Friday, May 31, 2019

Winning Team

31 May

1 Peter 2:9; NIV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 

Every once in a great while I get to see democracy in action, no not every four years, but when kids pick sides for games.  I'm not real sure how the captains are chosen but as the members of their teams come along side of him, they help to make sure their team has all the best people on it.  Then there is always that last person which each team tries to give to the opposite team because no one really wants them.  I've been in that situation (just last week come to think about it) and I'm sure many others have been there also at one time or another.

But God says, "I choose you!" Makes no difference who you are or even if you can play the game or not; you are chosen.  God does not want to give anyone to the "other team."  Sometimes we have to look at God as a coach.  We hear of players that give their coaches all the credit for their success and how the coach made them what they are today.  How much more can we say about our coach.  God made me what I am today, and he's not done yet, he's still working on me, coaching me.  He brought me out of the slums of life because he saw something in me and is now working to refine me.

Like the player who sings the praises of his coach, I sing the praises of my heavenly coach; the one who chose me to a "royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God."

So, let's "play ball" with the world, showing them, we are on the winning team.  We've already won, one of our players beat death, and I'm glad I'm on his team.  Let's win this one for the Coach, by showing those around us we are winners . . . not whiners.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Who's in Charge

30 May

James 5:13 (NIV)


Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

"This just sounds too easy.  If I'm in trouble I should pray?  Well, I do that already.  Every time I'm having trouble I cry to the Lord.  But why should I sing songs of praise when life is going well?  After all, I'm in control of my own life" says the non-Christian.

This seems to be something people say who do not believe in the power of God.  They only pray when things are bad because they know that He can help or maybe they feel God is to blame.  But when it comes to giving him credit for the wonderful things, he does for us, they just don't see God being involved; they did it on their own. 

I have come to the conclusion that I am in no way in charge of my life, and I'm glad because I would just mess it up somehow.  God is in charge, he is the one that I call to when things are going bad, because I know he has all the answers and is able to comfort me.  He is the one that I pray to when things are going great, because he deserves all the glory, not me.  I could do nothing without the power, the love, the patience, the understanding, and the grace of our precious lord and savior.

Isn't it funny, we will go to a family member whenever we need to have questions answered or have problems in our lives and that we also go to them to help us celebrate the joys in our lives.  Didn't Jesus teach us that God is our Father?  Doesn't that mean he's a member of the family?  

So, remember to go to God with troubles AND praises, and I think you will find that you have a lot more to praise him for than you thought.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

What A Great Day It Will Be


29 May

Rev 21:3–4


And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

This is a FANTASTIC passage, but I have to share verse 3 from The Message with you because I think it is awesome, "I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women!""

I love the thought of that; God has moved into the neighborhood!  What a glorious day that will be when we will be able to sit around the throne of God and be with him and he with us.  We will be his people, his children, those he has adopted into the family and has given us the right to call him father.

There will be no more death!  How could there be?  After all, Jesus overcame death and not by a little bit, but by flat out conquering it!  There is no place in God's kingdom for something like death.  No more pain, that's great news to many people.  For some, just the thought of getting up out of a bed or chair hurts, but God will remove all the aches and pains.  For the first time in some people's lives they will be able to run and jump, see and hear, and some will even be able to smile for the first time.  Now tell me it's not worth it.  There are children who have never been able to play with others, but now, the look on their faces as they hit their first home-run will be worth everything we've gone through in this life!

Then we are told that there will be no more tears.  I'm sure John is saying there will be no more tears of pain and sorrow, but I think tears of joy are a wonderful thing.  I believe there are many who will be walking around in tears because of the joy they are feeling, the beauty they are seeing, and the love that is all around them (I will be among that group).

We do have something to be thankful for, God came to us and offered this wonderful place. and all we have to do is trust in him.  Thank-you Lord!



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Water, Water, Everywhere


May 28

Ps 100



Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.


A few years ago I woke to the peaceful sound of a babbling brook, I could almost see the trout swimming, until Jonie shouted, "Jim!  There's water running in our room!"  Of course the brook quickly left my thoughts as I jumped up into a puddle of water.  It was running in through the window-well which was full and running over.  I went for the shop-vac and noticed that it was not raining outside and figured it had been but had stopped.  Did I figure wrong!  While I was sucking up water in our room Jonie went upstairs to see what was going on, she could hear water running and thought it was the sprinklers running.  She did not realize they had stopped running four hours earlier.
About this time our oldest comes up to tell us his room is flooded too.

The water line going to the sprinkler system had busted and had been flooding the yard and the house and now need to be shut off.  As the family, now armed with buckets and towels, starts to work on cleaning up the water in the house, I head outside where everything has to be done by feel since there are no outside lights and I flashlight did not work.  I was going to have to shut the valve off by hand since we did not have key (long pole cut to fit over the valve, used to shut it off) I had to reach down into the hole known to be the home of many spiders (did I mention I am one of those who hates spiders?).  We did get the valve shut off and now it was time to clean up.

I went to work getting water out of the window wells.  As James (our oldest) handed me the extension cord to plug in the vac, I found myself getting shocked, of course this is not the first time I've been shocked, but I was not usually standing barefoot and ankle deep in water in the middle of the night.  What way to wake up!

We vac'ed and bailed water until the outside was taken care of; water shut off, window-wells cleaned out, now it was time for the inside.  As I started vacuuming James' room I could smell smoke.  The shop-vac motor was smoking, so kill one vac.

I know, you're asking, "Why would you use Psalm 100 with this story?"  Well, I have to thank the Lord that it happened while we were home.  At 9:00am, no one would have been home and the damage would have been worse.  I know the Lord takes care of his sheep because with all the water, because with all the water and everything still powered, I was the only one to receive a small shock, and this could have been worse.  And what about my fear of spiders?  Reaching into the hole where the valve was located, had not just "plain" spiders, there was at least one black widow which had that her home, and the Lord was with me.  I was able to reach into this dark hole all the way to my elbow without one bite.

This story is kind of like the Jeep catching fire, it's just one of those things not worth getting upset about, because we still have our health and each other and that is enough for me to praise God!

So, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.No matter what hits you today it's not worth getting upset about.  Sing to the Lord and enter his gates with thanksgiving in your hearts!!  Why?  Because he is always there!


Monday, May 27, 2019

Watchful Eye


May 27

Prov 15:3; NIV

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. 

Why do so many people think God has limited power?  Some feel he is like superman, who, as we know cannot see through lead.  They feel God can only see in buildings called churches, temples, and such.  Essentially, they have limited the power of God, with some limiting his power to one or two hours on Sunday.

When we were living on Okinawa, the military police placed cameras in the common areas of men's restrooms and found men from the lowest ranks up to some very high-ranking officers, beating military members, selling drugs, and even more.  They thought they were out of sight so they could do whatever they wanted to do.  Boy, were they wrong!

There are many who feel there are places God cannot go?  Places where they are out of his sight.  But I guess they never read this verse or the many others that say the same thing, that God is everywhere.  He sees all we do, we cannot hide from him.  If we go to the deepest part of the ocean, he is there.  If we go to the highest heavens, He is there.  We cannot hide from his watchful eye.  He is way better than superman because God has no kryptonite to "zap" his power and there is no lead he cannot see through, for he is all powerful.

We should govern our actions with this in mind, and not only is God watching us, so are those around us.  So here is the question, are you living your life in such a way that God, our co-workers, friends, neighbors or strangers on the street would know you were a Christian every day or only on Sundays?  Because all eyes are on us when we are in public and God's, well, let's just say he sees everything.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Adding and Subtracting



May 26


Deut. 4:2; NRSV

You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.


What is it about human nature that makes us want to ignore signs?  In the Sept. 1990 "Daily Bread", we are told of a group of skiers in Breckenridge, Colorado that ignored the large and distinct "DANGER! OUT OF BOUNDS!"  They went into the area.  Results?  A half-mile-wide avalanche that buried four of the trespassers beneath tons of snow and rock.

Way too many people are ignoring signs, and most are for our safety.  There are signs with speed limits -- that are ignored; we have signs telling drinkers not to drink and drive; there signs that post the opening and closing times of our favorite department stores and restaurants and then get upset when they are not open ten minutes early or when they ask us to finish our shopping so they can go home; 20 minutes after the posted closing time.

There are some people who even try to add to, and some try to take away from words and warnings  recorded in Scripture.  I have even heard some people say, "Yes, I believe all the words in the Bible are God inspired, but I don't think that is what he meant here."  We have become a generation that does not look at the signs and if we do, we change them to meet our needs.  Moses said, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it," because he was speaking on behalf of God.

I believe the Bible when it says God created the heavens and the earth; I believe it when it tells me there is only one way to God; I believe it when I read that those who do not accept God's wonderful forgiveness and continue to live by the ways of the world and not by his ways, will spend eternity in hell; I believe God sent his one and only son to this earth in the form of a man, and that he died for my sins; I believe God is so powerful that even though his son did die, he rose him on the third day, defeating death for all those that call upon his name; and I believe Jesus is coming back to claim those who follow his teachings and his commands.  Why do I believe this?  Because my Bible tells me so.  Don't take anything away from its words and don't add anything.  I believe God covered it all, so let's just believe and follow.








Saturday, May 25, 2019

Treasure



May 25

Ps 66:1–3

Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.  Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 

A few years ago, I was watching a TV show called "Step-by-Step", and in this show the family was in Hawaii and two of the children were looking for a treasure.  They had a map and had even found the exact location where the treasure would be found.  It indicated there were would be unlimited gold.  As they dug and dug, they found nothing, then one of them looked up and saw the sunset.  That was the unlimited gold they were to find.  One of the treasure hunting siblings said to the other, "No matter how rich, mighty, or righteous a person thinks they are they cannot create a sunset!"

We tend to get hung up on the treasure map and never really see the treasure all around us.  Of course, we have a great treasure map in the Bible, and it shows us the way to unlimited joy!  But don't overlook the treasures around you.  Take another look at that tree, flower, river, eagle, or listen to those kids in the park playing.  I have been to places in this world that I longed to see some of these things.  I did not see too many trees when I was in Saudi Arabia and when it comes to water; we spent a year on water rationing with one day on and two days off, so I am always thankful for water.  

Don't wait until you are without these treasures to be thankful.  Praise his name for all the wonderful things in your life!  Find the beauty in everything around you and praise him!  Sing glory to his name because his deeds are awesome!



Friday, May 24, 2019

Three Days Where?

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  (Matt. 12:40; NIV)

Jesus never was one for beating around the bush.  Here he tells those with him that the Son of Man will spend three days in the heart of the earth, just like Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish.  The people all knew about Jonah and believed what the Scriptures had to say about him, and as we find out later, the Pharisees believed Jesus would rise again after three days (or at least his body would be removed by hook or by crook).

People today don't say much about Jonah; his name rarely comes up in break room conversation.  But when it is discussed there seems to be two camps, those who believe it and those who feel it is nothing more than just a story.  But Jesus' name does come up in conversation and there are more than two camps trying to explain how he "rose."  Some say that resurrection story is just that a story, others say he was only asleep and when he woke up he walked on out of the tomb (not sure how asleep he would be after the beating he took, the spear in the side, being nailed to the cross and left to hang, not to mention walking past Roman guards standing watch outside).  Others believe he had only fainted while on the cross and after being brought down and placed in a tomb and it was the cool, dampness of the tomb that brought him back to consciousness where he got up and walked out on his own, and there are "theories". 

I believe in a God who created the heavens and the earth, the animals and mankind, and if he can do this, he could and did keep a man alive for three days in the belly of a huge fish and he could and did raise his son back to life.  How does he do it?  He's God and that's good enough for me!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

This is the Day


Here is another long story to start this devotion -- I promise they will end soon and you will get just the devotion.

The year was 1996.  I had been retired for two years and now attending Northwest Nazarene College (now University), taking courses towards my ministry degree.  Early in the morning when I was doing my devotions, I would type them up and send them to a couple of the guys in the church.  Jonie's dad soon heard about it and asked that I send them to him also.  I did and before I knew I was getting emails from all over the U.S., thanking me for writing.  The people I was sending email devotions to would send to their friends and their friends to their friends (you get the idea).  Some of these forwarded emails were making it to Sunday services where they would be read before the congregation during the service.

Jump to 1999.  Ken (Jonie's dad) started asking why I did not put them in book form.  My response was that it was too expensive and I did not want to be left with a number of books in my garage.  Ken told me about a new publishing company that printed on demand; you order, they print and send out.  I checked into it and in 2000 the first of twelve books came out, "Just a Thought", it was over 560 pages (which caused them some problems, but they pulled it off) and I was author number 62 in this organization, which has been sold a number of times and now belongs to Amazon.  It has been out of print for many, many years and that is a good thing.  This book was made up from all those emails I sent out, so errors are abundant!

I thought this would be a good time to go in and TRY to correct some of those errors, maybe update some of them, add some pictures, and get it back into print.

This story is just to say, if you are one of the 3 people who received this book from me and you think you have read it before, you might be right.  So, here goes, "Just a Thought from Jims Head", May 23.



May 23

This is the Day

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24; NASB)


I am one of those strange people who loves to get up early in the morning, because I believe it is the best time day.  The family is still in bed, the traffic has not started on the streets and it is the best time for God and I to talk.  We talk throughout the day, but in mornings I am not distracted as easily as I am at other times during the day.

I talk to my heavenly Father and then I sit and listen to what He has to say.  Some mornings we communicate by Him showing me how the sun rises with the most magnificent colors over the tops of the mountains, all of which He has provided.  Then some mornings He will let me hear the beautiful music He has put together; the crickets chirp while it is still dark; the opening act for the real concert.  As the sun comes up over the mountains the birds start their singing.  Only God could put together such an orchestra first thing in the morning.  Sometimes He adds in another instrument as He sends a breeze to blow through the trees, causing them to whisper their part of the music. 

In the winter He lets the moon reflect and glow off the newly fallen snow.  Have you ever seen a deer standing in the moonlight on the snow-covered ground?  It's a work of beauty that could only come from God.  And don't even get me started on the fantastic colors of the sunsets.

I don't understand why people cannot see the hand of God when they look around them.  "This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it."  So, take the time to stop and hear what God is saying to you.  Take the time to see what it is that He wants you to see.  His handy work is all around us and we should give Him thanks for each and every one of them.