Saturday, August 31, 2019

Amazing Grace

31 August

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: 
  “Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 17 And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.   (1 Ch 17:16–17; NIV)

These two verses inspired John Newton to write "Amazing Grace," and I can see why.  I can easily remove the name "King David" and replace it with mine and ask the same questions he asked.  "Who am I, and what is my family that God has brought me as far as he has?  Not only that, he has looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men."  And he really has!

God has taken me from what I was, and instead of leaving me there, he saw something, he saw someone, someone I could be.  He lifted me up as though I were exalted and brought me out of my despair and gloom and set my feet on the path of righteousness by his grace.  God treats us all as if WE were the exalted ones when it is God who should be exalted.  He comes to us and waits, he does not even ask that we make one step towards him.  All God asks of us is that we accept his gift of grace and believe in him.  The One that should be exalted exalts the ones that should not be.  THAT'S amazing grace!!


Friday, August 30, 2019

All God Created Is Good

30 August

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.  (1 Ti 4:4–5; NIV)

Have you ever looked around you and suddenly realized that in one way or another, God has created everything you have seen.  He may not have physically formed your house, but he gave us intellect, and someone used theirs to build your home, or your computer, your car, and the list goes on and on.  Of course, some waste the mind God has given them by using it for wrong or for hurting people.  We can also look at nature and see the hand of God in most everything though some seem to escape us, like this story I recently read:

At a summer camp for children, one of the counselors was leading a discussion on the purpose God has for all of his creation.  They began to find good reasons for clouds and trees and rocks, rivers, animals, and just about everything else in nature.  Finally, one of the children said, "If God has a good purpose for everything, then why did he create poison ivy?"  The discussion leader gulped and, as he struggled with the question, one of the other children came to his rescue, saying, "The reason God made poison ivy is that he wanted us to know there are certain things we should keep our cotton-pickin' hands off of."

Isn't that the truth, though.  Sometimes we have to look beyond what we know or how we see things to find its beauty and goodness.  Now, I'm not sure why God made poison ivy, but what the child says makes sense to me.  Sometimes we must remind ourselves that everything God created is good and we should receive it with thanksgiving (even poison ivy).

So, look around you at all God has created and then thank him for doing it.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Sure Thing

29 August

The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.  (1 Jn 5:5; The Message)

Some people spent their entire lives trying to find ways to overcome the world and its effects.  Some believe money and power will give them everything they need.  Others think if they can keep their bodies in top physical condition, they will live forever.  Still, others ponder over books to find the answers to everlasting life.

All anyone would have to do is read 1 John to find the answer. John asks the question, "Who is it that overcomes the world?"  Then he answers the question, "Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."  That's way too easy.  There must be a trick."  This is what most people say when they hear how to overcome the world.  They would instead look to the stars and have someone tell them what is in store for their future. Instead, why not look to the One who created the stars?

I'm a lazy person.  When I find a sure thing, I don't go looking around for something else to take its place.   Jesus is a sure thing!  For those who believe he is the son of God, you will overcome the world and have eternal life.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Real Benefits Package

28 August

The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.  Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,  (Mt 14:21–23; NIV)

My first job interview after retiring from the military came with all the usual questions and answers.  When they decided to offer me the job they threw in something they hoped would sway me to join them; a benefits package.  Employers use the benefits package to entice a prospective employee to come work for them and not the competitor. 

The same is true in life.  We decide on which benefits package we want.  One package looks very appealing.  It says we can have all the things that look good in life; power, money, others worshipping you, sex, drugs, . . . And the list goes on.  For many, this is a beautiful package, but the retirement plan is the pits . . . The pits of hell.

There is another benefit package out there where you can have love, friendship, respect, freedom, and even more, all leading to holiness.  And the retirement plan?  Eternal life.  Years ago, I preached at three retirement/assistant living homes each week.  I was getting set up for a service when one of our members came up to tell me about the passing of someone else from our group.  They came up and said, "That's right.  They cashed in on the ultimate retirement plan."  Isn't that the truth. 

What a benefits package God gives us.  We are told what the wages of that other company is, that company where everything looked good.  Its wages are sin, which leads to death.  In that second package, the one with holiness, you will receive no wages, but you will receive gifts from God, and the greatest gift is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a benefits package!  Tell others about it because God is still offering it!


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Helping Hand

27 August

But when he noticed the strong wind, he was afraid and started to sink down in the water. “Save me, Lord!” he cried.  At once Jesus reached out and grabbed hold of him . . .  (Mt 14:30–31; GNB/TEV)

The story of Peter's attempt to walk on the water is a familiar one.  When the winds and the waves came up and Peter started to pay more attention to them and not to his Lord and Savior, he started to sink.

Peter was like many people today, as long as things are going good our faith is strong.  The second we run into a little difficulty we take our eyes off the one who can set things right and start to sink.  Verses 30-31 are the verses we need to remember in this story: "he was afraid and started to sink down in the water.  "Save me, Lord!" he cried.  At once Jesus reached and grabbed hold of him."

All Peter had to do was call out to Jesus to save him and that is exactly what both did; Peter called for Jesus and Jesus saved him.  Keep in mind, nothing has changed here.  When we start to sink, and we will at times, all we have to do is call out to the one who can save us.  Immediately Jesus will reach out his hand to grab us and set our feet on solid ground.  I'll take that helping hand.


Monday, August 26, 2019

A Dress Code?

26 August

So go to the street corners and invite everyone you find to come to my feast.’  So the servants went into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.  “When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who was not dressed for a wedding.  The king said, ‘Friend, how were you allowed to come in here? You are not dressed for a wedding.’ But the man said nothing.  So the king told some servants, ‘Tie this man’s hands and feet. Throw him out into the darkness, where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.’  “Yes, many are invited, but only a few are chosen.”
(Mt 22:9–14; NCV)

We have been given a great commission; go and invite everyone to come to the feast God has prepared, both good and bad.  Before the feast starts, God will look over those there and see who is wearing the correct clothing; a robe washed clean by the blood of the lamb.  That is how they are chosen.

I was in Australia some years ago when a friend and I went to a casino.  We knew there was a dress code but thought we were dressed nicely and would have no problem getting in.  We caught a cab and fifteen minutes later were dropped off in front of the newly opened building.  We got about two steps inside of this beautiful building when a couple of men stopped us.  We were told we were not dressed correctly to come into their establishment and that we were to leave at once.  We were "chosen not to enter."  We knew what the requirements were and thought we were good enough.  We were wrong.

We caught a cab back to our hotel, changed clothes, and returned to the casino.  We were about two steps inside when we ran into the same two men.  They looked us over and said, "Now you are dressed the way you should be.  You may enter and enjoy yourselves."

Many people are not wearing the right clothes for the feast which God is preparing.  The good news is that it takes a lot less time to change for the feast than it did for us to change when we were in Australia.  All we have to do to change is accept the love of God and his wonderful mercy.  There's no running around to different places to get the right clothes, just get down on your knees and call upon the name that is above all names; Jesus.  And you will be told, "You may enter and enjoy yourself."


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Read Every Word

25 August

Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law.  There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.  (Jos 8:34–35: NIV)

Have you not heard of the madman who lit a lamp in the bright morning and went to the marketplace crying ceaselessly, "I seek God!  I seek God!"  There were many among those standing there who didn't believe in God, so he made them laugh.  "Is God lost?" one of them said.  "Has he gone astray like a child?" said another.  "Or is he hiding?  Has he gone on board ship and emigrated?"  So they laughed and shouted to one another.  The man sprang into their midst and looked daggers at them.  "Where is God?" he cried.  "I will tell you.  We have killed him -- you and I, we are all killers!  But how have we done this?  How could we swallow up the sea?  Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the horizon?  What will we do as teh earth is set loose from its son?" (Friedrich Nietzsche,1889).

Nietzsche's point was not that God does not exist, but that God has become irrelevant.  Men and women may assert that God exists or that he does not, but it makes little difference either way.  God is dead not because he doesn't exist, but because we live, play, procreate, govern, and die as though he doesn't. (C. Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, p. 181)

Where is God?  There are countless people out there asking the same question, and many of those people attended church this past weekend.  Where is God?  We have become a generation of people who do not want to hear the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  We only read the words of the Bible, which makes us feel good.  We avoid those words which make us look at ourselves and see the things that need to be changed.  The passage said Joshua "read all the words of the law -- the blessings and the CURSES" (emphasis mine).  We don't understand how great the blessings are unless we know the curses.  When we are driving through town, and the speed limit is 25 mph, many people don't have a problem of increasing their speed to 30 mph because they know the fine would not be too significant.  But those same people who would go 30 mph would never think of going 50 down the same street.  Why?  One of the reasons is because they understand the punishment (curses) will be higher.

We need to know the blessings and the curses that's why God gave them to us in his word.  But of all the blessings and all the curses listed they can be summed up in one of each.  The blessing: God loves us so much he sent his one and only son to become a sacrifice for all mankind and those that call upon his name will have everlasting life with the Father!  What a blessing!  The curse -- Those who do not call upon the name of Jesus and accept the blessing which God so freely gives, will stand before him on judgment day and be condemned to eternal death.  That's a curse!  As for me, I like the blessing a whole lot more.  So I will continue to read his word, the blessings, and the curses, and I will continue to preach them -- showing and proclaiming God to everyone.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Wonderful Power

24 August


Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  (1 Co 1:22–25; NIV)

Isn't it funny how Paul wrote this so many years ago but it's still true today?  We can change the names from Jews and Greeks to just plain "people," because everyone is looking today.  They are looking for miraculous signs and wisdom.  For wealth and power, and even for friendships but they tend to look in all the wrong places.  I read a report which stated, even though there are 65 million adult Americans who attend church services in a typical week, there are still 25 million agnostics and atheists out there.  What are they searching for?

There are many out there, like Paul says, who find the account of Christ crucified both a stumbling block and foolishness.  But to those of us who have answered the call of God, we have found the power and wisdom.  Do you remember when you were a kid and the conversation would come up where someone would say, "I have more brains in my little finger than you have in your entire body?"  I never got to say except one time and that was to the family dog . . . she proved me wrong.  But God is greater in wisdom and strength than anybody who has ever or will ever live.  Even on a bad day (if God was to have one of those) he would be greater than us.

How can someone look at the story of Jesus the Christ and doubt God?  How can they look at the resurrection account and not believe in the power of God?  How can they look at all the lives which have been changed and not see the glory of God?  Maybe we just need to let them know again, that God LOVES us so much that he sent his one and only son to die for us.  And it gets even better because he rose again, conquering the bonds of death.  That's love!  What's so hard to understand?



Friday, August 23, 2019

Why Fear Death?

23 August

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.  But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  (Lk 12:4–10; NIV)

Most people fear death.  They exercise, take vitamins, and even change their eating habits to live longer.  Don't get me wrong, these are good things, but only so we can live a healthier life.  Jesus hit the nail on the head when he said we should not fear the death of the body, but we should fear the One who can cast us into hell.  If you stop and think about it, death, like human life, is just a passing thing.  It's what happens after death that should cause many to fear.

Jesus goes on to tell us that even though God has the power to cast us into hell, he does care genuinely for us.  He cares about the sparrows, and yet we are so much more to him.  We are his creation, the ones made to commune with and to worship him.  And all God asks is for us to love him and invite him into our lives.

By loving God and acknowledging his son, Jesus the Christ, Jesus will acknowledge us before the angels of God.  He will go to them and say, "I know these people, they are our brothers and sisters.  They are God's children coming home."  But to those who do not acknowledge him, he will not recognize before the angels, and in fact will say, "I do not know you."

It seems to me God has made the possibility of everlasting life so easy to receive.  All we have to do is accept and acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And Love and honor God, as well as each other.  Sounds easy to me!



Thursday, August 22, 2019

Preach It

22 August

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  (Mt 10:7; NIV)

One pastor never prepared during the week, and on Sunday morning he'd sit on the platform while the church was singing the hymns desperately praying, "Lord, give your message, Lord give me your message."  One Sunday, while desperately praying for God's message, he heard the Lord say, "Ralph, here's my message.  You're lazy!"

Jesus told the disciples as you go preach the message, "The kingdom of heaven has come near."  We have been called to preach the same message that the disciples were given.  But how many of us prepare to do it?  Maybe we are more like the pastor Ralph in the story.  We want Jesus to do all the work for us, and we use the verse where we are told that the Holy Spirit will give us all the words we need.  The Holy Spirit will provide us with the words we need when we need them, but we have to do our part.  We need to know what the Scripture says, we need to apply it to our lives, we have to live the word of God.  When we do these, then and only then will the Holy Spirit come and give us the words we need.  

So live the word of God. Do what Jesus has called all of us to do, proclaim this message, "The kingdom of heaven is near."  Live it, proclaim it, and don't be lazy about it.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

We Have The Victory

21 August

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1 Co 15:51–57; NIV)

Have you noticed what some people do when they win a game or sporting event?  They do that funny little dance and strut around making all kinds of noise.  They're happy, they have been victorious.  I've been there on more than one occasion.  While stationed in Germany, I was put in charge of a maintenance team that took two aircraft back to the states for competition.  There were teams from all over the world, and every branch of service was represented.  This competition happened every two years, and the last time it was held our organization won.  This was the first time an active-duty U. S. Air Force unit had won the award, it usually went to a reserve or national guard unit.  All we heard for two years was that our winning was a fluke because we had never come close to winning before.

After the week of competition at the awards ceremony, it was announced that 1/2 point separated the 1st and 2nd place teams.  We came in second, but we made more noise than the first-place team.  Why?  Because we proved, the first time was not a fluke.  No, we did not win, but with less than a point separating us from the winner, in our minds, we were victorious.  Yes, we did the silly little dance.

That victory, as sweet as it was, is nothing compared to the dance and shouting I did when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior!  Do you remember that day?  Wasn't it great?  But guess what, that's only part of the victory the rest happens when we are called home.  "When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be.  When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"*  We will trade in this 'old body for one that will never fail, the perishable for the imperishable.

Because of what God did for us through his Son, Jesus, we can ask, "Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?"  And then with a great big smile and a silly little dance, you say, "It's not here, because the grace of God has given me everlasting life!"

So do this for yourself, think about the day you accepted Jesus.  Then do some singing and shouting, even do the silly little dance because we have won the victory!  Satan has been defeated, and we are on the winning team!  We are victorious!  Praise the Lord!


*When We All Get To Heaven
Songwriters: DON WYRTZEN, EMILY D. WILSON, E.E. HEWITT
© Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

United

20 August

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  (Ro 6:3–10; NIV)

We go through life uniting ourselves to one thing or another, this cause or that.  We unite ourselves to those we work with, to different organizations, our families, and for those married, spouses unite themselves together.  We become one with whatever organization or people we are joining with.  When I was in the military, no matter which organization, we would work and train so we could become one complete unit, all working and moving towards one common goal.  The same thing happened when I got married.  Jonie and I worked together, we became one unit, one person.  When one of us feels pain, sorrow, or happiness, the other shares in it.

When we become Christians, we become one with Christ.  We are buried with him through baptism into death so we can, like him, be raised from the dead for the glory of the father.  We can receive a new life, an everlasting life.

Paul tells us that by being united with Christ, dying with him, we can also live with him.  Because death no longer has a hold on us.  Praise the Lord!  "The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God."  As Christians, we should let those old sins die and stop bringing them up. God has forgotten our sins and we should too.  Let the old sins die and start living for God!  Become one with the One that counts.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Unfailing Love

19 August

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Ro 8:35–39; NIV)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  You may be wondering about the person who has not accepted Christ, does he love them too.  The answer is, "yes."  God's love is still there, it does not change.  There is nothing that can prevent him from loving all of us.  It is only the return of that love to God, which can be stopped, and in that area, we are in charge.

People have always put stipulations on their love, and now in some marriages, contracts are even signed.  These contracts state the requirements of that love, putting conditions on it that if it is broken, the marriage is over.  God gives his love unconditionally.  He freely gives it, and all he asks in return is to be loved back, with no stipulations.  Like Paul says, there is nothing that can stop the love of God, nothing!  He loved us so much he sent his only son to take our place.  Even to the point of dying in our place.  But because of the power and love of God, death could not keep its grip on Christ, and he overcame the grave and is not sitting at the right hand of God.  That's love!

Does your love have limits?  It's easy for us to love someone we know, but would you die for all of them?  How about a person in another state or country that you have never met?  Would you give your life right now for someone who will not be born for another thousand years?  That's precisely what Jesus did.  That's love!  His love can not be stopped, it's freely given to everybody.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Training Camp

18 August

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  (1 Co 9:24–25; NIV)

Training, training, training, that's one thing I got used to when I was in the military.  We continuously trained for something we hoped would never come.  So after reading these verses, I thought to myself, how much more I should be training for something I know will come!  Think about all the training you've had; grade school, jr. & sr. High, maybe college or trade school.  How about on-the-job training.  If we do so much training and studying in the things of this world shouldn' t we do even more for life yet to come?

When was the last time you read the Bible, I mean really got into the word?  Most of us only skim the pages, not really reading it but just going through the motions.  Do you ever stop to understand what is going on and how it relates to you?

Another part of the training is telling others about the love of Jesus Christ.  I know, many of us are afraid of doing this but look at fighters.  They find people to spar with, and this keeps them on their toes.  Think of those people who hear you proclaim the gospel yet refuse him as being sparing partners.  They help us train for the person who is ready to accept Jesus, and maybe along the way you sow some seeds to those you spar with.

One of my favorite training exercises is the "bended knee and elbow."  The one where I pray to my heavenly father.  Many people do not know how to pray, they need to train.  The more they prepare, the better they will become, and the more they will enjoy their time with the Father!

So, join me in the training camp!  Open those Bibles and get into the word, start sparing -- tell others about God's wonderful grace, and get on your knees and pray. 



Saturday, August 17, 2019

Three Little Things

17 August

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  (Mic 6:6–8; NIV)

The prophet Micah asked the question people have been asking for years, "How do I find favor with God, what must I do?"  Of course, Micah was just echoing the questions of those around him because he knew the answer.  He reminded the people that God had shown them what was right, and he had a requirement also.  The requirement was simply this: "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Why do we tend to make this harder than it really is?  We think to become a Christian God wants all we have.  But he already has it all, it's his.  We feel we must sacrifice all we have, but Micah even tells the people of his day that this is not what God wants.

He does not want burnt offerings, he wants us to "act justly."  Show people what being a Christian is all about.  When we belong to God, we do act differently.  We no longer want to give in to the temptations of this world, but want to show glory to God in all we do.

He wants us to "love mercy."  Show compassion to others.  Know where they are coming from but also know with God there is a way to overcome our trials.  We are to love even the ones we use to feel were unlovable.  The ones who have wronged us.  We are to love all people as ourselves.

We are to "walk humbly with our God."  We are not to walk by non-Christians with our noses in the air, thinking "I've got something you don't!"  This is not acting justly or showing compassion to our brothers and sisters.  Jesus walked humbly with God, and if he had not done these three things, we would not be saved from our sins.  Jesus is our model.  He acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God.  He showed us it can be done.  God does not want all the extra "stuff," he just wants us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him.


Friday, August 16, 2019

There's One Coming

16 August

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.  John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  (Lk 3:15–16; NIV)

The story of John the Baptist; the "voice of one calling in the desert" is a remarkable one.  Here is a man who did not let his own popularity get in the way of his godly mission.  Many people start out giving God the glory for everything that happens in their godly mission but somewhere along the way that changes.  They start believing people when they say things like, "You are great!  You move me in what you say."  Their heads start to swell up and before long something has hold of them and they start believing they're something they're not. Instead of giving God the glory, they start thinking they're the ones in charge of the message given.

John was hearing that many believed he was the Messiah, the Christ.  He would have nothing to do with these thoughts and would even set the crowds straight.  He would tell them about the coming Christ who was more powerful than he was and whose sandals he was not worthy enough to untie.  He always made sure everyone knew he was not the Messiah but that he was doing his godly mission by preparing the way for the true Messiah.

We should all become more like John the Baptist.  We should go out and "prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."  Christ is coming again, and we are the ones who need to tell our world about him.  We can start in our neighborhoods by inviting six people to church this Sunday.  When you do this, you plant a seed.  Whether they come to church or not, a seed is planted, and the Holy Spirit can water it.  We need to plant the seed.  Ask any farmer about the initial steps in harvesting a great crop, and they will tell you; prepare the soil, and plant the seed.  There is no way to reap a harvest without planting the seed.  So let's remember, it's a godly mission we are on, so give God the glory for all he does.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Shut Door

15 August

Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.  Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’  “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Lk 13:23–27; NIV)

This passage always makes me think about Noah.  All the people of Noah's day knew the difference between right and wrong but found the wide door the easiest to go through.  Some tried to go through the narrow door but found it too hard for them.  They would rather continue doing the things of the world instead of the things which God wanted them to do. 

So what happened?  God had Noah build an ark.  I can see the entire town showing up at Noah's house to laugh and mock him.  Here was Noah building this great big boat nowhere close to a large body of water.  But he was doing what God called him to do so he and his sons continued to build. 

When the animals started showing up the laughing and mocking might have died down a bit though only for a short time.  But when the rain started, I'm sure they reflected a bit on what Noah had been saying.  By this time, God had shut the door, and no one could open it.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pain Noah and God were going through as they heard the people pounding on the door to get in.  I can hear them yelling, "Noah, let us in.  We're your friends, your neighbors.  Don't you remember us?"  And God must have been thinking, "I do not know you."

People always think they can wait until the last minute to accept God, but when is the last minute?  We never really know, do we?  For some the last minute maybe years from now, for others, it may happen before you finish reading this.  We just don't know when this will be so we need to be ready.  We need to reach all those who are lost. Those who will be standing outside the door when it is shut.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Navigator

14 August

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:9–13; NIV)

Why do we tend to make becoming a Christian so hard?  Is it like that "guy thing" of not asking for directions?  I hate to admit, but I am guilty of this.  I wait until I am so lost that I don't have a choice but to stop and ask.  Once given directions, I can usually find what I was looking for quickly and wonder why I hadn't stopped earlier.  Nowadays, with the GPS systems, this does not happen as much as it once did.

Or how about getting lost at night, out away from any lights, totally lost.  Does panic ever creep in?  There was a time in my life when I was lost, in total darkness and panic was all I felt.  It was like I was doing nothing but traveling in a big circle.  While I was in this panic, Jesus used this passage to speak to me.  What the first part said to me was this: Jim, if you are lost all you have to do is ask, and direction will be given to you; then look for that location and you will find it; then knock on the door and you will be welcomed in, and you won't be lost anymore.

God always knows where we are and when we are lost, he's just waiting for us to ask him for directions, and he is ready to tell us how not to be lost.  Not only does he tell us this, but he will also send us a navigator in the form of the Holy Spirit.

God wants us to know where we are going, and he wants us to help others who are lost, to find their way.  He never leaves us alone, we just have to ask him for direction.  We need to seek him out and knock on his door, and he will provide the Great Navigator to lead the way.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Great Ruler

13 August

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken.  He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.  (Zec 9:9–10; NIV)

We have an awesome God!  Many years before Jesus was even born, we were told how he would make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Zechariah tells us he will come to us "righteous and having salvation, gentle, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."  Jesus came and proclaimed peace and love, yet he was shown very little in his last days.  Even those closest to him claimed they did not know him.  But did this stop him from dying for all mankind?  No, it did not.  He still showed them all love and compassion.

When we think of powerful rulers, good and bad, we think of people like Hitler, Napoleon, Mussolini, Churchill, or maybe Eisenhower.  However, these rulers do not even compare to the king, who will rule from sea to sea and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth.  People laughed at him while he was hanging on the cross, "So this is the great king, he can't save anybody, he can't even save himself."  But they will be singing a different tune when he "returns in clouds of glory" to call his children home!

Which ruler would you rather be under, the one who rules by his mighty army, death, and destruction or by the one who rules by the Power of God and Peace?


Monday, August 12, 2019

Tents

12 August

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  (2 Co 5:1–5; NIV)

Tents are great as temporary dwellings.  They provide a way to get out of the sun and will generally keep you dry when it rains unless that rain comes in the form of a storm.  When storms come up, tents really get blown around and sometimes blown down completely.  Some years ago, our tent was used for a youth activity at church when a big storm came up.  The wind bent poles, ripped holes in the tent, and sent the youth all running for the safety of the church (sounds like a great sermon illustration).  When the storm was over, some of the tents were blown down and those still standing showed more wear and tear.

Paul tells us this body we are in is nothing more than a tent.  It is a temporary dwelling.  Some people go through the storms of life and are utterly destroyed by them.  These are people who have yet to find Jesus.  Then there some who go through the same winds and come out the other side with some bent poles and ripped holes but they're still standing.  They have found that no matter what hits them in life, the tent we are in is only temporary.  They know there is a day coming when they will trade this temporary tent for a permanent home built by the Master Carpenter.  I know I'm ready for a change of address to my permanent home, how about you?


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Tell Them Of Life

11 August

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.  Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”  (Ro 15:18–21; NIV).

We could learn a lot from Paul.  How much time do we spend each day telling others about the wonderful love of Jesus Christ?  When was the last time you told someone about the power of God, about the miracles He has done in your life?  Sometimes it's hard for us to see them so we have to take a step back and look at our lives and then we can see God's handy work.  If you are like me, once I see what God has been doing, I can't help but tell others.

We are quick to tell someone about the ordinary things in our lives; about our favorite TV show, what we saw on Facebook, or about how the big game ended.  We don't tell them about the one who can change their lives.  If we saw someone who was starving, we would not give them a rubber chicken, we would give them food.  So why do we look at people who are spiritually dying and fail to tell them about the Giver of Life?  Paul quotes Isaiah and states that we are to tell others so that, "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand."  Help someone out today, help save their lives, tell them about Jesus.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tell of His Wonders

10 August

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.  (Ps 9:1-2; NIV)

Do you ever praise the Lord during the week?  I know we praise him on Sunday and at other times when we meet with our Christian brothers and sisters, but what about this morning?  Did you praise God on your way to work or school?  Sometimes I have to remind myself about the reason I should praise him.  I praise him for the beautiful gift of life, both physical and Spiritual.  I praise him for allowing me to live in a country where I CAN praise him.  I praise him for my family, though we have our ups and downs, we will always have a love for one another.  I praise him for meeting our needs.  And the "praise him" list goes on and on.

David takes it another step and says he will "tell of all your wonders."  When we look around us, it is not hard to be in a position to tell others about his wonders.  The next time you are in the store and are told, "Have a nice day," just reply back, "Thank-you.  I will because my God created it," or something else along those lines.  We need to let others know how we feel about our heavenly father and the gifts he has given us!


Friday, August 9, 2019

Taming the Tongue

9 August

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  (Jas 3:7-10; NIV)

Why is it that the part of the brain which causes our tongue and mouth to be put into motion seldom goes through the logic circuit?  They seem to have a direct path and at times say whatever they want.  This appears to be the case for me anyhow.  It's like the "Bat-Phone."  The commissioner picks up the phone, and it goes directly to Batman, no middle person getting involved, no operator, no AT&T, no MCI, no Verizon, no Ma Bell, no one.  Sometimes it seems as though the tongue even as a mind of its own and things come out of it before we have even thought about saying them.

James was right when he said we can train animals, but when it comes to the tongue, it's like we don't even try.  We have trained our dogs to do normal things like roll-over, play dead, shake, and most of this was done in just a few weeks or less.  But I have been trying to train my tongue for ages and with only limited success.  I have to keep reminding myself that before the tongue is put into motion, it needs to go through the logic circuit and be approved.  There are times when it works and then there are times where someone has hit the bypass, and I say the first thing that pops into my mouth without the logic circuit being involved.  It does work better than it did twenty years ago, and more than it ten years ago, and even better today than it did five years ago.  Will it ever be perfect?  It will in Glory.

Though things are improving, I still have to call upon the Lord to help me.  If left up to my own doing, the tongue would never get checked.  But with the help of the Holy Spirit, I seem to think more about what I'm about to say and how I say it.  Still, there are times where I play the old game, "Open mouth and insert foot," but they are fewer than they use to be.

So there is hope, and with the help of God, it can be overcome.  We need to keep our thoughts pure and Christ-like.  We need to keep songs of joy in our hearts and on our minds.  We need to keep words of praise on our tongues and not words of poison.  By keeping God foremost in our thoughts, our tongues become as gentle and manageable as lambs.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Taken For Granted

8 August

After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”  When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (Acts 21:10-14; NIV)

We read about people like Paul and think there is no one like him today, but we would be wrong.  Every day some people put their faith on the line.  We don't see it much in this country, maybe because we are not looking, but there are still some countries where it is against the law to preach the gospel.  There are still places on this earth where missionaries, even though allowed into a country, find it hard to do any work because of the way they are treated for their faith.  Not too many years ago in Russia, both vans used by the Nazarene missionaries there were ceased by the government.  There was no real reason for this, and the work they were doing almost came to a stop.  After much prayer, the vans were returned to them.

In some countries, it is almost or may even be a bigger crime to smuggle in Bibles as it is to smuggle drugs.  When I went to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, our unit was told not to bring any Bibles with us, not even for personal use.  Of course, I couldn't help myself.  After arriving there and while unpacking, I was surprised (not really) when I found one at the bottom of my bag.  Most of us take our Bible for granted, but it can change lives.  We need to take a new look at our Bibles and remember there are those in other countries who put their lives on the line every time they pick theirs up read. 

They are like Paul.  He did not have a Bible, but he did have a love of Jesus in him.  He could not help but preach the Good News to everyone wherever he went, even if it meant being bound and going to prison.  Let's spend more time in God's word.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

In Good Hands

7 August


“Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-GOD, Because you wouldn’t take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you, Well, you’ve made your bed—now lie in it; you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it?  Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots?  Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.  First pay attention to me, and then relax.  Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”  (Pr 1:29-33; The Message)

This passage rings as true today as it did when it was written, some of the words have been changed, but the meaning is still there.  It seems to me much of our country claim to be Christians; they go to church, sit through the preaching, maybe even raise their hands during the worship music, but that is as far as it goes.  They go through the motions of what they think a Christian does or is, but they have never given their hearts to God.  I have also heard some preachers talk about God having nothing but love for humans so he would never punish any of us, that we are all going to heaven and if that were the case then just going through the motions would be fine but this is not the case.

God says, "Because you hated Knowledge," and part of that knowledge is a Fear-of-God.  This fear for Christians, those who genuinely believe, is not one of panic but one of seeing his awesomeness and knowing that in a normal situation, we would never be in his presence.  To me, it is something like meeting the President of the United States; the leader of the free world, the commander and chief of the world's most powerful military.  It is not that I am scared of the person, but that position deserves our respect no matter who is in it.  The Fear-of-God is even greater than this! 

God has done everything he can to bring us into his presence.  He provided us with a book of his words, telling us how we can come into his presence, even offering his son to stand in our place and take our punishment for being disobedient. Yet though he has done all of this some still reject him, they wouldn't seek his advice and brushed aside all his offers to train (help) them.  There is coming a day when he will finally say, "you've made your bed -- now lie in it."  So we need to help others pay sincere attention to God, then and only then, will they be able to "take it easy" because they will be in "good hands."


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Spirit of God

6 August

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard,  and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.  (1 Cor 2:7-12; NIV)

How often do you think about the gift God has given you?  I know I seem to forget at times that God has given me something extraordinary, an insight into himself through the Holy Spirit.  Think back to the time before you became a Christian.  Do you remember how we could not understand what those Christians were talking about; knowing what God had in store for the rest of their lives?   I knew what "I" wanted for my life, but after finding the love of God, what I wanted didn't matter.  What God wanted for my life became more important to me.  Know what he wanted me to do was a gift from the Holy Spirit.

How many times have you known what God has wanted you to do in certain situations?  Sometimes it's like a small voice telling you what do do, other times it's like someone yelling in your ear.  The Holy Spirit tells us what God wants for us, but we still have to listen.  The problem is sometimes we find ourselves listening to the spirit of the world (as Paul puts it) instead of the Spirit of God.  I find when I listen to the spirit of the world, I wind up away from the one I genuinely love; God.  But life seems so much sweeter, upbeat, and positive when I listen to what my heavenly father passes on to me through the Holy Spirit.

So, if you have not been listening to the Spirit of God start and you'll be amazed at what you have been missing!


Monday, August 5, 2019

Smile

5 August


Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.  Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.  For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.  (Ps 96:1-5; NIV)

I was talking to a person the other day after we had read this passage.  I asked him if he had ever been to a church where the pastor (or anyone else for that matter) was able to read these words and not get excited?  I hate to say it, but there are people out there who do not show any signs of emotion about the fantastic things God can do.  As for me, I can not read these words without getting a big smile on my face. 

Try something with me, no matter what kind of mood you're in right now, reread this passage with some emotion and visualize what you are reading (giving glory to God, singing with all your heart, seeing the heavens made at his command).  If you do this, no matter what kind of mood you are in, it will get better.  I was in a good mood before reading it this morning, and I'm in an even better mood now!  We have an awesome God.  He is great and should be praised.

About a month ago, we were celebrating our Independence Day.  You could watch great performers sing songs about our country; paying it respect.  Dancers came to entertain, comedians and movie stars all came to pay tribute to our great nation.  What kind of tribute have you paid to the King of kings and the Lord of lords lately?

Sing praise to his name, make your heart glad, show you happy to be a child of God!


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Run With Paul

4 August

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  (Acts 20:22-24; NIV)

Have you ever had to do something or go somewhere knowing that when you got there, it was going to go terribly wrong?  Paul was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go back to Jerusalem and all the while, the Spirit was telling Paul prison and hardships were waiting for him.  Did this stop Paul?  Not hardly.  He went because he knew he had a mission, a race to complete, and it was to testify to the gospel of God's grace.  This being his task, Paul was willing to accept or take on everything the world threw at him.

How many of us understand the race we are in or the task given to us by the Lord Jesus?  Paul was willing to face prison to testify about God's grace, but are we prepared to face a little ridicule?  Many of us fail to talk to our neighbors or family members about the grace God can give, and the reason is because of a terrible thing that happens.  They might laugh!  I'm sure Paul would have welcomed a little laughing at him after what he had faced; stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, beaten and imprisoned.

We are in the race with Paul, not against him, but with him.  Jesus passed the baton to Paul, and now Paul is passing it on to us.  We must let others know there is something better in life than all the things the world has to offer, it's called eternal life, and it comes from our father in heaven.  So get out of those starting blocks and start running the race, singing hymns, and songs of praise to the Lord the whole way!!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Rocks Cry Out

3 August

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  (Luke 19:37-40; NIV)

There is a song that goes something like this, "The rocks shall not cry out in my place, as long as I have a breath to sing I'll lift my voice in praise" and I have to agree with the song!  This passage says the people were praising Jesus for all "the miracles they had seen."  His miracles are still going on today but many of the "praise services" are so somber you would think you were at a funeral or that no miracles had happened since he returned to heaven.

I believe praise comes from the heart, and even though some can praise quietly, I am not one of them.  I find praising God is a glorious occasion!  I want him to know I love being in his presence.  There is no way I am going to let a rock or stone take my place in praising and honoring God.

We can and should praise him continually, but for many, it is during the Sunday service where they do most if not all of their praising God.  This Sunday take a look around. Do the people look like they are praising the King of kings, or do they look like they are going to the IRS for a tax review?  Again, people do praise in different ways; some may have tears in their eyes, but most should have smiles.  Are there smiles on the faces of those there?  Is there a smile on your face?  Are you genuinely praising God, or are you waiting for a rock to come in and take your place?

Praise God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  Praise him in prayer, in song, and in action.  However you do it just praise him.  Don't let the rocks cry out in your place!


Friday, August 2, 2019

Remove the Scales

2 August

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.  Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.  At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  (Acts 9:17-20; NIV)

Here we have the ending of the story of Saul's (Paul's) conversion and the beginning of the story of one of God's greatest missionaries.

Most people read this story and wonder how Paul felt, yet I read this story and understand how he felt.  Before becoming a Christian, I and many others, would make fun of and ridicule the followers of Jesus.  Of course, this is not as bad as what Paul had done, he hunted Christians down to have them thrown into prison.  We did not do that, but we did do some persecuting of believers.  But when God spoke to my heart and started to call me, there was nothing I could do except answer.  There was no question as to what he wanted.  He wanted to love me and to have me love him.  As he was speaking to my heart, it was as if something like scales fells from my eyes.  I had not been physically blinded like Paul, but I had been spiritually blind.  I did not have the same conversion Paul had, but I had one just as powerful because God came to me.  No, I did not see him physically, but he was there, he talked to me, and I felt him with me.  No one can ever take that away from you or me.

I think the part I like best about this passage is verse 20, "At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God."  He did not wait, he started "at once," and he did not do it just in the synagogue but in many different places.  And he did it until he was called home!  Paul could not preach about the son of God loud enough or fast enough.  My prayer today is that we Christians catch the same vision Paul had.  He wanted, no, he needed to preach about Christ to everyone in every place he came to.  We need this vision, we need to shout it loud and strong that Jesus Christ is Lord!  As the song goes, "Get all excited go tell everybody that - - - Jesus Christ is King.  Jesus Christ is still the King of kings!!"  Get excited and go preach it!



Bill Gaither, 1972, "Get All Excited" © 1972, William J. Gaither, Inc.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Refuge

1 August


I love you, LORD, my strength.  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield r and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.  (Ps 18:1-3; NIV)

Do you have a place where you can feel safe and secure?  For most of us, that would be our homes and for some, it may even be a certain place within our homes.  For me, it's my office, this is the place to be with my thoughts.  It's arranged (or not arranged) just the way I want it.  Of course, Jonie uses it too but it's my refuge.  What makes it that way?  It's not because of what I have on the walls or on the bookshelves but because this is the first place I go in the morning to read the words of my Lord and talk to him.  Does God hear me differently in this room than he would from say my car?  Of course not but this is where I can focus best and it is the first place I go to in the morning.

There have been times where I have found my refuge in other places like the intake of a jet engine, or while driving around twenty-five GIs around in a truck.  I found it while holding my children in my arms right after they were born and many times since and now my grandchildren.  Sometimes I find refuge by looking at my wife while she is sleeping.  You see, in all these situations I can see God; he's always there with me, in the good times and bad, protecting, encouraging, supporting, guiding, just letting me know how much he cares for and loves me.

As Christians we never have to be without God, he is always with us.  All we have to do is talk to him, he's there waiting to hear from us.  He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer, our refuge, and we need to thank him and praise him for all he has done and will do for us.