Remember the old, grey head . . . and thy Creator!


 

Psalm 100

Each morning the old man would sit in his garden.  While patting his old dog, the old man’s thoughts would run to his children and of how he missed them so that his heart was pained.  He would lift them each, by name, unto his Heavenly Father to bless and keep them from sin.

Each day, he would check the mail for just some small note from them.  He would get excited as the phone would ring, hoping to hear their voice.  Always on his mind and lovingly in his heart, he would think of them.

How like our Heavenly father, who always has our best interest in mind, always desiring to hear our voice in prayer.  Our Lord God desires to commune with us.  While it pleases God for us to pray, it is truly for our benefit that we do so.  We have a “Father” in Heaven that loves us so!

Today and everyday …. Remember your Heavenly Father!  He is waiting to hear from you (Eccl.12:1)!

 

The Bible Teaches Science?


 

We’ve all heard the statement, the Bible isn’t a science book, but it teaches science.  We could insert any subject in place of science, and we would have a true statement. After hearing a recent sermon on Psalm 8, I remembered learning and teaching about Matthew Maury (1806-1873), the “pathfinder of the seas.”  He took seriously when he read about “paths of the sea” in Psalm 8:8 and “winds whirling continuously in his circuits” in Ecclesiastes 1:6. He figured he could find them if God said they were there. He dedicated his life to studying those sea and wind currents. He became known as the founder of modern oceanography. His studies and charting of the wind and sea currents transformed trans-Atlantic travel, reducing sailing times significantly, often times by weeks. Just as Maury used Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes I, many Christian scientists were inspired by a particular verse to search deeper into what the Bible was teaching. Psalm 8 is inscribed on Matthew Maury’s tombstone – “whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”  So we can say whole-heartedly that our Bible is indeed a science book.

To Whom Do You Cry When Things Get Tough?


Exodus 2:23-25 – 23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Exodus 2 ends with the Israelites in what seemed like inescapable bondage.  The king died, and I can imagine that they thought they were going to be slaves in Egypt forever.  The circumstances they were in caused them to cry out to the Lord for help and for deliverance.  The Scripture tells us that when they cried out to Him that God brought to His thinking the covenant that He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  One commentator called this passage “the hinge” of the Israelites deliverance from bondage.  What caused this “hinge” to swing?  It was their crying out to the Lord.

Sometimes when we face difficult times in our lives, we cry to anyone who will listen other than our Lord.  We use prayer as a last resort instead of a first option!  I think we would do well to learn from accounts like this one in Scripture.  He longs to be our refuge in the storm.  The Psalmist put it this way – “1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, And a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” (Psalm 61:1-4).

 May the Lord help us to more quickly cry out to Him in our times of need!

Be Careful Where You Walk


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Do you remember the song “Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See” that you sang when you were little?  I remember all the verses – “Oh, be careful little hands what you touch” and “Oh, be careful little feet where you walk” – well, recently it meant more than usual!  I was visiting my grandchildren, and I was walking back to the house after being at the park with the kids.  They were riding bikes — two blocks between the park and the house there are no sidewalks – so I was walking trying to keep up and trying to remind them to ride safely, and down I went.  I fell on my hands, hit my knee, and then my head hit the asphalt – and the asphalt won!  I have bruises, abrasions, swollen knee, and a fractured left wrist.  (Of course, I’m left handed.)

Sometimes, we do get so distracted that we are not watching our steps.  At my age, watching where I am walking is important; but for all of us, it is important to watch where we walk spiritually.  So often, we “walk” away from the Lord and are too far away before we even realize it.  Or maybe, we “walk” in the right direction, but we get weary.  Be encouraged that our Lord is walking with us!

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). (emphasis mine)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23) (emphasis mine)

Adopting Doughnuts


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As I travel the continent with my wife and four daughters in evangelism, I have often stopped at a doughnut store to find something sweet for my family to enjoy.  I usually went in by myself and brought back a box of “surprises” for my five ladies.  I would go in and adopt twelve doughnuts.  Sometimes a baker would let me have a baker’s dozen of their doughnut – they are the real bakers!  

I never adopt coconut doughnuts.  When I use this as an object lessons in my preaching, I tell the folks, “When you go to the bakery, you can do what you want to do, but I never adopt coconut doughnuts.”  I adopt glazed doughnuts and double chocolate doughnuts.  Then I adopt a few doughnuts that I know others like; and, in the end, I usually adopt a few more double chocolate doughnuts.  Everybody ought to love a double chocolate doughnut!

I tell the church folks about adopting these sweet pastries, and then I make the application to the fact that as a Christian one is not just born into God’s family, but we are blood relatives due to the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus.  In addition, we are adopted into His family.  When I go into the bakery, I can choose to adopt any kind of doughnut I want.  The pastries become mine, because I chose them and paid a price great enough to buy them.  (When I started this, I could get a dozen doughnuts for $2.00!)  

I like the fact that an adopted child is one that was chosen out of all the children.  The parents picked that child because they wanted him.  I like that!

I like to adopt doughnuts, and I like the fact that in addition to being born into God’s family, I was chosen by Him to be His adopted son.

 

Above:  Here is a picture from 2008 of a pastor at the front of his church in Omaha, AR, giving our family a gift of a dozen doughnuts, a day or two after I used this illustration.  It so happens that this pastor had a night-time job of delivering hundreds of doughnuts to various stores in the area.

 

 

Are You Listening?


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Recently I am learning the importance of listening.  As a teacher, I am constantly reminding my students to “listen up” or “pay close attention.”  There are times, however, when I am guilty of being the one who’s not listening.  Sometimes I make them stop before even hearing what they were going to say.

Proverbs 18:13 warns us that, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”  I need to be careful not to hush one of the children when I need to take the time to listen to them.  I need to be careful to not make a rash judgment about one of them.  Also, I need to be careful not to ignore what they are trying to say.  James admonishes, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”  It could be that they have noticed something I haven’t, or there may be something I have overlooked.  There may be a reasonable explanation for what just happened…but I need to listen.

As their “counselor,” I need to be ready to listen, especially before I speak.  “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

I think this is a reminder for us all.  We need to be listeners first.  Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt.

Are you a part of the family?


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Ruth 1:16 “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:”

One of the great family passages is found in the book of Ruth as quoted above. Ruth is told by Naomi to go back to her homeland of Moab. Ruth refuses; and, in fact, makes the case that she will, “whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge,” and accept the family of Naomi. She crowns the declaration of loyalty with the words; thy God shall be my God. There is a wonderful world wide family of redeemed people of “every nation, and kindred, and tongue….” (Rev. 14:6). It is the family of God! In Ephesians 3:15 we read, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”; there is no greater bonding factor in the world than God. This unique family functions through the local church – the body of baptized believers. Within the local church there is any number of different personalities. Yet they love, care, give, and look out for each other. They function in both good times and bad. God himself is the one that makes all this possible. The life of the believer is enhanced by the brothers and sisters in the local church. My prayer for each of you is that you will assume your responsibility in the local church. There is a place for you to serve. You’ve been assigned a special place in the heart and life of at least one person. As a child of God, we should seek to do His will and be a blessing. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, you know nothing of the blessings of membership in this family. The greatest household in the world is the household of faith. Be like Ruth; make her God your God.

Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

 

Pure Heart Attitudes


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Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!”   How can they be pure in heart unless they are saved?

The world is far from being pure in heart but revels in uncleanness and wickedness.

It is God’s will that we be pure.  I Thessalonians 4:7, “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

The immoral will be judged by God.   I Thessalonians 4:6, “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Lustful thoughts are sinful.  Matthew 15:19-20, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

We are to run from immorality, I Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

A pure heart is attained only through the blood of Christ.  I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

 

 

Down to the Dust


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The Lord has provided hundreds of places for us to stay in our evangelistic trips for the past 27 summers, some of them were very rustic, very hot, or very cold, and some of them were luxurious.

In 2013, the Lord allowed us to stay for a week in a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast in Campbellsburg, IN.  We were the only guests there.  The church was very gracious to us in our accommodations.  I must have taken about 250 pictures of our beautiful house.  I still have a bar of soap on my dresser that I received in that bed and breakfast.  The drawing on the soap label is much like the design of that house.  I look at it every day and remind myself that my God allowed us to stay in that beautiful place.  

I took pictures in the morning sunlight from the east and made a special trip just before sunset to photograph it in the late evening sun.  I took pictures of the front, of the sides, of the windows, and of the gingerbread.  I took pictures inside and outside.  I took many pictures of the tower and the lightning rod at the top of the conical roof of the tower.  As an astronomy and earth science teacher, I took several pictures of the moon in the sky just beside the decorative lightning rod.

I came to the conclusion that everything about that house was decorative right down to the little details.  Even the “inside” of the copper door hinges were ornately designed with a delicate flare!

I have always been impressed with God’s great concern about details.  The first week of devotions that I led for the faculty of my current school (28 years ago) was a series of Bible lessons about “dust.”  I found that God was concerned about details even down to the dust!  

On Mt. Carmel, fire fell from heaven and consumed every part of Elijah’s sacrifice and altar, even the dust.  It also licked up the water that was in the trench.

In Daniel’s story about the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, God tells us that these three men came out of the furnace alive and did not even smell of smoke!

Yes, our God is concerned about little details.  Someone took the time and expense to see to it that even the hinges in that beautiful house were a sight to behold, but our God is even more concerned about details in our lives.  

Twenty-seven years ago some folks laughed when a child called out a prayer request, “Pray for my boo-boo.”  That child held up a finger with a band aid around it.  Others thought it was a juvenile request, but the God of Daniel is concerned even about a little cut on a child’s finger.

We should find comfort in the fact that the God of the Bible pays attention to even the little details of our life and our needs.

Attached:  This is a picture of the fine detail of the “interior” of the hinges in that Victorian house.  Usually this part of the hinge is completely hidden from view, but the builder made sure it was ornate anyway.

 

O Be Careful Little Tongue


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Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 12:33-37

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat” used in a conversation?  Interesting little thought provoker.  How about, “You are what you say,” maybe not quite so often?  Matthew recorded a statement similar to that spoken by Christ, Himself, to a group of listeners, possibly made up of mostly Pharisees.  The text noted above is the record of that conversation.

Christ reminds us that it is our heart that determines what is on the outside, just like the tree – a good tree brings forth good fruit; a bad tree brings forth bad fruit.  Therefore the focus is truly on what is on the inside…the heart…not so much the outside.  Remember that!  We as man, prone to do the will of our sinful nature, often struggle with having the outside match the inside when the inside has been transformed to something good by the Holy Spirit.  It takes effort to learn control and rely upon the guiding of the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

However, Christ did not stop there.  He kept on going with another statement to ensure we understood the fullness of what He was speaking about.  He continues with the idea that words are important and need to have purpose; they must have “work” to do.  The Greek behind the term “idle” in verse 36 is literally “non-working”; giving the sense that the word is spoken just to be spoken…it has no purpose or meaning other than to be a noise.  To coincide with that non-working sense, He used just a general term for word “rhema” and then later in the same verse switches to a different word (logos) – here translated “account” – to depict the difference between the ideas.  Specifically in this instance, by context, one is just that which is spoken (rhema), the other is something that has a purpose (logos).   Note the words with purpose are given at the Day of Judgment.   

In the next verse, He continues with an explanation of the need for those purposeful words: justification or condemnation.  The term He used translated as “words” in both instances here in verse 37 is logos, giving the connection between the latter part of the preceding verse and this verse.  It is by those purposeful words that we will be judged along with the multitude of other thoughts, words, and actions.

Remember that it is the heart that is of utmost importance here, not just the tongue because we, as man, can be dual minded in that we say things contrary to that which is truly in our hearts whether good or bad.  But know this: salvation is an act of God upon the belief of the heart of a man.  Yet, we shall give “account” for what we speak at the Day of Judgment.  Let us remember that children’s song…”Oh, be careful little tongue what you say.”  It is through the state of the heart, “accounts” of the words spoken, and deeds done, that judgment will be passed.