Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Watch Your Step

12 November

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love. (1 Co 16:13–14; NIV)

In May 1995, Randy Reid, a 34-year-old construction worker, was welding on top of a nearly completed water tower outside Chicago.  According to writer Melissa Ramsdell, Reid unhooked his safety gear to reach for some pipes when a metal cage slipped and bumped the scaffolding he stood on.  The scaffolding tipped, and Reid lost his balance.  He fell 110 feet, landing face down on a pile of dirt, just missing rocks and construction debris.  A fellow worker called 911.  When paramedics arrived, they found Reid conscious, moving, and complaining of a sore back.  Apparently the fall didn't cost Reid his sense of humor.  As paramedics carried him on a backboard to the ambulance, Reid had one request: " Don't drop me."  (Doctors later said Reid came away from the accident with just a bruised lung.) . Sometimes we resemble that construction worker.  God protects us from harm in a 110-foot fall, but we're still nervous about three-foot heights.  The God who saved us from hell and death can protect us from the smaller dangers we face this week. (Citation: Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois.  Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4)

Paul's words to the Corinthians are just as relevant today.  We have to be on our guard.  From what you might ask,  from the things of this world that would like to trap us.  When I was growing up in Michigan, I spent a lot of time running around with an uncle that was my age.  We would walk through forests and along streams, mostly just looking for trouble to get into. 

During certain times of the year, we would have to be on our guard.  We would slowly walk along the stream banks, watching our steps as we were looking for traps set by trappers.  These traps are not something you want to walk on, so we were on the watch for them.  The same is true of the world in which we live.  There are traps all around us that Satan has set, just waiting for an unsuspecting person.  That doesn't mean we should walk around in fear because Paul goes on to say, "stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong."  We can stand firm because we know that no matter what Satan throws our way, God can take care of.  We need to remember, God is in control; always has been and always will be.  And our time on earth is really very short when compared to the eternity that we will spend with our Lord and Savior.  So take courage and be strong, stand firm in the faith because what God has promised, He will see through till completion, and He promised He will protect us from all harm, whether a fall or a trip.  He will be there to catch us.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Hope in the Living God

11 November

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.  That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.  (1 Ti 4:9–10; NIV)

People put their hope in many different things; cars, jobs, countries, relationships, and even other people.  The problem is that cars break down, jobs are lost, the leaders of the countries can change their opinions.  There is one we can put our hope in who never changes; the living God.

Since the day Adam fell from grace, God has been trying to bring us back to himself, and in this, he has never changed.  God is the savior of all mankind, and he calls us all, makes no difference if we are red, yellow, black, or white, rich, poor, slave, or free.

God wants us to love one another and to love him, to commune with him, to worship and put our trust and faith in him, and to put all of our hopes in him.  I have tried putting my hopes in many different things in my life, but the one that has never failed me is when I put my hope in my heavenly Father, my Savior, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  He has always been there for me and always will be.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Increasing Love

9 November

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  (1 Th 3:12; NIV)

Love is one of those amazing things that just keeps growing and growing.  This is very easily seen in families.  When we young and live at home, we love our parents as well as our brothers and sisters.  Then that person who catches our eye and our heart come into our lives, and the love grows to include them as well as our family.  Some are blessed to have children come into the picture, and love increases to include them.  No one gets any less love as the number of people increases, love just multiplies to include the next person.  There is a song that Sherry Lewis and Lambchop do (if you don't know who they are, check with your parents or grandparents, or better yet pull them up on YouTube.com) called, "The Song That Never Ends."  Well, that's love, it "does not end, it goes on and on my friend."

 As Christians, we should be able to show others what love is all about.  It is not in limited supply, and it should be shared with everyone we come in contact with.  The more we share with others, the more they may share, and that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Gifts

8 November

Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try above everything else to make greater use of those which help to build up the church.  (1 Co 14:12; GNT)

We live in a time where we are told and even encouraged to live for ourselves, do everything to make our lives easier and forget the other person.  Paul tells us to do something different.  The people of Corinth were much like people today.  They knew that certain gifts fo the Spirit would make them look good if used in front of others.  Paul says that these gifts are great but as the body of Christ, all working for the good of him who saved us, we should make greater use of those gifts which help to build up the church.

So, what kind of gifts are included here which can build up the church?  How about the gift of giving (time and money), the gift of praying for others, the gift of encouragement, the gift of prophecy (I'm not talking about "psychic-hotline" but about instructing others).  The list of gifts of the Holy Spirit goes on and on but we should make greater use of the ones that build up the church.  Those gifts that put others ahead of ourselves after all that is the way Jesus would do it.  So, take some time to think about the gifts you have and the way they can be used to help others.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

One Body

5 November

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  (1 Co 12:12–13; NIV)

For some, the idea of one body is hard to understand, especially when we see other denominations also claiming to be Christian.  There are Methodists, Baptists, Christians, Nazarenes, Wesleyans, and you get the idea.  How can there be so many different denominations all claiming to be members of the body of Christ?  Think about this, if you were to ask people in your town what their nationalities were, you would get some answers like this; I'm an American, Native-American, African-American, German-American, and the list goes on.  Did you notice they all include the name American?  Even though we all come from different places in the beginning (like the many parts), we all make up one country.

In the same way, even though we come from different denominations, we are brought together under one title to become one body, and that title is Christian.  Though we look at each other as being different, we were all given the same Spirit to share in and with others.  So maybe we should start looking at others as being part of our body, the body of Christ.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Discipline

4 November

Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.  (1 Co 11:32; NIV)

When I was younger I used to get disciplined (A LOT), and at the time, I never thought it was for a very good reason.  As I got older, some of the things my parents used to say while disciplining me came back to haunt me as I used the same words while disciplining my boys.  One of those sayings that used to come up was the one that went something like this, "This is going to hurt me more than it will you."  Well, I don't ever remember anyone with tears in their eyes except me.  Thinking more about it, the hurt is sometimes more than physical pain; its called emotional pain, and it can hurt more than any swat I ever received.  Sometimes even now, I have to be disciplined (can you imagine), not by parents but by my Lord.  There are times when I say or do something that I really should not have done, and my heavenly Father lets me know about it.  By placing a conviction on my heart, I know I have been disciplined and that it was done out of love.  You see, God does not like to discipline, but when it comes to the salvation of his children, he will correct them so that they will not be judged with the rest of the world.  This is one time when the phrase, "This is going to hurt me more than it will you," when our heavenly Father says it before disciplining us.



Saturday, November 2, 2019

You Want Me To Speak?

2 November

But Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been a skilled speaker.  Even now, after talking to you, I cannot speak well. I speak slowly and can’t find the best words.”  Then the LORD said to him, “Who made a person’s mouth? And who makes someone deaf or not able to speak? Or who gives a person sight or blindness? It is I, the LORD.   Now go! I will help you speak, and I will teach you what to say.”  (Ex 4:10–12; NCV)

Have you ever known someone to say something along the lines as Moses?  Maybe they said something like,  "Oh no Lord, I know you're not talking to me.  I can't speak for you, I don't know what to say.  Let the pastor do it; he knows all the right words to say, but don't ask me to do it."  Maybe you've said it yourself, I know I did. 

So why do we cut God short?   We trust him to do many wonderful things in our lives, and we even ask him to help us, knowing that he will.  We ask him to heal us, protect us, help us with our problems, and the list goes on, so why do we think he would not help us speak on his behalf?  Isn't it funny that for many Christians it's easier to accept that God created mankind and everything about him, but hard for us to believe he would come to our rescue and fill our mouths with words that glorify him?

I, for one, am terrified about being in front of people and opening my mouth.  Some time ago, Jonie and I were asked to show about 15 people the hand motions to a song.  It was like pulling teeth getting me in front of those 15 people; I was scared stiff.  On the other hand, let me tell someone about the love of Jesus, even if it means getting up in front of hundreds of people, the Holy Spirit will give me all the courage in the world and more importantly he will provide me with the words to say.

We need to trust that God will provide us the right words to say and also help us to overcome the temptation to do it ourselves or worse yet not do it at all.  So, speak out on behalf of the Master and remember we are never speaking alone, he is with us.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Not How But Why

1 November

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Ge 1:1; NIV)

Since the "beginning" people have been trying to prove that God did not create the heavens and the earth.  It seems that humankind has the desire to explain everything, even when it needs no explaining.  My mom used to say that I was getting too smart for my own britches.  Well, I wonder if God doesn't sit there and say the same thing about the human race.  We continuously analyze everything and at times, make "mountains out of molehills."  We are not happily accepting what God has done for us unless we figure out the "how" he did it.  I say we need to forget asking "how" he did it and focus on the "why" he did it.

Why did he make the cool summer mornings or the beautiful snowy afternoons?  Why did he make the laughter of a child so contagious or their tears so heartbreaking?  Why did he reach out to me after all I had done to him?  Why did he send his son to die for me to take my place?

All the "whys" can be summed up in one word, "LOVE."  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (Jn 3:16; NIV)

Let's stop trying to explain "how" God does what he does and start explaining to everyone we come in contact with "why" he does what he does.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Who's Greatest

31 October

 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.  But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”  (Lk 9:46–48; NASB,1995)

There is something about human nature where we want to know where we fit in the "pecking order."  We try to become "number one" in all we do; sports, job, games, society.  Of course, not all of us want to be "top dog" in everything we do, but we still want to know what rung we are on when it comes to the progression ladder.  In the Scripture, the disciples are joining in with the rest of the world and wanting to know who is "top banana." Jesus changes everything.  He says it is not the one who is the best or the greatest here on earth, which will become the greatest in heaven but the one who is least.  Wow, that goes against everything we know, everything we are taught.  We have to become the least?  I'm not sure they teach a class on that.  It means I have to serve others . . . and enjoy it.  It means I have to be willing to go out of my way and serve others and not think of myself.

Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to excel in life and "be all we can be," but we need to do things with the heart of Jesus.  That means we don't walk all over someone just to get to the top.  If we show kindness and compassion to everyone and become humble and caring, we show others what Jesus is like.  And when we start accepting others for who they are and not rejecting them for what they've done, we again show them the heart of Jesus.

These are some ways in which we become least and at the same time, greater.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What Are The Works Of God

30 October

Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?"  Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (Jn 6:28-29; NRSV)

It sure seems like there are a lot of people out in the world who believe "works" alone will get them into heaven, that's just not so.  Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."  Once we believe in him, we want to do other "works," not because they save us (which they don't) but because we want to do good for others out of the love we have found in Jesus. 

When we become Christians, we do not want to do these "works" for our own benefit, but out of love.  This love is the same love that caused Jesus to touch lepers.  He touched them, which made him unclean.  He didn't touch them to glorify himself but to show them true love and compassion.  He didn't think of himself but only of the other person and how he could help them.  This same love caused him to weep over the grave of a friend and to raise him from that grave to life again.  This same love was shown when our Savior went to the cross to die for me, to take my place, again, not to glorify himself but because he loves us that much.

So, what are the works of God that we are to do?  "Believe in him whom He has sent," and then the works will not be because of ourselves but because of the love and compassion we have learned while sitting at the feet of Jesus.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What A Servant

29 October

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Php 2:5–11; NIV)

Don't we have a great Savior?  Jesus, with all his power, came to earth as a man, in humility, and with a servant's heart.  Wow!  The closest thing in this world that I can think of that is somewhat like what Jesus did is found in Jimmy Carter.  The former President of the United States, arguably one of the most powerful people on earth, humbles himself to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.  Of course, there are HUGE differences between Jesus and President Carter.  When President Carter lost the bid for a second term in office, he also lost the power associated with the position.  In a split second, President Carter handed his power over to President Reagan. 

When Jesus came to this world, he still had power.  Even in human form, His power was so great that demons begged to be sent into a herd of pigs instead of dealing with his holy power.  At the same time, he approached each person and showed them love and compassion.  He became obedient to death, even death on a cross, the most feared and despised was to die and yet, "God has exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."  It's hard to believe that all this love, power, humility, compassion, understanding, and glory can be wrapped up in one person -- Jesus.  Praise his name!


Monday, October 28, 2019

We Are Family

28 October

Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”  Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!  “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”  (Mk 3:33–35; NASV)

Jesus had just been told that his mother and brothers had come to see him.  They wanted to talk to him about his actions because they knew something was going to happen to him if he kept on preaching and teaching the way he had been.  But Jesus looked around at those with him; those who wanted to hear what he had to say; those who were there to be healed; those seeking something better than what they had, and he said, "Look around me, these are my mother and brothers!  Whoever does the will of my God is my brother and sister and mother."

Those that do the will of the father are all related; we are all brothers and sisters.  Jesus was making a bold statement here.  On the one hand, we think he was hard-hearted and cruel by saying, "Who are my mother and brothers?"  He knew they wanted him to stop doing what he had been doing; the fathers work.  Then looking at the crowd around him he knew why he was there, they wanted him to continue, they wanted to hear from him, they wanted to be taught about the kingdom to come.  These were his brother and sisters and mother.

Another interesting point is that Jesus is the one to mention "sisters."  In that day, women were nothing but possessions, but Jesus places them right up there alongside men by saying that those who do the will of the father are his brothers and sisters.  He openly accepts all to be part of his family and loves us as his brothers and sisters.  Aren't you glad?  I know I am, and it causes me to sing, "I'm so glad I'm apart of the family of God!"*


* Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1970 William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Trust In What You Cannot See

25 October

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Tim 1:17; NIV)

I am still amazed every time I run into someone who does not believe in God, and it has to do with the reason why they don't believe.  Many people have told me over the years; the reason they don't believe in God is that they cannot see him.  These same people put their trust in so many other things which they cannot see.  They flip on a switch in their house, expecting the light to turn on without seeing the electrical current flow through the system.  How about an elevator.  When those doors close how do we know it is not going to fall down the shaft; I cannot see the cables that hold it up, but I trust and believe it is going to work and work right.

I spent over twenty years working with electricity.  I know the theory behind it and its final outcome, but it makes no sense to me.  Let's face it, how many of us fully understand it, and yet we believe that the lights, tv, frig, and everything else electrical are going to come on?  Something else I know about electricity is that you have to respect it.  You have to believe it is there, and you have to respect it.  The moment you stop respecting electricity, it will shock and burn you. 

This reminds me of God.  I cannot see him, but I know he is here.  I can see his handy work everywhere I look.  I also know there is a time coming when those who do not believe in or trust God, those who do not respect him will feel his shock and burn in their lives.  This not what he wants to do; he wants to make life easier for us. He wants to help us, and respect and love are all he asks in return. 

Electricity and God both are powerful, but only one wants to adopt us into the family and spend eternity with us.  Guess which one it is.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Sacrifice

23 October

Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice and gave it to his son to carry, but he himself took the knife and the fire. So he and his son went on together.  Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!”  Abraham answered, “Yes, my son.”  Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb we will burn as a sacrifice?”  Abraham answered, “God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.”  So Abraham and his son went on together . . .  (Ge 22:6–8; NCV)

We all know the story of Abraham's testing, how God had provided him a son in his old age, and now he wants Abraham to sacrifice that son.  Abraham's son, Isaac, must have known something wasn't right as they started up the mountainside without something to sacrifice.  So Isaac asked, "where is the lamb we will burn as a sacrifice?"  I don't think Abraham had a clue as to how true his reply was for not only them that day but for generations to come.  Abraham said to Isaac, "God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice." 

Yes, God did provide a ram for the sacrifice that day, and many years later, he provided another Lamb.  A Lamb without blemish or fault.  A Lamb that was pure and kind and did no wrong to anyone.  A Lamb who was pure love from the Father, who went around showering his love on all he came in contact with.  Out of his love, he healed those who were physically, mentally, or spiritually sick.  He made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and even brought the dead back to life.  This Lamb was to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins for generations upon generations.  The Lamb called Jesus.

God has taken all the steps towards reconciliation with us, his children.  He even provided the Lamb for the sacrifice, and all he wants in return is our love.  That doesn't seem like too much to ask after all he has done for us.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Kingdom Is Near

22 October

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  (Mt 3:1–2; NIV)

 John the Baptist did not beat around the bush, and I like that.  He had a crucial message to bring, and he wanted people to understand and not get confused by sending some kind of mixed-signal.  His message was simple, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."  When was the last time you hear this in a church service?  It seems like many churches do not want people to feel pressured into accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. They want you to take your time.  But here are the facts: Jesus Christ is coming back!  His return is near.  Those who do not accept him will not be welcomed into the family of God, and they will not have an inheritance in the kingdom.  There are many "Christians" out there today who do not understand this.

A few years ago, when I was in Bible college, I was to receive an award and a scholarship from a church in the area of the college.  I knew nothing about the church, so I did a little research.  I found that they believed everyone is in darkness until they find that specific church organization, even if they were Christians before attending.  Everyone would continue in darkness until they found said church and took an oath stating they had been in darkness, and then they had to be accepted by the said church.  WOW!

My Bible tells me that I was in darkness until I found Jesus and that after accepting him, I now walk in the light.  There is nothing any earthly organization can do to give me this light, it comes from accepting Jesus and Jesus alone.

The kingdom of heaven is near!  This is something we should live and govern our lives by.  I saw a bumper sticker some years ago that said, "Jesus is coming -- look busy."  Well, I say, "Jesus is coming -- GET busy!"  We need to let others know that he is coming and coming soon, and he will be calling us home, but only if we have accepted him as Lord and Savior and NOT some "church."



Monday, October 21, 2019

Tempted By The World

21 October

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”  (Mt 4:8–10; NIV)

Satan is a crafty ol' bugger because he is still using this same temptation today.  Why change it, it still works.  There is always someone out there that wants the whole world and will do anything to get it.  This includes bowing down and worshipping the king of lies.  If only they understood that when you worship the Lord you receive so much more.  What does it profit a man if he should gain the world yet lose his life?

Are there certain things we place above worshipping the Lord?  I know in my own life from time to time it seemed that my priorities got mixed up and my spiritual life suffered.  Now when I find myself in this situation I call on the one who can set me straight, the one who is always there for me and will always be.  Once I get back to where I should be I find life is so much more worth living, and the life to ve will be even greater.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Unknown Strength

18 October

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi.  The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”  “We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”  Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”  He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.” They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”  Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”  “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.  As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.  (Jdg 15:9–15; NIV)

According to Ernest B. Beevers, J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1:19-20, "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God."  Beevers goes on to say, "When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us."

Most of us had heard the story of Samson and his great strength, but did you ever notice that when he needed that strength, it was provided by the "Spirit of the Lord?"  This should tell us something.  We need his Spirit!  I hear every once in a while, someone says that God does not come to us like he did to those in the Bible.  To which I want to tell them, maybe not to you, but he sure does to me!  Of course, I don't say that, but it is true.  Faith in God is more than believing he will give us unlimited power, or heal us from every known disease.  Faith in God is knowing his Spirit comes upon us and allows us to do things that we usually could not do.  For me, I know his Spirit comes upon me each and every Sunday as I stand up to share his word with our congregation.  I do not have the power to do it on my own.  I do not like public speaking or being in front of people.  But the Spirit of the Lord comes on me, and I can do those things which I usually would not even think about doing.  Tell me he doesn't come like he did before.

Every time I see a newborn baby, I see the Spirit of God.  Each time I see the snowfall, I see the Spirit of God.  Who else can cover up the dirt and filth of this world and make it shiny and white?  Only God.  Even in the New Testament, after Jesus ascended, we read where things happened because of the Spirit of the Lord filled his people; Pentecost, where many heard the Gospel message for the very first time.  Stephen was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, for as he was being stoned, he was able to share God's message and even ask forgiveness for those stoning him.  The list of those who have been touched by the Spirit of the Lord continues to this very day where Jim prays for an infilling before he shares the Sunday message.

When you pray and believe what you are praying and when you seek the Spirit of the Lord with all your heart, you will find him, and you will be filled with more power than you could ever imagine.  Believe it, have faith.  Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . to the very ends of the earth."  His Spirit is alive and well in his children.  Feel his power?  Use it to glorify him throughout the world.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Spring Cleaning

17 October

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it.  “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.  “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”  (Mt 12:43–45; NASB)

I'm a keeper.  I keep everything.  When I work around the house, I buy extra of whatever I need so that I will have it the next time.  When things break, I keep them because I might be able to use the parts from the broken one to fix something else (which I seldom do because I go buy a new one).  I keep good things, and I keep junk.  About once every six or seven years, I go on a cleaning spree.  I straighten things up (never throw away), and I put everything in order.  That is when I find I have all kinds of extra room for more junk, usually twice as much trash as I had before I straighten it up.

The same is true of Christians.  When we cast out our old self, clean up our lives, and put everything in order if we don't fill it with something good; Bible study, church, small groups, etc., we will let it get cluttered up with twice as much "junk."  That's why getting into the word of God is so essential, why fellowship with others is so important.  We need to fill our lives with good so that there is no place for the bad / junk to fill up again.

So, fill your life with God and keep the evil things out.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sleep In Peace

16 October


In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.  (Ps 4:8; NIV)

There is something about being secure that lets us sleep more peacefully.  When we are in the surroundings that we know, we sleep better, but the opposite is also true.  When we are in surroundings we don't know we tend to sleep lighter as if one eye is open at all times.

Take hospitals, for example.  I, for one, get very little sleep when I am in the hospital.  Even though people are working there that are trained to help others and to make sure you are safe, I still don't sleep very well.  It may be all the strange sounds, others (or myself) yelling out in pain, peculiar bed, strange smells, strange people who wake you every couple of hours to give you something to help you sleep?!?

But take a young child who falls asleep in his father's arms, that child feels total at peace and safety.  I know when my boys would fall asleep in my arms, their comfort could easily be seen because they could not be awakened for anything.  I would throw them over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and haul them to their beds.  I would gently put them down and cover them up, and as I turned off the light, I would hear, "nite dad."

It is now October 2019, and I wrote those words almost 20 years ago, and it wasn't until this moment that it dawned on me.  While the boys were in my arms, you could have fired a cannon off next to them, and they would continue to sleep, unfazed.  Put them in their own beds, where they are comfortable and secure, and with just the barely heard "click" of the light switch, they were awake enough to say, "nite dad."

When we are in the Father's arms, we can sleep in perfect peace because he does have us dwell in his safety.  If my boys could find the kind of protection in my arms that make them feel that secure, just think of the security we have in our heavenly Father's arms.  God comforts and protects us, and when we are with him, so we know we can lie down and sleep in peace with him.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Signs Of The Times

15 October

“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On earth, nations will be afraid and confused because of the roar and fury of the sea.  People will be so afraid they will faint, wondering what is happening to the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to happen, look up and hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!”  (Lk 21:25–28; NCV)

Many people, when they look around and see what is happening in the world today, begin to panic.  They see war and fighting, death and hunger, o-zone changes, some scientists tell us the sun is going to burn out and we will all freeze, others say we will be struck by some giant falling star, yet, others warn about global warming and that the polar icepacks are going to melt and flood much of the earth.  I say, "Great!  So, be it!"  All of these things point to the end of the earth as we know it and towards the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds.  Don't get me wrong.  I do not like to see or hear about war and death, but I do believe it is time we start looking at what Jesus has told us about the end times.  As Christians, how can we not see that the second coming will be soon?  It may be today, tomorrow, next week, year, or another hundred years, the fact is this, the coming is closer today than it was yesterday.  Because it is so much closer today than it was two thousand years ago we need to step up our efforts to make sure everybody has the opportunity to come to know our Lord and Savior.  Our words and actions must show we believe what we have been saying.  We have to show love and compassion to everyone and we can do that by making sure everyone we come in contact with is told the story of Jesus.  Not just people we select but everyone we see.

So, as we look around at our world and see it slowly spinning out of control I look to the eastern sky because I know Jesus is coming soon! 


Monday, October 14, 2019

Shields Up!

14 October

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 
I lie down and sleep;   I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.  (Ps 3:3–5; NIV)

Do you ever wish you were like the "Enterprise" on the old "Star Track" show?  You could raise and lower your shields when the problems of this world get to be too much for us to handle.  Well, we do have that capability, its called prayer.  I've noticed when I go to prayer, I tend to tune out whatever is going on around me, and I focus on what really matters; talking with my heavenly Father.  OK, let me go a little further back in T.V. land to another show, "Get Smart."  Do you remember there were times when the Chief and Maxwell would have to speak privately?  They would sit down and face each other across a table, and a see-through cone would come down over them, the "cone of silence."  Of course, the "cone of silence" never did work correctly.  That's the way I feel when I talk to God.  That we are in a cone of silence (one that works), its just me and my Father.

When we are in prayer together, God spends a lot of time encouraging me and giving me glory, though I do not deserve any.  I want you to picture something with me; a young child has just had something happen to them.  Nothing tragic, maybe its something like them losing a race, which in a child's life may seem dramatic.  Remember how they looked?  Their world had just crashed in on them, and they looked like they had just lost their best friend.  We most likely would encourage them and build them up (bestow glory on them), and we would put our arm around them and tell them it's OK because they did their best.  Well, God does the same thing.  There are times when I'm in prayer talking with my Father when I can almost feel him put his arm around me and tell me that he loves me and knows that I'm doing my best.  He encourages me like a friend like a Father would.

Isn't it great to know we have someone we can go to at any time, which will encourage us and place a shield around us, who will lift us up and tell us we have nothing to fear or be ashamed of?  What an awesome God we have!


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sheep From Goats

13 October

“When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne, and the people of all the nations will be gathered before him. Then he will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the righteous people on his right and the others on his left.  Then the King will say to the people on his right, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.  (Mt 25:31–34; TEV)

Have you ever paid attention to how often we separate things?  I was eating cherries the other day and was separating the good ones from the bad.  The good ones, of course, I was eating but the bad were being thrown out.  I could tell by the way they looked if they were good or not, in the same way, Jesus can tell if we should be placed on his right side and kept or if we should be placed on the left and thrown out.  I don't know much at all about sheep and goats but I do know I can tell that apart by their looks and sounds.  We tend to think that if something looks like a rose and it gives off the same pleasing smell like a rose, then it must be a rose.  The same should be true of Christians.  If a person says they are a child of God and do the things a child of God would do, then chances are good they're a child of God.  There are times, however, when someone who calls themselves a Christian is anything but a Christian.  Like counterfeit money, it takes an expert to spot them.

When it comes to children of God, Jesus is the expert.  He is able to tell a true Christian from one who is just going through the motions.  He will separate the sheep (the righteous people) from the goats (I've known a few old goats).  The sheep will be placed at his right hand, the side of honor, and will be able to partake of the inheritance, the kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world.  The goats?  Well, that's a different story.  They will be placed on his left (NOT the position of honor) and . . . well, let's just say it won't be pleasant. 

So, are you acting like sheep, humble and ready to serve, or are you acting like an old goat?


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sent Away

12 October

The herdsmen ran away and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what had happened.  They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. And they were frightened.  The people who saw this told the others what had happened to the man who had the demons living in him, and they told about the pigs.  Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area.  (Mk 5:14–17; NCV)

Picture with me this situation, Jesus had just crossed the lake to the region of the Gerasenes where he was met by a man who was possessed by a legion of (1,000 to 1,500) demons.  This man was so possessed that the townspeople could not even keep him confined with ropes or chains. The entire town was afraid of him.  But at the sight of Jesus, the man comes and kneels down in front of him.  The demons ask Jesus not to harm them but instead cast them into a nearby herd of pigs, which he does.  The man is no longer possessed, he is thinking straight, acting normal, he has returned to his old self.  What happens next is beyond my understanding, "the people began to beg Jesus to . . . . . . . leave their area.  Leave their area?  I would be begging him to stay!

Instead of celebrating and rejoicing about what had happened to the man, they were more concerned about what happened to the herd of pigs!  Are we like the Gerasenes and care more about ourselves than about the lives and souls of those around us?  When we see someone's life change and they start working for the Lord, do we panic and fear how their new conversion will affect our relationship with the others or do we move over and let them help us build the Kingdom of God?

Have you been accepting new Christians with open arms or have you been sending Jesus away because of all the great things he is doing in their lives?  Sure sounds like a silly question.  That's because it is.  He changed our lives for the better, let's watch him change the lives of others.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Send Out Invitations

11  October

And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.  “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (Lk 14:12–14; NASB)

I was watching a program where one person was talking to another about their party invite list.  They had to invite this person because they went to their party last time, and they wanted to invite this particular person because they heard he throws a great party and wanted to be invited to the next one.  They were locked into a vicious circle.  I'm sure they were only thinking about the return from their invite, but Jesus tells us we are to invite everyone to the party, and the greatest party I can think of is the one we will have in heaven!

I have been to churches were a new person walks in, and instead of welcoming them to the family, they were not even talked to because they did not look like everyone else.  Some people are not as well off as others, but does that mean they do not need the Lord?  What impression do you think we give off when we ignore this person because they are poor, blind, or crippled?  Is it the same impression Jesus gives when he east with them and talks with them or just wants to be around them?  When a person walks into a church because they have heard for years about how Christians love everyone and yet they are ignored because of the way they look or smell, we have failed.  It is at this point that we are no longer an effective agent for Jesus.  That person may never walk through the door of another church.  They may never believe in the agape type of love God has for his children.  They may never believe the real Christian that invites them to the "open to those who accept" celebration banquet in heaven.  So, let's accept people for who they are, children of God, and invite everyone we come in contact with.  Invite.  Invite.  Invite.



Thursday, October 10, 2019

Children or Adultls

10 October

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil, be infants, but in your thinking be adults.  (1 Co 14:20; NIV)

A man had bought a new gadget, unassembled, of course, and after reading and rereading the instructions, he couldn't figure out how it went together.  Finally, he sought the help of an old handyman who was working in the backyard.  The old fellow picked up the pieces, studied them, then began assembling the gadget.  In a short time, he had it put together.  "That's amazing," said the man.  "And you did it without even looking at the instructions!"  "Fact is," said the old man, "I can't read, and when a fellow can't read, he's got to think."  (Bits and Pieces, February 1990, p. 23)

Paul was talking about speaking in tongues and about prophesying, but I think this verse speaks volumes.  We have become a "visual" people.  Everything has pictures attached to it.  As I write this on my computer I see pictures that tell me which button to push in order to send this out over the internet as an email, there is another picture that lets me know if I use it something will be cut out/removed, and yet another that checks my spelling (this is a useful button!). 

I remember, as a kid, I use to figure out everything by looking at the pictures.  Comics was one source of reading material.  I could look at the pictures and come to my own conclusions.  Unfortunately, most of my conclusions were wrong.  Many people are stuck in this "child" part of theif lives.  They rely on pictures, which doesn't usually give the real story when it comes to evil.  We see it and think, " Well, that doesn't look so bad."  But the truth is, it's terrible!  Paul says we should be like infants concerning evil.

Infants don't try to read anything into the pictures.  They don't try to make up a story to read into the pictures.  A picture is just a picture, and that's that.  Paul goes on to say that we should be thinking like adults.

Adults analyze what they see; is it right for me?  Is it going to hurt me?  Is it what God would want me to do?  Do you see the difference?  An infant sees the picture; end of the process.  A child sees the image and makes up a story to go along with it; the story is usually wrong.  An adult sees the picture, analyzes it to see if it is something they should be doing or helping with and then putting the plan into action.  We are to be adults in our thinking.  Start asking yourself the old question,  "What would Jesus do?"  Put him first in all you do and your life will change.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

False Gods Can Kill

9 October

The LORD replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands?  But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.  Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”  (Jdg 10:11–14; NIV)

In the "Wounded Healer," Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India: Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability.  Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned. "I have mastered a science," said the first, "by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it."  "I," said the second, "know how to grow that creature's skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones."  The third said, "I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair."  "And I," concluded the fourth, "know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete."  Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialties.  As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion's.  One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave the lion life.  Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators.  He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle. 

We, too, have the capacity to create what can devour us.  Goals and dreams can consume us.  Possessions and property can turn and destroy us unless we first seek God's Kingdom and righteousness, and allow him to breathe into what we make of life. (Nathan Castens)

Isn't it funny how people still worship "things" other than God?  At the same time, when trouble comes, and there appears no way out, the one they cry out to is God.  Not once have I heard someone in trouble cry out, "Oh, Buddha, help me!"  Even those that say there is no God often call upon his name when times get bad.  I've never heard one of them say something like, "Oh, empty space around me, help!"  It seems like most people, believers, and non-believers call upon God in times of trouble.  If he is good enough to call on in times of distress, why not when times are good?  The simple answer to this question is "man."  Men and women like to think we can do it all by ourselves.  We don't like to think someone else is in charge.  We want to be in charge of something, especially our own lives. 

Look at what happened to the children of Israel.  When they were oppressed, God rescued them, and in turn, they started worshiping false gods, ignoring the One True God.  When things started going wrong for the Israelites again, they could not understand why God would not help them.

We are just like the Israelites.  We follow false gods; jobs, money, sports, drugs, alcohol, and the list goes on.  Many find these false gods are like the lion in the Henri Nouwen story, where there comes a time when false gods will devour us. 

The only real way to find happiness is not by trying to find a god that will end up consuming us, but by finding and following the One True God who wants to give us everlasting abundant life.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Rest

8 October

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.  The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”  (Mt 11:28–30; NCV)

I tend to run on fumes most of the time.  I usually don't go to bed until sometime between 10:30 and midnight, and I'm almost always up by 3:30 am.  I just can't stay in bed any longer than four hours without waking to a lot of bodily pain.  I will run that way for a few weeks, then one day, I will sleep for 6-8 hours.  My body finally says that's enough, and I rest.  We all need times of refreshing, and some people refresh by taking a day off or going on vacation, or they go on retreats, go fishing, or maybe they go camping.  However it is done we all need some refreshing from time to time.

Most of us forget Jesus said we should come to him when we are tired and loaded down from life.  We think we are the only ones who should have to deal with our problems and burdens, but Jesus said that if we bring them to him, he will give us rest.  All we have to do is accept his teachings, which are easy enough for children to understand. Once we start doing this, we ill find rest for our lives.

We need to remind ourselves, some of us need to remind ourselves daily that Jesus wants to help us with our pressures and the daily grind.  Jesus wants to give us relief and peace of mind.  No one ever said, life was easy, but with Jesus,  it can be a lot easier.



Monday, October 7, 2019

Eternal Words

7 October

 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  (Mk 13:31; NIV)

There are three huge gates that lead into the Cathedral of Milan.  Over on gate there is an inscription in marble under a beautiful flower bouquet that says, "The things that please are temporary."  Over the second gate, there is a cross with this inscription: "The things that disturb us are temporary."  However, over teh central gate, there is a big inscription saying, "Eternal are teh important ones."

"My words will never pass away."  When we lived
on Okinawa, I was amazed at how quickly a car could rust away, sometimes before your very eyes.  Surrounded by all that saltwater, cars would slowly be eaten away except when there was a typhoon.  The typhoon would come along blowing the saltwater into every little crack and crevice in a vehicle, and in a matter of days, rust would have eaten through the car body.  We purchased a newer car when we first arrived on the island, but after the first typhoon, it started to "pass away."  There is nothing to cause the words of Jesus to "pass away."  His words have endured for generations and will continue to do so.  Not even death could destroy his words.  It's great to know there is something that will last forever. Those everlasting words promise us eternal life if we will only trust and obey.


Rescuer

6 October

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Col 1:13–14; NIV)

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to be rescued?  I'm sure I've been saved many times, but only one of those times comes to mind this morning.  An uncle (only two years older than me) and I were out cutting down some trees.  We were relatively young at the time, so this was not a bright idea, as a matter of fact, I don't remember "bright" being used for many of our plans.  I was on a hillside where the tree was going to fall, and as I went to move out of the way, I slipped.  As I was getting back on my feet, the tree came crashing down, and the outcome could have been way different.  Did I mention this was not a bright idea?  So here I was, pinned between two trees, and with all the strength, my little body could muster, I could not move the tree.  It took both of us pushing to get it off of me.  As you can tell, I was rescued from my predicament and overjoyed about it.

God does the same type of rescuing.  He finds people that are pinned down by the dominion of darkness and cannot move, and he lifts all their burdens off of them so they can breathe.  He brings us from that darkness and delivers us into his light.  From a dungeon to a kingdom.  And just how did he do this?  Well, he sent his son to be "pinned to the tree" for each and every one of us.  It is through his son that we have found redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

It's great to know we have our own personal Rescuer!


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Rejoice In The Lord

5 October

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Php 4:4–7; NIV)

As I write this it is Friday, what a great passage to end the week with!  The weekend is supposed to be a time of relaxation but if you are like me it's a time to get a lot of things done that were put off during the week.  Many do their shopping on the weekends, others do yard work or housework, some do more work on the weekends than they do during the rest of the week.  Whatever you do this weekend take time to rejoice in the Lord.  I'll say it again: Rejoice!  Be glad for what the Lord has given you!  Let him know how thankful you are because you can do yard work, or that you have a yard to do work in.  There is always something to be thankful for, so do it, give him thanks.

Don't be anxious or worry about going back to the job on Monday.  Take this weekend and use it for prayer, giving everything over to God and again thanking him for all you have.  Do you see how this "giving thanks to God" keeps coming up?  We have so much to be thankful for, so do it.  If you send this weekend giving thanks to God, on Monday when you walk back into the regular routine everyone will wonder what you did during your time off.  They will be able to see "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, that guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  When they ask you why you're so happy, tell them about the wonderful weekend you had working and talking with your friend, Jesus Christ.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Rebuild The Temple

4 October

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”  But the temple he had spoken of was his body.  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.  (Jn 2:18-22; NIV)

"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."  These are powerful words that Jesus gave to the Jews, but all they could do was scoff at them.  It had taken them almost fifty years to complete this temple, there was no way Jesus would be able to rebuild it in only three days, so they thought.  But they truly did not understand the power of God.  Anyone can restore a building, but only God can rebuild a life!  The human body is the true temple of God.  It is where worship takes place; one on one with God.  Some temples require repair, and all they need to do is ask the Master Builder to come in and renovate.  That's precisely what he does and without charge.  Some temples are old and have been used for worship in times past but have not been used in many years.  All they need is a fresh coat of paint, and God knows what color is best.  There is nothing that has been done to any temple that God can not repair and make right again.  All we have to do is ask him to come in and fix it up and then start using it for what it was designed for; worship.

Take some time this week to examine your temple and see if there might be an area that needs some repair or a new coat of paint.  Then get a bid from the Master Carpenter, he does it for love!


Thursday, October 3, 2019

It Never Fails

3 October

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  (1 Cor 13:8; NIV)

One member of the bridge club was wearing a gold locket on a chain around her neck.  "That's lovely," another player said.  "Do you keep a memento in it?"  "A lock of my husband's hair," replied the first woman.  "Oh.  But your husband is still alive."  "Yes," said the first, "but his hair is gone." (Ohio Motorist)

Isn't it great to know that even though everything else passes away or leaves, love will never fail!  Some things pass away so slowly that we don't even realize it at the time.  I use to weigh a lot less than I do now.  The good weight has passed away (I'm working on resurrecting it).  I use to have more hair than I do now.  My hair passed away over time also, not to the point that my wife keeps some in a locket.  Seasons come and go, and so do friends.  All of life is a change, but there is one constant; love.  More specifically, God's love!  You see, God loved us before we knew what love was, and he will love us through all eternity.  That's a long time.  It's because of his love that I don't worry about what is to come.  He has always taken care of me, even before I knew he was doing it.  That's love.  Just remember, love, true love, the love God has for his children will never fail.  It's that kind of love we need to be showing to each and every person we come in contact with.  Share some love with those you meet today.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Overflowing The Banks

2 October

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   (Ro 15:13; NIV)

I like it when Paul talks of "overflowing."  We usually think of bad things happening when we hear the word overflowing, like, a river overflowing and flooding a town or having a cup overflow as we pour coffee into it.  Here's the thing about overflowing; when something overflows the entire area around it is affected.  This is the way it should be with our joy, peace, hope, love, and faith.

The early church "overflowed" because no matter where its people went, they could not help but tell others about the love of Jesus Christ.  Even as they fled from those who were persecuting them, they continued to tell others about Jesus.  All those around them were affected, and that is why the church continued to grow.  The people these "Christians" ran into could see something was overflowing from them, and the closer they got, the greater they were affected.

Can those around you see something overflowing from you?  Is the love of Christ confined in you, or do you let him flow freely?  I never want to be full, because full is a constant state, nothing changes.  I would rather be overflowing, spilling out on to others, affecting those around me.  May my love of Jesus and our Heavenly Father never be confined to this body but let it spill out and get the "souls" of others wet.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Outside Looking In

01 October

When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’  Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out.  Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.  (Lk 13:25–29; NRSV)

When I was in the military, we would have war games that were to prepare us for the "real thing."  During these games, when we were under attack, we would close ourselves off in a bunker or building and lock the doors.  None of our people were to be outside during that time. So if anyone came to the door, it was thought to be the "enemy."  Sometimes I was the person on the outside trying to get in.  It seemed as though the door closed to fast, and I was not ready for it.  I could stand on the outside and plead for all I was worth, but the door would not open.  I could see my friends in the building, safe and sound, kicking back and not worrying about anything.  While they were safe and secure, I was on the outside, just waiting for a "judge" to come by and declare me dead.

It sounds a lot like what Jesus was talking about, except in my case, it was only an exercise.  We just don't know how fast that door will close, and if we are just taking our time getting there, we may find ourselves on the outside looking in.  And even though we can see our friends and loved ones from every corner of the earth on the inside, we will not be allowed to enter.  The King of kings has shut the door, and we pound on it he will say, "Go away, I don't know you or where you come from."

Praise God, I know which side of the door I'm going to be on, and I want to take as many as I can with me to the feast being celebrated in the kingdom of God.  Can you think of someone you would like to go to the banquet with?


Monday, September 30, 2019

Near to Him

30 September

But as for me, it is good to be near God.  (Ps 73:28; NIV)

Some years ago, I met with a couple of men from the church for a time of prayer and devotions.  One of them read this passage as part of his devotions.  I thought about it and had to agree it is good to be near God.

Have you ever watched a young child in the park?  They start out playing close to their parents, but as time goes on, they get further and further away.  All of a sudden, they look up and realize they have gone too far and can no longer see mom or dad.  Panic sets in and they start to cry as if to say "Where are you?  I need you to save and protect me!"  I feel the same way when I try to do things without God.  I walk out on my own and leave his comfort and protection, and after a while, I find I am all alone, and I realize I have gone too far.  I cry out for him, and like the father he is, he comes to my rescue.  He picks me up and holds me close so that I feel secure again.  As we get older, it seems like its a lot harder for us to admit that we need someone to come to our aid.  But aren't we all God's children?  There are unwritten rules of behavior when it comes to the relationship between parent and child.  One of those rules is that as a child, I have the right to call on my parents for comfort, support, and love.  Even though many earthly parents fail to abide by this unwritten rule, our heavenly Father has it etched on his heart, and when I call out, I find he is right next to me with his hands reaching for mine.  It is good to be near God!! 


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mercy

29 September

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  (Tt 3:5–7; NIV)

Can you imagine this? We are the ones who should be calling out to God and making the first step toward reconciliation.  Yet, it was God who did nothing wrong that took not only the first step but many steps towards us for reconciliation.  God actually went the entire distance and met us where we were at the time.  That's called love.  When he has every right to sit back and say, "You hurt me, so you need to come to me and beg my forgiveness."  At least this is what many of us would say or think, but our God is not petty.  He understands the human heart and knows it is hard for us to "go" and ask someone's forgiveness, and many of us never would have in our sinful state.  So, he meets us face to face.  He has taken all the steps and is even reaching out his hand to us saying, "Come back home.  I love and miss you."

Have you ever noticed children that have gotten into trouble at home?  They will do everything they possibly can around the house to show how worthy they are of forgiveness, at times making a mess just so they have something to clean up.  A parent loves their child so much that all their wonderful deeds don't make a difference. The forgiveness is already there, as soon as the act was found.  All they had to do was say they were sorry.

God says he does not want us to run around doing righteous things, because that, in itself self does not save us.  It is his mercy, freely given that does, and the righteous acts that come about are because we want to do them.  He pours out his mercy in the form of the Holy Spirit through his Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might be heirs to the Kingdom of God and having hope and confidence in life eternal.

What a loving, caring, merciful Father, we have!  Who is willing to come to us, ready to take all the steps and meet us face to face.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Leaders

28 September

The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”  But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.”  (Jdg 8:22–23; NIV)

In order to be a leader, a man must have followers.  And to have followers, a man must have their confidence.  Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity.  Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office.  If a man's associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail.  His teachings and actions must square with each other.  The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose. (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

I find it kind of funny that mankind always wants a leader, yet the very best leader has always been there; God.  For some strange reason, most don't want God to be their leader, but I sure do.  It is easy to follow a leader who, as Eisenhower said, has integrity.  A definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  Sounds like God to me.  We know what he stands for, and that never changes.  Those that follow God find he is faithful and that he is always there.  You never have to make an appointment to see him because you are extremely important to God. What a leader he is!  When the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, God led them as a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of smoke by day.  He was always with them.

Today I know he is still with me at all times, I never have to look around to find him because he is right beside me.  When I'm scared, he goes before me to clear the way.  When I'm weak, he picks me up and carries me with his strength.  I believe this world would be a lot better off if we would put our trust and faith in the Creator of the universe for there is no one better to follow than the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Great I AM, the Leader of leaders.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Love

27 September

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  (1 Jn 4:7–10; NIV)

Love is such a strange word because it can mean so many different things.  I love banana pudding.  I don't just like it, I love it.  I will eat banana pudding until I'm sick (this has been proven on many occasions).  Yet I love my wife in a very different way compared to banana pudding.  I love my wife differently than I do my children and them differently than I love my dog.  So, how do we define love?  The American Heritage Dictionary defines love as an intense affectionate concern for another person.

As Christians shouldn't we have this "intense affectionate concern for others?"  We tend to pattern ourselves after people we know, usually a parent or a hero or someone exceptional in our lives.  The most magnificent pattern for love is the pattern God laid down.  We have to go back to the dictionary definition of "an intense affectionate concern for another person" and change the words, "another person" to "all people."  God has an intense affectionate concern for all people.  His love for us was so great that he sent his one and only son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  There is no way we could ever ask him to do it, he did it out of love.

God loves us so much that he went the full distance.  He did not ask us to meet him half-way, he came all the way to us, and all we have to do is accept the forgiveness he offers.  He paid the price and opened the doors to heaven, all we have to do is say thank-you and enter.  That's love!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Love Those That Hurt You

26 September

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’  But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.   If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.   (Mt 5:43–46; NCV)

It seems that when we look at this passage, we tend to focus on the first part where we are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  This is when I hear some say, "no one can do that."  They are dead wrong because God can and does do it.

God does not select who will and who will not receive his blessings, he leaves that up to each individual.  He gives freely to all, everything that he has, and all he asks is our love in return.  We could easily change the passage and have it say, "God loves those that persecute and hurt him."  Jesus showed this same quality.  He loves all those who hurt him, and he even asked the Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing.

If you are like me, we need to spend more time showing God 's love to those we come in contact with.  We are to be a reflection of Jesus, in all that we do and say, showing his love to everyone.























































































































































































































































































































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