Monday, November 28, 2005

Just for Laughs

Hey, all. It's a late night, and I'm about to turn in (guess I should've decided against a half pot of coffee!). Anyway, when I first saw this clip, I about fell over laughing. More than a month later, my kids still ask to see "the funny email", since that is all they know of computer stuff. So, here's the link. Enjoy!
  • Click Here

  • God bless, and good night!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Keep Your Eyes on the Road

    "Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil." Proverbs 4:25-27

    As I was driving in to work this morning, I heard a new rendition of an old hymn that I haven’t heard in a long time. As I listened, the third verse stood out to me. Here are the words to this beautiful verse:

    “O to grace how great a debtor
    daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
    bind my wandering heart to thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    prone to leave the God I love;
    here's my heart, O take and seal it,
    seal it for thy courts above.”

    It got me thinking about my own walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, and how easy it is to get distracted from the path I am walking. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”. I can identify with that. It’s not that I’m a backslider, I’m not, but I understand how prone to distraction I can be.

    As we read through the Bible, we see in many places where God warns His people not to turn to the right or the left. We read that God desires them to follow Him wholly, and to not allow things to pull us away from Him. One of the saddest verses in the entire Bible, in my opinion, is 1 Kings 11:6: “Thus, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord's sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done” (NLT). Here was man who had powerful experiences with the God of the universe. He had on two different occasions been visited by the Lord, he was given everything he had by Him, from his wisdom to his riches, and yet, he did not set his gaze straight before him, but he allowed distraction to draw him away from following the Lord. His distraction took the form of women that were heathens, worshipping false gods. So Solomon allowed compromise in, all because he looked away from God.

    There are surely many diamonds to pick up as we follow the path Christ leads us down. But as the Israelites of old, coming into the Promised Land, were told to stay behind the Ark, because they were in a land they had never been in before, so let us stay behind God, following Him close. For there the most precious diamonds will be found. All that glitters is not gold. From my own experience, it easy to see what shines so beautifully as we pass by, but the temptation is to veer off and chase the gems in forbidden territory. I'm reminded of years ago, when I was learning how to drive. My dad constantly said one phrase to me: "keep your eyes on the road". Come to think of it, my wife has said that to me a lot too. So today, let’s do as the writer of Proverbs tells us, and set our gaze in front of us, keeping our eyes fixed on our wonderful Savior. God bless.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Waiting With the Vultures

    “And He said to him, ‘Bring to Me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ And he brought Him all these and cut them down the middle [into halves] and laid each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not divide.” Gen. 15:9-10
    Abram had received a promise from God that He would have a son of his own, and that the land of Caanan would be given to his descendents. Yet, Abram still asked God for a sign of this promise. That is when God told him to get the sacrificial animals.
    Abram knew exactly what God was doing. This was how covenants were made in ancient times. He was telling Abram that they would enter into a covenant.

    Abram knew just what to do with the animals. He cut them in two, signifying a blood covenant. It was a way of saying, “If I don’t hold up my end, let the same be done to me!”

    Since God had appeared to Abram previously, he fully expected that once the sacrifices were cut, and then God would show up to walk through the pieces with him. But God did not show up right away. Instead, the vultures did, so Abram drove them away. Eventually, he fell asleep, and that was when God showed up.

    This event in Abram’s life teaches us:

    1. There will be times of waiting on God for His timing
    For most of us, the hardest part of serving God is the waiting, for me especially. Let’s just say that God is really doing a work of patience in me!
    Abram had to wait some 20 years for the promise of his son.
    Joseph waited for years for the fulfillment of his God-given dreams.
    The point: we must wait in faith. Ps 37:7a “Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him”
    2. Our sacrifice will be attacked by the enemy. Our sacrifice of faith, trusting God when everything says to give up, will be visited by the vultures.
    Abram had hope and faith when all human reasoning said to give up. He hoped and trusted in the face of opposing circumstances.
    We must remember that we are a living sacrifice. We are called to times to lay everything before God, even in the face of criticism and opposition. It’s easy to trust God when the things are going right. It’s entirely something else to trust Him when the when things are at there darkest.
    Yet we need to realize that God is with us in that darkness. Abram awoke from his deep sleep not just to darkness, but God was with him in the darkness (v. 17).

    3. Finally, remember that in the darkest times of trial and affliction, when we seem to have lost everything, God will bring us out with what we didn’t have going in.
    “And [God] said to Abram, Know positively that your descendants will be strangers dwelling as temporary residents in a land that is not theirs [Egypt], and they will be slaves there and will be afflicted and oppressed for 400 years.
    But I will bring judgment on that nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”
    Gen. 15:13-14

    You will come out of the fire greater than when you went in! I’m not talking about material things, but you’ll come out with faith that you didn’t have before.

    You’ll have perseverance that you didn’t have before.

    You’ll have a greater hope than before.

    We all know the verse Job is famous for. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I shall return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” A wonderful statement of faith, but that simply sustained him through the fight. The verse that gives us hope is at the end. “And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.” Job 42:12

    I pray that this message has blessed you, and reminded you of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. God bless!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    I Bought The Field

    "Then Hanamel my uncle's son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the LORD and said to me, 'Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy {it} for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD. "I bought the field which was at Anathoth from Hanamel my uncle's son, and I weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver. "I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales. Jeremiah 32:8-10 NASB

    This is an amazing passage of Scripture. Just to get a basic understanding, Jerusalem had been besieged by Babylon, and Judah lay waste. Most of the people had been carried off to Babylon, and only the very poor were left. In fact, Jeremiah was in prison! And that was when the Word of the Lord came to him. Look at what God tells him to do. He said to buy a field in Anathoth from his cousin. God was asking Jeremiah to do something that made absolutely no sense at all. This is like us today going to the worst, burnt out area of the city, and while everyone else is getting out of town, and values are plummeting, we buy property. It made no sense to the natural man. But Jeremiah obeyed God, and did it anyway, having the deed shut away in a jar of clay, with only a seemingly far-off promise of future blessing, and a declaration of, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee” (v. 17)

    I wonder how Jeremiah must have felt when this all occurred. I wonder if there was any doubt or wonder at why God would have him do such a thing. All he could do was put it in God’s hands, not knowing when promise would come to pass. To the onlooker, or the witnesses that day to the transaction, it must have seemed so foolish. “Jeremiah’s buying a field where…?” could have been whispered in the prison cell that day. I think I know somewhat how Jeremiah must have felt.

    You see, these past several weeks, I’d been going though one of the hardest times of my life. I was on the verge of losing everything, and God seemed so silent about my trial. I had times where I cried out, even sometimes yelled at God (think of the scene in the movie, “The Apostle”, where Sonny is screaming at the Lord). Yet, I could sense the Lord urging me to press on, to keep being faithful. I didn’t realize it fully till the next day, but I was so downcast I was about to walk away from my calling. In my mind, all I could do was reason that it’s no use. I keep tithing, I keep praying and seeking God. I keep studying the Word and getting sermons, which if it weren’t for this blog, probably wouldn’t ever be preached. I had all I could take. Perhaps Jeremiah kept thinking about that waste of a field that the Babylonian armies were sitting on, fighting the urge to scream about the waste of money. This was where I was at.

    Then, on Sunday morning, my pastor had finished preaching and given an altar call. I can’t even remember what it was for now, but I went forward, and prayed one more time. Before I knew it, there were five or six people gathered around me praying. They were all praying to God about what I had need of! God was there and He had heard me all along! Then, an older brother in the church, a councilman, full of wisdom, came up to me and started speaking the Word to me. He reminded me of God’s promises. He reminded me of God’s timing. And most of all, he reminded me of God’s call on my life. I don’t think that man understood the brevity of where I stood at that moment, on the edge of laying my call aside. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It was a word in due season, spoken to my weary soul.

    The full impact of what happened that morning didn’t hit me until the next evening, as I was stuck in traffic on I-94, trying to come home. It brought tears to my eyes to realize how great God’s call is, and that even though everything seemed to be falling apart, He was still there calling me, and using me. Today, I have a renewed passion for following the Lord Jesus wholly.

    I am so grateful that when I was at my lowest, He sent someone by to tell me what I needed to hear the most. Thank you, Lord, for the grace and goodness to me. God bless.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    What's With the Firmament?

    “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
    And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” Genesis 1: 7, 14

    You know, I can’t seem to get away from this passage of scripture right now. So forgive me as I go for day # 2 in Genesis 1. A couple years back, I remember doing a study on the days of Creation. I was drawing similarities with God’s work in Creation, and His work in the New Birth. I noticed that when He created the heavens and the earth, that they were without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Holy Spirit was hovering, or brooding over the face of the deep. We, too, were without form and void, and without order and chaotic. We too were in spiritual darkness. But the Holy Spirit was hovering over us, too, convicting us of our sin, and telling us of our need for Christ. Then God said, “Let there be light”. We too had to have His light to shine on us in our unregenerate condition, so we could become aware of our need of Him, and His forgiveness. I progressed on in my study, but I stumped when I came to the creation of the firmament. I had no idea what the connection was. The firmament is an old word for the expanse of the sky. And the sky is immensely important. But I just didn’t see any connection. So, I moved on, and eventually studied something else.

    Then a month or so later, as I was having my morning devotion before work, I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to read the nineteenth Psalm. So I did. What I read brought back the old study, and that first verse jumped off the page, and into my spirit. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Suddenly, when I had all but forgotten that study, God brought it back and showed me what I had not gotten prior. The purpose of the sky is to allow us to see what God has made above the ground! In a real sense, it’s a window to what He has made beyond our little world. Imagine the beauty of a clear, starry night. See the falling stars, the moon, the planets, and the comets. Get you telescopes and spot the nebulas and far off solar systems. We get to see it all through the “window” of the sky.

    In the same way, others need to be able to “look” into our lives and see the great things that God is doing, and has done. Maybe you are like me, and had an anger problem. I’ve put a hole in my bedroom wall. I would throw things. I would scream and yell and give myself migraine headaches for nothing. But God changed me! Maybe God is developing a faith in you that can stand the strongest storms. Perhaps He is putting His love in you for the most unlovable people. It could be joy in the darkest times. But people will notice. And when they do, just as 1 Peter 3:15 says be ready to give them an answer for the hope that is in you!

    God wants people to see the change He is making in you. And He will get all the glory for it! So, stay in His presence, and stay in His word. Stay in prayer, and let Him do the surgery that only He can do. Those who look into your life will see only that that declares His glory! God Bless.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Moonlit Nights

    And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth” Genesis 1:14-17

    Here in Michigan, we are getting ready to enter our famous Michigan wintertime. There is lots of cold wind, ice and snow. My kids are looking forward to sledding and making snowmen. Ah, the joys of childhood. I’m looking forward to de-icing the van and shoveling the sidewalk. As if!

    One thing that I do love, especially in the winter, are clear nights with bright moonlight. I’m talking about the kind of moonlight that seems bright enough to read a newspaper. When we had a dog, it was during the winter. And my job as the man of the house was to get up at all hours of the night, bundle up, and take the puppy out. As much as I hated the task (I love to sleep!), I looked forward to those clear, moonlit nights. Ah, the memories I had with Scooter. Good riddance, boy.

    The thing about the moon is, as every first grader knows, it has no light source in itself. It is completely dependent on the sun to get its light. When we enjoy the moonlight, we are actually enjoying reflected sunlight. It got me thinking about the above scripture. You see, as we look through the Old Testament, we see pictures of truths that are revealed in the New Testament. From the animal sacrifices to the feasts, and even the tabernacle and temple, we see pictures of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. I believe this is a type of Christ and His church. Let me explain.

    As the moon has no light of its own, but is totally dependent upon the sun, so we reflect the light of Christ to this dark world. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The light we reflect is not our own, it is the light of Jesus Christ. And yes, we know that the Devil blinds the minds of unbelievers, so that the light of the Gospel can’t shine to them. But shine the light nonetheless!

    Remember, Jesus said that we are the light of the world. He said that men would see our good deeds, and glorify our Father in heaven. That is why it is so important to live lives worthy of the Gospel. We need to make sure that the deeds others see us do are righteous. We must guard our testimony. Remember, one thing unbelievers look for are hypocritical Christians. Those who say one thing, but live out something different. Don’t block out the light with the clouds of sin. Let’s be honest, and walk in integrity. So shine that light, and let the Lord use you to to reflect His light! God Bless.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Nothing without Him

    I just read something that spoke to me. I read a blog by a friend of mine, a fellow preacher, about people that will not admit their weaknesses, causing them to struggle through their whole lives. These folks spend all of their time trying to fill the vacuum in their hearts, when the only One who can fill them is the Lord Jesus Christ (To read what he wrote, click on the link to the right called, "The Dawg Howse"). It got me thinking again on a topic close to my heart, and should be close to the heart of all who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That topic is our need for daily personal fellowship with Him. The Gospel of John says of Christ, “in Him was life, and that life is the light of men” (John 1:4). Lord, don’t let me neglect the Light that You bring to my life!

    Nowadays, it seems that there are a million distractions that keep us from fervently seeking our Lord. Prayer makes our lives, but time does not seem to allow us to pray. I know personally what I must do to ensure that I get the time I need with the Lord. Not just the time in His Word, the Bible, but also “praying without ceasing”. I try to keep in an attitude of prayer. Worshipping the Lord, singing praises to Him, blessing Him, are all ways I keep the “line open”. The more I seek Him, the more I realize just how much I need Him. Also, I realize how far short I fall in my prayer life.

    Jesus said John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, brings forth much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing”. How true are those words! As a follower of Christ, and especially as one called and commissioned to preach His Gospel, and equip His followers, I need that time with Him. I know, He is always with me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t initiate fellowship with Him. One thing I recently read from the old Methodist preacher E.M. Bounds said that God chooses to use men. How much more shall we run to the prayer closet and fall upon our Savior, and cry out to Him for the spiritual sustenance we so badly need? “Lord, make me a man of prayer. I know that apart from You, I can do absolutely nothing. Lead me into greater depths of your Life and Spirit. Make me like You. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen”.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Thank You, Lord Jesus!

    “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

    I took a short walk today. It is a beautiful day outside, sunny and 56 degrees. As I walked, I praised and worshipped the Lord. I found myself thanking Him for His goodness. I thanked Him for such a wonderful day, especially given that it is November. I thank God for what He has given me. He has given me salvation from my sins. He has baptized me in the Holy Ghost. He has delivered me from certain ruin with alcohol. He gave me a beautiful wife, and three beautiful kids with one more on the way. We have a roof over our heads, heat and electricity, and running water. We have transportation. God has been good to us. I thank Him for all that He has done.

    But I also thank Him for what He has allowed me to endure. I thank Him because He has been developing godly character in me. He has been giving me a greater faith in Him. He has been pouring out His love in my heart. He has used the trials and difficult times to make me more like Him.

    I thank Him for the lessons He has taught me about a father’s love through my own children. I thank Him for the patience that He is still forming in me, again, through my kids. I thank Him for bringing my wife and I even closer to Him and each other through seven years of marriage.

    1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in every thing, for this is the will of God in Christ concerning us. We must remember that God is using every situation we find ourselves in for our good. So let us give Him thanks today, because even though we can’t understand what the Lord Jesus is doing all of the time, we can rejoice because no matter what, He is using the situation to make us into the men and women of God that He has called us to be. God bless!

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Light for the Battle

    I feel like I’m beating the same old drum lately. For some reason, God continues to give me messages that are trial related. But, I will do it anyway. I pray that someone out there is blessed by what I share today.

    Joshua 10:12-13

    Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. [Is] not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

    There are a couple of things to note about this particular event.
    1. This was a battle to make good a treaty they never should have made.
    The men of Gibeon had fooled Joshua into believing they had traveled from a far country. Joshua took them at their word, and failed to inquire of the Lord.

    2. Joshua had to let his yes be yes. Although through deception, he vowed to fight for these people, and so he did.

    Even though this was caused by his own lack of diligence, God was still fighting for Joshua and the Israelites. Not only were they slaughtering the armies of the five kings, but God also helped by sending a monster hailstorm to kill even more than Joshua’s army did.

    It must have been an exhausting day for Israel. They traveled all night to get to Gibeon, and fought all day. Evidently, there wasn’t enough daylight left to finish the job, so Joshua prayed that God would make the sun stand still.

    What is the connection? First, God will give us light for our battles. Those soldiers couldn’t effectively fight in the dark. They needed to see what they were doing. In just the same way, we need the light of God’s word and His presence to light our way in our battles.
    Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5) As we go through this life, we also have been given light to light our way, the Spirit of Christ within us!

    Second, God will fight for us, even if we have put ourselves in the jam! That fight that day to protect Gibeon should never have happened. But God was still with Israel. And He caused good to come out of the situation, in that some of the people they were to conquer were done away with in one battle because they all joined together as one. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”, and verse 31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?” God will fight for you!

    Be assured that God knows where you are in the battle. And even when things would seem the darkest, God is there to light you path! And know that He doesn’t cast you aside when you’ve caused the problem yourself, but He says to come boldly before His throne of grace, and receive the mercy you need in time of trouble (Heb. 4:16). God Bless!

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    A Work Prayer Request

    Hello, friends. Today at work I had a call from a manager in another part of the Division I work in about a job I applied for a month ago. I am supposed to hear about the proper testing for this position next week. Please pray for me. I have been praying about a better paying job for a very long time. This could be the answer!

    God knows exactly what we need. I pray that this is what I've been looking for. I'm hoping to be back with a new devotion Monday morning. Until then, brethren, may God bless you! Till next week.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Blessed Afflictions

    {God} said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
    But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.” (Genesis 15: 13-14 NASB)

    One topic I have written a good deal about in this blog is the storms and trials God often takes us through. What can I say? It’s a subject I know all too well. As I was listening to a preacher last night, he preached a bit from Genesis 15, but spoke about the sacrifices that Abram laid out. In reading the chapter this morning, what jumped off the page to me are the verses quoted above.

    The Israelites were in terrible bondage in Egypt. Exodus 1:14 gives a description of what they endured for four hundred years: “And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, [was] with rigour”. Finally, God sent Moses back to Egypt to deliver His people. As God said, they came out with abundance (Ex. 12:36).

    While it is important to encourage each other to weather the storms in our lives, I believe it is also important to say that God wants us to bring out of our storms what we didn’t have before. I’m not talking about tangible things, though God most certainly can do that. Romans 5:3-5(NLT) says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us-they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” As we go through our trials, God wants to develop Godly character in us. He wants to bring us out with greater faith than when we went into the trial. He wants to bring us out with greater love, and with a greater understanding of His goodness. This affliction today is working a far greater and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).

    As I close out, I would like to mention the church at Thessalonica. They were an afflicted, persecuted church, yet they grew in adversity. They grew in faith and love (2 Thes. 1:3). So, just as they grew, let God grow you in you storm. And rejoice knowing that He will bring you out with more than you went into it with. God bless!