Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 31, 2007

Good morning, let the glory of the Lord shine in you this day! Sometimes I sense that we like to go into our closet and whisper, "Jesus is Lord". The world marshalls its forces against each one of us, and at times we forget whom we walk with. We are not to be undercover agents here on this earth and in this life. Though we are not at home, and living in enemy-held territory, it is not for us to be quiet about our faith. God, the mighty creator of heaven and earth, holds us safely in his hand. With power and authority we go forth in the whole armor of God! Analyze your talents and spiritual gifts, use them in joy for the kingdom of God.

Lately, it seems that a spirit of rebellion has come into me. I don't want to do my classwork, and the house is becoming messy. I have asked the Lord to show me where this is coming from, but please don't be afraid to offer some suggestions. Bible verses that you know or wisdom that you have gained through life may help in this. Sharing is caring as they say! Perhaps the uncertainty that has come upon me lately has something to do with this attitude. The reorganization at work, a trusted counselor moving away, and other trials, seem to have things kind of chaotic right now. Yes, the devotional goes on, one enjoyable and rewarding task that I do like. Jesus told us that his yoke is easy and his burden light, and this devotional is certainly proof of that.

Living in Jesus and feeling the joy!


Monday, July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007

Good morning on this great and glorious Monday! What about the other guy? Today I thought about the other person. Often in situations we tend to think first of ourselves and only much later of the other person. When someone is in a position to serve us, perhaps a nurse, doctor, waiter, or other position, we judge them quickly on their performance without stopping to consider their life and what may be going on in it. Servers are expected to put aside all personal feelings or problems and do their job cheerfully. However, we all know that is not so easy. A medical problem doesn't simply go away while a person is at work and may constantly remind them that it is there. It is easy to tell someone else how to solve their problems or to offer unsolicited advice on how they should be doing their job. Then there is the other side of that; we might be in that same position of service and suddenly everyone else should be understanding of our problems. Yes, we seem to be stuck in that beam and mote thing again.

Praise the Lord for the saving power of Jesus Christ! That power does more than grant salvation to us; it cleanses us of bad attitudes and helps us to see the other person as someone with needs and problems much like our own. God doesn't banish all of our problems when we become Christians, and one reason for that might be so that we remember that the other person is hurting too. I once thought all of my problems were unique and that no one understood. As I have grown in Christ, it is a comfort to know that others suffer similar problems and that I can help them or they can help me. No problem is too big for our great God, and sharing our joy and our trials with each other helps to heal and gives us hope. Jesus told us to love one another, and that command still holds true today. It is for our own good that we love others, and it is for their good that they love each of us.

God loves you with a God-sized and enduring love,


Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 29, 2007

Whee! What a morning! Great sermons and fish going bonkers. The heavy rain yesterday has the pond brimming full, and for some reason the fish are having way too much fun. After the rain we have received the past couple of days, the plants are going to do well for a while around here, lots of lawn mowing. The temperatures have been very nice for the end of July. That's right, the end of July is Tuesday night, we are at the end of another month already. Less than 5 months until Christmas, time to start getting ready! Break out the Christmas music, sing a few carols in the shower for practice, and dust off those decorations, Christmas is almost here! :-) Oops, we should probably get the kids back to school first and maybe give some thought to autumn. It can be hard for some of us not to look too far ahead. It may be a silly song title, but Jesus told us something similar - live for today.

Someone has been praying for me! Don't think that you can get away with keeping that in the closet. My washing machine needed a service call last weekend, but is working fine this weekend. In the world that kind of thing doesn't happen, but in Christ those prayers have obvious effects. I can tell when someone has been praying for me and a great, "Thank you very much!" to you. As always we should pray for each other without ceasing and trust in God for all of our problems. I may be in a dark valley, but the other end is very bright.

Praise God, our Father in Heaven!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28, 2007

Good morning! We have a rainy day ahead of us it would seem. The customers waiting in line for the sidewalk sale at our store have a cool day for the first time in many years. Praise the Lord for his beneficence! Nothing heavy on such a fine day. A busy day yesterday, and I found out nothing new on the reorganization at work. I'll just have to set that aside and enjoy the weekend, with some homework thrown in to keep the weekend busy. It is time to set the calamities of the week aside and enjoy some time off. Have you ever wondered how much it would take to please God? Have I done enough today, or this week? If faith without deeds is dead, do we need to be a constant, whirling ball of activity for God? If you look at the one example we should always look toward, I think you will find that Jesus had a pace and that he often withdrew to quiet places. None of us has the endurance to do many things simultaneously and do them well. God created us with a need for sleep and relaxation. Trying to do too much will wear us out. Our lives are to be a shining light to the world, if we are worn out and tired all the time, what kind of witness is that to someone in the same state? Leave the guilt feelings at the feet of the cross; God will make it clear when each of us is to act. Rest in our Lord Jesus!

Have a wonderful weekend in the Spirit!


Friday, July 27, 2007

July 27, 2007

Good morning, and a Friday morning at that! Let the glory of the Lord shine out from each of us this day. We face the uncertainty of a reorganization at work. I'll let you know how it comes out. The important thing is to remember to submit to those the Lord has placed over me and to do the best I can at whatever duty or project that I am assigned. Every once in a while, our lives have an upheaval or change in direction. Some of us will be moving to a new home or new town, others may transfer to a new position or new company in their work, and some of us may suffer loss or gain in our families. This life is unstable, probably the very reason that Jesus reminded us to build our house upon the Rock, Jesus himself. Look to the Lord while the changes of this life whirl around you; accept the peace that Jesus gives to you. Jesus pours out his love upon us, roll in it, waller in it, and live in that love!

Let you light shine this day!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26, 2007

Good morning! This morning I would like to share a bit of the Psalms with you.

"Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
His anger lasts for a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may go on all night,
but joy comes with the morning." (30:4-5)

In looking at the sunrise this morning, it is clear that beginning a new day is often the time to set aside the worries of yesterday. Many of our problems don't look so bad after a night's sleep. Is sleep then the only restorative for our problems? No, we can read in Psalms about how his anger passes in a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. David was one to know this; he angered the Lord just as we do. Today is a morning of forgiveness; give your sins and worries to God before you do anything else this day.

God bless you this fine day!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 25, 2007

At the dawning of a new day, a good morning to you! "When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, he had mercy on them and didn't carry out the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:10) Did you ever feel like our country might be near that point; the one where God sends a messenger crying, "Repent! Or suffer the consequences of the Lord's wrath."? Reading or watching the media, I often feel that the sins of America in many ways parallel the sins of the Israelites prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and their captivity in Babylon. Molech worship involved child sacrifice, abortion involves child sacrifice; we can list further sins, but we all know what they are. Should God withhold his wrath from our country? At the moment I remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord asked if any righteous men could be found then he would spare the city. I do believe there are many righteous men and women in this land. All made righteous by the blood of Jesus. Is there reason to spare America? You bet, and right now we are that reason. Believe in Jesus and spread the Good News, our country is depending on us!

Praise the name of Jesus, our Lord!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24, 2007 - A Story of Jonah

A Story of Jonah

Jonah received very clear instructions from God. "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message of judgment I have given you." (Jonah 3:1) This is the second iteration of the message, given to Jonah after he had been spit out by the fish. We know from our Sunday School lessons that Jonah obeyed the second time around and gave his message to Nineveh. The result was a great revival, how Jonah must have felt the power of the effect his words had on the people! You may have noticed that I said "his" message. Look at what the Lord said to him, "...the message I have given you." Yesterday, I reminded you and my self that when the Lord gives us something, we should take ownership of it in humble gratitude. Thus the message now becomes Jonah's and he probably felt quite powerful after such a dramatic event. A city of 120,000 repents from the "greatest to the least" as the Bible records. Now Jonah is sitting in a small, hand built shelter outside of the city, waiting for the Lord to rain down destruction upon the city. But! the Lord sees the genuine change of heart in the people of Nineveh and changes or cancels his plan to destroy them. Jonah, as any of us might, promptly begins to complain bitterly, perhaps he feels the fool for having given a message that will not happen, but more than likely he is frightened. That power of his message is suddenly rendered moot, and false prophets, those whose predicted events did not come to pass, were often treated rather badly in those times, that is they were stoned to death.

Sitting in that little shelter, the Lord doesn't explain everything to Jonah right away, but simply asks, "Is it right for you to be angry about this?" We often have that same problem, we rail and complain against everything in general or something more specific, and yet do we really have a right to be angry about events that happen as they do according to God's great plan? Jonah was like those workers in Jesus' parable who were angry that those who arrived late were paid the same as those who worked the entire day. Jonah had taken a bit too much ownership; he not only owned the message, but tried to usurp the power of God that was behind the message too! He wanted to exercise that power and destroy a city of now repentant souls. Would any of us have been any different?

Later, Jonah is sent a large, leafy plant to shade his little dwelling. He is very glad of this plant. Here is where the Lord has given me special understanding of Jonah's situation in this little shelter. He, after spending three days in the belly of a fish, was claustrophobic. Think of the terror of that situation, three days waiting for the fish to take one gulp of water and drowning you, 36 hours of imagination run wild in a dark, wet place that you are completely powerless to escape. The fish probably dived like a submarine; it isn't as though Jonah could just step out the side door. The plant provided Jonah shelter from the sun, but outside of that little hut that Jonah had built. He could be sheltered but outside in the open at the same time. What a blessing for a claustrophobic! You can probably imagine Jonah with the BC equivalent of a lawn chair and a cool drink, sitting under the shade of that great plant. But then, disaster.. the plant dies. We are beginning to see the similarity between Jonah and all of us, and he does not disappoint... he immediately starts whining again, just like...us! The Lord asks him again, "Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?"

Jonah's answer is terribly bitter, "Yes, even angry enough to die!" The Lord then compassionately answers Jonah and explains how Jonah feels sorry for the plant and reminds Jonah that he did nothing to put it there. The last question the Lord has for Jonah, and the one that completes the Book of Jonah, is powerful and to the point. "Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?" A worm was in Nineveh, destroying the people just as one destroyed the plant Jonah had enjoyed. God's message, given to Jonah, who then gave it to the people of Nineveh (we can see that Jonah no longer had ownership anyway) destroyed that worm of sin which had infested them. Who are we a special messenger to?

To God be the Glory!


Monday, July 23, 2007

July 23, 2007

Good morning. Yesterday, while doing more of that homework stuff, I noticed a flock of geese flying south. A glance at the calendar told me that this probably had a lot more to do with a lake or pond than any approach of cold weather. If geese needed to fly south on July 22, we would be in what the atmospheric scientists like to call "big trouble". I don't like the season of hot weather, but I am not quite ready for winter just yet.

This morning I read in Jonah about his getting tossed off the ship. The sailors were not bad people, after learning that Jonah had disobeyed God and that they should throw him overboard, they still tried to row back to safety. They couldn't fight God though and were forced to toss Jonah overboard, at which time the storm stopped. Their amazement caused them to pledge their obedience to the Lord and offer him a sacrifice. The Lord can work even in our disobedience! Not that we should make a habit of that; Jonah spent three days in a big fish, probably a whale, but the Bible translation I use says big fish. Jonah goes on to say that when he had lost all hope, his thoughts turned to the Lord. Isn't that the truth? When we are doing well, we don't think of salvation. It seems that at least most of us must hit bottom in our life before we will turn to the Lord. I was no different and I suspect that you came to that same point in your life as well. There is no better one to cry out to in our despair than the Lord who created the heavens and the earth. Praise God for the love of our Father in Heaven!

May God be with you this week,


Sunday, July 22, 2007

July 22, 2007

Good Sunday morning! Did you ever stop at some point and have the thought that you are not receiving answers to prayer? Troubles come in legions and it seems that God is distant, and then you come to the Word, you come to church services, and all of the sudden here come the answers, not just one, not two, but over and over the answers come and you know without a doubt that God was and is listening in your troubles. I have been through a valley, and have experienced this morning just that kind of answer. Praise the Lord God almighty! You and I are children of God; we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. Today, receive the blessing, the inheritance, that is ours as children of the Most High God.

We are children of the King!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 20, 2007

Good morning from the cloudy skies of western Nebraska! I suppose that I should say "under" the cloudy skies, the clouds aren't saying anything. Today, I read about the great throne judgment in Revelation. I realized that I do not want anyone to perish in the second death. This may be a step toward that genuine love that we strive for in the strength of Jesus. We may not yet want all of the best for a stranger on the far side of the planet, but we come to realize that we don't want them to perish. I pray that we all have a wonderful Friday and weekend. Show the light of Jesus into the darkness of the world.


July 21, 2007

Whew! 0930 and I am already tired. Cleaning the pond, catching some fish and transplanting them to a bigger pond out in the country, and digging some cattails with Gary, has left me worn out early this day. What happened to resting after the work week? :-) Some times there is just a lot to get done on a Saturday and putting it off until Sunday ruins both days. Of course, this weekend is not without its very own school assignments, but each weekend is one closer to finishing this school thing.

Reading the final chapter of the Bible reminds me that Jesus would have each of us know that He is coming soon. We might wonder at times just how soon is "soon". When we are tired of this life, when problems are tough or many, we might wonder a bit more forcefully; we might even suggest to the Lord that now would be a good time. Well, me too, but Jesus is not a rip cord that we can pull, or a pill to soothe an ache; we must wait and endure until his perfect time has arrived. However, he says it more than once to remind us, to comfort us, that his time is soon. We can count on that, and we who believe know that time is short for spreading the Good News. We need not endure much longer. Trust in the almighty strength of Jesus our Lord.

I pray that you have a blessed weekend!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 19, 2007

Good morning, and a sticky one it is too. In more humid areas of the country things get wet from the humidity in the morning, here we get sticky. Have you ever noticed some phrase creeping into your conversation? Mine as of late has been "and that's a fact" appended to things that most certainly are not. "That's a beautiful house, and that's a fact!" Actually that's my opinion, not a fact, and the phrase must go. If I review the books that I have read recently, the answer will probably be found there.

What else do you see going on in the world today? If you point out the events you see moving in the world of politics, business, and government, the world would probably brand you a "conspiracy theorist" or just "quack". Yet, if someone has a plot working and someone else points it out to them, what is the first line of defense? "Oh, pooh! You're imagining things." Yes, they brush it off and try to deflect the investigation. Looking at the media in general, what if there is a power behind the moves we see? Purchases of certain companies, policies of government, who gets elected in politics or who takes over power, can all add up to a great plan of someones. It may appear so disconnected that most would fail to see the plan behind the news events. Pastor Rogers liked to say that, "it is getting gloriously dark!" Never before in history has the ability to speak to the entire world existed, and never before has the world been so open to purchase. When the communist giants held power, there was (in theory) nothing to buy in their countries. Now we see them taking to capitalism with a vengeance. The Internet is reaching to even remote villages and farms through wireless, cellular, and satellite technologies. Solar powered computers are going to be made available to children throughout the world. Gloriously dark indeed.

There is no reason to fear. No matter what plots or events unfold in the world, God is sovereign. Only one plan will come to be in the end, and that is God's plan. Let the glory of the Lord shine upon us this day!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18, 2007

Good morning! Another warm day in our life on earth, enjoy it while you can. The pond needs maintenance again, looks like my first Saturday task has been decided already. I read this morning of the great celebration in heaven over the Lord's final victory over evil. Revelation 19 and 20 record John being shown the tremendous shouting of praise and joy as Jesus rides forth to the final victory. What a wonderful vision to start the day with, especially after the dark visions of the trumpet and bowl judgments. Right now we travel through a valley, both the big valley that is this life and the smaller valleys that belong to us personally. Jesus is with us through all of that and if anything the darker the valley, the higher we should hold the light he gives to us. Letting our light shine is not just a trite little saying, it is the Good News of Jesus shining forth from us. Let the glory of the Lord shine out from you today. If it seems particularly dark today, ask God for a little more light to shine.

In the Name of Jesus!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17, 2007

Good morning. The cat is bird watching with an intensity that is the envy of Audobon, they may have a slightly different interest in the welfare of the bird though. So many things on my mind this morning, which one to write about? Last night in my Bible reading, I was struck by how much Paul cared for his readers in Rome. He writes that, day and night he brings their needs before God. That is a powerful testimony. I am sure that Paul suffered as much or more than we do each day. In those days there was not a lot of comfort to be had on journeys, and Paul's were epic. The beating and stoning that he survived by the grace of God probably didn't do his poor ol' bod any good either. Yet his prayers day and night were for other people, other believers in Christ. Bring your needs in prayer to God, the Bible instructs us to do this, but then move on and pray for your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and especially for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Today you get one long prayer request! Tomorrow, who knows, we may even have a devotional again. Actually, prayer is so important in our lives that entire books have been devoted to it and the Bible speaks of it often. Pray day and night, love the Lord Jesus with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

God loves you and so do I!


Monday, July 16, 2007

July 16, 2007

Good morning. Always Christ is there for me. It does not matter whether it is a normal day or a "bad" day, Christ is there. No, this is not going to be a tale of some lousy day I had, just that this morning I am realizing anew that Christ is always with me and always watching out for me. I am glad that he sits by the right hand of the Father as the Holy Spirit makes intercession for me. Did you ever stop to realize that we really don't know what to pray for much of the time? We often tell God a list of "I wants", many of which may not be best for us. Praise the Lord for his infinite wisdom; He knows exactly what is best for each and every one of us.

Confession: I have a bad case of what a friend referred to as "senioritis". It hardly seems that I can stand another class and yet I am so close to graduation. Have you ever spoken rashly early in life or in a journey and said something like, "that will never happen to me!" How often that comes back to haunt us! Short-timers syndrome, Old Salt fever, senioritis, and many other attitudes and conditions plague those we know or meet in life. We usually take some kind of vow to not let it happen to us and seem to set ourselves up for yet another humbling experience. Probably because we make these promises and vows in our own strength.

God be praised!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15, 2007

Good morning, it is nice to see the clouds keeping it cool(er) today. Walking through Walmart, I saw the displays of school stuff already. It seems that Christmas isn't the only shopping season that is pushed at a time that to me seems much too soon. The first of August, okay, but the middle of July just seems a bit like torturing the kids. Summer break is only half over for goodness sakes. It seems like I went off about this last year; Walmart apparently didn't take notice of my opinion, how rude of them! :-)

Last night I was asking for forgiveness for my sins, which seems to happen a lot, and the thought came to me that I should call it the "lust of too much". What that means is that often sin begins with a lust for too much. Wanting one woman or one man and entering to a relationship leading to marriage is good for us. Wanting a wife or husband and having an affair is lusting after too much and is sin. When we commit adultery is hurts us more than it hurts God. He is disappointed in us and grieves over our sin, but the hurt is really to all parties involved in the breaking of trust. Pornography, many movies and television shows, and even a lot of advertising is based on that lust of too much. When a person of wealth starts collecting automobiles what happens? You know it, the collection will eventually encompass garages and buildings. In our consumer-driven culture, the lust of too much causes houses and closets to overflow with "stuff"; we have things that we have not used for years, clothes that no longer fit, and furniture that only the pets use. Then we can start in on the credit card debt...

What happens is that "lust of too much" cannot be satisfied, one car (knick-knack, model, figurine, etc.) doesn't make a collection, but two only calls to three, and so on, until suddenly the collection is out of control. Advertisers take advantage of this lust to tell us how much more we need to want and buy. Even Solomon, the wisest man in the Old Testament, fell into the trap of that lust. He had 700 wives and a thousand concubines, and that is just asking for trouble. Now all of this does not mean that we should stop living; you will still need things and want things, not all of that is automatically a sin. However, we can usually tell when we have fallen victim to the lust of too much. If you find it difficult to pay for that last collectible you bought, you may be there already. If the credit card bills are piling up, say it in your best Jeff Foxworthy imitation, you might be a victim of the lust of too much.

Praise the Lord for forgiveness in Jesus Christ!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

July 14, 2007

Good Morning! What a nice morning too! Last night I thought about the story of the Prodigal Son. If you are at all like me, the prodigal part came easily, even naturally. I cannot remember a time when I was not good at the prodigal part of that story. Rebellion, spending, gluttony, all of these come naturally to a creature stained with sin from birth. Have you ever noticed that all of Jesus' parables have an element of "me" in them? As in, "oops, that's me. I'm often like that." I read the stories of Jesus coming down on the Pharisees and their legion of rules, only to think badly of someone else for some small infraction. There seems to be no getting around the fact that I am all of the wrong things spoken of in the Bible.
That is why the Law points to Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law. Read in Leviticus the extensive rules for how to do everything in life. Is it any wonder the Israelites had trouble keeping the law? What are the corners of the beard anyway, and why should they not be trimmed? I think that God made the Law difficult to show us how we cannot keep it. They didn't back in the day, and we don't keep it now. Prodigals everywhere I look and I am not the least of them. Praise the Lord for forgiveness in Jesus!

Paul tells us in Romans that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. Almost 2,000 years later there is no better way to put it. We are all prodigals from birth and only in Jesus can we be saved. Heavy news for a Saturday? Yep, me too, but that is what came to me for the devotional today. On the other hand, we have the Good News of Christ's resurrection and life! He has risen! Conquering death and the grave, none can overcome our Lord Jesus. We cannot be condemned when God has forgiven our sin. Jesus paid the price and we cannot be charged again with the same crime. Hold your hands up to heaven today and rest in the glory of our Lord's sacrifice for us.

Give glory to the Lord this day!


Friday, July 13, 2007

July 13, 2007

Good morning. Do you ever find yourself thinking that a problem or trial that you have experienced is unique. You might have that thought, "Why does this only happen to me?" or something similar go through your head. Later, God will bring someone into your life and you find that not only is your problem not unique, but yours is in some way lighter or easier than the next person's. When we speak of stories where God has humbled me in some way, my stories will often come from that direction. At times it can be a longevity or length of time complaint, "Lord, when are you going to heal me from this?" About that time someone will mention that same or a worse problem they have endured for much longer. Ouch, there I go scurrying off under a couch in shame, since my new inch-high size allows me to do such things. Stress at work and a desire to get out? Hardly a day goes by that someone I thought was strong and doing well in the hectic environment does not mention how they have a dream or plan to get out and do something else for a living.

Yes, we will go over it once again. Each of us is a unique creation of God, but none of us has problems that God has not seen before and handled easily in his mighty power and wisdom. Isn't it great to know that God is in control of our problems and knows exactly how to take care of us? We need not fear outcomes when we walk in the Creator and he in us. Let the glory of the Lord rise above our problems and trials.

God bless you this weekend!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12, 2007

Good Morning! The light of the Lord shines in us today. I pray that one more letter of love might go out to you on this day. What a beautiful sunrise this morning. This is one of my favorite times to write the devotional, that time just before the sun comes up when only the occasional car goes by and even the animals are quiet. The annual harvest report, since I know that I did this last year, is that about half of it is finished. As I drove to Scottsbluff and back yesterday, it seems that about the same number of fields are cut as are not. I saw harvesters working in Banner county; they may have received less rain than we did.

Yesterday, I heard a couple of embarrassing Lord stories. What in the world could that be? It goes like this, we ask the Lord in prayer for something that might seem at first to be a little silly or selfish, an "I want" or "I would like" request, and later, perhaps years later, the Lord answers in a way that humbles us. I thought it might be interesting to collect some of those stories. What stories do you have wherein you received what you asked for and were humbled by the experience? Did the Lord fulfill your request through someone whom you didn't expect? Did a child in some way fulfill your request? I have come to see a God-sized sense of humor in our Lord. Remember the story about the Seven Sons of Seva in Acts? You know the one where the demon responds, "We know Jesus and we know Paul, but who are you?" and proceeds to thump the pretenders to a fine fare-thee-well. Sometimes a person or persons deserve a good thumpin', not the least of which might be myself! :-)

God loves you and so do I!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11, 2007

Good morning. The rain came last night, along with some lightning and thunder to help me sleep better. Right. Sometimes we get in a pattern of late night storms that can really put a crimp on the sleep time. It does make for a nice, cool morning though. I hear from one of my farmer friends that her wheat harvest is complete. Praise the Lord for that! Did you ever think about practicing to listen? I have often thought that talking comes very naturally to most people, but listening requires more practice. I see in the secular media that there is no need for sexist remarks in this area any longer as a new study has shown men and women are both equally "chatty" in conversation. Years of bad jokes and a few funny ones have just been killed off with one study. Actually, you are correct; the jokes about talkative women will probably not go away quite that easily. I have noticed in our meetings at work that men are just as deserving of those jokes; there are men who do love to hear themselves talk, and just like the women in those jokes, they don't have to say much while doing it. While we should always remember that God created man and woman to be different and how wonderful those differences are, we should also rejoice when an unfair wrong is set right. Either sex has its share of "bum raps" saying one group is worse in some regard to the other, and it is good to see one disproved. Praise the Lord for all of our differences, not just the ones between the sexes!

God bless and keep you!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10, 2007

Good morning! We have some thunderstorms rolling through this morning, an unusual event for us; our thunderstorms mostly occur in the evening and mornings are clear. Reading in Revelation once more (yes, again!) I read about lightning and think about the symbolism. The throne in heaven is surrounded by lightning and thunder which may signify an impending storm. When the angel throws the coals from the altar down to earth John says that "lightning flashed and thunder crashed and there was a terrible earthquake." That may be literal or a sign of a great storm. The symbol of lightning is used often and not just in the Bible. It is one of the awesome forces of nature that we have no control over. We can reduce our risk by not running around in thunderstorms holding a copper pole aloft, or simply by staying inside a structure, but we cannot control the lightning. I suspect that if we truly understood the forces at work in God's creation that we would not think of the lightning as capricious or random. However, we do know that God is in control of each lightning strike, none will surprise him or catch him off guard.
Events in our lives are no different. They may seem random to us, but to God all was planned out long ago. You and I are saved through his great plan. We run the race to arrive at the place God has already planned for us. Is it not wonderful that God has created this entire universe that we might come to him at the appointed time? The thought of that kind of stretches the ol' mind a bit doesn't it? Today we can watch the lightning and hear the thunder, and then celebrate the glory of the Lord!

God bless you!


Monday, July 09, 2007

July 9, 2007

Good morning! The time for me to return to work has arrived... actually just the morning, it isn't quite time yet. It was a nice cool night, but like me, you are probably finding it difficult to cool down your house these days. The heat of summer has got into the cement, the drywall, and most everything else by now. Attention! No, not as in listen up, but as in recognition. We want it, we desire it, but often we don't know how to get it in the right way. One of the big black marks against any organization is a failure to recognize its employees. Worse would be when volunteer organizations fail to recognize the volunteers in some way. Yes, we are storing up treasure in heaven, but it is also good for a peer to say a "thank you" or to send a note or card in even the small things. I don't think that God takes away our reward in heaven when honest compliments or awards are given here on earth; that would be out of character for a loving father, and we know that God is the ultimate loving father. Now if we seek only the acclaim of man, then that is probably all that we will receive. Accept the honest compliments of your brothers and sisters in Christ with good grace and no false modesty. When we say, "Jesus is Lord!" we not only pledge our allegiance to him, but we also pay him a sincere compliment.

Let the glory of the Lord rise from us!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

July 7, 2007

Good morning and a hot one it is already. That is July around here, not much that we can do about that. Looking over my utility spreadsheet for the past six years in this house, the July bill is always the summer peak for electricity usage. That makes sense, summer begins, the days are long and hot, and the nights short and do not cool down very much. The grass gets a lot of water and the AC runs a lot. This earth-shattering news flash brought to you by ObviousNews! :-)

I took my summer expensive WalMart trip this morning, I should be set on the consumables for a while. I also picked up something that I probably should have done long ago, a personal shredder. All of us should be doing this, and I have been slow to get around to it. A $50 shredder is a relatively inexpensive measure to help prevent identity theft. Of course a shredder does nothing for the Internet stuff that can get any of us in trouble. Back in the day defending your house or herds was about the extent of most people's defensive problems. If a king arrived with an army, a person could become a vassal, be conquered, flee, or fight to the death, and that was about it. Now we can be attacked in so many ways that it is too much ground for anyone to defend. Most people trust in ignorance and luck; I think it better to trust in the Lord first and do what we can second.

I hope that most of you are enjoying some time at the lake or beach on this second Independence Day weekend. I am still in school. Yes, poor pitiful me, but next year it won't be that way; school will be finished and summer will be different. God willing, I will do a lot more writing next year.

May the God of grace and peace be in your heart today!


July 8, 2007

Good morning! I see signs that the wheat harvest is underway in these parts. No doubt the hot, dry weather we have seen recently has helped the harvest. The wind has changed directions though and we may see some rain at some point during the coming week. The arrival of harvest is always a milestone each year, no matter what crop and what time of the year it occurs. Jesus used the metaphor of harvest to let us know that the end time is near. It may seem that every year I speak of how close the end times are as yet another harvest arrives. This has happened with or without me for the past 19 centuries and then some. None of us knows when the end will arrive and the harvest will be finished forever, and so we continue in hope and faith while the world scoffs. Today I pray for those who believe in their own intellect, power, strength, or luck. Belief in such things will not save them. No governement, minister, priest, friend, or relative can save anyone, only Jesus saves and he is available to anyone and everyone. Praise God for our Savior!


Friday, July 06, 2007

July 6, 2007

Good morning! Time to get up and shake it all about once more. I haven't had my breakfast yet, so that may explain the "shake it all about" thing. Last night was one of the more still nights that I have seen for a while. Even this morning the breeze is nowhere to be seen. Very unusual out in these parts. Today, reading in Revelation, I am struck by the how the personnel in heaven fulfill their duties. The four beasts are saying, "Holy, holy , holy..." and the four and twenty elders are kneeling and setting down their crowns before the throne, as John says, "Day after day, and night after night." That sounds kind of dull and redundant don't you think? Yes, from our human perspective we think of sore knees, aching backs, raspy throats, and other conditions that would cause if we did that here on earth. Not that praising God constantly would be a bad thing, but that we are still too earth bound in our thinking. John reports what is going on, the coloring we give it comes from our own prejudices. I notice, or more likely was prompted by the Holy Spirit, that nowhere does it say the beasts or elders are forced to do this. In fact just a few verses later one of the elders speaks to John, and then the beasts and elders bow before the Lamb. That tells me that this group still has their freedom in heaven, no one is making them praise God constantly. We cannot place our earth bound notions and ideas on heaven, Jesus tells us that he will make all things new. If all things are new from God's point of view, how can we possibly imagine what that will be like? Sorry, but we will simply have to wait patiently to find out just how wonderful the new heaven and earth will be when Jesus comes.

Praise God for the day!


Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 5, 2007

Good morning! Sleepy and tired from the loss of sleep during the last couple of nights, I sit down to write once more. I am glad that many people had their fun and now I am once more glad that its over for another year. Ha, I get dopey after a few evenings of sleep loss, I can only imagine what living with a new baby must be like for sleep deprivation. Did you ever notice how much more easily the mind starts to wander when short on sleep? Writing the devotional takes twice as long when that happens. Sentences come one at a time, with a lot of mind wandering in between them. You might imagine that during a time of persecution, an organization wanting to make Christians look bad could easily do that by depriving them of sleep. A court defense would be nearly impossible in a comfortable chair in a courtroom where, unlike television, drama is usually lacking. In that we must depend not on our own strength, but on the strength of Jesus to see us through. It is unlikely that Stephen rehearsed or even knew what to say when facing the court in Acts, but when he spoke in the Holy Spirit, whooee, what a speech he gave them! You can read it in Acts and marvel at the work of the Holy Spirit.

God is wonderful!


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4, 2007

Good morning, and a happy Independence Day! Today we celebrate the gaining of our independence as a nation. What have we done with that independence? Looking around we see much good and bad; our major media outlets do not always report the good and seem to delight in bringing us bad news. The Good News is our responsibility. Jesus told us to take that Good News to the farthest corners of the globe, and we are indeed doing just that. You may wonder how you are doing that working each day at the same place, seldom leaving your town, and going to the same church. While the opportunity to spread the Good News exists in every town and neighborhood, just supporting your church with tithes is a good way to help spread that Good News. Television and cable stations carry ministers and evangelists throughout the world every day. Letters come to them from such unlikely places as Saudi Arabia and the Sudan, speaking of how great it is to be able to receive the Word. Children can go to summer camps to listen to the Word through our financial support. Churches remain solvent through our giving. Yes, there is much that we can do by working at that job that we have; independence is in our hearts through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Teamwork in the family of Christ is our greatest asset in spreading the Good News; that is why Paul told us that everyone has their place in the body of Christ. Is it not great to belong to that family?

Let the glory of the Lord shine in our Christian family!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

July 3, 2007

Good morning! Bone head weather forecast for today: it will be hot. Yes, it's July and the night did not cool off very much, so my forecast is not any evidence for psychic or forecasting ability. Praise the Lord for the new day! Good news for those going to the lakes or oceans, the hot weather will make the water feel that much better, especially if the water is cool. I'm crying again this morning, must be something the cat got into or something outside when I was walking around the yard. Allergies, the new way to make a grown man cry.

How do we go about fulfilling our duty? What is there to help us to do that which is required and to obey the authorities put over us? Our rebellious sin nature will fight against it, the flesh will want to go its own way. Those rebellious thoughts will come, and certainly we should not submit to evil powers. The desire to follow the flesh is strong, but courage and strength are found in the Lord. Baby steps as we grow in our walk of faith lead us to start small. When a boss heaps yet another task on your plate, take a breath, work with your boss to prioritize tasks, and do what you can during your work time. Above all, pray and read the Word. Gather with the Lord often for prayer and reading. I think the best way to start learning how to obey is to simply pray, "Lord, help me to obey."

Let the wisdom of the Lord shine on us today.


Monday, July 02, 2007

July 2, 2007

Good morning, almost good afternoon. I am on vacation today and as you will notice from the time this is sent, doing a bit of goofing off! I see a man working in the neighbor's backyard from my window. He is large in the trunk and arms, but smaller in the legs. From his sun-browned skin and muscular upper body, I am not going too far out on a limb by guessing that he does not sit at a desk for work during most days. Actually, I can see they are pouring a patio for the neighbor. Doing cement work on a daily basis will make a person muscular over time. Often we can tell something of what a person does for a living by their appearance, though perhaps not as much as in former days. When my parents and grandparents grew up, office workers dressed well, even in a suit and tie for men and dresses or skirts for women. These days an office worker may not look that much different from a dock worker, with the exception of some sweat and dirt. Many offices, including ours, do not expect and in fact discourage the employees from wearing suits or dresses to work in the office. It may no longer be obvious what a person does each day. Deduction and elimination may help. I don't think anyone would look at me and say, "aerobics instructor", at least not with a straight face. ;-) Does our relationship with Christ show?

Does a relationship with Jesus show on our faces, or in what we do and say? A lack of profane language is not in itself an indication. In spite of what we see in movies, most people do not habitually use foul language. Drinking alcoholic beverages? Again, some people drink too much, some do not, and there is no commandment that says you cannot have a beer. Does it show? I think that it does, but perhaps not to the world that is stuck in unbelief. There are people who show up for work with a bright and bubbly manner each day. They may go home and collapse on their couch in tears, but that part we do not see. It isn't an always cheerful demeanor that sets us apart; Christians are not always happy, we have sorrow in our lives. All of us, at one time or many, have felt the sting of sorrow and in Christ we do not leap for joy during those times; emotionally or physically, or perhaps both, those times hurt us very much.

One day all of our tears and sorrows will be washed away.


P.S. I feel this kind of rambles today, not sure yet where it will end up. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July 1, 2007

Good morning! Well, it is here, July 1st, and half the year is gone into the past. Summer has only just begun, but we will soon be talking about the new school year and how cold the winter will be. The seasons change and one of the best ways to enjoy the season is to talk about what is next. Eh? Can that be true? No, it is actually what happens so much in our lives; we look to the future hoping to drown out the misery of the present. However, Jesus said that he came to give us life and that we would have it more abundantly. Plans are good, and I need to do it more, but living with our head in the clouds is not the way to have life more abundantly. That is one of the more difficult tasks for us as Christians since we are looking forward in hope to the return of Jesus and his taking us home to be with him. How can you or I hope to compete with that vision of Christ's glory! We don't try to compete, but we live in his love and that love reaches out to those who do not yet share in our hope.

Speaking of the other side of the coin, hopeless tasks, I am reading a murder/mystery book that introduces a group devoted to fighting evil in the world. All well and good, but this group does it in their own intellect, strength, and wealth. That is a hopeless task if ever there was one. Satan has far more resources than any or all of us do in our own strength. I do not know how many angels fell with him, but 1/3 of the hosts of heaven must be an awesome number. I cannot think how anyone could possibly think that they could win such a fight without the power of Jesus Christ. Wait, I do know how, they do not believe in Jesus in the first place. Satan must laugh at the pride that would be required to make someone think that they can take on the power of the Prince of this world in their own strength.

For us, let us just run to our Abba when faced with powers beyond our scope in this world. As we grow in our Christian faith, we will have Kingdom authority over all things. However, the first thing is to run to our Father in heaven, our Abba. Children are not afraid to run to daddy when faced with a threat and neither should we try to take on powers that are beyond us in our own strength.

To the glory of God the Father!