August 9, 2020
No one ever said that life would be easy. As a matter of fact, Jesus told His disciples to be prepared for days of trouble. He said in John 16:33-In the world ye shall have tribulation, a word that means pressure. For the disciples it would involve the pressures that they were going to face after His crucifixion and in the early church age. But it wasn’t just a word spoken for them and for an early church. It was a word spoken for believers of all ages, for we live in a world filled with pressure. Ours today may not always be religious persecution such as they suffered, but ours can come in so many different areas of life.
**I’m not sure that I know of anyone today that isn’t feeling the pressures of this world. There is the pressure that comes from living in such an ungodly and violent society. There is the pressure that we feel living in a world of uncertainty from the present pandemic and the economic fallout that it is bringing. I’ll be honest with you, as a pastor, there is the pressure of how it affects us as a church as we slowly are trying to recover from these things. Then there is the pressure on us as families today like never before. There is the attack that Satan has brought on the family through various means through the trials we face in life and because of sickness and the problems we encounter.
**But, again, Jesus never said it would be easy. If life would be easy for us, then I’m afraid we would be content to stay in this world. If there were no heartaches, no sorrows, no sickness or problems to confront us, we wouldn’t long for anything beyond what we have now. But because we have these things that we deal with, we seek a better country. We long for something more than this world can offer us. That’s why I believe it was said about Abraham and those saints of old in Hebrews 11:13-14-These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
**It is by faith that we press onward. No, this world isn’t easy to live in and it isn’t going to get any easier, but it isn’t our home. We too are pilgrims and strangers in this world. We too are seeking for a country. It’s a country where sin and sickness and sorrow and Satan will be forever banished, and the Savior will be the center attraction. Yes, we grow tired of all that we deal with in this life, but we can’t grow weary in the good fight of faith. He who saved us, says, Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life, Revelation 2:10.
August 2, 2020
My kids gave me a daily devotional back at Christmas knowing that each year I try to read through one along with my daily studies. This year the one they gave me is by Billy Graham and it has been a great blessing to me. In this morning’s devotional he made a statement that has stuck with me that I want to share in this pondering. He said this, “thank Him that because of Jesus we know God loves us, and that someday we will be with Him and see Him in all His glory.” Maybe that didn’t strike you like it did me. Let me give you the part that really touched me today. “That someday we will be with Him and see Him in all His glory.”
**My mind immediately went to John 17 to what we call the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. It has always felt like Holy Ground to me when I read this portion of Scripture. Jesus is about to be betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane and will be crucified the next day. He prays this prayer for His disciples, but also for all who will believe on His name, which includes you and me. My mind went to vs 24 where Jesus is praying and says, Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.
**It is Jesus’ desire and His will that we might be with Him and behold Him in all His glory, the glory that the Father has given to Him. Now, that may not do much for you, but that cranks this old boy’s Jeep. I’m just a nobody, from a nothing much of a town, from a little old no-place of county in a not-too-much of a state. I never grew up in a fancy home, but in a little house down a dirt road sharing a bedroom with my sisters, because there were five of us kids and only two bedrooms (you can do the math). We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a mom and dad that loved us and taught us about a man named Jesus. They taught us that He left Heaven’s glory, came to a sin cursed earth, died on a hill called Calvary for our sins and rose again the third day.
**To those who will trust Him as their Savior, He will one day come back and take them to live with Him, and they will “be with Him and see Him in all His glory” as Billy Graham said. That includes this old boy from nowhere, but who is going somewhere, because of a man named Jesus. I love Him today and long for the day when I can behold Him in all that glory. In that day I’ll be able to worship Him in a manner that He truly deserves and I’ll be able tell Him in way that I could never do so down here, just how much I thank Him for saving a sinner like me and making me a part of His great forever family.
July 26, 2020
We’ve all heard it and we may have even said it at times. “Life sure is the pits.” The idea is that, at the moment, we feel as though we’re on the bottom and I’m sure we’ve all been there. We can all identify with that kind of feeling at times, can’t we? Pits are all different, but in one sense they’re all the same. They stink. When the Bible spoke of pits, the kind that Joseph was placed into or that David spoke of being delivered out of in Psalm 40, they were deep, dark and dismal. David described his as being filled with miry clay. They were wells or caverns and water would be in the bottom and often they were muddy, and you would go down into them and sink into the muck and the mire. Not a nice picture is it?
**I think we’ve all had those experiences where we’ve been in the pits of life that stank, and we were stuck in the muck and mire of them. It seemed as though we just couldn’t get out. Then some well-meaning folks come by and say things like, “Well, it could be worse.” Really? Although they are right, it really doesn’t make you feel any better. And then there are those that say, “Well, if you think that’s bad, let me tell you about the bad situation I went through.” A stirring game of “let’s see if I can top that” doesn’t make you feel any better either.
**There’s a small book found in the Old Testament called The Lamentations of Jeremiah. We hardly ever look at the book, much less think about it. But Jeremiah had some very profound things to say in this little book of only five chapters. In Lamentations 3:55-57 Jeremiah says, I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. That’s a beautiful passage in such a neglected book.
**Jeremiah had been weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem and feels himself in the low dungeon. The words mean the lowest pit. Life has its way of making you feel there sometimes. Its pressures, its problems and its people can often put you in the pit. So, what do you do? You do what Jeremiah did. You call on the name of the Lord because He will hear. Did you get that? He WILL hear you. Jeremiah also said that the Lord drew near to him in that day and said, Fear not. There are times we feel so low as though the pit has put distance between the Lord and us, but when we cry out to Him, He’s listening and is ready to draw near to us. When He says the words, Fear not, what peace that gives. If you feel yourself in a pit of some type today, call on His name. If you know someone who’s in a pit today, don’t compare pits, pray for them.
July 19, 2020
On July 16, 1969 three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a journey that would make two of them the first men to set foot on the moon. Nothing was left to chance. Their success required tremendous planning and came at great sacrifice. It wasn’t the type of project that could allow for any slight deviation from the course to be successful. There was one path and one path only for them to reach the proper destination. Their Apollo 11 spacecraft powered by a Saturn V rocket was the only way for them to reach their destination—the moon.
**Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13-14-Enter ye at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. We live at a time in our world when plurality and toleration seem to be favorite words. By that I mean that, spiritually speaking, people want to accept the idea that there are many ways to heaven and that we ought to tolerate all views about how to get there.
**But Jesus’ teaching makes it plain. There is no plurality given and no toleration accepted. Jesus says that there are two roads or two ways. One road leads to life and the other road leads to destruction. That is narrow teaching that still stands today. He didn’t leave the door open that anyone may look to the left or to the right and still find a way to arrive at the destination of heaven. There is only one way and that is the way of the cross. Salvation isn’t found in any other way. It isn’t found in creeds or beads. It isn’t found in various ideas or opinions. It is only made possible by the blood of the Lamb of God slain on the cross.
**Just as there was only one way for the Apollo 11 to arrive at the destination of the moon when they blasted off fifty-one years ago, there is only way set before us to arrive at the destination of heaven. That isn’t just this preacher’s narrow-minded theology. That is the very teaching of Jesus Christ. When the time of His crucifixion was so near, He told the disciples in John 14:6-I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. There is no other way—period.
**What I’ve shared today isn’t popular, but it calls us to make sure on which road we are travelling today. We are all on one of the roads. We’re either travelling the broad road that will lead to destruction (hell) or the narrow road that will lead to life (heaven). Which road are you on? Life is too short, and eternity is too long to ignore the question.
July 12, 2020
Saying “good-bye” is such a difficult thing, but yet, it seems it has become such a common thing anymore. Every day we hear of someone else. Another family. Another relative. Another friend. Another name. Another face. Another picture. Another obituary. It seems it never ends. For another family life has changed and things will never be quite the same again. In time the hurt will soften, and they will search for some normalcy again in a world that seems to have lost all normalcy. But for now emotions are raw and the hurt is so real. For now, I’m sure as we all have felt during times of loss, that they wonder how to press on.
**But I turned over to read those familiar verses one more time this morning, just to remind myself and to let them sink deep into my heart that is broken for a hurting family. They were words written to encourage saints who were dealing with heartaches and trials of their own. The words are found in the book of Revelation 21:4 where it says, And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
**Those are words that give peace when the sorrows of life want to overwhelm you. Those words are the kind of words that give you strength when you feel that you are at the end of yours. They are words that remind us of a love and a Lord who cares so greatly for His children. They remind us that there is a land, a place that our Lord has prepared for us, where death and sickness and sorrow will never be allowed to enter. There will be no broken hearts in that day. There will be no more “good-byes” spoken over there. No loved ones will ever part from us again in that city, for all of those things will be no more.
**Just the other day, after hearing of another person getting a diagnosis of cancer, Alice texted me to tell me about it and then sent me the message, “I hate cancer.” You know, I do too. I hate what sin has caused. I hate the sickness, the sadness, the sorrow, the suffering and the pain that it has caused. John said in that verse, for the former things are passed away. All of these things we deal with now, will forever be gone then.
**We live right now in a world filled with sorrow. This world holds no hope for you and I who know the Lord. It continually gets worse and worse. Sin and sickness and sorrow abound on every hand. But our hope lies in the promise that Jesus made to come back and take us home to be with Him. And it will be home. It is the place of no more “good-byes.” I don’t know about you, but I have a longing for home.
July 5, 2020
Change. The word can mean so much. It can have to do with what we get back out of a few dollars when we buy something. It can mean what we think of when we look in the mirror at ourselves and remember how we used to look. It can have to do with what the doctor tells us when he looks over our lab reports and sees how high our cholesterol is this time compared to last time. Yes, change can mean so much. I also think of change today when I look at our nation. So much has changed for us in just the last few months. Many things that we took for granted has changed and nothing seems normal anymore from coming to church, to going to the grocery store, to getting a haircut and about everything else.
**But change hasn’t just happened to our nation over the last few months. Change has taken place in our nation for decades. We just celebrated 244 years as a nation yesterday on July the fourth. Truly God has blessed our nation with a tremendous heritage founded on godly principles. Our nation is not and has never been a perfect nation, but she has been a nation blessed tremendously of God. Yet, it is so sad to me that as we celebrated the anniversary of the founding of our nation that there have been so many things that we have watched over the years eat away at the very foundation our forefathers based this country on.
**Isn’t it a sad day when those Christian principles laid down as the foundation of our great country have been eroded like the storm’s surge on the Carolina coastline? We have watched while our court system has declared it unconstitutional to read the Bible to kids in school or have prayer with them. It’s unconstitutional to display the Ten Commandments in many public places today. If groups such as the ACLU have their say God’s name would be removed from our currency and from any landmark in our country. I see it as ironic that I read in today’s newspaper that Russia’s Kremlin just passed some proposed amendments to their constitution which outlawed same-sex marriages and added a mention of belief in God as a core value. In Russia!! Can you believe it?? Yet, in America we want to take God out of everything we do it seems.
**I know sometimes change can be a good thing and, the Lord knows, there are things in our nation that needs to change for the better. But, honestly, the longer I look around at this world, the more I realize it’s time to stop looking around and to start looking up. I look at the changing times and our changing world and I make it my prayer as John ended the book of the Revelation in chapter 22:20-He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
June 28, 2020
I don’t know how things are with you, but there are times that I wake up and there is a verse or passage of Scripture that just grips my mind. It’s like from the moment my mind starts to focus on the day, it’s there and the Lord just wants me to think on it for that day. It doesn’t happen like that every morning, but it does on occasion, and it did today. The verse that I woke up with is Galatians 6:2 where Paul wrote, Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
**It seems that the world in which we’re living has gotten so cold, so hard and so heartless over many things. I’m not sure what has caused it. I’m not sure the reason behind it all, but I see it everywhere in our society. I hear it in the words that people say and it’s in their actions. And I’m not talking about politicians in Washington or those in mainstream USA. I’m talking about people who live among us in our communities and in our towns. People that we work with and see from day to day in our activities of life. There is an attitude that so often seems to say that if it doesn’t affect me personally, then I don’t really care.
**Paul said in this verse that we are to bear one another’s burdens. The word bear has the idea of helping share the load, helping lift someone’s load or to help shoulder another’s load. The word burdens speaks of something’s weight and it carries the idea of something so heavy that it could take someone under. There are so many today that right now are carrying such heavy loads that they just need someone to care; someone to step in and help carry the load. It may just be a kind word. It may just be an encouraging word. It may be just letting them know that you have them in your prayers and are asking the Lord to help them. You never know what that may mean to someone who is hurting.
**Paul said that when we do this, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ he is talking about? It is the law of love. I think of the amazing love that our Lord had for those who were hurting in life. He had a compassionate heart for those who were sick, who were put down, who were lost, who were in need of His touch and His help. I know that we can’t love in exactly the same way that our Lord loved but He has left us an example of what this kind of love looks like.
**We all have our burdens today. There isn’t a single one of us that isn’t carrying some load. It may involve something physical or something involving our family. It may be a spiritual need or an emotional wound that we feel deep within. I can’t heal your hurts or mend your broken heart, but I can help carry you in prayer to the One who can.
June 21, 2020 - Father's Day 2020
With each passing year Father’s Day brings back a flood of memories to my mind. I always seem to scan through those pages with a variety of emotions. There are a lot of happy times. More than I can count. I think of days growing up, when life was so simple and we didn’t have a lot of things as we do now, but we sure had a lot of love. Of course, there were some difficult days throughout them as well. My dad had many days spent in the hospital dealing with sickness and surgeries, but I saw the handiwork of God in his life through all of those things.
**There is one little story that comes to my mind this morning that I hope I never forget. I guess I was around fourteen and dad had taught me to drive on the old dirt road between our house and pawpaw Dyson’s house that was just down that dirt road below us. Boy, I remember that Volkswagen Bug that he taught me to drive in. Anyway, on this particular day, it wasn’t the Bug I was going to drive down to pawpaw’s house, but I was going to take dad’s Buick down there, all by myself. Man, I’ll never forget it! I started to back out of the carport and hit the metal post of the carport and messed up the front left fender of dad’s car. I was so sick and so scared of what he’d say when he saw it.
**Well, I apologized, of course. I was guilty of the damage and said I’d sell the old motorcycle I had to help pay for it. It wasn’t going to cover the cost, but it was all I had to offer. But dad said no, he would sell a calf and pay for the damage and that’s exactly what he did. He paid the debt I had no way to pay and the Buick was fixed. I was set free of the debt and it is something that I’ve never forgotten to this day.
**I wonder today…are you seeing a picture in this story? I had a life that was wrecked by sin. All the good I could muster up in my life couldn’t come close to paying the debt I owed. Oh, I could offer it to God, but it would never be enough. I stood guilty before God, but do you know what He did? He didn’t sell a calf, but He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross. His death paid the debt I could never pay so that I could be set free from my sins. That is something He did in my life a long time ago that I have never forgotten to this day.
**There are a lot of memories that come to my mind around this day, but this year, this was the one that I thought of. I hope the Lord will let me hold that memory of a loving father, who could have gotten angry and punished me, but instead he forgave me and paid my debt for the damage I caused to that old Buick. I thank God today for a Heavenly Father, who in wrath remembered mercy, and forgave me of all my sins.
June 14, 2020
So much of our world and our lives seems out of control right now. Things have changed so drastically for us all. Everything we do is different and even the complexion of our country seems to be changing every day. One of my daily routines is to scan the morning newspaper and catch up on the latest news but it seems that the world is changing so fast that I get farther and farther behind on what’s going on. I’m not opposed to change for the good and the Lord knows we sure need some of that in our nation. I guess what is so troubling is that, if you’re not careful, you’ll look at all of these things and wonder who is at the wheel of it all.
**Well, I’m glad I really don’t have to worry about that either. I’m glad that I know the One who is in control of all things and that, even though, on our end it may seem out of control, on His end everything is under control. That means things in this world, things in this nation and, yes, even things in my life and your life. It amazes me that the God of heaven who controls all things in this universe and this world is in control of all things in my life. As a matter of fact, Jesus said that even the very hairs of our head are numbered. That’s how well our heavenly Father knows you and me.
**I trust Him today that He will keep the planets in their orbit. I trust Him that He will keep the sun shining. I trust Him that He will continue to provide oxygen for me to breathe. I trust Him that He redeemed me from my sins by the blood of His Son. I trust Him that He will one day take me to heaven when I leave this world. So, if I can trust Him with all of those things, and more, then surely, I can trust Him with every detail of my life. I can trust Him when sickness comes. I can trust Him disappointments come. I can trust Him in days of difficulty. I can trust Him when sorrows envelop my life. I can trust Him, because He is the One who is in control of all things.
**Our world and our lives will, no doubt, continue to whirl and change. With each passing day, there are countless things that can take our lives in a hundred different directions. Yet, the Lord never changes. He is always the same and His control will never slip. No matter where you find yourself today or where you will find yourself tomorrow, you can trust Him. It doesn’t matter what the Republicans or Democrats might do. It doesn’t matter what anyone says from any place of authority. There is One that controls it all. From the highest office to your office. From the White House to your house. From the highest peak to the lowest valley. He is God and He is worthy of our trust.
June 7, 2020
One of my morning rituals after spending some time alone with the Lord is to drink a cup of coffee and scan the pages of the morning news online to catch up on what is happening in our community and our world. It sure is a good thing that I talk to the Lord first and prepare myself with some good news from His Word, because there isn’t much good news found in the newspapers these days. The stories today went from arrests for murder, to riots and looting, to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, to political unrest and on and on and on. If one didn’t have a headache to start the day, it’s enough to give you one after all of that.
**It makes me so thankful that I don’t have to read the news or hear the news at face value. You may ask what I mean by that. I realize that, as a child of God, this world is only a temporary home for me. If all of my hopes and aspirations were wrapped up in this world and what it held for me, I would be one most depressed. When we look at the political landscape of our nation, we’re in a mess. When we look at the social situation of our society, we’re in trouble. When we look at the moral temperature of our land, we’re in a decadent situation.
**Yet, there is within our hearts the anticipation of a better day. A day when our Lord will return, take us out of this sin cursed world and carry us home to be with Him. It has been said that psychologists say that anticipation is an emotion with tremendous healing power. It’s the idea that when you have hope you can endure hardships and difficult situations that normally would pull you down. The reason why Christians have faced sickness, suffering, sorrow, difficulties and more in their lives have done so with such joy in their hearts is because of a hope that lives within them.
**Can you imagine what it would be like to live in this world without hope? Can you imagine what it would be like to read those depressing newspapers or watch the discouraging newscasts each evening without hope living in your heart? Paul wrote of those who don’t have any kind of relationship to Christ in Ephesians 2:12 and described them as having no hope, and without God in the world. You can’t find any sadder words than that!
**But we who know Him have hope! Every day of my life is filled with the reality of hope. I see the sun rise in the morning and it rises with the hope that He may come today. I lay my head down at night to sleep and realize He may wake me with His trumpet to call me home. We ought to thank God today that we don’t have to watch life happen without hope.
May 31, 2020
I am so thankful for the words the Lord gave the apostle Paul to write that says in Romans 15:4-For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. In other words, those things penned down and preserved in the Old Testament were not given just to entertain us, but that we might learn from their examples, be comforted and encouraged by the things that happened in their lives to help us. So often we read and reread the stories of those saints and find help again and again although those events happened centuries ago.
**With all of that said, my mind today is on a particular event and passage that took place in the life of David and that is recorded in 1 Samuel 30. To set the scene, David has been on the run from King Saul and although he is a man who loves the Lord, he has made some bad decisions in the chapters just prior to the one I’ve mentioned. He has gone into enemy territory and lived among them, plus he has lied about his actions. In essence, he has lost his song, for you see, there were no psalms recorded that were written during this particular time in his life.
**David returns to his home in Ziklag to find it burned and everyone, including his family, taken captive. His own men are so angry that they are talking about stoning him. The Bible says, And David was greatly distressed. It seems for him that his world has fallen apart. But then comes the part that so captures my heart today. In ch 30:6 it says, but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. That word encouraged means to bind to, to fasten oneself to or to strengthen oneself in. There are times in our lives when the help we need won’t be found in any outside source. Our family and friends are wonderful and will do all they can, but sometimes you just have to fasten yourself to the Lord. We have to cling to who He is—the LORD—Jehovah, the everlasting, all-sufficient, unchanging and ever-present help in a time of need.
**David could have recognized Him as only the Lord at a distance, but it went on to say, his God. Now, that’s personal. David turns his heart to the Lord, which is always the right thing to do. There is never a time so desperate in our lives but what the Lord will not hear us when we honestly and sincerely look to Him. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. In his place of brokenness David found the Lord to be faithful—He always is. You may have made some bad choices and are dealing with the consequences. Turn back to the Lord. You will find Him faithful to forgive and meet your need.
May 24, 2020
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day marking a time that we remember the sacrifice of those who died keeping our country safe and securing our freedoms. We are living in unusual times and this Memorial Day is going to seem so much different than the ones we’ve had in the past. With our nation dealing with what our President has called the “invisible enemy” or the “hidden menace” we are facing new challenges and a new normal for the time being while dealing with the Covid-19.
**Our nation, throughout its history, has faced many difficult challenges. We faced the labor pains of freedom in 1776 and the years following. There were those difficult days of division from the War Between the States. There were the World Wars that were fought to deal with the rise of adversaries in Europe and Asia. We have dealt with battles with communism in Korea and Vietnam and with terrorism worldwide. The sacrifices made in each reminds us that freedom comes at great cost. As we mark this Memorial Day may we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to give us the right to live in the freedom we enjoy today.
**Still, there is the “hidden menace” our President speaks of. He has so often referred to it as such, and the “invisible enemy” that must be defeated. It all reminds me of the hidden menace and invisible enemy that lies deep within the heart of man—sin. If not dealt with it will lead to death. Romans 6:23-For the wages of sin is death. Our nations brightest minds in the scientific and medical fields are searching for a cure or vaccine to deal with the coronavirus. Yet, the invisible enemy in man’s heart cannot be cured by the brilliance of man. It cannot be resolved by the work of men’s hands. The result of sin is, and always will be, death.
**But I didn’t finish the verse. Romans 6:23 also goes on to say, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The wages of sin is death, yes, but that isn’t the final statement. There is hope; there is help; there is salvation found in Jesus Christ. Just as we, as a nation, can look back and be thankful for those who paid the sacrifice for our freedoms as a nation, we can look back to the cross of Calvary and give thanks to our Savior who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He is the only cure for the invisible enemy that is in the heart of man. He is the only one who can save us from our sins.
**So, as you remember those this Memorial Day from our nations past and honor their sacrifice, we must also be thankful, as we look back and honor our Lord’s sacrifice to give us the freedom we truly needed.
May 17, 2020
I remember hearing a great man of God named Kenneth Ridings, who is now in the presence of the Lord, ask a question years ago that I’ve never forgotten. He asked, “Did it ever occur to you, that nothing ever occurs to God?” The thought was that do we truly realize that nothing ever catches our God by surprise. Things catch us off-guard quite often. We so many times have things to happen that we would term “accidents” or such things, but in reality, there are no accidents or chance happenings when it comes to life. There is never a time that something happens in life that surprises the Lord, though at the time, it may surprise us.
**I’ve seen it happen in my own life and I’ve heard testimony often in the lives of others, of how certain things have happened in certain ways that caused amazement at how God worked things out for them as He did. If some event would have taken place differently or some action would have happened at a different time it could have been tragic. Now that doesn’t mean that God always keeps us from sickness or difficult situations. I’m not saying that I understand all of those things that can happen to us in our lives, but what I do know is this, that not a single event in my life happens to me by chance.
**In Psalm 139 David magnifies this wondrous truth even though he says in vs 6-Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. What knowledge is he speaking about? That God sees and knows everything about his life. In the earlier verses of the psalm David declares that God knows all about his life, even down to his action, his thoughts and his words. He is saying, “God, you know everything there is to know about me, at all times and in every way.” In later verses he talks about how God formed him in his mother’s womb and saw everything about him even then. I agree with David that all of those things are beyond my understanding, but I believe it all is true.
**Some may say, “But what does that matter?” It matters greatly! For David also said in vs 7-Wither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? The thought is that no matter where I go or where I am, God, you are there. That is such a comforting thought to me that no matter where I am in this life or whatever I face in this life God knew all about ahead of time and He is there with me through it all. I don’t know what you may be going through right now, but listen to this preacher, God knows where you are. He knew you’d be there before you ever got there. He has a plan for you in you being there and He will be with you till you get out of there. Let that give you comfort today.
May 10, 2020 - Mother's Day 2020
I’ve said it more than I can remember, and I guess I’ve heard it said all my life. “Give roses to someone while they’re living, because once they’re gone, they can’t enjoy them.” That is such a true statement and we do that quite often. We usually give someone flowers on special occasion like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. We’ll often send someone flowers when they are sick with the hopes of brightening their day as they recover. Yet, far too often we fail to send flowers until someone is gone and then we send them in their memory or honor for their family to enjoy. And that is the sad part of this whole thing.
**But when I stop and think about the old saying of “giving someone roses while they’re living”, I’m afraid we really miss what it’s all about. The idea isn’t so much about “literal” flowers, but about letting people know what they mean to us and that we love them, and we appreciate them while we have the opportunity to do so. It is to take the time to make a phone call or to drop by and see them (and I know right now that may not be the best thing to do with the “social distancing”). But I think when it comes to “giving someone their roses while they’re living” is to not wait until it’s too late to tell them what they truly mean to us.
**I’m afraid that we do that as families and I’m afraid that we do that in the Christian family as well. I think far too often we fail to let others know what they mean to us as children of God. We will spend week after week sitting in the same church house with people and will casually speak before we rush out to face another hectic week of all life puts on us and we often never really tell one another how much we appreciate or love each other. It is usually afterwards that we think of how we meant to let them know, but we just never got around to it. You never know what it may mean to someone when you just stop long enough to speak to them and let them know they are a blessing to you in this life.
**I think often of a phrase found in 2 Timothy 4 when Paul wanted Timothy to come and bring some things to him and see him in prison and he said, come before winter. The reason was that when winter came the time for sailing would be past and the opportunity would be gone. Could I say to you today, give those you love their roses now, whether literal or not, while you can, before the opportunity is gone. Maybe it’s a family member that you need to share with them what they truly mean to you today. It could be someone in your church family that you need to just stop and tell them that they are a blessing to you. It’s easy to say, “Well, they know how I feel.” I think I’d say it anyway…before winter comes.
May 3, 2020
There was a Scottish preacher back in the late 1800s and early 1900s named John McNeill. He told this story of an experience that took place in his younger days while travelling home from work late at night. “One night it was nearly midnight when I started to tramp six or seven miles down through the lonely glen to get home. The road had a bad name. This particular night was very black, and two miles outside our little village the road gets blacker than ever. I was just entering the dark defile when, about one hundred yards ahead, in the densest of the darkness, there suddenly rang out a great, strong, cheery voice, “Is that you Johnny?” It was my father—the bravest, strongest man I ever knew.”
**David spoke of the comfort of His rod and staff, which speaks of His power and His authority over all that we will encounter in life. His power to handle our enemies is seen in His rod and His ability to keep us close to Him is seen the staff. There are no enemies we will ever face but what He can handle. What a comfort there is to know that there is no danger that we will ever deal with but what He will be present to see us through.
**He went on to say, “Many a time since, when things have been getting black and gloomy about me, I have heard a Voice greater than that of my earthly parent cry: “Fear not; for I am with thee.” And, lo! God’s foot is rising and falling on the road before us as we tread the journey of life.” (“God’s Care”; The Friend, 1910; pg 197)
**Those words bring to mind some of my favorite verses and one in particular that is found in Psalm 23:4-Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Oh, the comfort found in those simple words! You see, there is no guarantee in this life that there will be no valleys and they can be, at times, some of the darkest we will ever face, even as David calls the valley of the shadow of death. Yet, there is the guarantee that, even then, there is One who walks the darkest valleys with us. In those times when life seems the darkest, He is there.
**The world in which we live seems to be so much like the night that John McNeill was describing. The days can seem so dark and gloomy with wickedness all about us. The trials of life seek to overwhelm us. The news we hear so often seems to discourage us. But I’m so glad there is a Voice that speaks loudly and clearly through the darkness to you and I that says, “Fear not, for I am with thee.” There is nothing that we will ever face in this life that we will ever face alone. There is one who will walk the dark valleys with us all the way home.
April 26, 2020
I read a story once that in the dark days of World War II, after a heavy night of bombing in England, a preacher began searching the rubble for survivors and the dead. He heard a child crying and found him sitting on what was left of the front steps where a home had been destroyed. Putting his arms around him, he hugged him tightly and asked him, “Son, whose boy are you?” The little boy started crying again and said, “Mister, I ain’t nobody’s nothing.” With his family all gone, this little boy was left all alone.
**There are people in church who feel as though they “ain’t nobody’s nothing”. Thinking that they have no special ability to sing, no gift of teaching, they’re afraid to pray publicly and so they consider themselves nothing. You may not have the talents you see others have; you may be intimidated that some can do things you can’t do; you may even say that you’ve made mistakes that limit what you can do, but never say you don’t matter and that you’re unimportant to God and His work. There is something that God has equipped you to do. He has gifted you in such a way that you can do something that no one else can do and no one can do it exactly the way God wants you to do it. That gives life real meaning and significance.
**We all know how God had given Moses the ability to lead the children of Israel. God gave him instructions about how to build the tabernacle and of the need for all its utensils. He told him what length to make it, the width and the height of it. There were to be certain things of brass and some of gold. He told him what colors to use, how He wanted things designed and laid out. God told him what materials were needed and people began to give those things for the work. Then there was Aaron and his sons that would be the priests and their clothing was designed for their work.
**But in Exodus 35:30 through ch 36:4 and also ch 38:21-23 we are introduced to two men named Bezaleel, the son of Uri and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach. Ever heard of them? Probably not. The Bible says about them that God had filled them with wisdom, understanding and knowledge in all manner of workmanship. God used them greatly to do the work of the tabernacle. You see, God doesn’t just use preachers, Sunday School teachers, missionaries or the like, but He gives some talents in sewing, plumbing, painting, building, calculating, nursing and the list goes on and on. There are those who have the gift of encouraging or helping others. You may say, “How does my job bring glory to God?” By giving your best in doing it; by thanking Him for the ability to do it; by giving back to Him as He prospers you in doing it; by being a good Christian while doing it and by making that ability or gift available for Him to use however He sees fit. Whatever God has gifted you to do, use it for His glory. You will be blessed and so will others.
April 19, 2020
When this current coronavirus pandemic started several weeks ago, we started hearing stories about U.S. citizens who were in foreign countries and were trying to get back home. Many were exhausting every possible means to find a way to get a flight back to the states. We have had a missionary husband and wife in Ecuador, that our church supports, who for a week now have been working to get a flight out of that country. The virus situation has gotten very bad there and because of that, along with their age and health, it has played a major role in the decision to come home early from the field. Thankfully, they were able to get a flight out and they left the country on Friday.
**Many of our other citizens have found it so difficult to secure a flight because of where they are. They have been arranging charter flights and trying other means possible to try to find a way out of the countries they are in. I remember hearing the president talk about using the military if necessary, to make sure our citizens get home and back in the month of March they did fly several home from the Honduras. No doubt there are others I am unaware of. Yet, I thought about our missionaries who needed a flight and out of their own pockets and support needed to find the finances to work out a flight home.
**You might ask, “Why say all of this?” Well, it started me thinking. We live in a dangerous, dark world as God’s children and there is a longing that we have to leave this world for home. Our Heavenly Father has promised us that He will make sure that He will get us out of this world and get us home safe and sound. Our government can’t guarantee to get every citizen a flight out of the countries from where they are, I understand that and I’m not saying that would even be possible. They probably couldn’t locate every citizen if they had to. But our Father knows exactly where each of His children are. From the inner cities to the rural counties. From the jungles of New York City to the jungles of the Amazon. From the east to the west and the north to the south, He know exactly where each of His children are and one day, He will get us all out of this sin infested, wicked world and take us home with Him.
**I don’t know about you but more and more, day after day, I feel a greater longing within my heart for home. This world is growing more wicked with each passing day. I’m looking forward to the day when the Lord will come back to gather His own and carry them back with Him home to a land where all of these things we deal with in this life will be no more. What a day when we all get home.
April 12, 2020
God has a plan. He always has had a plan and He will perform it completely and perfectly. I can’t say that I have always understood it. I can’t say that I still always understand it, but the fact remains that He has a plan and He will perform it completely and perfectly. There have been many attempts by Satan to hinder the workings of the Lord, but God’s plan has never been stopped and is right on schedule.
**When Jesus came the first time, He came at just the right moment in history. There were so many people that thought He came for the purpose of putting down Roman rule and establishing an earthly kingdom. They misunderstood His purpose and His plan. Jesus had not come to wear a crown of jewels but a crown of thorns. He had not come to sit on the throne of Israel, but to be the Savior of the world. He taught His disciples on several occasions that He would be crucified, buried and would rise again the third day, but they never fully grasped the truth of what He said to them. But He had a plan.
**You see, that was God’s plan from the very beginning. The Bible tells us that Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8. Jesus’ death was not some haphazard idea thrown together by the Trinity at the last moment. It was a divine plan carried out at the right moment in time for the redemption of all who will come to Christ for salvation. God had a plan. His plan was for His only begotten Son to come into this world, to bear the sins of the world in His own body on the cross, paying our sin debt, that we might have life through Him. God had a plan and that plan included you and me.
**Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was buried in the tomb and He rose again the third day. He then ascended back to Heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. He is there making intercession for you and for me right now. We have someone talking to the Father on our behalf, about our needs, about our situations, about our concerns and about our longings. How wonderful is that?
**God still has a plan that is being fulfilled. Just as Jesus came the first time, right on time, so will He come the second time, right on time. I believe we are living just before His coming. Not just the last days, but the last moments of the last days. I can’t say that I look at our world today and understand how it all fits into His plans, but I know this, it is all falling into place for His plan to be fulfilled. God has a plan. He always has had a plan and He will perform it completely and perfectly. The question I ask is this—are you ready to meet Him when He comes?
April 5, 2020
There is so much about our lives that has changed over the last several weeks. I’m trying to keep things as “normal” as much as is possible, which isn’t easy these days. Alice is still working and I get up with her like I’ve always done and see her off for the day. As she was getting ready to leave the other morning I was standing on the carport and looking toward the east as it was just starting to lighten up before sunrise. There were birds singing their songs and you could see some of the early signs of springtime all around. The thought crossed my mind that with all that was going on in our world right now with Covid-19 and how it has changed and rearranged our lives, God’s created work is right on schedule. The sun still rises just as He has ordained it. The birds are singing their glory to His name just as He has designed it. The trees are starting to show life just as He maintains it. The dandelions are popping up in our yard with their bright yellow color just as He painted them.
**What crossed my mind the other morning was this—He still has everything in His control, just like it has always been. Our world may seem to be so out of control right now, but it isn’t out of control for Him. Chuck Swindoll once said it this way, “God is not ‘sometimes’ Sovereign. He is ‘always’ Sovereign.” And he is exactly right. We may not always understand what God is doing in our world, but it doesn’t change the fact that He is in control and is working everything according to His plan and His will. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as they heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
**I can honestly say that I don’t understand all that is happening in our world right now, but I am so thankful that I know who is in control of all things. I’m glad that the One who has the sun rising at the right time and the birds singing their sweet melodies in the early morning and the trees budding at the right season, is the One who knows who I am and cares about all my needs. Then on top of all of that, He has prepared a place for us, where there will be no more sickness, no more sorrows, no more dying, no more disappointments and no more “social distancing” from friends and loved ones. There with all the family of God we’ll be at home with Him and them forevermore.
**We are so spending much time waiting right now. Waiting to go back to work for so many people. Waiting for the “Stay at Home” orders to be lifted. Waiting for this disease to finally make its departure. Waiting till we can gather once again in the House of the Lord. Oh, how I miss that! But on top of all that, we are waiting for His glorious return for His children, when we shall see Him, whom having not seen, we love. We shall see again our loved ones gone on before us and we’ll enjoy the wonders of that place called Heaven. Until then, like you, I press on. I’ll keep looking toward the eastern sky and listening to the birds as they sing His glorious praises.
March 29, 2020
In times like these there arises an unsettling in our hearts. I have heard it from different people as they have been around town going to and from work that “things just seem so eerie.” Truly these days seem so strange and so different to us all. I can remember the days just after 9/11 when it seemed so odd to look into the sky and see no jet trails or hear no airplanes because they were all grounded. I remember watching the news each day and hearing the reports of the missing and the dead. I remember wondering what would happen next and where it all was heading. Time seemed to drag and days seemed out of place in the week.
**I woke up this morning and, honestly, it took me a few minutes to think about what day it was. It has my routine all out of sorts and I know it does for everyone else and I don’t think it’s going to change for a good while to come. But one of the things that gives me assurance through these days is in the words given concerning the birth of Jesus found in Matthew 1:23 where the Bible says, they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us. The wonder of that thought is that He who spoke the worlds into existence would come and dwell among His creation. He was God with us through the coming of His Son but then there is the wonder that He is God with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
**To think on that wondrous reality that we have God with us at all is an amazing thing. But to realize that we have His presence at all times and in all situations of life is truly wonderful to consider. Let that be our anchor in these uncertain times. Let that be our source of refuge in times of worry. Let that be our source of comfort when doubt wants to grip our hearts. Let that be what gives us courage when the enemy attacks our faith. We have God with us! In tribulation; God with us. In sadness; God with us. In sorrow; God with us. In disappointment; God with us. In valleys low; God with us. On mountains high; God with us. In the storms of life; God with us. When trouble surrounds us; God with us. When life confounds us; God with us. When joy abounds; God with us. Stop today & think about that again—God with us! Let that be your standard. Your refuge of strength.
**How could we make it? How could we live? How could we deal with life? How could we face these days if that should be taken away from us? It is eternity’s sonnet; it is heaven’s hallelujah; it is the saint’s song forevermore because of Christ—God with us. Isaiah 41:10 says, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Let that truth hold your heart today in these days—God is with you, no matter what you’re facing today.
March 22, 2020
As a nation and a world we continue to face the challenges of Covid-19. Who would have thought a matter of a few weeks ago that we would be dealing with all that we are dealing with today? It has changed all of our lives and affected how we do everyday tasks. Nothing is as it was just a short time ago in our world and in our lives. It has changed how we work, how we shop and now, amazingly, how we go to church. These are some of the most challenging times I've ever lived through.
**Yet, the one thing we can be confident in is that the Lord has not changed or moved from where He has been all along. Psalm 11 describes a time for David that he said, If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? When I think of that verse, I think of the foundations being those things which have remained constant and secure. Things that you could always rely on as being stable in your life. We could think of many things that have changed morally over the years, bur right now we think of so many things that have changed for us physically ad naturally as well. For so many of you, your work life has changed, and you are working from home. Some have your kids at home from school now for an extended period of time. For the time being church life has changed for us as we have seen the need to cancel services. In a sense those things that seemed so constant for us have suddenly changed.
**David asked in a time of change what can the righteous do. Then he focused on the fact in the following verse that the LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in the heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men. David relied on the fact that the Lord's position had not changed. Though so many things all about him seemed to be changing, the Lord's position had not and would not ever change. Nothing about what we are facing in our world has caught Him by surprise. Nothing about what is happening today has Him upset or disturbed. His position has not changed whatsoever.
**Is that important? You better believe it is. For if His position hasn't changed, then His connection to you and I hasn't changed either. He knows where we are and what we are going through--his eyes behold. He sees perfectly and completely. One thing I've noticed in all the press conferences over the last few weeks is the uncertainty of it all. Everyone has stressed the fact that they don't know how long these things will last. There is One who sees everything perfectly and clearly and who knows the end from the beginning. It may be unsettling for us, but not for Him.