Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Reconciliation

31 July

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Cor 5:16-21; NIV)

Have you ever stopped to think just how many people, this very day, will go to a counselor trying to reconcile a relationship?  They will try to reconcile relations between themselves and their spouses, children, neighbors, employers, the list just goes on and on.  We applaud them for this, but at the same time, we find many refuse to accept the reconciliation given through Christ.  If they would just reconcile with God, they might find they look at the world in a different light and even the problems they thought they had might be viewed differently.

God is amazing!  When we ask him into our lives, we become something new, we are no longer of this world we are "just a passin' through."  We should be able to look at the world as an outsider, see problem areas, and try to bring the kingdom of God to light in them.  As Christians, we should pay attention to what others take for granted; the homeless, the hungry, those in prison, the elderly, child/spouse abuse, and the list goes on.  There are so many things in this world which we see every day and yet don't see, but we are no longer of this world, we are a new creation with new eyes.  We need to use these "new eyes" to see where reconciliation needs to happen around us and help those involved find the Kingdom of God. 


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Real Reason for Joy

30 July

Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:16-20; NIV)

We've all been told to go and preach the gospel, not just the pastors, missionaries, or evangelists, but everyone.  We are to continue the work of Jesus here on earth by sharing the gospel and praying for those we come in contact with.  When Jesus gave instructions to the seventy-two, he sent out he was also looking out across the ages and giving us those same instructions.  He said there will be those who hear what we say and because they listen to us, they will be listening to Jesus.  There will be those who reject us, but the sad part is they are really rejecting Jesus, and when they do that, they are rejecting the one who gives them everlasting life.

When the seventy-two came back to Jesus, they were all excited because of the demons they had cast out and about the power they had.  Jesus told them all this power came from him and that they should not rejoice about the spirits which submit to them.  They should rejoice because their names were written in heaven.

It's exciting when we see someone come into the family of God, and when prayers are answered.  Or when we see talents, gifts, and powers develop in ourselves or in others keeping in mind, all these come from God.  All these are good things, and Jesus tells us we should be happy about them but that we should never forget that real happiness and joy come from having our names written in the Book of Life!


Monday, July 29, 2019

My God Can Do Anything

29 July

Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’  For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Jos 4:20-24; NRSV)

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor.  The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad.  "Young man," said the professor, "If you can tell me something God can do, I'll give you a big, shiny apple."  The boy thought for a moment and then replied, "Mister, if you can tell me something God can't do, I'll give you a whole barrel of apples!" (Today in the World, April 1989, p. 43)

Isn't it great to know we have a God who can do anything?  Those other so-called "gods" can do nothing, they're either non-existent, or they're dead.  My God is alive and well, and not only that he is all-powerful.  Some need to have scientific reasons why the Red Sea and the Jordan both dried up, allowing the children of Israel to pass through on dry land.  I know there is a reason as to how they happened, and I call that reason "God."  My God cannot be limited by man.  If God wanted to dry up a particular spot in the Red Sea so the people could pass through, I know he could do it.  If he wanted to dry up a path through the Pacific Ocean, there is no doubt in my mind he could do it.  Mankind always wants to figure out how things happen, but to me, it really makes no difference because I know God did it.  Whether by wind, low tide, strange moon alignment or whatever, God made specific spots in the Red Sea and Jordan River stop flowing and dry up so his children could pass through. 

As children of God, we never have our backs against the wall because God always provides a way out.  He not only parts waters for us to pass through, but he also provided his son to be a bridge to cross over from a sinful life to a glorified life.  My God is awesome, and he can do anything.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Cross is Power

28 July

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18; NIV)

Paul wrote this almost 2,000 years ago, and it is just as true now as it was then: the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  Why can't mankind see that the cross is the answer?  To those of us who believe it is so apparent but the possible results of drinking and driving should be obvious to everyone, and yet they are not.  Why can't mankind see that drinking and driving are deadly?  Drinking itself is harmful because it kills brain cells, clouds the thinking, and slows reaction time.  So why do it? 

Satan wants everyone to think that both of these, the message of the cross and the truth about drinking and driving (as well as other things mankind does which are not good for us) are just stories which have been made up.  The real truth is this: if you listen to Satan, you're going to die.  He has spent much time taking a lie and sugar-coating it.  One of the sugar-coated lies I hear from time to time is; "I'm a social drinker.  I only drink when I'm with others."  They just make sure they are with someone who likes to drink as much as they do.  The results are the same: dead brain cells, drinking and possibly driving, an alcoholic.  I understand there are real social drinkers, but many alcoholics use that as an excuse.

Here is another one I often hear: "God is a loving and forgiving God who would never punish and send people to hell."  The truth is God is a loving and forgiving God who is coming back as a judge.  There will be many standing before him on that great judgment day saying, "I really didn't think you would do it."  To which I'm sure God will say something along the lines of: "What did you think all that writing in the Bible was all about?"

Just as "the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" it is also the "power of God" for those of us who have called upon the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.  With God, all things are possible.  This is not just some catchy slogan; it is the truth.  God has given us the power to do great things: to witness, preach, teach, sing, evangelize, and the list goes on and on.  There is power in the cross, God's power, and that is the truth.

So go out and preach the power of the cross like there is no tomorrow because for some that maybe the truth.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Crossing Over

27 July

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.  (Josh 3:15-17; NIV)

Nothing is impossible for God!  During Moses' day, God set the captives free, he fed and gave them water in the desert, and this he did for forty years.  He led them by a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.  But for me, what stands out the most is the parting of the Red Sea; passing from one shore to the other and not even getting their sandals muddy.  Now Moses was gone, and Joshua was the leader, and it was time to cross over into the land God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the land flowing with milk and honey but the Jordan needed to be crossed.  We are told as soon as the feet of the priests who carried the ark touched the water's edge of the Jordan the water stopped flowing.  Every time God's people come to a place in life where they think they cannot go any further, God provides the means by which they can cross.  This doesn't happen just in the Old Testament because in the New Testament God provides the way to cross over not water but from a condemned sinful life to glorified eternal life with our heavenly father.  This time God used his only son, and he became the bridge by which we can cross over.  God doesn't leave his people behind.  Through his son, we have the final bridge, the one which will last forever.  God will always provide a way if we will look to him and follow his path.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Preach the Good News

26 July

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.  But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”  And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Lk 4:42-44; NIV)

The people knew there was something special about this man named Jesus, and they did not want him to leave.  He had just spent the night healing the sick, casting out demons, and talking to them about the Kingdom.  What was there not to like?

We know there is no way it would have happened but just think for a second what life would be like had Jesus taken the people up on their offer to stay with them and not go on preaching the Good News.  He might not have died for our sins, and we would still be condemned to die.  We would not have found God's grace or experienced his love.  BUT Jesus knew what had to be done, he knew what the father's will was, and he was obeying him and showing his love for us by giving his life.  I'm sure glad he did.

Jesus said he had to preach the Good News to other towns, that was why he was sent, and he has also called us to preach the Good News to all the world.  I know you are saying you only go from the house to work and back again, that it's the preacher's job to contact every one and tell them the Good News.  What about that person sitting at the desk next to yours, are they Christian?  The pastor doesn't know them, but you do.  Are they able to tell you are a Christian by your words and actions?  I have to laugh at some of the people on the road today.  They have the bumper sticker which tells everyone they are a Christian and maybe what church they attend.  You almost have time to read it as it flys by at 20 mph over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting people off.  Or you are sitting next to them at the traffic light and hear words coming out of their mouths that would make you blush.  People are always watching and listening to us because we are proclaiming to be a follower of Christ.  So are your actions and language preaching the Good News or something else?

Jesus told the people he could not stay because he had to "preach the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns."  I think he happy when we do that, and I also think he is happy if we would just preach the Good News to those we come in contact with every day.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Pray for Each Other

25 July

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  (Eph 1:15-21; NIV)

Wow!  Paul prayed for people who were doing great!  He prayed for those who had faith and who loved each other.  When was the last time you did that?  When was the last time you prayed for someone who was doing great?  When was the last time you prayed just to praise God?  We pray anytime we have problems we need help with and we may even call upon others in the church to pray with and for us.  But when was the last time you called someone asking them to pray for you because life was fantastic?  When was the last time you asked to be put on the prayer list because you were so blessed?  Who was the last person you put on your prayer list because they were the most influential Christian you knew?

Maybe we should take more time to give thanks for those who encourage us; the pastor of your church, the elders and deacons, the Sunday school teachers, the list could go on and on.  If we lift these people up to him and ask his blessing on them just think about how many more people they may be able to encourage and help and isn't that what we are called to do?  So pray for each other, even the ones who are doing great.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Praise in the Hard Times

24 July

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor 12:9-10; NIV)

Do you ever praise God for the hardships in your life?  That sure seems like a funny question, and I'm going to guess that most people would answer with loud and strong, "NO!"  Do I praise God in all things?  I have to be honest and say no because I let "self" takeover and I wallow in my self-pity instead of focusing on the wonderful grace of my heavenly father.

A few years ago I did something hard to do at the start but got easier as the week went on and I cannot tell you why I ever stopped.  Here is what I did and maybe you have done it also, I took a week, and no matter what happened to me during the day I would praise God.  Sometimes I would really have to look hard to find that reason, but it is there.  If you have never done this I encourage you to do it because you will find your days go a lot better, you will feel better, and the little things that would get you down before you will just laugh at. 

When I first wrote this years ago, I had just started another week of praising God in all things and here is what I wrote:  I hope you will join me in spending this week praising God in all situations.  I have to tell you I'm starting in the hole here.  Today was my last day of spring break, and I thought I was going to get to sleep in.  I was awakened by the sounds of my oldest son's head-banging music played at decibels that would cause most airports to be closed down.  Of course, my first reaction was not very loving, but now looking back on it, I can praise God that I am still alive and able to share the gospel with others.

So, praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Praise Him in all situations and see how he will bless you.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Out of the Darkness

23 July

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Rom 13:11-14; NIV)

We've looked at verses 11-12 before, and I think they are powerful enough to look at a second time. 

The hour has come to wake up!  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  These seem like such simple statements but have you really thought about them?  What Paul was writing to the Romans is just as meaningful today.  We tend to live in the night, or that is what we think anyhow (I include what happens behind closed doors no matter what time of day it is).  Most do not consider day time hours as anything other than work hours, and it's only when they are off work that they start to live.  They transform like Jekyll and Hyde, from the buttoned-down person who is highly respected by the "daylight" people to a person who thinks their acts done at night are covered over by the darkness.  The respected businessman becomes the drunken loudmouth at his favorite bar, the loving church couple becomes the neighborhood fighting champs behind the walls of their home, and this list goes on and on.  Paul is telling us that the night is coming to a close, and all those things done in the night will be brought to light.  God's light.

As Christians, we are to "put on the armor of light" so that we are never in darkness.  If we have the armor of light on others should be able to see the great time we are having; that we do not need the night to feel alive.  By clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are making a fashion statement and showing those around us that we are not ruled by the things of this world but by the one who controls it!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Acceptance

22 July

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Rom 15:7; NASB, 1995)

A young American engineer was sent to Ireland by his company to work in a new electronics plant.  It was a two-year assignment that he had accepted because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend.  She had a job near her home in Tennessee, and their plan was to pool their resources and put a down payment on a house when he returned.  They corresponded often, but as the lonely weeks went by, she began expressing doubts that he was being true to her, exposed as he was to comely Irish lasses.  The young engineer wrote back, declaring with some passion that he was paying absolutely no attention to the local girls.  "I admit," he wrote, "that sometimes I'm tempted.  But I fight it.  I'm keeping myself for you."  In the next mail, the engineer received a package.  It contained a note from his girl and a harmonica.  "I'm sending this to you," she wrote, "so you can learn to play it and have something to take your mind off those girls."  The engineer replied, "Thanks for the harmonica.  I'm practicing on it every night and thinking of you."

At the end of his two-year stint, the engineer was transferred back to company headquarters.  He took the first plane to Tennessee to be reunited with his girl.  Her whole family was with her, but as he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said sternly, "Just hold on there a minute,  Billy Bob.  Before any serious kissin' and huggin' gets started here, let me hear you play that harmonica!" (Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, Page 17-18)

When it comes to accepting others, it seems we have a problem.  We say things like, "It's easy to accept someone who is like me, after all, I do like myself, usually.  But when it comes to accepting those who are not really like us, that is when we have problems.  We find faults with them like their clothes are different, they eat differently, they live differently than we do.  We want them to conform to our standards, the ones we have set for ourselves.  What we are saying to them is this, "Just hold on there a minute, Billy Bob.  Before we can really take you seriously here, let me see you conform to the way I do things!"  Paul says we are to accept one another in the same way Christ accepts us by looking at what's on the inside and not what we can see on the outside.

When you stop and think about it, none of us could be put into the same class with Jesus, but because of what he did for us, we are accepted.  He looked beyond our faults and saw what we could be, and we are to do the same thing.  We should be looking at others and see what God sees; someone who needs love and compassion, someone who needs his saving grace.  Someone who could be our sister or brother.  Look into a person's heart and see the real them because the stuff on the outside is only temporary, it's what's on the inside that really counts.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Not Worthy

21 July

So Jesus went with them.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. (Luke 7:6-10; NIV)

It's funny when you stop to think about it.  At this time in Jesus' ministry, there were Jews who did not believe in Him and what he was able to do.  Yet here was a Roman centurion who understood the power of Jesus.  The centurion knew he had authority over those under his command.  Whatever he told his soldiers to do, they would do, and he knew Jesus had this same authority.  Jesus has the authority to heal, cast out demons, raise the dead, and calm the storms and all by just the sound of his voice.  Like his father, who with only the sound of his voice, created the heavens and earth and everything in them, Jesus was able to heal without physically being there and still can today.

Like Christians throughout the ages, the centurion felt he was unworthy of having Jesus come to his house.  He even felt unworthy to be in Jesus' presence, and at the same time he knew without Jesus, his servant would die.  I know that feeling.  I, like the centurion, know I am unworthy to be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.  I also know that without him, I would be just like the servant on my way to death.  It is only by the grace of God I have become a child of the King, and even though I do not feel worthy to be in his presence, he has called me to be with him and an heir to the Kingdom.

Think about it.  We go from being a lowly sinner to sons and daughters of the King of kings.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Not "Magic Kingdom" but Real Kingdom

20 July

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21; NIV)

"The kingdom of God is within you."  Have you ever thought about that?  Or maybe a better question, when others look at you do they see the kingdom of God?  The Pharisees were looking for a physical place or area, something they could touch, put their hands on, and see.  Jesus was telling them that the kingdom of God is not a place where you can say, "Here it is" or "There it is," because it is all around us in the form of those who belong to God.

We call Disneyland the "Magic Kingdom" and people flock to it by the thousands and from just about every country in the world.  They go for fun, games, and excitement, where they can lose themselves for a time and relax.  Most of these people fail to realize there is a Kingdom far greater than any at Disneyland or Disney World.  These two "Magic Kingdoms" only give temporary relief from the problems of life, but the Kingdom of God provides everlasting relief.  Have you ever looked at the face of a child who has recently returned from Disneyland?  Their face almost glows every time they tell of what they did while there.  They start getting excited all over again.  It's like they are still there;(at least that's the way it is for me).

Does your face get excited when you tell others about the Great Kingdom of God?  Or does it tell a different story?  If it tells a different story then it is time to get on your knees and talk to our Lord and Savior.  Maybe it's time to get into a good Bible study with someone, and make sure you spend time with other Christians!  The Kingdom of God is so much more than the "Magic Kingdom" so let's start talking it up.  Let's get people to make their reservations for the everlasting excitement that comes from God!


Friday, July 19, 2019

A New Body

19 July

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (1 Cor 15:42-49; NIV)

Many people want to know if they will have the same body in heaven that they now have.  I, for one, take great joy in what Paul tells the Corinthians here.  The body we have now is a perishable one, but the one we will have is a super body, one that can not perish.  It will have glory and power, where we now have dishonor and weakness.

I gather from what Paul tells us, the body I now have, I would not want in heaven.  Think about it.  The body I now have gets tired after only a few hours, in heaven, I have my first 20,000 years planned out.  The first 10 I would like to sing with the heavenly choir because I know I'll have the voice for it then.  The second 10 I would like to spend fishing with the great Fisherman, not to catch anything but to just sit at his feet and listen to what he has to say.  Can you imagine sitting around talking with Jesus, face to face?  I can only imagine.  Whatever I will be doing, I want a body worthy of heaven, one that bears "the likeness of the man from heaven."

We are now bearing the likeness of the first man, Adam, but we will bear the likeness of the last Adam, the life-giving spirit.  "The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven."  I, for one, am ready to give up this tired old body for one in the likeness of my Savior, how about you?



Thursday, July 18, 2019

Make Me A Sower

18 July

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.  (1 Cor 3:4-9; NIV)

Have you ever spent time witnessing to someone about Jesus and they just didn't get it?  Not only did they not get it but they would not even entertain the idea of going to church and later you find out they started attending church someplace else.  How did that make you feel?  I have known people who get really upset when something like this happens when they should be praising the Lord.  Many of them feel that since they planted the seed they should also be the one to harvest.  My question is, "Why?"  Why do they feel that way?  Do they think God has this great big scoreboard and marks down every time we plant a seed and every time we harvest and the two need to equal each other?  It just doesn't work that way.

Paul tells us some are planters, that's what they are good at.  Some are called to water that seed, and others to do the harvesting, that's what they are good at.  If we get hung up on the "all or nothing" idea, the kingdom of God will be very small.  About two years before we left Utah we planted an apple tree.  Of course the first year the tree did nothing, it did not produce any fruit.  The next year it did produce but only very small apples, the tree was maturing but was still not able to produce eatable fruit.  Then we moved.  Did the fact we would not be able to eat any of the apples from this tree cause me to rip it out by the roots, or make me wish I had not planted it in the first place?  Of course not.  The people who now live there are able to eat the fruit, even though they did not plant the tree.  The end results are what matters; apples are being produced and someone is eating them.

Paul says it makes no difference who plants the seed or does the watering, or the harvesting, we all want the same end results; another brother or sister who have found the Lord.  I get no extra stars in my crown, only the enjoyment of knowing another person will have eternal life and Satan has lost again.  Life sure is good!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Love Above All Else

17 July

If I speak in the tongues n of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, u but do not have love, I gain nothing.  (1 Cor 13:1-3; NIV)

I have always been told, "Love conquers all," and that seems to be what Paul is saying here, so why don't we see more of it?  Love that is?  Somehow society has us believing money will solve all our problems, not love and in many situations, money will buy love for you.  Again, that is what society would have us believe.  Has the meaning of love changed?  It appears that many people think love is only a temporary feeling, and once it leaves you go on to the next person. 

I heard a story recently about a woman who after getting a divorce fell in "love" with another man.  But, she had a child from the first marriage, a girl, a five-year-old girl.  The new man in the woman's life wanted to marry her but would not until she got rid of the child.  The woman went door to door until she found someone that would take the girl.  If that's love, then I want nothing to do with it.

Now, let me tell you another story.  There was a father who had many children, but none of them were really his own.  He watched over them and provided for them as if they were his very own.  He gave them love no matter what they did; he was always there for them.  Even when they disobeyed him, he would love them and take them back into his household.  As time went on the children refused to listen to what the father was saying to them.  When he told them what was right and what was wrong, they almost always chose the latter.  He kept calling them because he loved them so much, but they would not listen.  Finally, the father had a son of his own, and when he had grown up, the father sent him out among his other children.  The son told others how much the father loved them.  He told them the father loved them and wanted them to return home.  He even told them the father's love was unending, all they had to do was love him back. 

In his last attempt to show the other children how much he loved them, the father sacrificed his only son so they could be forgiven of their disobedience.  When the father caused his son to raise from the dead three days later, only then did the other children start to see how powerful the love of the father really was.  Slowly his children have been returning to him and finding love so powerful, so deep, so full that it can conquer all things, even death.

Paul tells us that no matter what else we have, no matter how powerful we may think we are, if we do not have love, we are nothing!  What better place to learn about love than at the feet of the one who loved us from the very beginning of time.  Stop and ask God to fill you with love and let's show the world what being a Christian is all about.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Letters From God

16 July

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  Such confidence we have through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:1-6; NIV)

Most of us like to get letters, I mean real letters and not the ones that say, "amount due."  We read them to see how family and friends are doing, they make us laugh, and they can make us cry.  We lived overseas, and calling was out of the question we relied on letters to keep in contact with those we loved back in the states.  It was almost like we were there with them.  We could feel what they were feeling.  Whenever I would be shipped to another part of the world, I would try to write Jonie each and every day.  Being apart without communication is hard, very hard.

God knows how hard it is, so he has given us his Word.  He has recorded his words in the Bible, which we can read every day.  But there are still countries, some of which I have been to where having a Bible is illegal, and I would have to "sneak" mine in.  Even if I had been caught and they would have taken my Bible, the word would still go with me; in my heart.

I like to picture God writing to us.  Think about him writing the Ten Commandments.  Can't you just see the pits of stone flying in the air and all the dust?  Just like when a stone cutter is working; just plain power.  Then I picture God writing on my heart.  He comes with softness and love because he knows a heart is a very fragile thing, and he wants to make sure nothing happens to it.  Then with all the passion that has ever been written into any love song or love letter, he writes these words on my heart, "I love you. You are forgiven."

What a letter!  He uses the Holy Spirit to write us, because like Paul says, "the Spirit gives life."  What a great heavenly father we have!


Monday, July 15, 2019

Proclaim the Name

15 July

For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!  The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he; (Deut 32:3-4; NRSV)

In 1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years.  He had called himself "the Great," and was the monarch who made the famous statement, "I am the state!"  His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular.  As his body lay in state in a golden coffin, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his coffin, to dramatize his greatness.  At the memorial, thousands waited in hushed silence.  Then Bishop Massilon began to speak; slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, "Only God is great." (Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 24)

Moses said, "For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God."  We seem to take things for granted these days; we see the sun, the stars, the moon, trees, grass, birds, children, you name it, but how often do we think of God when we see them?  When was the last time you heard someone laugh and think to yourself, "What an awesome God we have"?

There are many in society today who believe there is no God.  They think that they are the ones that cause things in their lives to happen, somewhat like King Louis XIV.  But there is a day coming when they will stand before the True King, and they too will bow down before him and say, "Only God is great."

With all our modern technology, we still cannot do the things God can do.  On our own, we cannot say, "Peace be still" and have the winds and rains stop.  Winds and waves do not follow our commands.  "I" cannot break one loaf of bread and feed over 5,000 people, but my God can.  "I" cannot part the sea, as a matter of fact, I have been unable to part the water in my bathtub, but my God can make water back up and become a wall of water.  He changes the colors of the leaves in the fall and causes flowers to bloom in the spring; I cannot do that. 

I don't know about you, but he is my "Rock, his works are perfect."  I think we should all proclaim the name of the Lord and praise his greatness!  Thanks, father, for letting me be a part of your universe!


Sunday, July 14, 2019

I'm Healed!

14 July

There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.  After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.  Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  (Mark 7:32-37; NIV)

Passages like this amaze me.  I'm not talking about what Jesus was able to do (though that is fantastic) but that the people were told NOT to tell anyone.  Jesus came to save us from our sins and heal us spiritually.  He did not come with the intention of healing all our physical needs, but because of his great compassion for people, he did heal them.  After many of his healings, he told the person not to tell anyone, yet they ran through the streets tellings everyone and those hearing would be amazed.

Don't get me wrong, the power of healing is a great gift, but the power to save a person and give them everlasting life is far greater!  Even today when a person is healed of a life-threatening disease, they run all over the place telling everyone they come in contact with, and people are amazed.  But when a person is healed from the life-threatening disease of sin, they only tell a few very close friends and maybe some family members.  Only to hear those same friends and family members tell them that it is just a phase and it will pass.

When was the last time you told someone about the wonderful healing power of Jesus Christ?  About how he has given you everlasting life and healed the things that really matter?  When was the last time you sat down with someone and told them the "old, old story of Jesus and his love?"

Proclaim it; Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior, Counselor, Healer, King, Protector, and Friend.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Good-bye


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5; NIV)

For the past two weeks Jonie and her siblings, along with our sister-in-law, myself, two of our boys and their families, have met together at differing times to help pack up and empty the house.  Right now, it is Jonie, her sister and myself here, but Jonie and I pick up a Uhaul truck this afternoon and tomorrow morning will say good-bye one last time as we pull out of the driveway.

When I was younger, much younger, I had a patch quilt, not a quilt with a beautiful pattern but one with pieces of cloth from wherever they could get them.  I loved that quilt.  Not like Linus of Charlie Brown fame, but I did take it with me wherever I went; camping, fishing, picnicking, vacations, you name it, it went.  Until at the age of 15 or 16, when I tried to put a patch on and there was nothing for the threat to grab hold of, it was time to leave the quilt behind.  Over the years the quilt meant security and comfort.  Even when away from the quilt I knew I would be going back to the place I knew, it was always there.  OK, I know it sounds like I'm sick in the head but hear me out.  We all have a "thing" or a "place" that makes us secure at that time it was my quilt, for the past 40 years it has been Jonie's folk's place.  It was always here, they were always here, no matter where we were stationed around the world, this place was home.

Both of my parents moved a bit while we were overseas, so each time we came home, it was learning a new place and a new house, it was not like it was the time before.  So, the old Illinois home became our landing sight and from which we would see all my relatives. 

This is the place where if I listen close, I can almost hear the sound of horseshoes hitting the pin as Jonie's dad challenges the boys to a game of horseshoes.  This is the place where for years I would "mock" complain about never being in a family picture; all the boys were in pictures with them, but I wasn't . . . Yes, I was, but I would never let him know that.  This is the place that I called many years ago when I was deployed from Germany to Las Vegas.  Jonie's mom picked up the phone and I said, "Hi, it's Jim." To which she replied, "Jim who????"  There was no reason for her to know it was me calling, but I would not let her off the hook, just like me spending an entire weekend looking through magazines for a recipe because she found a great one for us.  I never found it, but I would not let her off the hook.  The place where her dad would ask if I could cut the grass and when he got home, he would find his lawnmower not working.  When he got the new one, he never did ask me to cut his grass????  The place where each visit found me washing the windows on the outside.  This time I washed them without anyone asking.  The place where for the past 40 years, whenever we were here, I would get up early to watch the sun come up and stay up past my bedtime to watch it go down.  Right now, it is 4:30 am, and the sky to the east is starting to change colors . . . I will miss this.  The sun still comes up and goes down where we live, but there is something about looking out over miles of flat farmland and seeing the sun; maybe it's because I feel secure here.

This passage in 1 Peter talks about inheritance, but that is not why I chose it, it was the last line that talks about being secure in God, like the security I have always felt here.  Everyone was able to take a little something away, things that meant something to them.  One of the things I am taking away is that I got to know Jonie's brother and sister a little better.  I have seen her brother more in the past year than I have in the last 39 put together, maybe the same is for her sister.

Our two boys that were here asked if they could have a couple of things; one was an old dinner bell that no one has seen in years and the other son wanted those horseshoes . . . Neither of which we could find.  Yet they still take a bit of grandma and grandpa with them.   One of them felt so secure here; he spent a couple of days of his honeymoon at grandma and grandpa's house.

All that being said, tomorrow morning as we head back west, we will say good-bye to the secure house that we have known for years, and we await the day when we are reunited with two fantastic people who will be greatly missed until that day.

What did I take?  Memories of two beautiful in-laws, who gave me encouragement, security, love, and the best of all their daughter.




I Am Just A Sinner

13 July

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  (Luke 18:9-14; NIV)

Have you ever prayed like the Pharisee, "Thank you Lord for not making me like THOSE people, the ones who live on the streets, the robbers, the evildoers, the adulterers."  Did you ever stop to think, even those people are loved by God?  The only difference between us is we have accepted the call to become one of his children and they may not even know he loves them.

Sometimes we get hung up on the things we have and feel we are better than others.  We have to remind ourselves that God is the Great Creator and when we look down on his children, the saved and unsaved, we place ourselves above them and on an equal footing with him and that is not where we should be.  We need to remember the prayer of the tax collector, it was simple and direct, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  His prayer says so much more than the one which came from the Pharisee.  He was saying, "God, how can I look down on others when I myself am just a lowly sinner.  It is only through your grace that I am able to live, not just here on earth, but also eternally with you in heaven."  What a great prayer.

We are all sinners, but by the grace of God, we can be made clean and pure and holy.


Friday, July 12, 2019

He Overcame Death

12 July

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, I and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  (1 Cor 15:3-8; NIV)

No matter how long I live, I will never be able to understand those who believe in or follow someone who is dead.  People follow Buddha, he's dead; they follow Mohammed, he's dead and there are others.  As for me, I choose to follow a Savior who has overcome the death, one who has risen from the grave, one who appeared to over 500 people after his resurrection.

Did the people he appeared to have to follow him?  Of course not.  His closest disciples could have ignored the fact he conquered death, but they didn't.  Would they have faced persecution, beatings, mockery, lions, and death had it not been true?  I don't think so.

Then there are those who believe they will keep coming back to this world in a reincarnated state until they get it right.  If I believed that, I would have to keep coming back for all eternity because I never seem to get it right on my own and that is where grace comes in.  God has a plan for us.  He sent his son to die for us.  Through the spilled blood and broken body of Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God and are called his children.  We have inherited the kingdom and will never have to worry about death because of our father, who has taken its sting away.

Many people only have death to look forward to, but for Christians, we only have life eternal with our heavenly father, his son, and the holy spirit to look forward to.  Praise the Lord!


Thursday, July 11, 2019

He Makes Diamonds From Coal

11 July

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Cor 6:9-11; NIV)

Have you ever looked at a piece of coal?  There's not much to it yet, if I remember right, a diamond is made from the same carbon.  In one of the Superman movies, Superman picks up a large lump of coal and by compressing it, he forms a diamond (this is not how diamonds are formed). 

Though this is not how diamonds are made I still want to use it as an illustration.  Before we became Christians we were nothing but a big lump of coal, good for nothing but to burn (and in more ways that one).  But through the wonderful grace of God, we have been transformed into a beautiful diamond!  I know I could have used the butterfly as my illustration, but diamonds are much stronger and with God, there is nothing in this world that can defeat us.

Makes no difference if you use the butterfly or the diamond as your illustration.  God takes us from where we were, no matter what we are doing, and he washes us and makes us clean.  Then he sets us apart for himself, for holy work, by sanctifying us, through and through.  Lastly, he justifies us and shows us how we should do things, how we should live in this world while we await the Kingdom to come and he does this through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

What a great and mighty God we have, who wants to take nasty 'ol sinners, give them a better life and turn them into something wonderful!  The "Hope Diamond" has nothing on us, in God's sight we are far more beautiful!


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Darkness?

10 July

Do this because we live in an important time. It is now time for you to wake up from your sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The “night”  is almost finished, and the “day”  is almost here. So we should stop doing things that belong to darkness and take up the weapons used for fighting in the light.  (Rom 13:11-12; NCV)

5-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper.  She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn't want to go in alone.  "It's dark in there and I'm scared."  She asked again, and he persisted.  Finally she said, "It's OK -- Jesus will be in there with you."  Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it.  He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: "Jesus, if you're in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?"  (Charles Allen, Victory in the Valleys)

There is something about darkness that can bring fear to most anybody from time to time.  It's that feeling of the unknown -- not knowing what's ahead or behind you.  Many of us let our minds run wild when we are in darkness.  The slightest sounds bring up pictures in our minds that would put any horror film to shame.

When I was stationed in Germany, before I was married, I lived six or so miles from the base so I would often walk about a mile to catch a ride with one of the other people I worked with.  On one of those mornings, I set out walking that mile about 4 a.m.  It was dark, the sky was cloudy so there was no light from the stars or moon.  On the right side of the road was a very large, wild boar infested, dark forest and on the left side was a field where the boars like to eat.  I found myself walking down the center of the road which saw virtually no traffic that early in the morning when I heard something in the field.  I just knew I was about to be attacked by a wild boar, that I could not see, on a road that probably would not see ANY traffic for another couple of hours, in a country, not my own where I could not even speak the language.  I was doomed.  My heart started pumping faster and the sound got louder.  All of a sudden a deer jumped up in front of me, I could have reached out and touched him but I was frozen.  This buck reared back on his hind legs, I could see his wide eyes and his hooves up in the air and that rack of antlers which I knew were going to pick me up and throw me around.  My time had come!  I could see the headlines in Stars and Stripes now, "GI killed in Germany by deer" how embarrassing!

As we faced each other, the buck definitely in charge stopping me in my tracks, six female deer, jump up on the road and passed behind him.  Once the last one was in the forest, he dropped down onto all fours and ran off.  He was just protecting the doe.  I look back on it now and think how foolish I was, but I'm sure if I were in the same situation today, those same thoughts would run through my mind.

Darkness brings thoughts of the unknown.  The world we live in is in darkness but there is light for those that want it.  That light can go with us constantly, protecting us from all unknown.  Paul says that the hour has come for us to wake up, the darkness is just about over and the light of day is almost here.  God sent the Holy Spirit to be our guiding light until Jesus is sent to call us home and so we would not be left in total darkness.  The Spirit provides enough light for us to be able to see the evil in this world.  He also helps us to defend ourselves against the slings and arrows that this world throws at us and protects us against those thoughts of the unknown.  Jesus is with us until the very end of the age.  In him, we have no darkness and nothing to fear!  Praise the Lord!


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Gospel Revealed

9 July

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.  I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:11-12; NIV)

Isn't it funny how many non-Christians think the Bible is just a storybook for little children and yet Christians see it as the word of God?  There's a big difference here and I think Paul says it best, that it is a revelation from Jesus Christ.  I recently talked to a man who has been in the church his entire life, he was raised in the church.  He was "trained" in the Bible and thought he knew all there was to know about it.  He came to me and said that he had just read something for the very first time.  He had looked at the words before but had never thought about what they meant.  He was excited!  That verse now has more meaning to him than it ever had before because of it not being someone's else's interpretation but his.  It's because this is the Living Word of God.  The words don't change but it continues to grow and transform our thoughts and attitudes as the Holy Spirit reveals lessons to us.  That's why we need to read his word every day so that we can be blessed as the Holy Spirit reveals God's word to us.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Go Get Him

8 July

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.  (Mk 10:46-52; NIV)

Did you happen to notice the reaction of the crowds in this passage?  While they were walking with Jesus and had his full attention they wanted nothing to do with anyone else.  As a matter of fact, they told Bartimaeus to shut-up and be quiet, to leave the master alone and stop calling for him.  I can almost hear them; the more Bartimaeus shouted, "Son of David, have mercy on me," the more they would rebuke him, that is until Jesus said, "Call him."

The tone of the crowd quickly changed when Jesus got involved.  One second they are telling Bartimaeus to be quiet and the next they are telling him, "Cheer up!  On your feet!  He's calling you."  From, leave the master alone, to, why so glum chum?  Cheer up, get excited because the master wants to see you.

When Jesus asked him what he wanted Bartimaeus was very direct, no beating around the bush, he said, "Rabbi, I want to see."  He did not ask if Jesus could help him because he knew he could, there was no doubt.  There was no one who was going to keep him shut up or keep him from Jesus because he knew Jesus could give him his sight.

Does this story sound anything like what is happening in our world today?  How about all those people who go to church every Sunday to hear a good sermon, sing uplifting songs of praise, and to have fellowship with other "Christians?"  The same group of people who are passing all those strangers during the week who are calling out for the help of Jesus.  Are we telling them that Jesus does not have time for them because they are not saved?  That makes no sense, does it?

Think hard.  Did you see anyone this week who was calling out to Jesus?  If Jesus was physically here in front of you, would he be thanking you for bringing the man to his attention, for helping the man find him?  Or would he be telling you to, "Go get him?"



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Giving

7 July

Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.  (Exod 36:2-7; NIV)

Then Moses gave an ORDER, "do not make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary." And so the people were RESTRAINED from bringing more.  Wow!!  When was the last time your pastor told the congregation on Sunday morning that they would not be taking up an offering because the church had more than enough money?  Or how about saying there are so many volunteers we will have to turn some of you away?  Or so many showed up for the church clean up that it only took us five minutes and then we all went home?  Sorry, I don't ever remember hearing or saying any of those things myself.

The children of Israel had seen the power of God.  They saw the angel stand guard at the tent whenever Moses went in to talk with God and they had even seen Moses' face glow after he had been talking with God.  They wanted to give and so they did and gave so much that they had to be told to stop giving (the envy of every pastor).  We can still see the power of God but time and money are things we don't ever seem to have enough of these days.  Did you ever stop to think what giving a little extra in your tithe could do?  My boys learned this lesson early in life.  The oldest realized that one of something was O.K., but more was better.  He could convince his brothers that the dollar they had would not get them very far so they should just give it to him and with their money put together they could get something really nice (seems that this item would always be what the oldest wanted).

We sometimes think the same way, "my extra $5 in the offering plate really does not mean much," but if the whole congregation caught the same vision, $5  could turn into$500 very quickly.  The giving of 5 minutes of volunteer time multiplied over 100 people in the congregation could turn into 500 minutes worth of volunteer time (that's eight hours in case you were wondering).  Giving a little extra does not hurt and could really help the kingdom of God.  Shouldn't we show him we do believe he will take care of our needs and give just a little more?


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Get Out of the Comfort Zone

6 July

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." (John 4:7-15; NIV)

Place yourself in the Samaritan woman's sandals for just a second.  As she came to the well to draw water she must have seen a man sitting there and realized that he was a Jew.  Jews hated Samaritans so I'm sure she as a bit leery about going to the well, but she went.  As she stepped up to the well, this Jew asked her to draw him some water.  This must have floored her; a Jew asking a Samaritan for a drink.

Jesus had no problem with stepping out of his comfort zone.  How many of us would go to where the homeless live, by ourselves, to tell them they could have living water?  Now for the really tough question, how many of us would let this same homeless person into our church and make them feel comfortable?  I don't remember reading in my Bible anyplace where God says only the good looking, the ones who smell good, the ones which are dressed nicely, the ones that you are comfortable with are the ones you are to bing into his presence.  Jesus kept going to the ones considered the outcasts of society; the beggars, the drunkards, the prostitutes, those that were sick and unclean, and even the Samaritans.  He saw they need to hear the word of God just as much as anyone else, maybe even more.  Why?  Because God gives us hope.  Hope for a better tomorrow, eternal life.  He gives us love where others fail to even acknowledge us.  He provides us with Living Water to quench our spiritual thirst.  He does all of this without looking at our color, our living conditions, or the amount of money we make.  His love is given unconditionally -- given freely!!

So, reach out and tell someone about the Living Water they can have by trusting in the Lord and Savior.  Don't select the person you tell by what they look like or how you feel about them, but select them on their need to hear the Gospel message, and everyone needs to hear it!


Friday, July 5, 2019

All Are One

5 July

Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:25-29; NIV)

Paul was a real rebel, here and in many other places, he tells us there are no classes of people once we become children of God.  Come to think about it, he's still a rebel.  There are many people today, and many Christians, who feel women are nothing, that poor people should not have any rights, that whites are a better class of people than anyone else and I have to tell you, these ideas make me sick.

Jesus Christ, God's son, came to earth to set the captives free and that is exactly what we were captives.  Our minds were captive to ideas that said one person is better than another because of their age, sex, wealth, education, the color of their skin, and the list goes on.  He did not come for those that made over a certain amount of money, as a matter of fact, he spent a great deal of time with those who did not know where their next meal was coming from.  He talked to women, and not just any women, he talked to those who were despised by his culture.  He does not care who you are, he loves us with unconditional love,  he loves everybody and gives everybody the right to call him brother and God, father.

Jesus looks beyond what is on the outside of a person and sees what is really on the inside.  Shouldn't we start doing the same thing?  Look beyond the gray in their hair, the clothes they are wearing, the weight they have or don't have, the color of their skin, their ability to read or write, and see them for what or who they really are - - - children of God and our brothers and sisters.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Our Father

4 July

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. e 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.  (Gal 4:4-7; NIV)

I really like the idea of being an heir to the kingdom of God.  Here on earth when we become an heir it usually means we will inherit something once another person dies and only have it until we die.  But being an heir to the kingdom of God means we start inheriting as soon as we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and it continues forever.  Our bodies will pass away but our time in the kingdom of God will go on for all eternity.  Now that's an inheritance!  Knowing God is one thing, even Satan knows God, but being known by God is something totally different.  Once we are known by God (once we accept Jesus as Savior) he writes us into the "Living Will," the one saying we can live with him forever as his children.  He will take care of us, commune with us, love with us, and comfort us.  He becomes our Father and asks that we become his loving children.

One of the greatest moments in my life was when each of my boys said "daddy" for the first time.  Now the name is "dad," "pops,""ol' man" but they all sound just as sweet as that first "daddy."  When a child calls us "daddy" it is like they are saying, "I trust you and I need you."  Of course, I wanted to tell everyone that my boys had called me "dad," even though at times, I was the only one who could understand them.  When they called me, I was filled with great pride and excitement, and still, do some 40ish years later.

I think it must be the same for God every time one of his children finally calls out and says, "Father, I need you."  I'm not sure if he jumps up and down at that point like I did, but I know he is happy to add another child to the list of heirs.

So the next time you see another Christian go ahead and call them brother or sister, believe me, it is not a religious term, it's the truth.  We are all brothers and sisters because we have the same father.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Promised Land

3 July

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper.  You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.  (Deut 8:7–10; NRSV)

In my first film series, "Focus on the Family," I shared a story about a 5-year-old African-American boy who will never be forgotten by those who knew him.  A nurse with whom I worked, Gracie Schaeffler, took care of this lad during the latter days of his life.  He was dying of lung cancer, which is a terrifying disease in its final stages.  The lungs fill with fluid, and the patient is unable to breathe.  It is terribly claustrophobic, especially for a small child.

This little boy had a Christian mother who loved him and stayed by his side through the long ordeal.  She cradled him on her lap and talked softly about the Lord.  Instinctively, the woman was preparing her son for the final hours to come.  Gracie told me that she entered his room one day as death approached, and she heard this lad talking about hearing bells.  "The bells are ringing Mommie," he said.  "I can hear them."

Gracie thought he was hallucinating because he was already slipping away.  She left and returned a few minutes later and again heard him talking about hearing the bells ringing.  The nurse said to his mother, "I'm sure you know your baby is hearing things that aren't there.  He is hallucinating because of the sickness."

The mother pulled her son closer to her chest, smiled and said, "No, Miss Schaeffler.  He is not hallucinating.  I told him when he was frightened -- when he couldn't breathe -- if he would listen carefully, he could hear the bells of heaven ringing for him.  That is what he's been talking about all day,."

That precious child died on his mother's lap later that evening, and he was still talking about the bells of heaven when the angels came to take him.  What a brave little trooper he was! (Focus on the Family, Sept. 1993)

It's hard for us to imagine what heaven will be like -- each person has their own idea.  If we take the best thing we can think of; our greatest vacation, our most treasured activity -- be it fishing, hiking, tennis or whatever -- heaven will be so much more than that.  Look at what Moses told the children of Israel about the land they were promised; it had water and flowing streams, there were hills and valleys, wheat, barley, grapes, honey.  It was a land where bread was not scarce and they would not lack anything.  That was here on this earth, how much greater heaven will be!  I believe heaven is so beautiful that we could not come up with the words to describe it.  John the Revelator tried to come up with words to describe it:

The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. (Rev 21:18-21; NIV)

Words cannot really describe the land that Christians have inherited from our loving Father, all we can do is wait and rest on the assurance that Jesus said he is coming back to take us to where he is.  Praise the Lord!  Let's continue to work for God and dream of the home that is waiting for us in that land beyond the clouds!  I think I can hear distant bells ringing.



The New International Version. (2011). (Re 21:18–21). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Don't be Enticed-- Proverbs 1:10-19

Proverbs 1:10-19

My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!  They may say, “Come and join us.  Let’s hide and kill someone!  Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!  Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.  Think of the great things we’ll get!  We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.  Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.”  My child, don’t go along with them!  Stay far away from their paths.  They rush to commit evil deeds.  They hurry to commit murder.  If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away.  But these people set an ambush for themselves;  they are trying to get themselves killed.  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.  (NLT)

This passage is very tragic because we find it still happening today.  People are shot and killed as part of a gang initiation.  People call in false 911 reports so they can shoot first responders.  We are supposed to be a civilized society and yet in many ways, we are very uncivilized.  In our need to feel wanted and part of the group we often join others and join in quickly with the so-called minor things; prank phone calls, destroying mailboxes, stealing candy; they become an addiction.  These are still bad and like most addictions, they lead to bigger crimes.  Some will even ambush and take the life of someone's mother/father, sister/brother, son/daughter.  What the enticers fail to tell those they are recruiting is that this way of life actually sets an ambush for themselves.  The writer says, "they are trying to get themselves killed.  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life."

"It robs them of life."  What a powerful statement.  If they are caught they may spend the rest of their lives in prison.  If they are not caught, they will spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders waiting to be caught.  And worse yet is if they remain unrepentant they will spend all eternity in a constant state of punishment.

As parents, we need to be involved in our children's lives.  We want them to grow up as independent thinkers but we need to make sure when the enticers come along, and they will, we need to make sure they remember that true happiness has nothing to do with money or the taking of someone's life but has everything to do with preserving and celebrating the life our heavenly Father has given us.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Expert -- Proverbs 1:7

Proverbs 1:7


Start with GOD—the first step in learning is bowing down to GOD; 
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. (The Message)

I took French when I was in high school; two years of it as a matter of fact.  Was I any good?  Well, let's just say it was not the "language of love" when I got done with it.  Can I still speak it?  I couldn't speak it then, but I did try hard.  Our teacher, on the other hand, spoke it and did . . . all the time.  On the first day of class, he informed us that we were hearing the last words of English from him and that he would only speak French to us from that point on and that is exactly what he did.  I never heard him speak anything other than French in class; if he met you in the hallways, it was French; if you happened to run into him around town, he was always polite but everything was in French.  This really wasn't such a big deal except he could never see you coming.  He was considered legally blind.  In order to read our papers, he would have to put his nose on them, but he could hear our voices and know who was there.  Because he was not like us and was a bit "different" many treated him badly, with no respect at all; we thumbed our noses at him.  To think of what we could have learned at the feet of this master linguist if we had only given in to his way of doing things.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  He knows all and wants us to learn from him.  God wants to share his wisdom with us, but we need to submit to him first.  We need to bow down to him and show him the respect he is due.  There is much we can learn from the Master if we will allow him to teach us.