

Finally, to avoid those “can’t cope with that” moments we should focus in upon our Lord Jesus Christ. He should be the focus in our lives, every minute, every hour, our minds should be “stayed” on Him. If we do that, we will be able to laugh off those little inconveniences of life or even big ones because we will be kept in “perfect peace.”

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Can’t Cope With That

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. - Psalm 119:25; 28.

Unless Your law had been my delight (If your law had not been my delight - NIV), I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. - Psalm 119:92-93.

Steven Slater is the latest to have “lost it” being unable to cope with a very stressful situation as a JetBlue flight attendant. He reportedly tried to mediate a dispute between two women passengers prior to the flight departing Pittsburgh. The two women were arguing over space in the overhead storage area, and Steven was hit in the head accidentally during that attempt at a peaceful intervention. One of the women refused to stay seated as requested and that was when Steven was struck by the luggage. Upon the plane landing in New York and prior to deplaning, there was reportedly an additional dispute involving one of the two women and Steven. The woman was upset that her luggage that she was forced to gate-check would not be immediately available and verbally attacked Steven. After this Steven said a few choice words to the woman over the intercom ending with “I’ve had it.” He then deployed the emergency chute leaving the plane and is now facing several criminal charges with bail set at $2500. A defense attorney stated at an arraignment that Slater was under stress because of his mother’s lung cancer. At last count a Facebook page set up in his honor already had 30,857 likes.

Most of us know what it is like to “lose it” although probably not in such a dramatic and public way as did Steven Slater. With Steven, you can see the progression of stress. Stress builds up with layer upon additional layer of emotional pressure coming upon a person. Steven was already under stress just because he works in stressful job in a stressful environment. In addition, his mother is seriously ill and this was all piled on top of him until he reached his breaking point having to handle a verbally abusive, and rule breaking passenger.

What do you do when you just cannot cope anymore with a situation? My favorite is to cry out “Lord help me!” However, the best way to handle stressful situations, and living a stressful life is not to wait until you are at your breaking point to ask the Lord for help. The Psalmist gives us some indications in Psalm 119 as to how he could cope with living on the edge through very difficult times. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, and it is a hymn of praise magnifying the Word of God. The Psalmist says that the Law of God, the Word of God was his delight and if that had not been true “I would then have perished in my affliction.”

If you delight in something what do you do? You want to be around it, you want to study it, you want to meditate upon it, and you never want to forget about it because you love it. That is what was going on in the life of the Psalmist. That is why he was able to stand up under the pressure cooker of a life that he lived and stay faithful to God.

So, long before you arrive at the point in life that you “lose it”, that you “can’t cope with something” make the Word of God your delight. Every day immerse yourself to the extent that you can in the Words of God. Meditate upon the Word of God, study it, memorize it, read it, listen to it, and you will discover that you have the supernatural strength you need to cope with whatever life brings your way.

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Defeating the World

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. - John 15:18-19.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? - 1 John 5:4-5.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. - 1 John 4:4-5.

The battle has been joined in Warsaw, Ohio. For four years members of New Beginnings Church has been protesting the Foxhole strip club located about seven miles from the church. Church members and their pastor, Bill Dunfee show up at the strip club on weekends with signs, bullhorns, and video cameras; and they post photos of the strip club patron’s license plates online. Now Tommy George, the owner of the strip club, and some of his dancers have begun showing up for Sunday Services at New Beginnings. The dancers and Tommy do not actually go inside the church instead they hang around outside protesting in their “see-through shorts…toting super soakers.” At first Pastor Dunfee broadcasted the services outside but this only made the dancers dance in the street. Pastor Dunfee says about how the situation has affected the church members, “They have now seen the evil firsthand. This has just made us stronger.” The church is more determined than ever to see the strip club closed down.

The battle in Warsaw, Ohio is a visible reminder that there is a spiritual battle raging across Planet Earth. Usually, the battle rages only inside of the hearts and minds of people, but occasionally it does erupt into the kind of fixed battle that is very obvious and visible to everyone in Warsaw and beyond.

How do you defeat the world when the world shows up at your door demanding attention? How do you defeat the world when your attempts at defeating the world blows up in your face and just makes things worse?

First, we must remember that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” You are not in the battle by yourself. It is not you and you alone against the world. It is you and the Lord God Almighty against the world.

Second, stop trying to defeat the world using your own wisdom and your own resources.

Third, begin depending upon God’s wisdom and God’s resources for the battle.

Fourth, pray in the name of Jesus as Jesus says that we should do in John 14:13, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Fifth, amplify the power of God by asking others to pray with you as Jesus says in Matthew 18:19, “I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

Sixth, continue to pray until the battle is won because Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, “I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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The Image of God

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

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. - Colossians 1:13-15.

Jesus said this: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” - John 14:9b.

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

Thisman dot org is the website about a man whom many people across the world claim to have seen in their dreams. One woman drew a sketch of the man after having seen him in her dreams and gave the sketch to her psychiatrist. Another client saw the sketch and claimed to have seen the same man in his dreams. From there it spread with perhaps thousands of other people claiming to have seen an image of the same person in their dreams. I did look at the website to see the sketch of the man of their dreams and to me he appears to be like a variant image of the smiley face with some hair. Maybe they are just having some happy dreams.

Jim Stevens in Jonesborough, Tennessee is seeing an image of a man too, but not in his dreams. Stevens has been seeing what appears to be the classical image of Jesus in the condensation on the window of his Isuzu pickup truck. The image has the long hair and beard as Jesus is typically pictured and by November of 2009 the image had been appearing every morning for a couple of weeks. I tried to find an update to see if the image is still appearing but did not find anything new. I am wondering if Jesus just appears on Isuzu pickup trucks or if he can appear on Ford and Chevy trucks too?

Of course, no one really knows what Jesus looked like although there does seem to be a commonality among all the purported early images that exist. There are also a few written descriptions of Jesus, including one by Publius Lentullus and one by Pontius Pilate in a letter to Tiberius Caesar.

Although we have not seen Jesus with our physical eyes, we have seen His image. I am not talking about a photo, or a drawing, or a painting, or a carving, or a sculpture or anything of that nature. We have seen the image of Jesus in the lives of those who know Jesus as their Savior. In some believers, the image of Jesus is not as easy to see as in the lives of others. Some believers act more like Jesus would act than other believers do. As Paul says we are “…being transformed into the same image.”

As it has been said many times, you as a Christian may be the only Bible that some will ever read. You could also say that you as a Christian may be the only Jesus that some will ever see. What portrait of Jesus are you painting with your life?

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Watering Weeds

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

Since Jeanie is no longer working, and at least for now is retired, she has more time to do some of the things that she loves. One of those loves is flowers, and she has a renewed interest in filling our flower bed with beautiful plants that she has not had time for in a long time. Jeanie has patiently watered, fertilized, and cared for her flowers. While she was at camp a couple of weeks ago I watered her flowers. Today, she came in from caring for her flowers telling me disappointedly, that one of the flowers is not a flower at all…it is a weed! I am not sure what kind of weed, but it is, nevertheless, a weed, and has been removed from the midst of the beautiful flowers. That weed will be watered no more!

The works of the “flesh” and the “works of darkness” could be compared to weeds. Instead of weeds in a flower bed, they are weeds in our lives. The apostle Paul lists some of these works of the flesh and darkness in Romans 13, of course it is not a comprehensive list; but it does give us some idea of what these works are like. The list that Paul gives us briefly here is that of revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, strife, and envy.

Paul says in Romans 13:14 that we should “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” The NIV translates this as “do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” I agree with the NIV that we should not think about it; however, we should also make no provision for them. While Jeanie was at camp, and I was watering her weed, I was providing for the weed’s needs. What need does drunkenness need provided for it? It needs to have the alcohol necessary for being drunk, and it is provided when you buy beer or whiskey and have it available for your consumption. What need does revelry need provided for it? If you are going to have a party and engage in immoral activities you will need a place to go to, the time to do it, and the money to make it possible. Setting aside a time, a place, and the money for revelry is making provision for it. Lust will also need provision if we are thinking in terms of the lust described in Matthew 5:28, which appears to be the context also here in Romans 13. Lust can be provided for by the setting you allow yourself to be in, or the TV shows, movies, etc. that you watch and for which you set aside time.

It is harder to understand how a person would make provision for something like envy. Envy is defined by dictionary dot com as: “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.” You provide for envy when you dwell upon or meditate upon what someone else has in comparison to what you have. Every time you do that you are watering the weed of envy in your life.

We could list more of the “works of darkness” but I think you can see what Paul is talking about here. If we want to rid our lives of those weeds of the flesh we must stop making provision for them. We must stop watering them. Stop it!

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The Three Step Plan

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. - Titus 3:3-7.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. - Proverbs 16:25.

In South Africa, a man apparently went on a ride in the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II plane with not enough instruction in the proper situations in which to make use of the ejection seat. The man’s story was that he was trying to steady himself while the pilot was making a maneuver and grabbed the yellow and black handle for emergency ejection between his legs. The result was a memorable experience for the unnamed man when two rockets ignited that were attached to his seat blasting him out of the plane. Thankfully, the parachute opened as designed and a helicopter picked him up with no apparent injuries 80 miles to the north of Cape Town.

Without the divine guidance of God, it is like pulling the emergency ejection handle and being blasted out into the unknown at the mercy of the winds of life blowing us from place to place. Without divine guidance, we think we know what is right but inevitably make wrong decision after wrong decision because we are “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” “There is a way that seems right to a man” and that way is littered with mistakes.

Once you have pulled the ejection handle, how do you ever get back on track with your life? Step One is to turn to God and ask for help. Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will receive His mercy, His renewing, becoming an heir of God “according to the hope of eternal life.” Step Two is to seek God’s guidance for everything and every area of your life. Put your focus in life upon what God wants because to be “spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6b).” Step Three is to learn more and more from God’s Word about what He wants in your life. Read His Word, study His Word, memorize His Word, meditate upon His Word and then “you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8b).” You will then 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 (Psalm 1:3).”

Please, before you grab hold of that ejection handle one more time to blast you out to who knows where, consider the three step plan above that will bring real life, peace, success, and prosperity into your world. God loves you and He is the only One who can give you what your soul is thirsting for. Begin now to follow the three step plan that will change your life eternally. If you have never invited Jesus Christ into your heart and life to be your Lord and Savior, that is where you need to start (John 1:12; John 3:16; Romans 10:13; Revelation 3:20). If you do know Jesus as your Savior but have wandered away 1 John 1:9 is the place for you to start. Will you begin the three step plan to real life or will you blast off to nowhere once again?

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Talking Trees

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:6-8.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? - Galatians 3:1-3.

When I was about four years old I watched the Foreman Scotty television show, which was locally produced and viewed primarily in Oklahoma. Here’s a link that will give you some more information about Foreman Scotty http://www.foremanscottyskids.com/ One of my favorite things about the show was the talking tree. It looked like a real tree, but it could talk and because of that I decided that some trees can talk. My sister tried to convince me that it was not true and that trees cannot talk. When she was unsuccessful with her deprogramming effort she told our parents. They too attempted to tell me that trees are unable to talk; however, I refused to believe them because I had seen a talking tree with my own eyes on the television set. Eventually they gave up trying to tell me the truth about talking trees, and I am not sure when I finally realized that trees really cannot talk but it took a year or two.

In the spiritual world, there are some talking trees as in; there are some who spew out what they call spiritual truths, which are not true. The apostle Paul was continually encountering deceivers and found that many of the Galatians were believers in talking trees. The deceivers spewed out their lies, as if they were true and the Galatians believed the lies. The deceivers of the Galatians were the Judaizers, who were saying to the Galatians to go ahead and accept Christ, but you have to add this, this, and this to it to be saved.

Paul is saying that the Judaizers were trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ and pull the Galatians away to a Gospel that is entirely different. If a person comes to Jesus for salvation but at the same time believes it is necessary and plans to be circumcised, plans to keep the Sabbath, the feast days, the rituals as part of their salvation are they saved? Many are trying to do the same thing today. Back then it was the Gospel plus Moses. Now it is “the Gospel” plus any number of religious leaders, religious books, or religious organizations. You cannot be saved “unless (Acts 15:1)”…is their message. That “unless” usually includes joining their group and obeying their rules.

Here is the secret talking tree trimmer that many never tell you about, and it is found in Ephesians 2:8-9, “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.” So, the next time you encounter a talking tree saying that you can only be saved if in addition to believing upon Jesus you have to do this, or that, or some other thing; cut the tree down with Ephesians 2:8-9. I no longer believe in talking trees, and I hope that you will come to know the truth about them too.

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Jesus Wouldn’t Approve

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. - Matthew 5:17.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:13-16.

Nayara Gonclaves did what many people would not do; she tried to talk a robber out of his robbery. 37-year-old Israel Camancho walked into the cell phone store which Nayara managed and pulled out a pistol demanding money. Nayara told Camancho that Jesus “wouldn’t approve” of his robbing. Camancho claimed that he was a Christian, but that he was out of work. Nayara told him that she would try to put him into contact with friends who would help him find work. As Camancho left the store without the money Nayara told him, “You know you don't need to do that. You know Jesus. He can help you!”

Apparently, Camancho had second thoughts because a couple of hours later he walked into a shoe store a few miles away and again demanded money at the point of a gun. This time no one tried to talk him out of it. He was identified by the store surveillance video and arrested two days later. Police officials said that Camancho had begun his criminal career back in 1988, and has been in and out of jail since then.

There are many things that we know Jesus wouldn’t approve of and robbery is one of them because commandment number eight of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-20) says, “You shall not steal.” We know that Jesus wouldn’t approve of murdering someone because commandment number six says, “You shall not murder.” We know that Jesus wouldn’t approve of sex outside of marriage because commandment number seven says, “You shall not commit adultery.”

In our tolerant society, it has become something of a taboo to tell anyone that they shouldn’t do anything because that is being judgmental; because that is being hypocritical. However, I can remember a few times when people have stepped up and told me that a Christian wouldn’t do what I was doing. I am thankful for them. Nayara should be commended for not only being the “salt” that Jesus commands us to be but for doing so in a very difficult situation.

Have Christians in our society bowed down to the worldly pressure to never be critical of any behavior? Have we lost our salty flavor? What if every time someone did something they knew they shouldn’t do that someone would say to them, “Jesus wouldn’t approve of that”? If you knew every time you sinned you were going to be confronted about your sin it would be a major discouragement from going forward with the sinful activity. Of course, some people would lash out at the Christians, who had the nerve to say anything about anything, but it looks to me like Jesus wouldn’t approve of our never saying anything about anything.

Are we going to be the salt and light of the world or not? The time is here, the time is now, to live the Christian life like we know it ought to be lived.

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The Right Diet

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. - Psalm 19:7-11.

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

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, a woman knew her car had a problem because it would just stop running, and it was unpredictable as to when it would happen. She finally took her car to a mechanic to have it checked out. Did it need new spark plugs? Was the fuel filter clogged? Was there a problem with the fuel injectors? The mechanic finally located the problem in the gas tank which was causing problems for all of the car's fuel system. The problem was indigestion caused by a cheeseburger complete with a pickle. Apparently, it was a special order because there was no sign of any lettuce, tomato, or onions. Or, maybe the engine had been able to digest the veggies? After $1,000 in repairs the woman has her car back, and so far it has not had any more indigestion problems. If it will just stay on its gasoline only diet it will be fine!

Most mechanical systems are designed to operate on one type of fuel, although it is beginning to be more common to see cars with a hybrid capability. Most of the time when I was growing up my Dad’s pickups always had a propane tank in the back which he ran it on most of the time, but it could be switched back to gasoline. Electronic systems by definition operate on electrical power of some type. Animals have a couple of different types of fuel. Some animals operate completely on a meat fuel system while others like cattle are designed to be completely dependent on plants for their fuel.

Human beings are somewhat more complex in that our operating system can function on meat or plant types of fuel. Where we differ from all other species is that we also have a spiritual nature that requires the right type of fuel to operate effectively. Jesus quoting the Old Testament in Matthew 4:4 rebukes the devil and at the same time makes it clear what the spiritual fuel is that we need. Our spiritual nature lives and thrives best on a diet of the Words of God. Now you can feed your spiritual nature junk food from the world, and it will start to spit and sputter like the woman’s car did in South Carolina. Feed your spiritual nature a diet of R-rated television, porn, fellowship with only those without a regenerated saved nature, and you are asking for a major breakdown in the system.

As the Psalmist says in Psalm 19, “The law of the LORD is perfect.” It is “pure” and it is “right”. There is no other spiritual fuel that will work. It is, therefore, recommended that just as with food like bread for your physical system that you also fill up daily with a good portion of the Word of God. Just stay on the diet and everything will keep running fine.

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The Devil’s Snare

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. - 1 Timothy 6:9-11.

Abstain from every form of evil. - 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

In Dona Ana County in New Mexico, sheriff deputies heard a new story when they found a man with no clothes trying to get a ride. The man also had severe burns over much of his body. Thankfully, for this man the deputies found him, and he was airlifted to a Texas burn center. The man related to the deputies that he was drinking with some friends, and they all made a bet. The bet was that whoever drank the least number of beers would be set on fire by the others. He lost, since he only drank six beers, so he paid up. They started by trying to burn his prosthetic leg, which caused his clothing to catch on fire and he said that was why he took off his clothes. His so-called friends at first were going to take him to a hospital but became afraid that they might get into trouble and so they kicked him out and took off.

When you gamble, someone else must lose as the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:4, “…each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The man who was burned was not looking out for the interests of others as someone else could have ended up like him, and his so-called friends certainly were not looking out for him either. Then there is the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 where Jesus says, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Surely, none of those men wanted to be set on fire! Setting this man on fire was an act of evil. Engaging in an act of gambling, which would result in someone being set on fire was an act of evil and we are to, “Abstain from every form of evil.”

Of course, every time someone plays cards, throws the dice, or pulls the handle on a slot machine someone is not literally set on fire. However, someone does lose because either the house, as in the casino loses, or you lose. When you are betting against someone else, either they are losing money, or you are losing money; it is evil, it is wrong.

Why do people gamble? I know that some of you would say it is fun, it is an adventure, but what is it really that you want? What you really want out of gambling is, money. You want to suddenly have a lot of money. You want to be rich without actually earning the money. You have a burning desire to have more and more money. This is what Paul is saying in 1 Timothy when he says, “…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.” You have been caught in one of the devil’s snares and the ultimate outcome will be destruction, destruction of all that is good in your life and in the lives of those you love. Even if you never lose when you gamble you are still caught in a snare and are consumed with the “love of money,” which is the “root of all kinds of evil.” As long as you are caught in the devil’s snare of gambling; there will be more evil things coming your way in life.

If you are a gambler, now is the time to cut your losses and walk away permanently before any more damage is done to your life by the devil’s snare.

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Fear Not

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” - Psalm 91:1-2.

If you live in the UK you need to watch out for…biscuits. Those dangerous little things have been on a rampage! According to one survey one-half of all Britons have received injuries from their biscuits. It is thought that 25 million of them have been hurt eating a biscuit while having some tea or coffee. 500 people have received injuries severe enough to send them to the hospital. Something called the “Biscuit Injury Threat Evaluation” identified the custard cream biscuit as the most dangerous. One third of the injuries resulted from hot liquid being splashed on the person when they dunked their biscuit. About ten percent of the injuries were from teeth being broken while attempting to consume the things. Some of the injuries were caused by poking themselves in the eye with the biscuit and last but not least was the animal threat. Seven percent of the injuries occurred when a pet or some other animal attempted to take the person’s biscuit.

We live in a dangerous world where even things as innocent and innocuous as a biscuit can send you to a hospital. Some people develop what is called agoraphobia, and they are afraid to leave their homes. Although as seen with the biscuit problem even in your home it can be dangerous. A large percentage of the falls that cause broken bones occur in the home. It’s enough to make you just stay in bed all the time. However, I have heard that even beds can be dangerous. In our modern world with rapidly advancing technology and rapid development of all types of dangerous chemicals, food additives, electronic pollution, microwaves and on and on it is impossible to plan for all the possible threats.

Then there is the weather. April 14, 1935 is known as Black Sunday because of the dust storm to end all dust storms, which occurred that day in middle America blotting out the sun. Before that there were the grasshoppers of July 26, 1931, which blacked out the sun destroying vast areas of crops in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. There are tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis, and typhoons. How has mankind survived all of these years in this dangerous place?

The Psalmist knew that he needed help from a power beyond this world to survive, and we do too. The Psalmist’s help came from the Lord God, and that is where we will find the help we need in these even more dangerous times. There is a supernatural refuge, a supernatural fortress that is available to those who seek it. It is found in the “shadow of the Almighty.” Under His protection we can walk without fear out into this world even though danger from the smallest biscuit to the largest tornado may stalk us. Through His power, we can as David says in the 23rd Psalm, “Fear no evil” even if we may “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”

Whenever you experience fear immediately turn to God in prayer. Ask Him to give you peace. Even in the midst of a natural storm, a storm of problems, or a storm of emotions He promises to give you peace “which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” Begin every day asking for His protection, for His peace, for yourself and your loved ones because God loves His children. As the apostle Paul puts it, “…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).”

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Bear Attack

Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. Then he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria. - 2 Kings 2:23-25.

I saw this story first on Fox News about the bear who took a ride in a car. It happened in Colorado while the vehicle’s owner, Ben Story and his family were asleep. A large black bear was apparently attracted by a sandwich that was in the back seat. The bear successfully opened the car door but once inside the door shut, and he could not exit. The bear then went berserk trashing the inside of the car, knocked the car out of gear, turned on the four-way flashers, and began honking the horn as the car rolled down the hill. At least he was a courteous driver warning of the out of control vehicle! That is when Ben Story and his family awoke. Police officers were finally able to tie a rope to the door handle and opened it safely from a distance. The bear then made his escape.

In 2 Kings is this strange story about Elisha the prophet being mocked by a group of young people. Apparently, Elisha was bald, that much is clear, but there is the “Go up” that is repeated. What is that about? This story occurs just after the ascension of Elijah in the flaming chariot and whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11-12) directly into Heaven bypassing death as Enoch did (Genesis 5:23-24). Elisha was obviously sharing this great occurrence with all that he encountered and this group of young people was telling him to go up like he said that Elijah had. They doubted Elisha’s story and they doubted God. The response of Elisha was to pray a curse upon the group of young people. Immediately, two bears wreck just as much havoc upon them as the bear did to the interior of Ben Story’s car.

Some people are reckless in their doubting and mocking of God. Some people are reckless in their doubting and mocking of God’s people. Some people are reckless in their doubting and mocking of God’s servants. Just tonight I read comments on a website that were mocking of God. This story in 2 Kings is a warning of the risk that is involved in the doubting and mocking of God and His people. There are strange and sudden deaths that occur every week, how many of them are divine interventions? There is, I believe, a line that must not be crossed. When it is crossed with our irreverent words and behavior a time of reckoning will come upon us.

There are millions of Christians, at least they claim to be Christians; who would never blatantly mock God, His people, or His servants. However, they do mock God, they do doubt God, by the way they live their lives. They never pray, they never read the Bible, they never go to church, they never witness, they never give to God’s work - they are practical atheists, mockers, and doubters of God. If you are one of these people I beg of you before it is too late to turn back to God and begin living your life for Him.

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The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing (foils the plans - NIV); He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. - Psalm 33:10.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You. - Psalm 33:18-22.

At Gustavus Adophus College in Minnesota the students of Professor Scott Bur’s research group have a yearly tradition. Whenever the professor goes on vacation the mice, I mean, students will play. When the professor returns, he always finds that they have left him…something, in his office. Last year the theme was pink, as in, the office was decorated for a fairy princess with pink everywhere - pink fabric, pink bows, pink on everything. This year the professor was foiled, aluminum foiled. Ten rolls, each containing 200 feet of aluminum foil was used to cover everything in a shiny metallic gleaming surface. Everything from the computer down to the ink pen was covered in foil. Professor Bur has been foiled! How long it will take to unfoil everything is not known but maybe his students will help him out.

We know that aluminum foil is a thin metallic sheet. There is, however, another kind of foil and dictionary dot com defines it in this way: “to prevent the success of; frustrate; balk” or to "keep (a person) from succeeding in an enterprise, plan, etc." Whether it is the plan of a nation or of an individual, God is aware of those plans, and He can either bless them or He can foil them.

When God foils the plan of a nation like He did Nazi Germany, which was under the demonic leadership of Adolf Hitler during WWII, it may feel as though all has been covered with aluminum foil. God will hinder, He will slow, and at times He will intervene directly if needed to bring to halt those plans that are opposed to His will. Eventually, all of Germany came to a grinding halt along with all the evil plans of Hitler.

In a similar way to God’s opposing of the plans of some nations God also opposes the plans of some individuals. When God is in opposition to your personal plans it may feel like you are all wrapped up in aluminum foil, and you can hardly make any progress. When God is foiling your plans every move will become the wrong one bringing more problems and pain.

Contrast the foiling of plans by God with His blessings. David says, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” David says, “He is our help and our shield.” What a difference! It is the difference between fighting against God Himself and being protected and helped by God instead.

If your plans are continually being foiled it may be that your hope has been misplaced. Instead of putting all of your faith in your plans, in your ideas, your money, your possessions - hope in His mercy. “Fear” God by reverently looking to Him for direction, for each step you take in this life. Then, instead of being foiled; it is much more likely that you will be, blessed!

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The Good Neighbor

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. …So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, …set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. …when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” - Luke 10:30; 33-37 (Please read all of the parable in Luke 10:25-37.)

Resul Mor is a modern day good Samaritan, who lives in Germany. He was on his way home from work when a man flagged him down and told him he needed help for his very ill wife. Resul took them to the hospital and at the hospital, he was asked to sign a registration form while the husband went with his wife. You can imagine his shock though when he received a $9,263 (6,000 pound) bill for the woman’s treatment. According to the hospital, the form Resul signed also committed him to pay for the woman’s treatment if she could not pay. A German court has ruled that Resul must pay the bill. Resul says, “I didn’t expect her to not pay anything. I’m just an ordinary man who did someone a favor.”

Reading the parable of the Good Samaritan now is somewhat troubling for some but in the time of Jesus this must have been not just shocking but earth shaking. Imagine two people thought of as having the ultimate in human goodness, a priest, and a Levite, who did not stop to help. However, the Samaritan, and all Samaritans were hated by the Jews and were thought to be as low as a half breed dog or worse, the Samaritan did stop to help. This person, this hated Samaritan according to Jesus was the one who was acting like a “neighbor” to the one who was “half dead”.

The question now for us is, who is our neighbor and will we act as a good neighbor ought to toward them? Will we be a good neighbor if it costs us something? Would we be a good neighbor if we knew it would cost us $9,263? It is unknown in today’s dollars exactly how much the Good Samaritan of the parable paid for the care of the man who was “half dead” but it would not have been cheap. Would we be a good neighbor if it involved any possible risk to our own safety or to that of our family? If you consider the situation of the wounded man of the parable you can see that there is danger involved for the Good Samaritan. The Priest and the Levite passed on the other side because they did not want to risk being attacked as that poor man had been. The Good Samaritan took a great risk to help a man who could do nothing in return for him.

In many ways, you see Jesus Himself as being the ultimate Good Samaritan. Jesus took the risk of putting on human flesh being born into a peasant family and paying with the ultimate cost of his life on the cross. He did that for us who have no way of repaying what He did for us. The question then becomes will we be Jesus to those that we encounter in this life?

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That Can’t be Right

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” - Acts 8:18-23.

Thorsten Holck is a potato farmer in Irschengerg, Germany, and he does have a fairly new tractor which has a maximum speed of around 24mph. Thorsten was a little puzzled, even perplexed when he received a speeding ticket in the mail with a photo of his tractor. The ticket was for traveling at the speed of 76mph about twice the speed limit for that area. Thorsten knows that can’t be right because his 24mph tractor is not capable of going 76mph no matter what the speed camera says.

Some things are not right and never will be right. One of those things is the story of Simon, the former sorcerer, who tried to buy the power of God with his money. Simon had been a well known sorcerer in the area until he appeared to believe on Jesus as many others from that area did. However, Simon was thinking like a lost person with his thoughts of buying the power of God.

We may condemn Simon but is that not what many people still try to do today? Is that not what many Christians are trying to do with their money? When we place our money in the offering plate, or place it in an offering envelope, what is our motivation? Do we in our heart of hearts believe that we are buying God’s favor? That can’t be right. Do we see it as a heavenly payoff, as extortion by God to keep bad things from happening to us? That can’t be right. In fact, it is just as wrong as getting a ticket for going 76mph in a farm tractor.

What should our motivation be for giving money to be used in God’s work? The apostle Paul says this, “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 13:3.)” In this verse Paul says if he were to give “all my goods to feed the poor.” There are, thankfully, many generous people across this world who give to help those in need, who give to help those affected by disasters, and who give to further the work of God. However, Paul is saying that, even if they gave every last thing that they had including the clothes on their body it would not be of any benefit to them personally if they did not have the proper motivation.

What is the proper motivation for giving? Love, agape love. The kind of love that sent Jesus down from the glories of Heaven to walk upon this earth. The kind of love that sent Jesus to and through the cross to become the Savior of all those who believe upon Him.

Whether it is giving or serving or in whatever we do for our Lord, there is only one right motivation for it. That motivation flows from the heart of God that dwells within every believer. If your motivations have not been right the solution is to move closer to the heart of love that dwells within you through the Holy Spirit.

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Shop till You Drop

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

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. - Philippians 3:8.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. - Mark 6:30-32.

Strange as it may sound, tour groups in Hong Kong are being forced to shop! Now some of you might think that is a good thing; however, when you have shopped till you are ready to drop already, it can cause problems. A 65-year-old man has reportedly died from a heart attack that is thought to have been brought on from arguing with a tour guide about the forced shopping. The forced shopping is a frequent practice among the cut rate Chinese package tours as the tour operators receive a percentage of the profits from the shops their tours visit. Reportedly there has been an investigation launched into these practices. A video showing a tour guide somehow abusing a group of tourists and forcing them into shopping brought the practice to the attention of authorities.

Shopping for things is not necessarily a bad thing, although being a man I prefer to go directly into one store I have decided on in advance, grab what I want, pay for it, and leave. Voila! My shopping is finished! Even better, with the Internet I can just click on a few links and my purchase will arrive at my door without even leaving my home. However, many do enjoy the shopping experience, and it can even relieve stress, but it can be overdone and create stress. Especially, when you are being forced to do it by an abusive tour guide!

The point here being that even good things can be participated in excessively. Recreation is good, but too much can cause neglect of other things in your life…like work, and it can result in leaving everything spiritual on the sidelines. Work is a good thing, and it is necessary to support our families but too much of it can result in neglect of our families and neglect of the spiritual aspect of our lives. Even Jesus had to have some quiet time by Himself, and His disciples needed that quiet restful time too.

In Mark 6, you see Jesus and His disciples simply getting away for a rest. We need that as well. In addition, we need the rest we receive from spending time with our God. Jesus modeled that for His disciples and for us as we are told in Mark 1:35, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” Jesus had a quiet time, and we need to have one every day in our lives.

There is a balance in life that we need to strive to create and maintain. How do we do it? We do it by putting God first in our lives as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33. As a devotional I once read said there is time to do everything this year and everything this day that God wants you to do. Put Jesus first and you will know what God wants you to do each day. That my friends, is how you have balance and eliminate stress from your lives.

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Get Out!

“For we will destroy this place….” So Lot…spoke to his sons-in-law…and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. …the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” - Genesis 19:13-15.

“Brethren and fathers, listen: 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.’” - Acts 7:2-3.

Paige Dean, an 11-year-old girl, was with her grandfather and her 7-year-old brother when she had a very close call with disaster. They were at Benllech on the Isle of Anglesey in the UK. The grandfather had parked their car on a slope with the parking brake set because not too far in front of the vehicle was a cliff with the water 250 feet below. The grandfather and the boy went off to explore while Paige stayed in the car listening to her music. Somehow Paige knocked the parking brake off, and the car began to roll forward. She tried to steer the car, missing a tent, but hitting some empty ones. Paige says, "I was rolling towards the edge of the cliff, and I was petrified. I thought: ‘I've got to get out.’ In the end I decided to jump out and let the car go. I saw the car fall off the cliff. I definitely would have died."

Sometimes you just have to get out of some situations before it is too late! Lot and his family faced one of those situations in Sodom. The angels had spoken directly to Lot warning him to take his family and leave because God was going to destroy Sodom very soon. Lot tried to warn his daughters saying, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” His sons-in-laws apparently just laughed at him. So, Lot took his wife, his two daughters still at home and fled the wicked place.

There are situations somewhat similar to Lot’s that some are in today. God’s immediate judgment may not be falling upon you but for your own physical and spiritual well being you need to just get out. Here are some, for example, if you are actively engaged in illegal or immoral activities such as: trafficking in drugs, using illegal drugs, involved in producing por_nography in any way, prostitution, stripping, the sex slave trade or other types of human trafficking, car theft, car jackings, bank robberies, piracy and there are many other things that would fit into this category. If you are involved any of these kinds of activities the time to get out is now! You are testing the patience of God with every minute you continue in that activity. Get out now, flee now, there will be no better time to do it, to get out, then right now!

There are other kinds of situations that may not appear to be quite so desperate but also require immediate action if we want to be in the center of God’s will with our lives. Abraham faced one of those situations when God appeared to him in Mesopotamia and told him, “Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.” Abraham was living in a civilized place with many of the comforts of civilization. God, in effect was telling him to go and live in the lawless wilderness in a tent. This was not something that most people would be anxious to do and yet that is what Abraham did.

Most missionaries and pastors know what it is like to leave a comfortable life and launch out into the unknown. However, it is not just for those that were larger than life characters in the Bible, or missionaries, and pastors. God may be calling you to go from one career to another or to leave one place and move to another.

Is God saying to you to “Get out?” Then you need to do it. There may be a cliff up ahead that you cannot see, but He can. Get out while you can.

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Like a Bad Movie

And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.” - Jonah 1:17b-2:2.

…the younger son…journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. …But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. - Luke 15:13-20.

In Germany, Gerle Kittler must have gotten a little bored at a friend’s party, so he took a nap on the couch. Now his friends thought that was a little rude, and since the couch had wheels, they wheeled him out of the house down to the railroad station about a mile away. They bought a ticket for Gerle and for the couch, and away he went. The 25-year-old Gerle woke up on a railroad station platform four miles down the line. He woke up still on the couch with the police shaking him and demanding to see some identification. Then he discovered that he had no money to buy a return ticket and the battery was down on his cell phone. So he ran the four or five miles back home, and he says he went right back to bed. Later Gerle said this about waking up on the couch at the railroad station, “I thought I was in the middle of a bad movie.”

Have you ever woken up to discover that your life is like a bad movie? I have had that unpleasant experience more than once although I never woke up on a couch at a railroad station. But I have found myself to be living in miserable situations which I hated and knew that I had brought all of it on myself. Those awful situations would have just continued to have gotten worse; however, I finally repented, fell on my knees before God and asked His forgiveness and help.

Jonah perhaps had the ultimate bad movie part having decided to go in the opposite direction from where God wanted. Jonah did not wake up asleep on a couch in a railroad station; no, Jonah woke up in the belly of a great fish. It took him a while, but he too finally came to his senses and cried out to God in repentance. The fish then spit Jonah out on the dry ground, and Jonah went and did what God had wanted him to do in the beginning.

The Prodigal son also found himself in a bad movie ready to eat what he was feeding to the hogs. He decided that he would go back home to his father and hoped his father would let him be one of his servants. The father, however, welcomed him back home as a son.

What was it that happened prior to the bad movie ending in these situations? Turning to God. The father in the parable of the prodigal is representative of our Heavenly Father. So, if you feel like you have woken up in the middle of a bad movie the first thing to do is get down on your knees and ask for God to help you. If you have sinned ask His forgiveness and hopefully everything will change and the bad movie will finally come to an end for you.

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People do the Strangest Things

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. - Psalm 119:9-12.

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

In Yukon, Oklahoma, a man has been booked into jail and charged with second-degree burglary. What was it that Tyler Challis stole that was worth the risk of committing a felony? Apparently, it was for two quarters and a nickel, just 55 cents, that he risked his freedom by breaking into a car at an apartment.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Michael Hankins’ pickup truck was stolen, and he did what anyone would do…no, maybe only he and Tyler Challis would do something like this. He called 911 and not only reported his pickup stolen but also said that it had been stolen with his 6-year-old daughter still inside. It was true, except for the daughter being abducted thing. His daughter was safe; he said he lied about it so there would be a faster response by the police. Hankins was arrested and charged with falsely causing activation of an Amber Alert. No news about the stolen truck, but if you are in jail you don’t need a truck anyway do you?

People continually do the strangest things, and often they are referred to as being dumb criminals or worse. However, many people do some things that they regret, and they know are wrong, even if they have broken no laws. Is there any hope for Tyler Challis and Michael Hankins? Will they continue to do more of the same in the future? Unless they have a moral grounding, a moral anchor, it is very likely that we have not heard the last news report about them.

The Word of God is an anchor for the moral character of everyone that takes advantage of it. As Paul says to Timothy, “All Scripture…is profitable…for instruction in righteousness.” The Word of God will help you to learn to act right, and speak right. Paul also says that “All Scripture…is profitable…for reproof, for correction.” When you have the Word of God within you it will correct you when you begin to act strangely human like Tyler and Michael. God’s Word is like an anchor that can keep you from floating away from where you belong.

How can words on a page of a book help you to live right? Because the Words in the Bible are alive “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God….” No other book can do what the Bible can do for your life because only the words contained in the Bible are the living Words of God. The apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).” John makes it clear who he is talking about in John 1:14, “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.”

When you begin to act strangely like a human, instead of going to jail, or wrecking your life in some other way; try something different for a change. That dusty old book, you know the one, that Bible…get it down, open it up and begin to read. It might just change your life, and it could, even keep you out of jail.

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In His Image

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. - Genesis 1:27.

Ronald Norcliffe has farmed for 30 years in West Yorkshire, England and thought that he had always taken good care of his farm animals. However, when Environmental Health Department inspectors checked out his farm in 2008, they believed that Norcliffe was mistreating his farm animals, which consisted of a cow and a calf. What horrendous nefarious thing had Norcliffe done? He had failed in meeting the psychological needs of the cow and the calf. How had he done that? He did not provide adequate lighting in his barn for the animals. Norcliffe said that he had always lived fine without having electricity in his own house and his attorney said, “I still have no idea how much lighting is appropriate for a cow.” I don’t either!

God is concerned about cattle as seen in Jonah 4:11 and for all animals upon this earth. God is concerned about the mistreatment of animals as we see in the incident with Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22:22-33. God is also concerned about everything on this planet and beyond because He made it all. However, God is more concerned about Homo sapiens because mankind is made in the image of God Himself. In Genesis 1:27 we are told, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

God is so concerned about mankind that Jesus left the glories of Heaven to descend to this Earth where He suffered and died on the cross for our sins. Jesus did not die for the animals, the birds, the fish, or the plants; He died for those created in His image. Every person that has ever been born or will be born is of immense value to God. You are of great importance to God.

Once we know Jesus as our Savior having been born again, the Holy Spirit lives within us and our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit as 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” It is therefore, our responsibility to care for God’s creation and His temple, which is our body.

I will confess that I have not always taken the best care of my body. However, once I comprehended how seriously God views the care of His creation, and temple it has made me be more careful in what I put into this body, what I do with this body, and what I do to this body of mine. However, in my own strength I am unable to provide perfect care for my body. Just like so many other things in the Christian life I need God’s help; I need His strength to take care of my body. We need to ask God for His help, strength, and wisdom to care for our bodies.

I could give you a list of all the things that I think are harmful to the body but I think that you know most of those things. Of course we should not abuse alcohol and drugs, or have sex outside of marriage. They harm the body. Of course, we should not over eat, or eat foods that we know are harmful to our bodies. There are other things that we need to think very carefully about before we do them to our bodies, and you know what they are.

Let us always seek to please our God in the way that we care for our bodies and for all of His creation.

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The Cure for Confusion

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

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 2:1-5.

We have what some might call a nondescript vehicle. It is white and there are countless other cars on the road that look exactly like it. So, on our recent trip as the three of us left a store with me leading the way back to the car, I was puzzled when I was the only one at our car. Then, I noticed Jeanie and Nick a few cars away trying to open the door of another white car, and it was not even the same make or model! I am just glad that they did not have a concrete block laying around to smash open a window. You see, that is what 24-year-old Chase Fitzgerald did when he was confronted with a similar situation. His key would not open the door of the Jeep Cherokee that he thought was his, so he just picked up a concrete block, and smashed open a window. That was when he came to the conclusion that the vehicle was not his.

Chase has been charged with criminal mischief, and he will probably have to pay for the $2,555 worth of damages that he caused too. But where did he find a concrete block laying around in a bank parking lot?? Some people become confused as to which car is theirs so if you see someone trying to open the door of your white car, it may just be the Wrather family. However, if it is a person with a concrete block lifted above their head preparing to smash out a window you might want to call for help.

There is no doubt that life can at times be confusing, and spiritually things can appear to be confusing; but it is not God’s will that you stay confused. It is God’s will that we have peace in every area of our lives.

Often the solution to confusion is simply a brief prayer asking for the Lord’s help and guidance. It is amazing how quickly everything can change after just a little prayer. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Prayer is a way of doing exactly that.

The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Instead of being fearful and confused about every situation that arises, we should be rejoicing in our Lord, continually giving thanks to Him, and praying constantly about everything because this is “the will of God….”

Is there confusion in your life? The cure for that confusion is as the old song puts it:

Have a little talk with Jesus tell him all about our troubles
Feel a little prayer wheel turning know a little fire is burning
Find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

Maybe you need to have a little talk with Jesus right now?

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Just Hurting Yourself

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.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. - Mark 11:25.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” - Romans 12:18-20.

Jeanne Mundango Manunga threatened to do harm hundreds of times by sending threatening text messages to…herself. Manunga falsely claimed the threatening messages were from her former boyfriend and his sister-in-law. She started sending the messages after the relationship ended with the boyfriend back in 2008. Manunga has been convicted of three felony charges of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit. She also was convicted of two misdemeanor charges of making a false police report. Jeanne Manunga may have only made up the threats to harm her, but she did succeed in hurting herself through her deceitful, lying, hate filled actions. She is now under three years of probation supervision, and must pay close to $50,000 in restitution. Ouch! That must hurt!

Actually, Jeanne not only hurt herself, but she did hurt her boyfriend and his sister-in-law as well. It is unknown if she has any children or if her parents are living; however, if they are, the actions of Jeanne harmed them too, bringing emotional pain into their lives.

The actions of Jeanne may have flowed out of anger, which generated the desire for revenge. Most of us have been angry at one time or another, and we quickly release that anger through forgiveness. Some people are unable to immediately forgive and they hang onto their anger. Anger becomes like a little pet that they give additional emotional food to from time to time, and with this happening, they bring increasing levels of pain into their lives. This pain results in adverse effects to their physical health and emotional health. Physically, chronic anger can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels; the immune system is impaired and appears to make the person more susceptible to disease including cancer. Emotionally, chronic anger is devastating and can result in the emotional responses of remorse, guilt, embarrassment, and shame.

The harmful effects of anger do not stop with the angry person but extends to their children, and to all of their family members. It also can affect the quality of work in their employment, and as they lash out at others around them cause additional pain to their fellow workers. Of course, we know that this kind of anger can create greater havoc in the form of: road rage, child abuse, spousal abuse, assaults on others, and sometimes even murder.

How can you forgive when you have been terribly wronged by someone else? Only through the power of God. Confess to God your inability to forgive in your own strength, and ask Him to give you His strength to forgive (Philippians 4:13). God says, “Vengeance is Mine.” God will take care of what needs to be done in the other person’s life. If you refuse to forgive this only allows them to hurt you, and the others in your life that you care about more and more. From my own experience, I know that when I have made the conscious decision to forgive and ask for God’s help to do it, I feel as though I have been released from a great burden. Let your anger go, and move forward in life growing stronger with each step you take with your Lord and your God.

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The Missed Turn

The apostle Paul before King Agrippa relates what Jesus said to Him in the Heavenly vision on the road to Damascus: “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to TURN them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” - Acts 26:17-18.

He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him TURN away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 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 3:10-12.

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

A driver on his way to a paintball game in Austria missed a turn…and flew 30 feet across a river slamming into a cargo ship. The car landed upside down with the nose of the car stuck in the ship. The accident left Tom Stockreiter and three of his friends also hanging upside down over the river. Stockreiter said after the accident, “I just missed a left turn but when I went straight on I saw I was going straight to the river. I slammed on the brakes but the car skidded and just went even faster. Then we took off and all I could see was water until we hit something. It was a lot more exciting than a game of paintball but I wouldn't want to do it again.”

A missed turn when you are driving can cause you all kinds of problems with the possibility of physical injuries or worse. However, there are other kinds of turns that we can miss that can be even more damaging. The Bible tells us of some of those turns that we do not want to miss.

The number one spiritual turn to keep from missing is the turn from “darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” Taking this spiritual turn will allow us to “receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Have you missed the turn? Our GPS unit on our recent trip would always recalculate the route when we got off course. If you missed the turn, you need to recalculate the route for your life. Turn to Jesus, ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and invite Him to be your Savior and Lord.

Are you a liar? Do you cause pain to others because of your lies? Do you do bad things? If so, you missed the turn! You need to turn away from evil toward doing good. Turn now, because “the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” But “the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.”

The apostle Paul gives us a whole list of people in 2 Timothy and all of these people are in the category of the “face of the LORD” being against them. Paul says that we should turn away from people like that. If all of your friends are on the list, and you continually have problems, it may be that you have missed the turn.

Have you missed a spiritual turn or two in life? You need to recalculate your course and get back on track before it is eternally too late.

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Cracking the Code

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. - Hebrews 5:12-13.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

…desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. - 1 Peter 2:2-3.

Here is the code: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a can you crack it? If you can, you might have won a wired dot com dangerroom t-shirt or a ticket for the International Spy Museum. I say you might have won, because the secret code that the Pentagon’s US Cyber Command has in its logo has already been cracked. jemelehill cracked the code in a little over three hours. md5 cryptographic hash was used to translate the Cyber Command’s Mission Statement into the 32 character code.

What is the Cyber Command’s Mission Statement? “USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure freedom of action in cyberspace for the U.S. and its allies, and deny the same to adversaries.” You can see the logo at the USCYBERCOM website http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0410_cybersec/ The logo must be enlarged to see the 32 characters around the inner circle. If you want to know more about md5 cryptographic hash you can read the Wikipedia article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MD5

Many people think that the Bible is somewhat like deciphering the meaning of the 32 characters on the USCYBERCOM’s logo. Even if you had the deciphering tool, the md5 hash thingy, if you are like me, you still would not be able to understand what it was saying. The Bible is complex too, and that is an understatement; however, it can be understood, even if you do not have a doctorate in theology, and even if you cannot read Hebrew and Greek.

Here are some secrets of how to make the Bible understandable. The first secret is this: You have to be “born again (John 3:3).” The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 that the “Natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God…because they are spiritually discerned.” Until you know Jesus as your personal Savior it is impossible for you to understand the Bible.

Next, once you have been “born again” you are a baby Christian and can receive the “milk” of the Word of God. Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” You need to begin to read and study the Bible, even if you do not yet fully understand because you need it to live the Christian life. The apostle Peter tells how to grow in understanding as he says, “…desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”

Now for perhaps the biggest secret of all to understanding the Bible. You will need to ask the teacher for help. What teacher is that? The Holy Spirit who lives within every person (1 Corinthians 3:16) who has been “born again.” Jesus says to His disciples and to us “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…(John 14:26).” Whenever you are having difficulty understanding, pray and ask for help.

The code has been cracked. Will you use the knowledge that you have been given, or will it like many Bibles, lay around gathering dust?

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Let Us…Pray!

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

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. - Mark 11:24.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:15-16.

Xiao Chen, a Chinese man, went down to the Changjiang River for a late night swim but became stuck in the silt of the river. Two fishermen saw the predicament Xiao was in about four hours later, and they called for help. It took another seven hours for firefighters to pull Xiao out of the silt. When he was finally pulled from the silt he still had a red plastic bag in his hand…containing his…cellphone! He was embarrassed about becoming stuck and had refused to call for help even though he had the phone with him the entire time!

It appears incredibly strange and puzzling that if you are stuck for four hours that you would not call for help. I find it equally as puzzling that not only do non-Christians refuse to pray during difficult situations but many Christians refuse to pray. I am sometimes troubled by the years during which I prayed every day but sometimes for only a small amount of time. During those years, I did always turn to God during difficult times and God was always faithful to carry me through those times. Each time God answered, my prayer life increased. Each time in response to prayer that I heard God’s still small voice whisper the answer to my problem, my confidence in Him increased.

The Bible tells us very plainly of the power of prayer and of God wanting us to pray, desiring for us to pray. The writer of Hebrews explains that we have a “High Priest” who knows what it is like to be a weak human being. We are urged by the writer of the book of Hebrews to not only go to God with our needs but to go to Him “boldly.” Amazing that as a child of God we do not just have a cellphone to call for help but we can talk directly with Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe. He is always ready to hear our pleas in the Name of Jesus. We can talk with God anytime, any place about anything that is on our hearts and minds. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4 that we should not be anxious about anything, but instead take our “requests” to God.

When I think of the time that I have wasted when I could have been praying, asking for God’s hand to move across my life, and the lives of others…it brings great sadness. Each day brings new opportunities to shape the world around you through prayer. Martin Luther said that, “Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” The apostle John writes, “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).”

It is time to lay down our prayerlessness and go boldly to the throne of God with our requests. Let no more time be wasted when we could be talking with the Creator of all things. Let us…pray!

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The Real Thing

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:6-9.

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.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. - Titus 3:5.

In Frankfurt, Germany, a wannabe smuggler was stopped with what appeared to be a huge “blood diamond” from Angola. If real it would have been worth more than $3.3 million dollars but it was examined and found to be only a good fake worth about $27 dollars. The man carrying the fake diamond was actually disappointed that he was not arrested for smuggling because he apparently had paid a fortune for it.

There are not only fake things, there are also fake people. This morning I noticed a story about a young woman who had an online relationship with someone for a couple of years. She was in love, until her parents discovered the identity of the person was actually her best friend, a woman. Then, she was angry and heartbroken. It is a problem with one of my groups that I have on facebook that people create false profiles and join the group attempting to have members visit their websites once they become their online friends.

The Galatians had a problem with fakery too. The apostle Paul points out the problem in his letter to the Galatians. The problem began when those called Judaizers came and began spreading their false teaching. Basically, the Judaizers taught that in order to have salvation you still had to keep all of the Old Testament Laws including being circumcised. Paul says clearly that this is a fake gospel. In Ephesians 2:8-10 it is clear that there is not a requirement to be circumcised prior to receiving the gift of eternal life. Also, there is no requirement that all of the commandments be kept perfectly prior to receiving the gift of eternal life. Paul uses a very strong word in his condemnation of those trying to pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He says they should be “accursed.” I believe Paul would say the same thing to those today who try to add in works as a requirement for having the gift of God, eternal life.

Have you been deceived by the Judaizers of today into thinking that you have to be a perfect person before you can have Jesus as your Savior? One of my friends when I attempted to share Jesus with him said that he could never be good enough to go to Heaven. He was a member of a church that taught a works based salvation. He never went to church because he didn’t think that he could ever be good enough. As far as I know he died without knowing Jesus as His Savior because of this false teaching. It is a false teaching because not only does Paul say that it is but also the apostle John indicates that it is when he writes in 1 John 5:13, “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.” If you are working your way to Heaven you can never “know” whether you have done enough or not. John says you can “know” that you have eternal life.

Do you “know” that you have eternal life or have you fallen for one of those fake gospels that the apostle Paul warns about?

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Biting Off more than You can Chew

When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men…And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it - lest you even be found to fight against God.” - Acts 5:33-35; 38-39.

Whatever one is, he has been named already, for it is known that he is man; and he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he. - Ecclesiastes 6:10.

In the swamps of Florida, there is a growing population of Burmese pythons. One of those pythons that was 13-foot long happened one day to see a tasty morsel in the form of a 6-foot long alligator. The python proceeded to swallow the whole alligator but alas for the python the alligator did not go quietly into the night. No, the alligator inside of that python scratched and bit and fought until the side of the snake burst open. However, the alligator still died, but the python died too. A University of Florida wildlife professor says that, “Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild.” Of course, the moral of the story is this: never bite off more than you can chew!

Gamaliel had some very good advice for the Sanhedrin. He shared with them some illustrations of previous movements led by men that had faded away. There was Theudas, and there was Judas of Galilee but they all came to nothing. His advice was that the council should be careful and not oppose that which was of God. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew by fighting against God. That is the same advice the preacher of Ecclesiastes has for mankind as he says “he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.” The One who is mightier is God.

Are you one of those people who are fighting against God? Many are fighting against God by refusing to acknowledge His existence. Some are fighting against God by refusing to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Some fight against God by refusing to assemble with other believers, some fight by refusing to pray, or by refusing to read God’s Word, or by refusing to serve Him in any meaningful way, or by refusing to give to support God’s work on this earth. Many are in rebellion against God and that is a sin which the Bible puts on the same level as witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). God cannot bless a life that is in rebellion against Him.

The apostle Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11a, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….” Paul says, “Knowing…the terror of the Lord.” Do you not have any fear of God? Some day you will stand before Him. If you know Jesus as your Savior you will stand before Him at the “judgment seat of Christ.” That judgment is for the determination of rewards and not of eternal destination. If you have never received Jesus as your Savior you will stand before God at the Great White Throne and when your name is not found to be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life you will be judged according to your works. Since you have rejected Jesus as your Savior you will be cast into hell along with the devil and his demons because the “wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).”

If you have been fighting against God, stop it! You have bitten off more than you can chew!

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Shut the Door

Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. - Acts 19:19-20.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. - Romans 13:14.

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 5:8-9.

In Tadley, England someone walking by the HSBC Bank branch early one morning discovered a strange situation. The bank door was open! The open door was reported to the police and the bank was quickly secured. Nothing was found to be missing, and it was not clear how long the door had been left open.

In South Carolina, a home owner left his garage door up while he took care of a couple of errands. After all, the Claussen community was a safe family place to live, and he was only going to be gone for about 30 minutes. However, when he returned, he found that someone had entered through the open garage door and kicked in the door from the garage to the house. The burglar did take three jewelry boxes one of which contained some family heirlooms.

In these days and in most places it is wise to shut the door to your house or business if you will be away for even brief periods of time. An open door is an invitation to a burglar to enter and take whatever he can find of value.

Spiritually, we need to also shut the door because we do have an enemy who “walks about seeking whom he may devour.” That old devil is constantly looking for an open door in your life so that he can enter in and “steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).”

The new believers in Ephesus give us an example of shutting the door. Even though the books that they had used to practice the dark arts were worth a large amount of money instead of selling them, they burned them. They shut the door on their past permanently as they would be unable to afford to replace the books once they were destroyed. Burning the books would also keep others from being tempted to use them. You need to do the same thing in your life. If you are using illegal drugs, you need to get rid of them. Do not keep a hidden stash in your home somewhere. You need to do the same with alcohol, with pornography, with Ouija boards, with tarot cards. You need to rid your life of them permanently.

There are other ways to leave the door open to the devil and to the flesh. We leave the door open when we refuse to forgive. We leave the door open through doubt, and unbelief. We leave the door open when we knowingly live in sin. We leave the door open when we gossip about others and when we mummer against God. These doors are harder to shut, but they can be closed as we draw near to God (James 4:8a). We move closer to God as we pray, immerse ourselves in His Word, are faithful in church attendance, and live each day as closely as we can to God‘s will for our lives.

If you have been leaving the doors of your life open, you are asking for trouble. Shut the doors!

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Symbols of Freedom

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…. - John 19:17-18a.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:1-4.

Last week we visited the Mount Rushmore monument in South Dakota for the first time. I had heard about Mount Rushmore and had seen photos of the monument countless times during my life. However, being there physically, seeing it with my own eyes, allowed me to understand that it was much different than I had thought. It was better, greater, than I had pictured it as being in my mind. Mount Rushmore is meant to be, and I believe it is a symbol of the freedom that we have in our country. A plaque at the site states that “The four American Presidents carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore were chosen by the sculptor to commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development of the United States. They symbolize the principles of liberty and freedom on which the nation was founded.” Mount Rushmore is a symbol of the freedom that we have in the United States.

The apostle Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Romans that in Christ Jesus, we can have spiritual freedom. That spiritual freedom came at a great cost and that cost was the shedding of the blood of Jesus upon a cruel Roman cross. Jesus was crucified on that cross gaining the freedom for all those who will look to Him, receiving Him as their Savior. That cruel cross, the instrument used to bring death to the Son of God no longer is thought of as an instrument of execution but instead as a symbol of spiritual freedom.

Prior to my receiving Jesus as my Savior I had heard about Him often, I had read about Him often, and I had heard the testimonies of those who said they knew Jesus as their Savior. However, nothing that I had heard, read, or imagined about Jesus compared with the reality of my actually being “born again” and having the Holy Spirit live within me. In a moment of time, when I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior and Lord, the course of my life was eternally changed.

On the 4th of July we celebrate our freedom from governmental oppression in the United States, and we ought to be thankful everyday for that freedom demonstrating our thankfulness by living as good citizens. Spiritually, we should celebrate our freedom in Christ and demonstrate our thankfulness every day by living for him as the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, “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.”

If you have not personally received Christ Jesus as your Savior and Lord; if you have only heard about Jesus, read about Jesus, then I invite you to experience Jesus for yourself. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

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The Joys of Drinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcohol also causes physical “woe”, afflictions in addition to all of the emotional distress. Alcohol can cause heart problems, sexual problems, cognitive problems, gastro-intestinal tract problems, liver problems, central nervous system problems, and breast cancer. A friend that I had died in his early forties from cirrhosis of the liver because he refused to stop drinking. Some have died at even earlier ages because of cirrhosis of the liver caused by drinking.

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

If you are a drinker I plead with you to stop, and if you have never drunk alcohol I plead with you to never ever start because there is no joy to be found in drinking.

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Obeying God or Men

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” - John 10:31-32.

There has been a strange occurrence in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire where a woman, Adriene Valdez (age 28), was having difficulty breathing. However, it is not clear whether she called 911 or if her neighbors or family members did. When the emergency response team of three EMTs arrived at the home, they found Adriene sitting on her lawn still having breathing problems. One of the EMTs trying to determine the reason for the breathing distress asked Adriene a question. In response to being asked a question the woman reportedly head butted two of the emergency workers and then attacked the third hitting and biting the EMT. The attack was savage resulting in the EMTs sustaining bites, bruises, and even some broken bones. Adrienne was arrested and has not yet posted bail pending a court hearing.

What an incredibly shocking response to those who were simply trying to help save someone’s life! It must have a terrible surprise to have a person appearing to be so ill to suddenly attack with such viciousness! No one in their right minds would think that Adriene had acted in an appropriate manner. None of us unless under the influence of some substance or mentally ill would act in that way. Let us hope and pray the EMTs recover from their injuries and continue to have the desire to serve their community.

Jesus has a lot in common with those EMTs in Mont Vernon. Because Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).” Jesus was sent to “heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).” However, the response of the Jews was similar to the woman who attacked the EMTs. What did the Jews do? They “took up stones again to stone Him.” The Jews fully intended to kill the One who would be their Savior! Incredible!

Jesus may not be walking physically upon this earth but His followers are. Have you ever tried to share Jesus with someone and then have them act like you were doing something wrong? Who are we to obey? God or men? In the Book of Acts, we are told this: “And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29).’” I know those who try to witness at work and their co-workers try to have them fired. Or they are punished by being given the most difficult work, or are ostracized by the other workers. If this has happened to you, rejoice for you are following in the steps of your Lord and Savior just as did the apostles!

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Hell’s Gate

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.

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from.’” - Luke 13:23-25.

There is a huge flaming crater in Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert, which is about 60 yards wide that is called “Hell’s Gate” or “Hell’s Door” by people in the area. The crater is the result of a blow-out caused by a drilling accident back in 1971. Soviet petroleum engineers decided to burn off the gas, and it has been burning ever since. Hell’s Gate is a tourist attraction for the foreign tourists that actually make it to the country, and it is said to be a beautiful sight to see (You can see photos of it on the web.). However, Turkmenistan’s president would like to put out the fire so that development of natural gas reserves in the area will not be hindered.

It would be great if the actual gate to enter hell was located in the Karakum Desert then we could just avoid the place and never go to hell. Hell’s Gate, however, is much closer and much more personal than that. We enter Hell’s Gate in more subtle, unsuspecting ways. Life has a way of keeping us busy with things other than the vital spiritual ones. Are attention is placed on work, family, our home, and we seldom think about God and eternity.

The path to hell is more of a slide than a walk. The busier we are with our worldly affairs the closer we slide to the gaping mouth of the Gate of Hell. We ignore our spiritual condition, we push aside any thoughts about God, or church, or Jesus, and we slide closer and closer to that Gate of no return. When we do think about spiritual things we think of how we are not any worse than many religious people that we know. We think that a good God would never send anyone to hell. We think of all the religions in the world and think they probably all lead to the same place. We slide closer to the gaping mouth of hell as we focus in on more pleasant thoughts. It becomes a habit to avoid thinking of spiritual things and only of worldly things. It becomes a habit never considering, and to avoid considering what will happen after you die.

The spiritual truth is that there is only One way to avoid the Gate of Hell and that way is a very narrow way because that way is only through Jesus Christ. Jesus says this in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We can only enter the narrow gate by believing upon Jesus as our Savior as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3:14-17, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Are you sliding closer and closer to the gaping mouth of the Gate of Hell? Or, have you already entered into eternal life through the “narrow gate” of believing upon Jesus Christ?

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Uncertain Times

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. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. - James 4:13-14.

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

Yesterday, Bill Jordan bought a new iPad for a friend in Canada at the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Colorado. The bag was heavy and he had the cord wrapped around his fingers. Just as he was exiting the mall a man grabbed the bag ripping it away and along with the bag the flesh of two-thirds of Jordan’s little finger, which had to be amputated. Surprising! Shocking!

We have all heard of the Icelandic volcano that has spewed ash into the atmosphere and stranded all of the travelers. Who could have predicted that such a thing would happen? For the stranded travelers and their families, it was surprising! Shocking! For the airlines that have lost billions of dollars it was more of the same.

In May 2007, Amy Teresa Ricks of Utah, promising her husband a surprise, blindfolded him and then hit him in the head with a hammer. Her husband suffered minor injuries and has recovered. Amy is on probation and must do community service. They were separated at the time of the attack and there has apparently not been a reconciliation. The attack was surprising and shocking!

Those reports are just a few of the surprising and shocking things that have happened to humans in recent days. In the past, we know there were always countless surprising and shocking things happening. Who could have predicted the San Francisco Earthquake or other great disasters of history? It will be more of the same in the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years, and for as long as human history is allowed to unfold.

The human race has lived, is living, and will be living in uncertain times. We make our plans but rarely do our plans turn out exactly as we planned. How do you cope with the uncertainty of life? How do you cope, how do you keep going when your plan comes apart at the seams? How do you cope, how do you keep going when what is precious to you is suddenly ripped away? How do you cope, how do you keep going when life hits you in the head with a hammer?

There is someone who wants to help you make it through the uncertainties of life. However, we have to trust in Him, believe in Him, before that help is available to us. God says to those that love Him, “I am with you…I will strengthen you…I will help you…I will uphold you.”

When you are facing the uncertainties of life, remember your God, your Lord says, “Fear not.”

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Living on the Rock

He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. - Luke 6:48.

As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” - Romans 9:33.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. - 1 Corinthians 10:1; 4.

Vicki Luhrs appeared on Fox News yesterday and told about her battle to protect her dream home on Puget Sound in Washington State. Her dream home was built next to and overlooking Puget Sound. Over the years, one third of her property has been eroded threatening the destruction of the home if the erosion is allowed to continue. Vicki knows what is needed to protect the home and what is needed is a rock revetment. However, Whatcom County officials have blocked her from building that revetment and will only allow the planting of vegetation to slow the erosion which would be completely ineffective. Vicki found help through Pacific Legal Foundation and has succeeded in forcing a new trial, where unlike the first trial, she will be allowed to present evidence of the need for that rock revetment.

The apostle John makes it clear that worldliness is a spiritual enemy of Christians when he writes, “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).” The world continually attempts to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and fervor.

The apostle Paul tells us of another enemy. As Christians we do have a new nature as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17; however, we are still clothed in human flesh and Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, “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.” The flesh wars with our spiritual nature (1 Peter 2:11) to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and our fervor.

The apostle Peter advises that we have one additional spiritual enemy when he writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).” That old devil seeks to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and our fervor. The devil wants to destroy you, to “devour” your spiritual life.

How can we as Christians stand up against the constant spiritual pressure, constant spiritual erosion of the world, the flesh, and the devil? We need to do in the spiritual what Vicki Luhrs wants to do physically to protect her home. We need a spiritual rock revetment. Jesus is that rock and the more of Jesus we have in our lives the greater our resistance will be to the spiritual erosion. You can counter the big three spiritual enemies with the big three spiritual resources of the Bible, prayer, and the church. The more input of Scripture, the more you pray, and the more you are faithful in attending church the larger your spiritual rock revetment will become. Begin now; determine now that your spiritual shoreline will be eroded no more. Live your life on the Rock!

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How Much are you Worth?

…glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. - Romans 2:10-11.

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? - James 2:1-4.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. - James 2:8-9.

In a scene from the modern west men in a four wheel drive vehicle are hunting down executive chairs. That’s right, chairs! There are chairs rolling everywhere. There are small chairs and large chairs. The scene ends with the hunters roping and hauling in one of the larger chairs. The scene is from an executive employment service TV ad which claims they only have listings for 100k+ people and for companies that only want 100k+ people. In other words, if on your resume your salary history indicates you make less than $100,000 per year do not apply to that executive employment service. They do not want you. Go away little chairs. You are beneath the level that they consider being of importance.

For billions of people in this world their lifetime earnings will not add up to $100,000. Billions more do not earn and never have earned $100,000 per year. I am definitely in that category. Does that mean that those of us who have never reached the 100k+ level of earnings per year are somehow less valuable, of less worth than those who earn more? Perhaps in the eyes and value system of one executive employment service and of people whose goal in life is to make more and more money we are worth less. However, in God’s value system every human being is of the same worth, whether we are rich or poor: “For there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11).”

Does the spiritual fact that God is impartial mean that there will never be favoritism in the church? No, if you have attended church for a year or more it is likely that you have observed favoritism. In every church that I have attended or pastored there have been instances of favoritism. Does this make it right? Of course not! There were instances of favoritism in the early church as seen in Acts chapter six with Jewish widows receiving better treatment than Greek widows. The church moved to correct that mistreatment and favoritism. It is the example that we need to follow. If you are personally involved in favoritism you need to try to change. If you see others involved in favoritism you need to try to help them see their need to change and help in that process.

The elimination of favoritism from the church and the world will never be completely accomplished as long as the world is the world as we know it now, the flesh is still the flesh, and the devil is still roaring seeking whom he may devour. However, each of us can pray; and we can seek to eliminate favoritism in our lives, in the church, and in the world around us. Our goal in regard to impartiality should be the goal expressed by our Lord in the model prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).”

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Simply Unbelievable

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.

It is hard to wrap your mind around even the possibility of what some people will do and what actually happens in their lives. A traffic accident occurred recently in the Florida Keys because of the unbelievable actions of a couple of people there. Megan Barnes and her ex-husband, Charles Judy, were on their way to meet Megan’s boyfriend in Key West when the accident happened. Now, you have to wonder why Megan and Charles were even in a vehicle together but that is only an odd sidebar to the main event. Of course, Megan wanted to be appear her best when she met her boyfriend, and so she did what any woman would do in a situation like that, she decided to shave her…uh… bikini line.

The situation is further complicated by Megan being the one who is driving the vehicle. So, Charles takes over control of the car from the passenger seat while Megan shaves. The vehicle is only going about 45mph but that is apparently 40mph to fast when the car in front of them slows to 5mph to make a turn. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the accident. To make this incident even more unbelievable you have to know some more of the facts. Megan should not have been driving because the day before she had been convicted of Driving Under the Influence after a prior offense with a suspended license. In addition, she was ordered not to drive any vehicle that did not have a breathalyzer device to prevent her from driving it while intoxicated. That is probably why after the accident Megan continued down the highway a half mile so that she and Charles could switch places and claim that he was driving. However, because of burns on Charles’ chest from the air bag and because the driver side air bag did not deploy the investigating officer knew that Megan was actually driving. The entire situation is simply unbelievable, but it is still true!

If you are the judge when Megan appears before the court after this incident would you give her a pat on the back and tell her all is forgiven? Most of us would give her a sentence that we hope will keep her off the streets for a few years. That is the mindset that we humans have, and it makes it hard for us to comprehend, to believe, the amazing grace, amazing mercy of God when we encounter it personally.

Megan most likely will not receive mercy at the hands of her human judge for her actions and she certainly does not deserve such mercy. However, she can receive mercy in the hands of her God. The operative word here is “can.” God’s mercy is not automatic. God’s mercy is a gift but in order to receive a gift we must do what? We must want it, and accept it. Examine a few of the Biblical passages concerning salvation:

John 1:12: “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” We must receive or accept Jesus.

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.” We must believe in Jesus.

Romans 10:13: For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” We must call upon His name.

Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” We must open up the door of our heart and allow Jesus to enter in.

God’s amazing gift of grace, of mercy may sound as if it is unbelievable but the eternal fact is that it is still true! God is offering His amazing gift to you - accept it!

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Still Powerful - Part 2

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. - John 14:12-14.

Inspector Roger Bartlett is the chief of policing in Barnstaple, England; Barnstaple is a small city of about 34,000 people. Inspector Bartlett is a leader in the Christian Policing Association there and provides some startling information about the power of prayer and public safety. In 2007, the Association made a commitment to pray for an improvement rate in the crime detection rate (crime clearance rate). In 2007, the crime detection (clearance) rate was only 26% but now that rate has increased 14 points to 40%.

The Christian Policing Association also took on another prayer project of trying to reduce the number of fatal highway accidents in North Devon where Barnstaple is located. The astounding result is a drop in fatal accidents in one year from 97 to 32. Inspector Bartlett commenting on this said, “Many who do not have the faith would say that this is just coincidence. From my experience, the more I pray the more coincidences I seem to see.”

As a pastor, in almost every worship service I lead in prayer and pray for individuals and for large groups of people including missionaries, rescue workers, those affected by disasters, and others. In my private prayer life, I pray for individuals, and also for large groups of people as I am sure that most reading this devotional do as well. Have you ever wondered whether it really makes any difference? When I pray for the safety of those in my community and there is a fatal accident I sometimes wonder what is wrong with my prayer life. You may possibly have the same questions.

I think that I may be asking the wrong question when looking at the effectiveness of prayer for large groups. What those of us who pray for those large groups should be thinking of is how many lives were protected, how many lives and souls were saved because of our prayers. Why were the fatal accidents in North Devon not reduced to zero? I do not know. This side of Heaven we simply will not know the answer to some of those questions. What we do know is that possibly as many as 65 fatal accidents were avoided because of prayer. It is like the story of the Star Thrower (The story may have been originally written by Loren Eiseley 1907-1977). The boy or the young man in the story could not possibly throw all the starfish back into the ocean before the tide went out and the rays of the hot sun came down. A man questioned why the boy was still trying to throw the starfish back into the ocean? The answer, as the boy threw another starfish back was “It makes a difference for this one.”

The point of all of this is that the Name of Jesus is still powerful and our prayers do make a difference. As the apostle John says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).”

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Still Powerful

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” - Acts 3:6.

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 16:18.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. - 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.

An armed robber in Frisco, Texas encountered a force more powerful than his 9mm Glock handgun. What was that force? Marian Chadwick simply pointed her finger at the would be robber and the robber turned around and left the store. Actually, the pointing of the finger was not the power that turned the man around. No, it was the words uttered by Marian, “In the Name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the Holy Spirit.” To Marian and another person that was present at the time the robber appeared to be “stunned” and he then turned, and walked out of Marian’s crafts boutique, Extravagant Necessities. This same man is believed to have successfully committed armed robberies in four Dallas suburbs and has not yet been apprehended.

As people of faith, as Bible believers, we believe that the miracles of the Bible are literally true. As we know, the miracles were necessary to authenticate the acts of Jesus and His apostles. However, living in this world some 2,000 years later we are hesitant to believe that the miracles that happen around us are actually miracles. We are much more likely to attribute the miraculous to being a coincidence, or a lucky break. Or, in the case of someone whose X-rays or MRI has changed suddenly from showing a malignancy to revealing nothing of significance, we almost automatically think this was simply a mistake by the Doctor or operator of the equipment.

It is rare for it to actually be reported in the news media an undeniable act of God, a miracle as occurred in the boutique shop of Marion Chadwick last month. I wonder though how many people actually paused to read the story, or if they were watching the news on television if they even listened to the words. How many people who heard the story or read the story even stopped to think that this is a great miracle of God that has occurred?

Even though it has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked upon this earth - God is still God. Not only is God still God but the Name of Jesus is still powerful. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:12-14).”

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The Power is Given

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7.

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. - 2 Peter 1:2-4.

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

Nick Harris was taking his own eight-year-old daughter to school when he saw something that every parent fears. What Nick saw was a car backing out of a drive way and right over a six-year-old girl. The girl was trapped underneath the tire of the large Mercury car but that did not stop Harris from trying to lift the car off of her. Harris is 32-years-old, five-foot-seven weighing 185 pounds, and he does not know how he did it, but he was able to lift the car off of the little girl. Since then Harris has tried to lift other cars but has been unable to do it again. He says about the rescue of Ashlyn that it was because, "…somehow, adrenaline, hand of God, whatever you want to call it, I don't know how I did it." Ashlyn, the little girl who was trapped is going to be okay.

Through Jesus, everything has been given to us, all the power necessary to live life to the ultimate degree is available. Sometimes we see the exercise of the power of God in very obvious ways as with Nick Harris doing the impossible in lifting the car to save the little girl. However, I would submit to you that the power of God is at work in the lives of countless people across this earth every minute of every day. When the world says that you should give up on your marriage, but you pray and trust God to give you strength to continue on is that not an even greater exercise of God's power? When you learn you have cancer or some other disease and instead of giving up you pray asking for strength, and you continue on with life as long as you have breath that surely is a great demonstration of the power of God at work in your life. When you are financially destitute one step from living on the streets, but you continue to trust God and pray for Him to provide no matter what may happen - the power of God is being released in your life with each step forward that you take.

We have just begun a new year and no doubt, there will be challenges ahead. Whatever shape the challenge may take whether financial, health, relationship, emotional, parenting, educational, addiction - whatever it is; God can give you the power to meet the challenge. The challenges of life can at times be frightening. Remember that the fear does not come from God because He gives us instead: power, love, and a sound mind. Whatever is ahead, you and the Lord will be able to go through those challenges because, "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…."

Copyright © 1998 - 2013. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.