FEBRUARY 2005 - AUGUST 2005 BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONALS

The Burning Bush Devotional
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08.31.05

Stop the Flood

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. - Romans 13:11-14.

New Orleans is almost completely submerged in flood waters. The levies protecting the city were breached and the flood waters poured in from Lake Pontchartrain. Along with the water have come contamination, snakes, alligators, and now even dead bodies are floating in the flood waters. The Army Core of Engineers has been trying to formulate a plan to plug up the breach and stop the flood. Most of the plans have included the use of helicopters to drop sand bags or concrete blocks or other material into the breach. Hopefully, there will be a plan actually implemented soon to stop this terrible flood.

In many ways the flood waters of New Orleans is a picture of the contamination of the world entering into a Christian’s life. The apostle Paul lists some of those contaminating influences that constantly threaten to flood into the lives of those that are tempted by the world. Paul lists some of those contaminating influences such as revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, envy and strife.

What do you do when the flood of the world threatens to overwhelm you? To stop the flood of the world into your life you must plug up the breach that the world has made. Just as the breach in the levy at New Orleans must be plugged up, you must shut off the influence of the world in your life. No, we cannot use sand bags, or concrete blocks or other material things to stop the worldly flood. So, what do we use? What do we do? We must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and turn off the world or as Paul puts it, “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts”.

There is a balance that we as Christians must have. We are to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”. But we must also “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).”

If the world has overwhelmed you in its flood of evil then stop the flood by putting on the Lord Jesus. Turn off the worldly things, and stop making provision for them - instead turn on the godly things that lead to life (Romans 8:5-6; John 10:10b).

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08.30.05

The Rescue

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care (anxiety - NIV) upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7.

I have been watching some of the rescues being made of people stranded by the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. Many, including entire families, are being rescued from their rooftops by Coast Guard and National Guard helicopters and crews. It appears that many cut their way through the roof of their home to escape the rising water and most have been waiting for help for many hours.

It is fascinating to watch the rescues with some helicopters being equipped with a metal basket, which is lowered by cable. A crew member first descends to the roof where the people are waiting and then one person at a time must climb into the basket and be raised to safety up to the helicopter. I am sure it is frightening and in fact is dangerous with fallen power lines around. Sometimes it takes several tries for the basket to actually be lowered close enough for the crew member to safely grab it.

The first verse that came to my mind while I was watching the rescue was 1 Peter 5:7 because the rescues appear to be similar to what we need to do spiritually. Peter says we should cast all of our “cares” or “anxieties” upon God. Why? Because He cares for us.

What are some of the cares or anxieties that you have? Are you worried about something? Are you depressed? Do you have financial problems, job problems, family problems, or an addiction? Whatever the care or anxiety God calls upon us to place those spiritual burdens upon Him. How do we do that? It is very similar to the actions of the person being rescued from the flood waters. You could say that God is holding the basket. We must place ourselves along with all of our cares and anxieties into that basket and trust that God will be able to carry the load. We must sever our trust upon our own abilities and trust God to do what we are unable to do.

It sounds easy enough, however, for many there is a problem and that problem is pride. It is difficult for so many to admit that they need help even if it is to God that they admit it. It takes some humility to get into that basket as Peter writes, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”.

We would think that it was very foolish if someone stranded on one of the rooftops with water rising to refuse to get into the basket, to refuse to be rescued because they want to rescue themselves. We would think that was so very sad and foolish. But that is what we are doing when we refuse to allow God to help us. Cast all of your cares and anxieties upon God because He does care about you and He has the power to help. Get into the basket!

The Burning Bush Devotional
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08.24.05

Heed the Warning

Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. - 1 Kings 18:17-21.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. - Luke 21:34-35.

About ten years ago, I received a speeding ticket and it wasn’t my first. My first and only other speeding ticket I received was when I was seventeen years old and late for a date. Ten years ago, I was driving along and a few cars came by flashing their lights but I knew that I was driving the speed limit and I could not see any immediate road hazard. So, oblivious to any need to slow down I continued on until a highway patrolman appeared in his patrol car and immediately turned on his lights and pulled me over. I told him I thought that I was doing the speed limit and his response was “not here.” As in, the speed limit is lower here. I had somehow missed the sign signaling the change in speed limit. At that point, I was wishing that I had heeded the warnings of all those passing cars flashing their lights at me. But it was too late.

The false prophets of Baal and Asherah were brought together along with the children of Israel on Mount Carmel by King Ahab at the request of Elijah who was following God's instructions. There on Mount Carmel the great contest between the false gods and the one true God took place.

We know the result and that result was that the false gods were unable to do anything. However, the one true God was able to burn up the offering in a terrifying demonstration of His power. Elijah asked the people “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” Another translation says “waver between two opinions”.

After the fire of God fell from Heaven upon the offering of Elijah, burning it all up even the water, it much have looked very foolish to the people that they had ever believed in the false gods. It must have, then, looked foolish that they had ever wavered between those false gods and the one true God who was and is the creator of Heaven and earth and everything else.

The Bible warns that there is a day of reckoning coming for every person. The Bible warns, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”

Have you been wavering between obedience in serving your Lord and the allurements of the world, the flesh, and the devil? Are you “weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life”? Heed the warning because there is a day of reckoning that is fast approaching.

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08.22.05

The Mystery

…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. - Ephesians 6:18-20.

Today as I was driving, I noticed something on the roadway that I see two to three times a month. What was it that I saw? I saw a single boot lying on the highway. How did it get there? Why would someone abandon just one boot? I have seen single sneakers, and dress shoes abandoned as well. It is a great mystery! If you are one of those footwear abandoners, please enlighten us. Now if it had been a sock lying on the roadway I would think that this has solved a great mystery. Because I can buy a new package of socks, wash them one time, and only half of them come out of the dryer. So, it would not be much of a surprise to see socks lying on the highway. It would just mean…ahh! Now I know what happened to all of them. I guess some things like single abandoned boots and disappearing socks will always be a mystery.

Some things may be a mystery but that does not mean they should remain that way. The apostle Paul wrote of the “mystery of the gospel”. However, Paul prayed that he would be able to boldly “make known” this mystery. He was an “ambassador in chains” because of the gospel.

There are billions of people across this world for whom the gospel is a mystery. They do not really even have a clue as to what saving faith in Jesus Christ is all about. Billions believe in false gods, others believe in false doctrines such as working your way to Heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10), and others believe in nothing. True Christianity is even more of a mystery to them - more of a mystery than is a solitary boot lying on the roadway. So many people drive by churches on Sunday morning seeing all of the vehicles parked and they marvel at why people would go to church on Sunday. It is a mystery to them but one they rarely pause to ponder. Others read of Christians giving to further the cause of Christ and to help those in need…and they wonder why someone would do something like that. It is a mystery to them.

Is the gospel still a mystery to your neighbor? Is the gospel still a mystery to your parents? Your children? Your grandparents? Your grandchildren? Your friends? Your co-workers? Your teachers? Your students? Your fellow students? Your ______ (fill in the blank)? Pray that God will empower you to speak boldly, to be the ambassador for Him that will reveal and make known this mystery to all those you encounter in your life.

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07.27.05

Deceit and Other Little Sins

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all DECEIT, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. - 1 Peter 2:1-3.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, DECEIT, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. - Romans 1:28-32.

Colin Dowse had an idea that seems on the surface to be somewhat strange. His idea? Chemically treated (to increase the adhesive power) mud to spray on SUVs. The product “Sprayonmud” is selling for about $14.00 a quart in the USA. The product will allow urban SUV owners to appear to be “all-terrain adventurers.” Would anyone actually buy such a thing? Dowse says, “I'm just shipping a load to Japan, we're opening up distributorships in Canada and in the U.S. I'm talking to people in Germany and Holland. The interest is phenomenal. We've had a hundred thousand hits on our web site.”

On the surface, this desire to appear to be something that we are not does not seem to be such a bad thing. Who is going to be hurt if I have some mud on my SUV that did not actually get there by driving off road or through a swamp? However, it is a symptom of a more serious condition, this wanting to deceive - to be something that we are not. Deceit is a serious condition as evidenced by it appearing in a list along with “murder, strife” and many other ugly things.

Does it really hurt anyone if you appear to your neighbor to be someone that you are really not? Most likely, the only one it is hurting is you and your relationship with your God. As with many sins there appears to be degrees from our view of them. As in a “little white lie” at one end of the scale and a “whopper” at the other. Sin has a way of growing as we participate and grow accustomed to one level of the sin it is easier to slide up to another level. We may start out with “sprayonmud” and move on to cheating on our income taxes.

The point is that when we become aware of these little imperfections that is the time to repent, confessing them to the Lord (1 John 1:9) and overcome them. If we tolerate them, it is like watering a weed and it will grow becoming more and more difficult to take care of later. So, if you’ve become a “sprayonmud” customer it is time to visit the car wash and come clean.

The Burning Bush Devotional
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07.25.05

Tearing Apart

Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. - Proverbs 29:20.

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. - Proverbs 27:27-28.

In June of 2004, the Albany, New York firefighters made a mistake during a training exercise. The firefighters were practicing the use of the Jaws of Life and tore apart a minivan at the junk yard where the exercise was supposed to take place. However, it was just a three-year-old vehicle, a 2002 Dodge Caravan, that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The firefighters should have used another older vehicle for the practice exercise. As a result, the city’s share of the bill for the destroyed minivan was $12,000.

Think of the shock of the owner of the minivan to discover that their vehicle had been torn apart and destroyed. Even though it was a mistake, and the firefighters were of course sorry, the damage had still been done. A year later it appears the owner may receive compensation for the mistake but there was still damage that cannot be repaired.

Have you ever said something to someone that you wish that you had not said? I have. Have you ever attacked someone verbally and found out later that you were wrong? I have. My mouth at times seems to have a mind of its own and has spewed out words, which tore, I’m sure; at the heart of the person I was attacking. The apostle James writes about the tongue, “Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things (James 3:3-5).”

The tongue can be a dangerous thing and can cause great damage if it is not under control. James goes on to say, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so (James 3:10).” The tongue can be controlled.

The next time you are tempted to lash out verbally at someone remember the mistake of the firefighters. Remember that when you tear into someone with your tongue that you cause damage that is very difficult if not impossible to repair. However, if you do find out you have torn into someone by mistake - admit it. Tell them you are sorry and that you were wrong. It will not completely repair the damage but it will help and it is the responsible Christian thing to do.

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07.12.05

The Letter of the Law

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:17-19.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23.

Dave Newman is a lawbreaker and in San Marcos, Texas, he was arrested for breaking the law. Emergency personnel warned Newman repeatedly to leave the water because they said that he was “interfering with public duties”. However, Newman refused and proceeded to rescue a drowning man caught in a river current. After being released from jail on a $2,000.00 bond Newman said, “I was amazed. I had a very uncomfortable night after saving that guy’s life (Abed Duamni). He thanked me for it in front of the police, and then they took me to jail.” Even though Dave Newman broke the law, hopefully, a judge will use some common sense and throw it out of court. However, the prosecutor and the emergency personnel will point out that the law is the law and that it was broken by Mr. Newman in his successful rescue of Abed.

Are you a lawbreaker? The fact is that we have all, except for Jesus, broken the law, God‘s Law. Romans 3:23 states very clearly, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. That includes all of us. Jesus says, “I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).” The OT laws, which include the Ten Commandments, are still in effect. Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17).”

What hope do we have of being able to go through life and perfectly keep God’s laws? None. Have you never told a lie or a half-truth? Have you never had an ugly thought? Have you never stolen anything even a paper clip? Have you always been nice to everyone? The fact is that we cannot perfectly obey all of God’s laws. However, the law is still the law and there is an eternal death sentence for breaking the law even at one point. God is still God and He will one day judge us. We may not like it but that is still the way it is whether we like it or not.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some kind of escape clause so that we could escape the penalty that we deserve for breaking the law? The fact is that God knew how difficult it would be for us to obey the Law and that is why He provided a way for us to escape the penalty of our disobedience. The Name of that escape clause is Jesus. Someone had to be penalized for our disobedience because God is a Holy and completely Righteous God. That someone who was penalized was Jesus. He took our sins upon Himself on the cross. He took our place and suffered and died for us on the cross - He died for you on the cross. His blood was shed for our sins.

When we receive the “gift” of salvation through Jesus Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us. When God looks at us He no longer sees us as sinners, instead He sees the righteousness of His Son because we have been washed in the blood of Jesus. The letter of the Law has been fulfilled but only through the cost of the sacrifice of the perfect lamb, Jesus, on the cross.

Want to be free from the penalty of the Law? Receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Salvation is a gift that is available to you if you will receive it. What will you do with Jesus?

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06.22.05

Just for Show

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!” - Luke 18:10-13.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. - James 5:16.

I have been spending a lot of time with my Dad the last few weeks and I have picked up another little pearl of wisdom from him. As we were driving over to see my Mother at the nursing home, we passed a house in the country, which had a nice white wooden rail fence around the edge of the property. The fence was made with three one by six boards in each section between the posts. I had driven by the fence many times and had always admired the way it looked. My Dad had a different thought about it. He said, pointing at the fence, “A fence like that is just for show - it doesn’t really serve any purpose.”

Actually, I think the fence can serve a purpose, although it might not be the best kind of fence to keep in cattle. Thinking about this I realized that people do many things “just for show”, myself included. Jesus tells of the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. I have pictured the Pharisee as being surrounded by others when he begins to pray loudly, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men….” He brags by insinuating his higher level of holiness, brags of his fastings and his financial giving. You have to wonder if he really fasts, really tithes, and is really more holy than the Tax Collector and others he mentions. Or, is all of the praying of the Pharisee - “just for show”? Or, if the Pharisee does try to publicly present a life that is more holy, and actually does fast and pray - is it all “just for show”?

Public praying can be a challenge and it can be intimidating. Usually my public prayers are not like my private prayers. Because when I am praying privately, my prayers are more like a conversation. The temptation with public prayers is to pray “just for show.” Meaning that we would pray thinking of what others would think we ought to pray about or to in some way impress someone else.

We can carry this thought even further to how we present ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Christ. James indicates that we ought to be open with our fellow Christians about our “trespasses”. Revealing our trespasses, i.e. our sins to others will also reveal our own lack of perfection and automatically drop us to the level of the Tax Collector (Which is where we all are any way.). The temptation is to present a front of everything being perfect in our lives when the truth is that everyone knows that no one is perfect (Except for our Lord Jesus - Romans 3:23; Hebrews 4:15). This persistence in keeping up a front of perfection “just for show” is perhaps the greatest obstacle to true Christian fellowship.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.17.05

Stubborn and Wrong

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. - Proverbs 29:1.

Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. - Jeremiah 7:25-26.

For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf; now the LORD will let them forage like a lamb in open country. - Hosea 4:16.

Stinson Bailey trying to explain after starting a fire that destroyed three buildings in a town in Arkansas said, "I would've been all right if the wind hadn't changed." Maybe it happened because of Bailey’s stubbornness? A fire chief did see some smoke and investigated finding Bailey trying to finish the demolition of the building by burning. The fire chief advised Bailey that it was illegal and Bailey advised him that his services were not needed. The fire chief then told the people at the site that he was requesting a fire truck to put out the fire. The fire chief was told not to be concerned and that he should just come back later.

Some people do appear to be stubborn and set in their ways even when their course of action is disastrous. An elderly man I know has promised his wife that is bedfast that she will never have to go to a nursing home. Four years ago, she was placed on hospice believing she would soon die but she is still alive. On the surface, the promise of the man to his wife is admirable; however, sometimes you have to give up on some promises and dreams. Why? In this situation, the woman is receiving poor care due to the inability of those caring for her to properly give medication. As a result, the woman is hallucinating and is violent. Every time the giving of the medication is corrected to the proper dosages, it quickly and rapidly deteriorates. This particular man is unable to see that his wife is very miserable and would have a much more pleasant life in a different place than home.

When given advice how do you react? Do you harden your neck as Solomon puts it? Does it just make you more determined to continue on your original course and actions? Does it make you hate the one having the nerve to give advice to you? (Of course, to all of us advice givers, does it make us hate the one rejecting our good intentioned words of wisdom?)

The prophets of the Old Testament had a most difficult calling! They had to continue telling forth the Words of God even though the people rejected those Words over and over again. What did God say about those people who were given opportunity after opportunity to turn to God? “Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.” “For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf.” What was the consequence for those stubborn people? “…now the LORD will let them forage like a lamb in open country.” The stubborn God rejecting people were left to their own devices outside of the protection of the Shepherd “like a lamb in open country.” There in that “open country” they were vulnerable to all kinds of predators and evil.

Have you been rejecting God? Have you been rejecting godly counsel, wisdom? Maybe it is finally time to drop that stubbornness and become instead teachable and malleable under the protection of the Great Shepherd?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.13.05

The World’s Noise

Today’s devotional was written by my son, Clark Wrather, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The title and Scripture have been added.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. - 1 John 2:15-16.

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the CARES OF THIS WORLD, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. - Mark 4:18-20.

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and CARES OF THIS LIFE, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. - Luke 21:34-35.

A week ago last Sunday; I met with a family that lives several miles outside of Broken Bow. They had asked me to conduct the funeral services for a family member that had gone on to be with the Lord. I had an adventure on my way home.

On my way back to Broken Bow, one of those hot rod motorcycles pulled up behind me. The noise it made was deafening. It was a high-pitched whining noise that must cause insanity if a person has prolonged exposure to it. The motorcycle was behind me for some time. Then it moved to pass and stayed beside me for some time. After a few minutes, for some unknown reason, the guy takes off going warp speed and disappears in the distance.

The high-pitched whining noise had droned on and on and on when the motorcycle was present. Imagine my surprise when I realized the noise was still with me after the motorcycle had gone. It actually threw me for a moment and I thought the noise must have caused the insanity I speculated about earlier. I rolled down my window, looked back and saw that my back tire was as flat as a pancake.

I suddenly had a major problem. This was my third flat in the Explorer. I broke the factory jack with my first. With the second, the new factory jack would not lift the Explorer high enough to change the flat. I became serious about this problem and bought a shop jack. It is huge and normally resides in the back of my Explorer in a large plastic case. It can lift my car in just three or four cranks of the handle. I had been looking forward to the next flat for two years. Sadly, just two days before my third flat, I had taken the jack out of the Explorer to transport a lawn mower and I had not put it back into my car.

I was a few miles from home. I had a flat tire and did not have a jack. My wife was out of town and could not help me. What was I going to do? I recalled that Ron Purdy lived just a quarter mile away from me. I dropped in on them out of the blue. He had a jack and in just a few minutes I was back home.

How often does the noise of life disguise serious problems that need our attention? I think this is happening all the time. We are busy with our jobs and interests and fail to notice problem areas that need our desperate attention. For example, if most of us were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we need to exercise more and eat less. Let the noise of life distract you from this and you may have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or a visit from Richard Simmons.

The noise of life can distract us from problems with our spouse or with our children. The noise of life can distract us from serious problems in our relationship with God. When was the last time you really prayed and read your Bible? When was the last time you were in church and connected with God while you were there?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.12.05

Imprudence Avoidance

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly. - Proverbs 13:16.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. - Colossians 3:15-17.

Three high school students in Arkansas got into a little trouble when they used a homemade stun gun on some fellow students. One student was able to find directions for making a stun gun on the Internet, and actually made one - then he brought it to school. The stun gun maker and four others then began shocking fellow students at an awards assembly. Apparently no injuries were sustained (other than severe shock!) and no one needed medical attention. The students using the homemade stun gun have been given short suspensions.

I once had a client while I was a probation and parole officer who was 18 years old but the judge was still allowing him to attend high school. I received a call one day that my client had shot another student in the head during a break in classes. Thankfully, it was only a blank gun that he used to shoot the other student. However, when you hold a blank gun six inches from someone’s face and pull the trigger you can expect there to be a little damage. It was not a severe injury but definitely scary for the student involved and everyone who witnessed it. The judge gave my client one more chance and moved him to another school.

The Amplified Bible translates Proverbs 13:16 as “Every prudent man deals with knowledge, but a [self-confident] fool exposes and flaunts his folly.” It should have been obvious to the five students at the high school in Arkansas that using a homemade stun gun on other students could cause problems. They had the necessary knowledge through 16 years of life to know this very evident fact. What happened? They ignored the knowledge they had, the wisdom they had and did what they wanted to do. It should have been obvious to my client that threatening or pointing any type of gun, blank or otherwise, at anyone would cause problems. There should have been no doubt in his mind that actually firing a blank gun in a hallway filled with students into the face of another student would cause mass panic. What happened? He ignored the information he had obtained over 18 years of his life and did what he wanted to do. The result was not much fun for him or anyone else involved.

Both of these incidents with the homemade stun gun and the blank gun are examples of people acting as fools. They had no concern for anyone but themselves - as a result, they did cause harm to others and exposed themselves as fools. Their actions were in direct opposition to the recommendation of the apostle Paul when he tells the Colossians, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts”; “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”; and, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” These young men obviously were not letting “the peace of God rule” in their hearts, or letting “the word of Christ dwell” in them “richly in all wisdom,” and they were not acting in “the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Avoid being exposed as a fool and instead fill your heart and life with the wisdom of God through His Word. Then, you will find yourself able to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.10.05

The Backfire Effect

He made a pit and dug it out (a trap), And has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. - Psalm 7:15-17.

Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. - Proverbs 26:26-27.

Intr.v. back·fired, back·fir·ing, back·fires meaning to, “produce an unexpected, undesired result.” I believe this is a frequent, unwanted occurrence in the living of life. Take for example the two brothers in Nevada who came home to find that a burglar had broken into their apartment. They did what most people would do; they called the police to report what had happened. However, when law enforcement arrived to investigate they found some marijuana, along with psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine, handguns, an assault rifle, and drug paraphernalia. The call to report a burglary has backfired on the brothers, as they are now the ones in jail.

In another example, a woman tried to make her adult daughters leave her home by setting the house on fire. The woman, Belinda, 47 years old, wanted her daughters to give her money to buy cocaine. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, James Hartman, said that Belinda “had returned home after an all-night drug binge and insisted they give her money to acquire cocaine.” Instead of forcing her daughters to give her money, she has ended up in jail. She knows what it is like to have something backfire on you.

The Bible indicates that the backfire effect is exactly what people are up against who plan evil, who plan to hurt others, and who plan to cheat others. You see it happen over and over again. Just this last Sunday a man was arrested in Iowa for trying to sneak into a house by going down their chimney but instead he got stuck and arrested. I have lost track of the number of times this happens - it must be almost once a month. I wonder if anyone ever succeeded in doing that?

Instead of planning to cheat, steal, deceive, or some other evil thing what should we do? We should act with honesty and integrity with not just our interests being considered but also the interests of others being considered as well (Philippians 2:3-4). We should obey the second great commandment which Jesus says is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).”

To keep things from backfiring on you do what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Paul gives us a good example to follow in Act 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Remember if you set a trap for someone, you may just end up experiencing the “backfire effect.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.10.05

Even a Dog

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. - Genesis 1:26-27.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9.

It is a story that is receiving worldwide notice, a story about a dog saving a baby in Kenya. The baby was abandoned in a plastic bag. The dog found the baby and dragged it across a busy road, through a barbwire fence, and into a shed where the stray dog had its home. Children heard the baby crying and found the baby next to the stray dog along with the dog’s own puppy. The baby is being treated for exposure and for an umbilical cord infection. The stray dog is also being cared for; however, her puppy has died.

Even a dog recognized the value of human life, a life that some human being abandoned to die alone. It happens more frequently in some countries than others because of poverty but the abandonment of babies is a worldwide tragedy. Even here in the state I live in there is at least one case and sometimes more of a baby being abandoned every year. New laws to allow mothers to leave their newborn babies at hospitals without prosecution for abandonment is a step forward.

It is hard for me to understand how anyone could ever leave a baby to die, whether in an African forest or an American dumpster. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding about the value of life itself? Or, more likely the unbelief in God? To believe in God is to believe in the value of life, the sanctity of life.

God created human beings differently than other animals. We can become very attached to and love our pets very much but the value of human life is on a higher level than that of animals and other creatures. However, God does value all life and you can see this in various passages of the Bible. One of my favorite is in the book of Jonah where God says, “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much LIVESTOCK (Jonah 4:11)?" Human beings are different from other creatures because we were created in the image of God.

The subject of the value of human life should not be discussed without also discussing value of a human soul. Not only is every human life of great value and importance to God but their eternal soul and destination is also of vital importance to God. God was very much concerned about all those people in Nineveh even though they were an evil people. Make no mistake; God is concerned about every human being, regardless. It is His will that ALL should come to repentance and it is not God’s will that ANY should perish eternally.

Most of us would never abandon a baby but are we like Jonah more than willing to abandon others whom we may not feel are worthy of God’s grace?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.09.05

The Small Voice

Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" - 1 Kings 19:11-13.

One summer years ago, I was working in the oilfield rolling, cleaning and inspecting drill pipe, tubing, and casing. It was a very hot summer made even hotter by the heat radiating off the metal pipe. During this time period for some reason I was working alone much of the time. It was hard, backbreaking work and the days seemed to stretch on and on into infinity. Every day seemed to be the same as the day before. It was during those days that I began asking God when it would end. I knew that He had something else for me but how would I get from there to here? When would it change? What do you really want with my life?

It was during those days of isolation, silence, monotony, the ordinary that I heard God call my name. What did God say? He said, “Eddy.” I thought I was by myself and so I looked around to see who was there but there was no one there but me. I thought I was imagining things and went back to work and then the voice came again, “Eddy.” I knew Who it was then. Did God say anything else? No. He simply called my name, and it was enough to know that He had not forgotten about me. It was enough to know that He knew exactly where I was and what I was doing.

Do your days seem to stretch forever the same into eternity? Do you wish for a change? Do you wonder if God even cares or if He even knows where you are or what you are doing? In these days of quietness, in these days of the ordinary, these are the days that God calls your name. Yes, God can speak through the thunder, or the fire, or the earthquake, but so many times, it is in the still small voice that He speaks. Are you listening? He may only call your name but it will be enough.

Elijah listened and waited for God to speak through the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. God did not speak through those things. Instead, God spoke in a “still small voice.” Why did God speak? Because He had more for Elijah to do. The work of Elijah was not yet finished.

Why would God speak to you? He will speak to you as He did to Elijah in His still small voice if He has something for you to do. Does God have something for you to do? We are God’s fellow workers, co-laborers (1 Corinthians 3:9) and we are Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Are you listening?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.04.05

Will You be Surprised?

Today’s devotional was written by my son, Clark Wrather, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The church is building a family life center with additional classroom space. The title and Scripture have been added.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…. - Ephesians 3:20.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. - Revelation 21:2.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. - Revelation 21:3.

If you have driven by the church lately, you may have noticed a few changes to the grassy area. Actually, it should probably not be called the grassy area any longer. The grass has mostly been removed. A section of the chain link fence has been taken away. A large strip of the sidewalk next to the Fellowship Hall has been eradicated. The bell tower has disappeared as well.

I imagine that many of you had thoughts similar to my own when I first saw what had happened in the grassy area. I thought, I can’t believe it! They are actually doing something! The builders are getting started on our new building! You could summarize my general feeling as one of surprise.

If you were surprised, like me, that the first initial stages of construction had begun, why were you? We have known it was going to happen for several weeks. We have been preparing for our new building for several years. We prayed, planned, worked through our problems with the city, worked with an architect, raised money, accepted bids, and took pledges. Yet when things seem to be getting started, we are surprised.

I think Heaven is going to be very similar. We spend our lives preparing ourselves to be there. If you have believed in Jesus Christ, you know that you will be in Heaven some day. You know that it is going to happen. You know that there is no person or power that can keep you from going.

We have an idea of what Heaven will be like from the Bible, but most of us will be surprised by what Heaven is like. We will be surprised to be standing before the throne of God. We will be surprised by some of the people that made it. Sure, we know these things will happen in an abstract way, but when we experience them first hand, we will be surprised.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05.03.05

Getting Involved

…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 2:3-5.

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. - Titus 3:1-2.

Minnie Bullins decided to get involved about a year ago. She needed a new vacuum sweeper and set up an appointment to meet a salesman, Steve Brown. Minnie is 67 years old and a retired nurse. When she met Steve, she immediately noticed that he had the same pale look that many patients have when close to death. Minnie says that she argued with herself as to whether or not she should say anything to Steve. But decided she had to and said, "Pardon me, I don't mean to be rude or brash but you don't look good." She made Steve promise to see a doctor immediately and to call her after seeing the doctor.

It was a very good thing that Minnie decided to get involved! Steve went to a walk-in clinic where they took a blood sample. His red blood count was at about five percent with normal being 14 to 17 percent meaning Steve had lost two-thirds of his blood. Further testing revealed that he had colon cancer and a tumor was removed from his colon. Steve is doing well now and to show his thanks to Minnie has placed on a billboard in Danbury, North Carolina, the following message, "Dear Minnie Bullins, Thank you for saving my life. God bless you, Steve Brown."

It would have been much easier for Minnie to have kept her mouth closed and to have said nothing to Steve about her concerns. That is usually the situation when people need help. It would be easier for us if we just went our way, and said, and did, nothing. However, that is not the example that our Lord Jesus left with us. He was constantly going about getting involved in people’s lives. We also have the Biblical admonition that we are not to only consider our personal interests - we must also consider what is best for others and even place their needs above our own.

Another thing that we see happening with people who have needs and that need us to help them is the inconvenience of it. It is often in the midst of other activities that we are suddenly confronted with someone else’s need for help. We were leaving Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City this past week after visiting a five-year-old friend, Malachi Struthers, who has cancer with a 20% survival rate (Please pray for him). While leaving we encountered unexpectedly another family from our area that had had their baby brought to the hospital. After briefly visiting with them, we were accosted by a desperate woman wanting money to feed her family. She had been crying and it was clear that she did need help. I can usually determine if I am in the right place at the right time by the people that God brings across my path.

In addition to physical needs, there are great spiritual needs that the people around us have. I think it is usually easier to meet a physical need than it is to address a spiritual need. People in general are more receptive to being told about a physical problem than being told about a spiritual problem they may have. However, it is still our responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost who are dead in their sins and desperately need the touch of the life giving Savior upon their lives.

Get involved! It may save someone’s life and even better, it may send someone to Heaven for eternity.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.30.05

Runaway

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly. A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones. - Proverbs 14:29-30.

Another translation (the Message) puts Proverbs 14:30 as, “A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23.

The good news, the great news, the wonderful news today is that Jennifer Wilbanks is alive and well!! The sad news is that Jennifer is a runaway. She is a runaway from at the very least the stress of a huge wedding that kept growing and growing. For a week, Jennifer Wilbanks of Duluth, Georgia was thought to have been kidnapped. As it is now known, she went out for a run and took a bus to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jennifer is 32 years old and was to be married today in a huge wedding with some 600 guests expected. No one except the police gave any consideration to the possibility that Jennifer had skipped out on the biggest event of her life.

The actions of Jennifer Wilbanks may seem strange for some and for others of us they may be understandable. I think most of us have been under such stress at times that it would have been wonderful to have that stress removed from our lives. Very few would have taken the actions that Jennifer has taken but many have taken similar actions. Because every day across this world, there are people who have had all that they can take and they simply drop out. They drop out of their careers, lives, families and they leave it all behind. Some, most, tell others what they are doing and some do not. Stress works havoc on our emotions and can lead to making major mistakes. In fact, it can lead to destruction of most everything that is good in our lives when we let our emotions take control.

How can we avoid someday, unexpectedly, having a runaway in our own life? By having more of Jesus i.e. the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul in Galatians 5 speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. If you contemplate the different fruit mentioned you will see that this is the opposite of an emotionally stress driven runaway. Would “love” lead someone to have a runaway? Would “joy” lead someone to have a runaway? Would “peace” lead someone to have a runaway? Would “longsuffering” or “patience” make someone have a runaway? Would “kindness” result in a runaway? Would “goodness” bring about a runaway? Would “faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” cause someone to have a runaway? The answer to all of these questions, of course, is “No!”

You can prevent a runaway in your life by having more and more of Jesus in your life. The more of Jesus that you have in your life the more of the “fruit of the Spirit” that you will have in your life. Continuing to grow day by day as a child of God will protect you from self-destruction. To grow you must take advantage of the resources of God. The three primary resources of God are the Bible, prayer, and the church. Are you reading the Bible? Are you praying? Are you faithful in attending church if you are physically able? If not you are just asking for trouble and heading for a…runaway.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.26.05

A Second Chance

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." - Jonah 3:1.

We know the story of Jonah because most of us have heard it from the time we were little kids. God called Jonah to go Nineveh and preach to them because if they did not change their ways God was going to destroy them. Jonah did not want any part of it. Instead of going to Nineveh, he went the other way on a ship to Tarshish. A storm came up and Jonah convinced the sailors that he was the cause of the problem and they threw him overboard. A great fish that God had prepared swallowed Jonah. Why did Jonah do that? Because Jonah preferred death to going to that evil place of Nineveh and preaching God’s message.

To understand Jonah’s reasoning we must understand the Ninevites. The people of Nineveh were evil if ever there were any evil people. The Ninevites did bad things to people on purpose like skinning them alive. Jonah not only hated the people of Nineveh but I think we can say that the prospect of going to Nineveh made Jonah shake in his sandals.

Thinking about being a missionary always conjured up for me images of Africa and places like Zimbabwe. Recently I actually had the joy of meeting a man who had been a missionary to Zimbabwe for many years. He had a different view of the place than I. He had enjoyed the years he and his family had spend there. Yes, there had been danger at times but God had protected them. Hmm…maybe Zimbabwe wouldn’t have been as bad as I thought. Actually, I’ve answered God’s call in my life to be a missionary/evangelist but it has been in a different way than I ever dreamed. Who knew, but God, that the Internet was on its way?

I found in my life and God’s Word (which is the only true source of authority) confirms that God’s call is without repentance, unchanging for your life. Yes, He may have different things during different seasons of your life to do but He does not give up on your doing all of them. He has a plan for your life and He is sticking to it. I first heard God’s call on the day I was saved. Nine years or so later I heard His call more clearly and powerfully. It was more than ten years later that I answered that call. God just does not give up. We may give up on God but He does not give up on us.

One of the very most encouraging verses in the entire Bible is Jonah 3:1, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.’” God gave Jonah a second chance. Jonah did go to Nineveh and as a result, there occurred the greatest revival in all of history. The people of a city so large that it took three days to walk through it totally and completely turned to God in response to the one sentence message of Jonah, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown (Jonah 3:4b)!"

God is the God of the second chance but He is also the God of opportunities into infinity for us to turn to Him and serve Him. God’s mercy is greater than our sinful ways.

Has God been calling you? If you have said, “No,” in the past to God it is not to late to say, “Yes,” now to God’s call. Say, “Yes,” to His call and He will begin to bring it about.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.21.05

The List

Today’s Devotional was written by Merissa Lee Kelley July 8, 2002. You may contact Merissa at merissaparker@noland.com.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

I got my list out the other day; perhaps you have one too A document listing every "wrong" that's ever been done to you
It's filed away, but not forgotten, so you'll always have it close
To keep it fresh and always remember...who stepped on your toes!

It's not a list that's written down, but it's never hard to find
All you have to do is look in your heart and in your mind
Forever handy to review when your flesh is in control
Feeding on the indignation...but really starving your soul

After rehashing, it's so much easier to justify keeping track
You won't give "them" another chance to stab you in the back!
And when you're done with your perusal, you file it far away
Behind the walls and out of sight until another "fleshy" day

As for me, when I was finished...I went on about my life
But a nagging feeling deep inside kept causing me such strife
Feeling puzzled I asked the Lord to show me what was wrong
I really wanted a speedy answer and it didn't take him long

In my spirit I felt him say, "There's something you need to see.
You've read it before, but read it again and then come talk to me."
1 Corinthians chapter 13...well, of course I've read it before!
"Read it with your spiritual eyes, and you'll see a little more."

Ok...love is patient...love is kind...moving right along

It doesn't envy...it doesn't boast...it keeps no record of wrongs...
No record of wrongs? As in a list? And my heart began to fall
"You can't just read the verses you like, you've got to read them all."

"What if I kept a ledger on you that I looked at now and then?
What if I made a journal entry every time you sinned?
And whenever an angel happened to pass, I'd whip that list right out, Exposing all the dates and times you fell in fear and doubt!"

"Because of love, I don't do that. What profit would that be?
Don't you know by keeping that list, you never will be free?
Love protects and perseveres; it seeks to find the truth...
I AM LOVE, just keep on reading, for my word is filled with proof."

"Surrender your list into my hands and I'll help you walk this through.
For I KNOW what's written on that list...that's why I'm patient with you.
Choosing to love won't always be easy, but I'll help you from above
Releasing your list is so much easier...when you release because of love."

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.19.05

HELLLLLLLLLLLLO Grandma!

Today’s devotional was written by Dr. Walker Moore who is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P. O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147. You may contact Walker at walker@awestar.org or 800.293.7827. Visit their website at www.awestar.org.

I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. - Romans 15:29.

Reflection: My mother in law has cancer and has only a few remaining days left in this world. My wife got a telephone call this week to come and be with her as her health was declining rapidly. I begin thinking about what life will be like with no more going to grandmas? Things that we have done for twenty-five years will soon be no more. No longer will the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren be gathered each holiday at her house for her famous homemade cooking. As I reflect on these things I regret that as an adult we didn’t spend more time with our parents. Sometime we get so caught up in this busy world and with our own children and jobs that we forget that we are still our parent’s children. No matter how old we are we have a responsibility to our parents. Just as our relationship to our children change through the years so does our relationship with our parents.

Cathy and I have always lived long distances from our parents. We weren’t married but five months and was called to serve a church seven hundred miles away. Our children never got to spend an extended time with their grandparents. When the doctors discovered that my mother in law had cancer our oldest son Jeremiah decided that he would move in and help her and attend the local college. We didn’t know how this was going to work. At first she complained about his hours of studying all-night (at least that what he said he was doing) and sleeping all day but it wasn’t too long they were in a routine. Every time he came into the house he would stand in the doorway and let out a loud “Hellllllllllllooooo Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrandma!” Wherever she was in the house she would yelled back “Helllllllllllooo Jeremy!” When he was gone for a couple of days she called and complained about how quiet the house was.

I was visiting her in the hospital and she could hardly move. Suddenly a voice comes booming through the hospital room. “Hellllo Grandma!” Her eyes opened and she raised herself upon one elbow with a twinkle in her eye and yelled “Hellllo Jeremy!” Then they got into the habit of watching “Wheel of Fortune” together. Each night she would sit in her chair and they would have a contest who could guess the answer the quickest! Now she mostly sleeps and there is no more “Helllo Jeremy.” But in these last six months they have gotten to know each and been blessed by it. But isn’t that what we should be to each other… a blessing. It’s never too late.

Insight: Relationships should equal blessing-ships.

Prayer: Dear Father, Make my life a blessing to others. I pray when I walk into the room my children would be glad to see me. Help me to raise children that will be a blessing to others. And in my old age I will have children that will want to bless me. Amen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.15.05

Showing Off

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. - Colossians 3:22-25.

In Sydney, Australia, a 15-year-old stole a tram taking it for a 30-minute joyride. During his joyride, he stopped to pick up passengers but it all ended 19 miles later when the electrical current to the tram was cut by police. Endangering the lives of passengers is one of the nine criminal charges faced by the 15-year-old. Police Constable Barry Hills said, "He's a nice lad, he's a good lad ... I think his obsession just got the better of him. It appears ... that this young lad has been traveling around on the trams for some time and has been observing the drivers and observing the operating procedures.” However, Constable Hills believes that the boy could grow up to be a real tram driver some day if he stays on the “straight and narrow.”

It might be enlightening to talk to the boy and find out what his real reasons were for stealing the tram. Perhaps it was not an obsession with trams but instead risky behavior engaged in to impress other young people? An interesting survey has been released by researchers at the University of Maine. In the survey of 100 men and women, it was found, according to New Scientist Magazine, that “women are not impressed by bungee jumping and other risky types of behavior but actually prefer men who take fewer chances. Men thought women would be impressed by pointless gambles, but women in fact preferred cautious men." Now they tell us!

The Bible gives us some excellent and very well founded advice when it comes to a reason for doing something. In Colossians, we are told, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men….” If you are contemplating some action or activity, it would be well to pause and ask yourself whether that action or activity will bring glory to God. If not, obviously, then the action or activity should not be pursued. If we are planning to do something just on the basis of gaining attention for ourselves from others whether from the opposite sex or just from whomever we can - this can never be construed as being done “as to the Lord”. Because the Lord will not be the One receiving the glory from the action or activity if you are just “showing off“.

So, before you steal the tram or drive your car in excess of the speed limit or whatever it may be - consider who you are trying to glorify. Yourself, or the Lord?

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.14.05

Stealing the Pacemaker

But they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners. - Proverbs 1:18-20.

He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live. - Proverbs 15:27.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. - 1 Timothy 6:10.

Amber Bowen, who worked as a nurse’s aide at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, California has been arrested and charged with embezzlement. Amber, age 21, is an enterprising young woman who operated an Internet medical supply business in addition to her job as a nurse’s aide. Apparently, Amber stole two Medtronic pacemakers and then put them up for sale on Ebay. The pacemakers normally sell for $6,000 each but were sold on Ebay for $255 each.

We know what has happened to Amber Bowen - she has been charged with a felony, embezzlement. For Amber and for all involved in this greedy scheme to make more money we see the truth of Proverbs 1:18-20, “So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.” Instead of gaining from it, they lost. Instead of having more life they have much less life.

We also see the truth of Proverbs 15:27, which says, “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.” Amber has certainly brought trouble to her home, which includes not just herself but her family. Amber will now always have a criminal record and her activities are known to the entire world.

Seen too is the truth of 1 Timothy 6:10. Amber has “…pierced (herself) themselves through with many sorrows.” It was not someone else that did this to her. She did it to herself through her greediness.

What does greed cause? It causes a loss of life, problems, and sorrows. What does living according to God’s will cause? Proverbs 15:27b says, “…he who hates bribes will live.” The Message translates this as, “…those who refuse to exploit live and let live.” So, living as God would have you to live results in a reduction of loss of life, problems, and sorrows. It also results in an increase of life for yourself and everyone around you.

Please do not steal the pacemaker or anything else! Instead love God (Matthew 6:33), follow His plan for your life and you will have the abundant life (John 10:10b) that Jesus came to give you.

(Please note that Greg Etts, who was originally mentioned in this devotional, was guilty of no criminal activity and the police of Sacramento California, the police of Apache Junction Arizona, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and the FDA have decided that he broke no laws, rules or regulations. I do apologize to Greg for any harm I may have caused him.)

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.10.05

No One Cares

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me. Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; refuge has failed me; no one cares for my soul. I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. - Psalm 142:3-5.

Who would have cared for the soul of Frank when he went crazy on PCP and attacked eight people with a hammer? He received a 30 year prison sentence for his crimes. Why would anyone care what happened to Frank? Why would anyone want to witness to Frank and tell him how to be saved? Someone did care. A wife of one of the victims cared enough to go to the jail, before Frank was transferred to prison and through the power of Jesus forgave Frank for what he had done. She also pleaded with him to receive Christ as his Savior and to serve Him. As a result, Frank did receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.

While Frank was in prison, he spent his time preparing to serve God when he was released. Frank studied the Bible and spent hours and hours in prayer. After his release from prison, Frank led his sister to the Lord and founded a prison ministry. Michelle Richee, Frank’s sister, has shared her testimony all over the world.

How would forgive someone who attacked and severely injured a family member? How many would share the gospel with that same person? How many even care what would happen to such a person? How many instead of extending forgiveness would want to seek revenge?

“No one cares for my soul” could have been Frank’s cry. However, it is the sad situation for countless others rotting in prison and those still on the streets who ought to be and will be in prison at some point.

Who is the person you would least like to forgive? Who is the person you would least like to witness to? Do you think that God cares about that person? You know He does because the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Therefore, if God cares about that person shouldn’t you care about them? Peter also says in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is, “not willing that ANY SHOULD PERISH but that all should come to repentance.”

If we are to follow the example of the Lord our God then we too must care about, not just some select group of people that haven’t caused us any problems, but all people. Open up your door and look around - yes, there really is a mission field out there. You’re the one who can show them that God really does care. It may very well be that you are the ONLY one.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.06.05

Begin the Upward Spiral

But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. - John 1:12.

We hear of person after person who begins to use illegal substances or who becomes involved in sinful activities and their lives begin to disintegrate. It is the downward spiral, which continues until they are hurt, arrested, or kill someone. Sometimes the disintegration is very vivid, as in obvious. There is a posting on the Internet showing through mug shots (photographs taking when being booked into jail) the very obvious downward spiral. It is sickening how much deterioration that can happen to a person in a very brief period of time.

Once in the downward spiral of things going from bad to worse there is a sense of hopelessness that sets in. Because of that sense of hopelessness, the self-destructive behavior continues and often even accelerates. But it does not have to be that way! Because there is hope! Instead of a downward spiral of destruction, there can be an upward spiral into blessing.

If you are in a downward spiral, how do you stop the freefall? How do you begin going the other way? Step one is to receive Jesus as your Savior. When you receive Jesus as your Savior you become a child of God (John 1:12). When Jesus is your Savior it means that you have become a part of the royal family and not just any royal family but the royal family of the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one can take that away from you. As the apostle Paul puts it, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Step two out of the downward spiral and into the upward spiral of blessing is to start living like a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords ought to live. I know you have all of these excuses and you’ve failed every time you’ve tried to do better and on and on. It does not have to be that way. Why? Because you are no longer alone. One plus one no longer equals two. Things have changed and God Himself is on your side. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Romans 8:31-32)?” “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).”

Believe now in His Name, live in His power and begin the upward spiral of blessing.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.05.05

Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything

Today’s devotional was written by Dr. Walker Moore who is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P. O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147. You may contact Walker at walker@awestar.org or 800.293.7827. Visit their website at www.awestar.org.

God's Word: The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. - Matthew 7:25.

Reflection: When I was in seventh grade I wanted a girlfriend more than anything else in the world. It was in those early years when you begin to take the opposite sex seriously. I remember praying, “Dear God, IF I just had a girlfriend I would be happy? . . . a little girlfriend that would hold me, love me, and keep my lips warm.” God answered my prayer and gave me a little girlfriend: her name was Debbie Gardner. I remember the next night praying, “Dear God, IF I just had a different girlfriend I would be happy.”

When I was fifteen I wanted a car more than anything else. I prayed, “Dear God, if I just had a car I would be happy.” I promised God that it would be the most evangelistic car that He had ever seen. I would drive all across American picking up people and take them to church. I would cover it with all kinds of witnessing bumper stickers: “Honk if you love Jesus”; “God is my Co-pilot”; “Turn or burn, Fly or fry”; “Real men love Jesus.” I finally got a car…it was a 1954 Plymouth. It was the ugliest car ever made! My next prayer was “Dear Lord, if I just had a different car I would be happy.” Over time it was if I had the right job, the right kind of money, the right wife, the right 2.5 children and lived in the right house then I could be happy. It never ended. I thought that if I just had this one more thing I would be happy. Then over an eighteen-month period God literally stripped me of everything. I was mad at God. I yelled at Him and told Him that I had lost everything! Then God spoke to me in that still quiet voice… “I thought I was everything? I am the Alpha and the Omega and everything else in between.” For the first time in my life I realized that if I put my happiness on anything besides Jesus I could lose.

If the basis of your happiness is in your car, you can lose it. If the basis of your happiness is your children, you can lose it. If the basis of your happiness is your job, you can lose it. The only thing you can’t lose is Jesus. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 3:5.

One day my son, Caleb, came home and told me he knew a whole song in sign language. I was so impressed that I asked him to sing it for me. Making the sign for Jesus (pointing to the scar in each hand) he started to sing. Jesus, Jeeeesus, Jesus Jesus Jesus, JEEEESUS . . . (at this point he is swinging his hips and moving his hands above his head.) JESUS, JEEsus . . . this went on for about ten minutes. Being the loving, kind father that I am, I yelled. “Caleb, is that all there is to that song?” Caleb stopped in the middle of the song and said, “Dad, you are the one who taught me that Jesus is all we need.” Yes, I guess I did.

Insight: Jesus Christ is the only foundation that comes with a guarantee that can stand up against any storm.

Prayer: Dear Jesus I know that my child can chose many things to build their life upon. They can build their life upon wealth, popularity, or even a career. But all those things are temporal material and cannot hold during the storms of life. I pray that my children will build their hope on nothing less than Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04.04.05

Reluctant Servants

Moses:

But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" - Exodus 3:11.

Gideon:

So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." - Judges 6:15.

Esther:

Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai: "All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days." - Esther 4:10.

Someone shared with me recently how they had woke up in the middle of the night and being unable to sleep had read for awhile. One of the things that they read was a story about a woman writing devotionals and they were touched by the story. Since I know this person very well that was sharing with me, I know that they have excellent writing skills and a creative mind very capable of writing devotionals, or books, or articles, or just about anything. However, I also know that this person is not writing. I then shared that it sounded to me that God had given a call to write. But they said, “Shouldn’t I have a desire to do that.” In other words, this person did not want to do it.

My response was this: Moses had the call - but he didn’t have a desire to do it. Gideon had the call - but he didn’t want to do it. Esther had the call - but she didn’t want to do it.

In the lives of all three of these individuals, God had invested much training and preparation for the mission He had for them. Moses had received the best education possible for an adopted son of the daughter of the Pharaoh. Many believe he had also received advanced military and leadership training. Moses had then spent 40 years on the backside of the desert receiving his “doctorate” in desert survival skills.

Gideon according to his own account was a “nobody”. He belonged to the smallest tribe in the smallest family in the entire nation and probably believed he was the smallest member of his own family. In other words, Gideon was the very least qualified person in the entire nation to lead a revolution. However, God had been preparing Gideon. Gideon had a unique skill that perhaps no one else in the nation possessed. That skill was the ability to listen. He could hear God’s voice.

Esther had won the royal beauty pageant to replace the queen that had fallen out of favor. As Mordecai told Esther, "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14)?"

What was the source of the reluctance of Moses, Gideon, and Esther? They feared for their lives! They had a very real fear that to be obedient to God could mean the loss of their physical lives.

What about you? Has God called you to do something but you don’t want to do it? What is the reason for your fear? The possibility that you might be embarrassed if the reaction of your friends is not positive? Or, is it the possibility that you might face a reduction in your income? Or, is it because someone close to you is opposed to what God wants?

It may be that you are thinking something along the lines of “Surely there is someone else that God can use to do this?” God can do that. He can raise up someone out of thin air but He wants you and has prepared you. Please don’t let embarrassment, or money, or immature Christians rob you of the greatest blessing of your life!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.31.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be continuing to resend devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies in the hope that additional such tragedies might be prevented.

The Madness of Sin
(Originally sent 11.12.02)

They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. - 2 Peter 2:15-16.

It is now being reported that the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Eastern Oklahoma killing two and wounding eight had taken a large amount of over the counter cold medication. A friend (of the shooter) said that he would take as many as 30 pills of cold medication at one time. It seems incredible that anyone in their right mind would take so many pills at one time. However, people do crazy things.

In high school I once watched a fellow student dissolve around 20 aspirins in a coke and drink it. I could hardly believe that he was still alive the next day. While I was a parole officer I had a client who would break into homes and while there find and take whatever prescription medications he could find. It could only have been an act of God that he was still alive.

It could only be madness when Balaam proceeded with apparently the intent in his heart to go against God's will even after God had warned him. God could have ended Balaam's life but instead opened the mouth of a donkey to obtain his attention and understanding which restrained the madness of his sin. Why did God spare Balaam? Why does God put up with the evil in our hearts? "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)."

I once heard a drug dealer relate that he had overdosed five times and knew that he should have died each time. He finally came to understand that the reason he had not died was only because of the mercy and the supernatural intervention of God.

Have you come close to death and survived? It may be that you are still among the living on Planet Earth only because of the "longsuffering of God." How long can you resist God's will before judgment comes? How long can you resist God's will before your heart grows too hard and it is too late to turn back?

Stop the madness!! Turn from the madness of sin and run to the open arms of your Heavenly Father!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.30.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be continuing to resend devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies in the hope that additional such tragedies might be prevented.

Adequate Preparation
(Originally sent 03.06.01)

Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. - Ephesians 6:10-11.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. - Ephesians 6:17-18.

Have you heard of the Republic of Lomar? It is a fictitious country said to be located between the United States and Canada. Thousands of Nigerians have been paying up to twelve dollars for a visa to the imaginary country. Seems to be a somewhat elaborate and misleading scam. The website of Lomar, www.republic-of-lomar.org, claims to be the leading virtual state in the world.

Here in the United States living in another country became more attractive today with the news of another school shooting in California. Two students were killed and 13 injured in this latest shooting. The possibility of deadly violence at school appears to be a reality all across the country. According to school officials in California they had practiced drills as to what to do in case of a shooting. However, the school did not have metal detectors. Who would have thought ten years ago that schools would need to have metal detectors to prevent a massacre from taking place? It is a reality today in the USA but it is still hard, very hard to believe!

How can children, and young people face going to school again tomorrow? How can parents and grandparents face sending their children and grandchildren to school again tomorrow? We know that life goes on and school goes on and the students across this country will be expected to be in their places with bright and sunny faces tomorrow. If I were to have to face such a thing tomorrow I believe I would want to have God on my side.

Adequate preparation for each school day should include prayer. Praying for the protection of each family member is a necessity whether they are at school, the workplace or even at home. Preparation should also include the Word of God. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” Intake of the Word of God is necessary to provide strength and courage to face each day. Adequate preparation should also include weekly assembling together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25) and the Wednesday night prayer meeting would most likely provide additional fortitude for the week.

Actually we don’t need a visa to the Republic of Lomar what we need is to stay here and fight the spiritual battles that need to be fought if our country is to survive. Anyone want to sign up? Commit yourself to the battle! Prepare for each week and each day spiritually.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.28.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be continuing to resend devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies in the hope that other such tragedies might be prevented.

Biting Back
(Originally sent 03-01-00)

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32.

In Davenport, Iowa a woman has a new approach to avoiding a speeding ticket. Her method is biting the deputy. She refused to sign the ticket and when the deputy attempted to arrest her she bit him on the arm. She has been given 60 days in jail and a $1000.00 fine. While I was a parole officer I had a client who was also in trouble for biting. It seems officers were attempting to arrest him and turned their police dog loose on him. However, my client bit and severely injured the police dog. He was arrested on several charges including injury to a police officer (the dog).

Human nature seems to enjoy violence and if someone slights us in some way we want to have revenge. We see it with the shooting of six year old Kayla Roland in Michigan by her six year old classmate. Horrifying as it is we can see human nature rearing its ugly head. Reportedly there was some sort of scuffle or quarrel between the two the day before (It is not my intention to infer that Kayla did anything wrong. After all Kayla was only six years old.). Human nature just wants to reach out and bite all those it can.

The sad situation in Michigan shows that it is never too early to begin to teach children Biblical principles. The most effective way of doing that is by example. They learn best by seeing us being kind, forgiving, and tenderhearted toward them and others. On the other hand if they always see us biting back at them and others that is how they most likely will respond as well.

Today is there someone you want to reach out and bite? Don’t do it! Instead be kind; be tenderhearted, and forgiving. Just maybe they will pass it on to someone else.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.28.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be continuing to resend devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies in the hope that other such tragedies might be prevented. The devotional today was written after the Columbine school tragedy.

The Unthinkable
(Originally sent 9-16-99)

Pray without ceasing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

The unthinkable has become reality for America and for so many other places. We now have shootings at schools and churches. (The shooting at Wedgewood Baptist Church of Ft. Worth, Texas had just occurred on September 15, 1999. Eight people were killed, including the shooter, and seven injured in this tragedy.) We have seen the bombing of public buildings and now random bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow. Who would even think of doing such things? We keep thinking this one will be the last one. But each shooting, each bombing seems to fuel the lust for more violence and bloodshed. Will the shooting at the church in Ft. Worth, Texas be the last? Not if we look at how things have progressed over the last couple of years. The shooting at the church only means that not only can people be shot while they work, at schools, daycares, and restaurants but now churches as well.

We seem to be rapidly progressing toward a point where there will be no area of life safe from violence. We do not want to think about it. We do not want to talk about it. We don’t want to read about it. We would like for it all to just go away. But the fact is that it is not going away. We are in the midst of a violent spiritual war which is manifesting itself in the physical. We can take away the guns, bomb making materials, and everything else associated with violence and it will not stop. It will not stop as long as we are losing the spiritual war. We talk about prayer. We sing about prayer. We read about prayer. We hear sermons on prayer. But do we really pray?

We prayed at the flagpoles across this country and many other countries yesterday morning. We prayed for the protection of students across the world. But it was not enough. One morning a year for a few minutes of prayer will never be enough. This war is going on 24 hours a day every day. We must be in continual prayer. Every day must be a day of prayer. If we seriously want the violence to stop then we must have a revival like this earth has never seen before. Revival will only come as each of us take seriously our responsibility in prayer each hour of the day. We must pray harder and more than any have prayed before. Why? Because next time it could be where we work, it could be our church, our school, our home.... Let us pray before it is too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.26.05

Mercy Drops
By Merissa Parker

Mercy Drops was written by Merissa Parker, May 24, 2003, and is used by permission. Merissa is a prolific poet and as you can see from this poem a very wonderful poet and servant of God. You may contact Merissa by email at: merissaparker@noland.com.

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. - Luke 6:36.

I really goofed the other day and spoke way out of turn So here I am again, dear Lord, when will I ever learn? I ask again for mercy drops, please soak me through and through Oh, I'm so glad, that everyday, your mercies are brand new

Feeling better, conscience cleared, till I "felt" a gentle touch "Child, do you want the mercy drops...for others just as much?" Startled by the honest question, I didn't want to look too deep Because I knew God's mercy drops...weren't just mine to keep

In our flesh, we cannot grasp, that God would actually show His mercy to the very ones...that always tell Him no And the very ones who've hurt us and bring us great despair "They" don't deserve those mercy drops; it really "feels" unfair

That's because we choose to measure the mercy we extend Our supply is very sparse...while God's just never ends God never blasts you with the truth; He gently shines His light To show you that your attitude...really isn't right

"I love you very much, my child...I love everyone the same, Even the ones who ignore my love and disrespect my name. Everyday I wake them up with the breath to start anew, The chances that I give to them...I've also given you."

"If I went by a "worthiness chart", none of you would last, For mercy has so many times, freed you from your past. Salvation's plan was designed for all, I'm glad you made the choice, But I must keep the mercy flowing, for not all have heard my voice."

"Unconditional love can reach a heart that's turned to stone, A heart that needs to trust, that I won't leave them all alone. So don't forget the mercy drops...that I have rained on you, Keep their memory uppermost, in all you say and do."

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.28.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be resending devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies. The devotional today was written after the Columbine school tragedy.

The Unthinkable
(Originally sent 9-16-99)

Pray without ceasing. - I Thessalonians 5:17.

The unthinkable has become reality for America and for so many other places. We now have shootings at schools and churches. (The shooting at Wedgewood Baptist Church of Ft. Worth, Texas had just occurred on September 15, 1999. Eight people were killed, including the shooter, and seven injured in this tragedy.) We have seen the bombing of public buildings and now random bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow. Who would even think of doing such things? We keep thinking this one will be the last one. But each shooting, each bombing seems to fuel the lust for more violence and bloodshed. Will the shooting at the church in Ft. Worth, Texas be the last? Not if we look at how things have progressed over the last couple of years. The shooting at the church only means that not only can people be shot while they work, at schools, daycares, and restaurants but now churches as well.

We seem to be rapidly progressing toward a point where there will be no area of life safe from violence. We do not want to think about it. We do not want to talk about it. We don’t want to read about it. We would like for it all to just go away. But the fact is that it is not going away. We are in the midst of a violent spiritual war which is manifesting itself in the physical. We can take away the guns, bomb making materials, and everything else associated with violence and it will not stop. It will not stop as long as we are losing the spiritual war. We talk about prayer. We sing about prayer. We read about prayer. We hear sermons on prayer. But do we really pray?

We prayed at the flagpoles across this country and many other countries yesterday morning. We prayed for the protection of students across the world. But it was not enough. One morning a year for a few minutes of prayer will never be enough. This war is going on 24 hours a day every day. We must be in continual prayer. Every day must be a day of prayer. If we seriously want the violence to stop then we must have a revival like this earth has never seen before. Revival will only come as each of us take seriously our responsibility in prayer each hour of the day. We must pray harder and more than any have prayed before. Why? Because next time it could be where we work, it could be our church, our school, our home.... Let us pray before it is too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.24.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be resending devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies. The devotional today was written after the Columbine school tragedy.

We Know Why
(Originally sent 12-8-99)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:13-16.

We know why we continue to have school shootings, work place shootings, domestic violence and all the rest. The situation in the United States is symptomatic of its citizens. The United States says on its currency “In God We Trust.” Yet, at the same time the government tries to strip morality through the separation of church and state doctrine. In the place or religious morality is left some kind of bland humanist nonsense, which tries to justify the lack of morality in the name of human progress. But if we look at the citizens of this country we see much the same. The majority of the people of the United States say they believe in God. They just don’t live it with their lives.

As a result of our lip service to God we have millions of babies being murdered every year in the name of expedience. We call it abortion but God calls it murder. We have violence on television, in movies, in video games, in our homes, in our work places, on the streets, and even in our churches. Our national sport is football and basketball is a close second, which is sometimes like football without the pads. That’s not even to mention ice hockey, or wrestling, or boxing, or the martial arts! How could a nice boy who is an honor student and goes to church point a gun at his fellow students and begin firing? Wake up America! We know why! The question is when will we do something about it?

Edward Gibbon in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” says there were several major causes for the decline and then the fall of the Roman Empire. Here are a few of them:

1. The mounting desire for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.

2. The breakdown of the family and the increase of divorce.

3. The decay of religion into many confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform faith.

Sound familiar?

This country can change. This world can change. It begins with each one of us. We let our light shine. We become the salt that preserves. We begin with ourselves and branch out from there. What will you do today to make this a better world?

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.23.05

Monday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 7 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion.

This week I will be resending devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies. The devotional today was written after the Columbine school tragedy. (Numbers and other information have been updated from yesterday.)

We Need God
(Originally Sent 5-21-99)

But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy. - Psalm 59:16-17.

David knew well his God. David had been so low that at times he hid out in caves while Saul hunted everywhere seeking to kill him. While the enemy raged God was the only defense and refuge David had. God’s defense and refuge never failed David.

We continue to live in troubled times with another school shooting in Conyers, Georgia near Atlanta. There have been almost countless daily bomb threats at the schools across the United States. Just within driving distance of where I live I have heard of several. How troubling for parents and children who continue to attend school during the rest of this school year. But then, what we face here is small in the face of a constant barrage of bombing in Serbia. Think how difficult for the families who have fled from Kosovo. Many still living in tents under difficult conditions. We live in uncertain times, however, our God has not changed and if we look to Him we will still find our defense and refuge. It can be found nowhere else.

We also live in a time of great temptation. Just this week the Dean of the Harvard Divinity School has been terminated from his position. He was terminated because pornography was found on his computer. How terrible. But then we would be surprised at how far spread and pervasive pornography has become in our society. David knew something of this temptation. He committed adultery, even murder as a result of succumbing to the temptation he encountered. The effects of David’s sins on his family and nation were devastating. In the face of moral self-destruction David found God to be his defense and refuge. David found mercy when he turned to God.

We may need new laws but we need God more. We may need armed guards, we may need new policies on clothing for school children, we may need metal detectors, but we need God much more.

We pray and need world peace but we need God more. We may need a new world order; we do need ethnic harmony; we need protection from nuclear proliferation, chemical, and biological weapons; we need a relief from human suffering we see all around; but we need God much more.

We need some control on the evil we see on the internet. We need to stop the access to bomb making sites. We need to put pornographers out of business. We need to stop the hate. But we still need God much, much more.

If we would turn to God we would as David, experience God’s mercy. If we would turn to God we too could sing of God’s refuge and defense. If this world would turn to God we would have a new world order where peace abounds and love overcomes. If only we would turn to God.

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.22.05

Yesterday (03.21.05), in Red Lake, Minnesota there was another school shooting killing one teacher, a school security guard, five students and wounding 13 others before the gunman took his own life. Before arriving at the school Jeff Wiese also apparently killed his grandparents.

This week I will be resending devotionals written in response to previous school shootings and similar tragedies. The devotional today was written after the Columbine school tragedy.

Why?
(Originally sent 4-21-99)

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. - John 15:14.

We have had another school shooting here in the USA. This one at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Many have been killed and many are injured. We again ponder the “why?” Why would someone or in this case possibly several do this to their fellow classmates? Or, maybe we have seen so much violence on our televisions we have become insensitive to the point of not even caring? How do we prevent the next tragedy from occurring? How do we keep those in our own families from ever doing anything similar to this? How do we keep ourselves from doing some terrible thing?

The truth is that by nature we are not good people. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Many have grown up in good families and yet have become criminals. Having been a parole officer I have had several murderers under supervision. Only one had an obvious psychological problem. None of them came from a deprived background. There was one thing in common between those murderers I have known. None of those killers had parents who demonstrated a committed faith in Jesus Christ.

How can we prevent our own children from becoming killers or doing some other terrible thing? There is no foolproof way. We know Adam had some trouble with one of his boys. However, from my observations it appears that being committed a Christian does make a difference for us and our children. A lack of commitment to the Lord appears to increase the likelihood of criminal behavior.

Being a true friend of God and teaching our children the same is still the best way to go!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.14.05

Easter is Coming!

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. - Philippians 3:7-10.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8.

Where do we find hope when tragedy suddenly comes upon us? Do we blame God…or do we turn to God? When bad things happen to good people is God responsible? This has been a week of sudden tragedy coming upon unsuspecting and innocent people. There were several people killed and more injured as a man on trial for rape made his escape in Atlanta. In Wisconsin, seven people were killed at a church service and others injured with the shooter then killing himself.

In the midst of tragedy, trials, and the difficulties that sometimes come upon us in this life there is a Christian holiday that gives hope. Easter is about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Easter is about God’s great love for us human beings. Easter is about the difference between Hell and Heaven. Easter is about the greatest friend that we will ever have and the worst enemy that we could possibly have.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Our enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a). All of creation was corrupted when Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation of the enemy in the Garden of Eden. Since that time, bad and good things have happened on Planet Earth to all people. Just as God sends rain upon all people, the corruption of creation has resulted in bad things being possible for everyone that lives upon this planet.

When bad things happen in our lives we should always remember that Jesus came that we might have the abundant life. We should remember that Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that we might have eternal life. We should remember that God through Jesus has experienced the very worst that life can do to anyone. Why was Jesus allowed to suffer such a cruel death on the cross? Because if anyone will seriously consider what Jesus went through for them they can have no doubt about God’s love for them (Romans 5:8).

When bad things happen to us we need to remember that it is not the end of the story if we are a child of God. Just as the death of the Jesus on the cross was not the end of the story. No, God had the last word about that terrible thing that happened on the cross. God turned that terrible thing into the most wonderful thing that has ever happened when Jesus defeated death by rising from the dead. When that bad thing happens to you remember that Easter is coming, some bright shining day you will know the rest of the story. Some day in eternity you will see how God took that terrible thing that happened to you and then brought the most beautiful and wonderful things out of the bad things that happened (Romans 8:28).

While here on this earth we will as with the apostle Paul have the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus (Philippians 3:7-10) but praise God! Easter is coming!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03.09.05

Determined Steadfastness

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10 NKJV.

Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established…. - Psalm 112:6-8a NKJV.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

A woman in Florida encountered some problems on her way to work. She had a little accident. While she was driving down the highway connecting the Gulf Coast and Fort Lauderdale known as “Alligator Alley”, her car somehow went airborne. Maybe she dodged something and swerved, or another car hit hers - it is not clear what happened. The result, however, was that her car did clip another car and ran off the highway into the canal which is next to the roadway. One witness to the incident said, “It was like the Dukes of Hazard.”

The woman was shaken up but managed to escape from her sinking car with her purse, which contained her immigration papers and made it to the bank of the canal. She not only escaped from her car but also from two alligators that a witness to the accident saw in the canal. After paramedics examined her for injuries, someone took her home. Instead of taking the day off, she got a ride to the restaurant where she works as a waitress. In spite of the ride in an airborne car, swim in the canal, and narrow escape from alligators - she still made it to work on time!

The dictionary defines the word “determined” as “decided or resolved.” The dictionary defines the word “steadfast” as “firmly loyal or constant; unswerving.” So, “determined steadfastness” would be someone who is constantly resolved about something. We can easily see that the woman who had the car accident in Florida had determined steadfastness about going to work. She was “constantly resolved” to go to work and probably to arrive on time as well.

Is there anything that you have determined steadfastness about? Is there anything so important in your life that a car accident, a swim in a canal and alligators would not keep you away from or from doing? Is there anything that would make you turn away from God? Is there anything that would make you stop serving God? Is there anything that would make you stop doing what you know God wants you to do? Do you have the determined steadfastness of that Florida woman when it comes to your relationship with your Lord?

I hope that you can say with the apostle Paul that you are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” But if you are unable to - the Bible gives us direction as to how we can develop that determined steadfastness. We need to pray as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.28.05

The Penalty for Kindness

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV.

“…I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” - Matthew 5:39-42 NKJV.

So what is the penalty for kindness? Apparently, it is a $930.00 fine in the case of Young v. Ostergaard and Zellitti. The judge in the case ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Wanita Renea Young, who claimed an uninvited delivery of cookies caused her to be hospitalized with an anxiety attack the next day.

The defendants, Taylor Ostergaard, 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitti, 18, enjoy doing nice things for other people. From an early age Taylor and Lindsey have enjoyed baking cookies, fudge, breads and other goodies for their friends and neighbors. Carolyn Murphy, a nearby neighbor to the Ostergaards remembers a “year’s worth” of home baked zucchini breads and fudge generously given to them by their neighbors.

The case in question occurred as a result of Lindsey and Taylor deciding to stay home and bake cookies instead of going to a party. They wanted to do something nice for their neighbors to let them know others cared about them. Each neighbor received a half dozen cookies. With the cookies, Lindsey and Taylor had cut out big red hearts from construction paper with the message “Have a great night.” The girls did write a letter of apology to Young saying that they, “… just wanted you to know that someone cared about you and your family.”

Have you ever done something nice for someone and had it backfire on you? Probably most of us have had good intentions, and found that those good intentions were not appreciated at one time or another. When things like that happen to us how should we respond? Should we stop doing nice and kind things for other people? Should we avoid those people who were unappreciative of our actions?

Jesus gives us some hard instructions on how to proceed, doesn’t He? We should keep on being nice, kind, and good even to those people who hate us. Not only should we nice, kind, and good to them; but we should pray for them, as well!

Lindsey and Taylor, you will be glad to know, have followed the instructions of Jesus. They are continuing to bake goodies to give away to others, and they are praying for Wanita Young. What a great example for us all to follow!

Actually, we see that there is not a penalty for kindness, but a reward. The reward is that we are able to follow the example of our Lord Jesus and in so doing; we are acting as the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. As Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.24.05

Spiritual Superglue

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. - Matthew 6:22 NKJV.

But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5:28 NKJV.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. - 1 John 2:15-16 NKJV.

An 81-year-old Buddhist monk in Thailand made a big mistake. He intended to put some eye drops in his eyes, but instead of picking up the eye drops, he picked up a tube of superglue. Doctor’s have used a solvent to dissolve the glue in the monk’s eye. A spokesman for Angthong Hospital said, "His eye is not damaged the right eye can see clearly after the operation and the doctors said the left eye also is not damaged."

I am thankful that I keep the superglue in a separate area and cabinet from my eye drops! If I kept them together, I would probably be capable of gluing my eyes just like the monk.

The eyes that Jesus is speaking of in the Gospel of Matthew are our spiritual eyes. In Ephesians 1:18 the apostle Paul speaks of the "eyes of our understanding." However, it is sometimes translated as the "eyes of our heart." In 2 Peter 2:14 the apostle Peter makes this even more clear by saying, "having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children."

Although we would never think of putting superglue in our eyes, there is something else that is just as dangerous to the "eyes of our heart." That spiritual superglue is lust. People do not just lust after the physical body of a woman or a man. There can be a lust for material things. There can be a lust for power, or fame, or even for the respect of others.

When we succumb, give into lust, it is just as damaging spiritually as superglue is to our physical eyes. Lust blinds us spiritually. The "lamp" is turned off for the "eyes of our heart" when lust enters into our hearts. The spiritual superglue of lust affects every area of our spiritual life, and there is nothing that will do more spiritual damage.

Lust can severely damage your spiritual life just as quickly as squirting some superglue into your eyes will severely damage them. Take good care of those eyes and remember Jesus says, "If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light."

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.23.05

Stealing the Swimming Pool

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. - James 2:10-11.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23.

The Nicolaysen family had a big surprise when they arrived at their mountain cabin in Norway. They found a big hole in the ground where their swimming pool should have been. The pool and all of its equipment had been stolen. The pool had been installed at the cabin twenty years ago and the pool was not just bolted down it was in the ground. Arild Nicolaysen said, “This can’t be, we thought. We didn’t think it was possible. No one can steal a swimming pool.” Arild’s husband, Brit Nicolaysen said this, “It must have been a terrible job to disassemble such a big pool. There is a steel lining all the way around, plus there is a plastic liner and then there was a skimming system, a filter system and a lot of big hoses, and pipes.”

When I was five years old, my mother took me with her once to go shopping in town (We lived on a farm.). At a store, I noticed some large glass fish bowls filled up with little glittering knives. The knives were a little over an inch long and I really wanted one. The knives only cost five cents but I did not have any money and I knew my mother would not give me any to buy one. So, I looked around and no one was looking - I reached into the bowl and pulled out a knife, a green one, and put it in my pocket. What I did was wrong. It was stealing. I know it was wrong now but I also knew it was wrong then. It was a sin, a bad thing in the sight of God.

James makes it clear that whether we steal a swimming pool or a little green knife worth only five cents we have sinned. Whether a sin is little or big in our eyes, it is still a violation of God’s Law and we have fallen “short of the glory of God.” That’s why we need a Savior!

No one upon this earth is perfect because we have all sinned whether we have stolen a swimming pool or a little green knife. We have all sinned whether we have told a little white lie or a whopper of a lie. We have all sinned as James puts it whether we have committed adultery or murder.

The penalty for sin is death and that is what Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.” That’s the bad news. However, the Good News is that, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b).” Have you received the gift?

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.22.05

Avoid and Abstain

Abstain from every form of evil. - 1 Thessalonians 5:22 NKJV. (Another translation says: “Avoid every kind of evil.”)

In Milwaukee, a there was a deputy sheriff who was off duty and at 3:00 a.m. in the morning solicited a prostitute. He probably was not expecting what happened next. What happened was that he was robbed by several people and thrown into the trunk of his car. An anonymous caller did contact police telling them where the deputy could be found. Sheriff David A Clarke said, “I am disgusted that this officer would betray his family, the public trust, our organization and himself.” The deputy was charged with solicitation and obstruction of justice. He was also suspended from his job as a deputy.

In one year, in the United States according to Department of Justice statistics, (1997) 155,160 men were injured (requiring treatment in a hospital emergency room) in what is commonly called “bar fights” involving alcohol or drugs. Just 49,923 women were injured in “bar fights” involving alcohol or drugs during that same year.

There are multitudes of other examples that could be found and used, but these two illustrate the very practical wisdom contained in 1 Thessalonians 5:22. If the deputy had not been out cruising the streets, looking for a prostitute at three in the morning, he would not have ended up finding so much trouble. If all of those men and women involved in bar fights, had not been in those places to begin with, and had not been drinking or doing drugs they probably would not have ended up in a hospital emergency room.

The old KJV translates 1 Thessalonians 5:22 as, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” There are some things that we may consider as borderline as to whether it is evil or not evil, good or bad. However, we should avoid those things that have the appearance of being bad even if it is what we would consider a gray area. When in doubt don’t do it. Don’t be a part of it if you are not sure.

There are, however, many things that we know very well that we should not participate in, be a part of, partake of, etc. Pornography is one of those things. How would God have us to handle that temptation? Avoid it and abstain from it. If you are tempted, use a filter.

We, also know, that we should not use/abuse illegal substances. However, it will be very hard to avoid using if we are constantly surrounded by people who are using those substances. You may have to change your circle of friends to avoid the temptation and the peer pressure to do those drugs.

The same thing may be necessary for many other situations where peer pressure is involved. It is never easy to give up friendships that we have grown comfortable with and enjoy. But if those friendships have the potential of destroying everything good about our lives...we must make a choice. Will we do what we know God wants us to do or will we continue recklessly down a path we know is filled with danger?

When it comes to evil or even the appearance of evil it is best to avoid it or to abstain from it. And, when in doubt do the same, avoid and abstain.

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.21.05

Dear Friends,
Ann Scott from Madill, Oklahoma has shared with me a very moving testimony about her grandson, Brett Spells, and I want to share it with you:

THE GREATEST DAY OF BRETT SPELL'S LIFE

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” - Philippians 1:12.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28.
“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” - Esther 4:14.

Ann Scott shares: “My grandson Brett was such a beautiful young man, 15 years old. He first watched the video, "LEFT BEHIND," at my daughter's house and made them turn it off in the middle and fell down in the floor and began to pray, we thought, for salvation and then he finished watching the movie. He then went to the movie, "The Passion," it really stirred his heart so much. He talked about it continually. This movie touched him so deeply. We did not know at that time that Brett had been a Christian for four years and had already been leading people to the Lord. Then he came to our church and prayed at our altar - we thought for salvation. He had never mentioned his Christian experience. He attended the Methodist church in Ardmore, Ok. He was a member of the youth group in the First Baptist Church. They had a crusade for young Christian Athletes in the stadium at Ardmore High School and he went down for prayer, the evangelist asked him if he was a Christian, he told him he had prayed the sinner's prayer but he wanted to really make sure. The evangelist prayed for him and Brett got up from the altar and he was so happy. He was grabbing everyone and told them he just felt so good. Then he told one of his best friends, Cody, who was one of many, best friends, "Cody I just feel so wonderful, I feel like something wonderful is going to happen to me tomorrow. I feel like tomorrow is going to be the greatest day of my life." He was so happy, he was telling everyone. He went home and got on the internet and told others that tomorrow is going to be the greatest day of my life. AND IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE.. Brett went to heaven that next day.”

“On the way to school the next morning, Cody was driving Brett Spells to school and swerved to miss a deer and hit a tree, the wreck did not look that bad. They were not speeding and were wearing seat belts. Brett did not look like he was injured that bad. They took him to Mercy Memorial in Ardmore and decided to send him to the OU Trauma Hospital in OKC. His brain started to swell, his pelvic was broken, his arm was broken. His brother Aaron was sitting in class at Murray State College and one of his classmates asked the question in the class, "Did you hear about that wreck at Plainview?" Aaron told us a chill went all the way up his back. At that same time, his cell phone rang and it was his dad telling him Brett had been in a wreck.”

“The doctors came in after doing tests on Brett and told us there was no hope, no hope at all. But you know this grandma, I sat at his bed and prayed…I finally surrendered to the will of our wonderful Lord and told Brett if he wanted to go home with Jesus, I wanted him to go…I put my hand on his chest and leaned in his ear and sang the first and last verse of Amazing Grace. ‘When we've been there ten thousand years we've just begun,’ and when I finished that last verse, I told him that in ten thousand years we would still be together, his heart beat it's last beat and the most beautiful look came on his face. He saw something in the spiritual realm that this grandmother was not allowed to see yet. And Jesus took him home. I plan on going there to be with him very soon as Jesus is coming soon to take His Bride, the church, home with him. I pray that you have settled this in your heart and know for certain that your name is in the Book of Life. If you do not know Jesus personally, I ask that you do this. Ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins, write your name down in the Lamb's Book of Life and live for Jesus every moment of every day. I promise you that you will not be sorry. And ten thousand years from today you can walk up to Brett Spells and tell him, ‘Hey man, I got saved after your wreck when I heard about your testimony.’”

“There was a time that you were not, but there will never be a time that you will cease to be. Even one million years from today, you will be somewhere. So please settle it in your heart, eternity is forever. Don't just know about Jesus but become personally acquainted with Him today. You were created to have a personal relationship with God through His precious Son, Jesus Christ. God created you for a purpose and you have such value that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. Mike, Brett's dad, made the statement that time is our greatest enemy.. We put off making that commitment to the Lord. And then after we make the commitment, in a few years we allow ourselves to become cold in our spirits. There are hundreds of young people giving their hearts and lives to the Lord in the Ardmore area and the surrounding communities. I pray they will hold fast to the Lord and let Him accomplish in their lives the work that Jesus has begun.”

“We don't know what one day in our lives will bring, so stay ready to meet your Lord. Hug your children and cherish them, they are treasures from God. He only loaned them to us and one day He will take them back home to His home that is eternal. One million years from today you will be somewhere.. I trust and pray it will be in that place called heaven with Brett Spells.”

“I always thought Brett would preach the gospel. And he did preach the gospel at 11 am at the Crystal Rock Cathedral in Ardmore, Ok. Tues. morning, Oct. the 12th. It was one of the greatest sermons that I ever heard. It was a sermon about the Grace of God. God's amazing grace that welcomed a young 15 year old boy into his eternal home in Christ's Kingdom because Jesus wrote the name Brett Spells into the Lamb's Book of Life. Unfortunately, Brett's sermon was preached from his casket by the life he lived on this earth. Will you consider accepting this marvelous, amazing grace today? It is a gift from God, you cannot buy this beautiful gift. Grace is a free gift. It has already been paid for on Calvary 2000 years ago. All you have to do is to accept this grace and live for Jesus Christ all the days of your life.”

The Bible makes it very clear what is necessary to have eternal life and go to Heaven:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” - John 1:12.
“Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” - Revelation 3:20.

There is only one way to Heaven but that way is well marked and very clear. To receive Christ Jesus as your Savior pray the prayer below which is based on the related Scriptures above “Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day. Please forgive me for the sins, the bad things I have done, I want to change and be like You. Please help me to change, be my Lord and my Master and my Savior. In your name Lord Jesus I ask You to come into my heart and save me. Amen.”

Please remember that words alone will not save you. Only if you truly mean it in your heart will you be saved. If you do pray the prayer above and mean it in your heart please let me know and I will send you some additional helpful information.

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.10.05

Stealing The Shower

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. - Ephesians 4:28.

The 17th Century Globe Hotel in Topsham, England has experienced a problem they have never experienced before. Two of their guests made off with some hotel property. No, it wasn’t towels. No, it wasn’t bathrobes. This time it was the…shower! A man and a woman who paid cash were somehow able to make off with the entire shower unit. The hotel owner Liz Hodges said, "I have never experienced anything on this scale before. I just cannot believe someone would do this." Police Sergeant Alan Mobbs added that the theft was very unusual "particularly when you consider the efforts needed to physically take a shower from the wall."

As surprising as it may be to some of us, there are people who make their living by stealing. The name of the occupation goes by various names including burglary, robbery, thievery, larceny, shoplifting, scamming, swindling, defrauding, phishing, cheating, embezzlement, and others. However, there are degrees of involvement in the occupation. Some are full-time, some part-time, and some only an odd job here or there when opportunity presents itself.

Stealing is in opposition to the Christian values of giving, of servanthood, of self-denial, of kindness, and of goodness. Stealing does not add to a person self-worth but instead stealing steals self-worth from anyone participating in the occupation. Stealing does not contribute to others but instead stealing tears down and devalues those who are victimized. In other words, there is no way to justify stealing.

What happens to the person who has been making a living through stealing when they stop stealing? In extreme situations, some are stealing to keep from starving. What happens to that person? When the Scriptures were written it was in a much more difficult time to live than today. God knew that some would face extreme circumstances when they gave up their livelihood. In spite of that, the apostle Paul states plainly “Let him who stole steal no longer.” It is Paul’s view (and God’s) that the person should obtain God honoring employment and then they will be able to contribute to the support and help of others instead of tearing others down.

I have been contacted in the past by those who have become Christians but are making their living through Internet scams. They live in a part of the world where employment is hard to obtain. How can they give up their “good living” and face an uncertain fate in obtaining employment necessary to survive? It can only be done through faith. We must believe that the Word of God is true and that God will stand by His Word.

It is really the same question that we face when called upon to do anything for God. When I was called to preach, I had to believe that God would provide and sustain me as I sought to be obedient to Him. I could not always see how that was going to happen but God has been faithful, as I have walked with Him day by day. It is by faith too that you turn away from what you know to be wrong and begin what is right - believing God will honor and bless you for doing so. God is sufficient, and He has the power and the resources to sustain you. Philippians 4:19 is the verse for you to believe and stand upon, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.09.05

The Silver Lining

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! - Philippians 4:4.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17.

Fidel Trujillo did not want to leave the bar in Immokalee, Florida when Sally Hampton, 64, placed her hand on Trujillo’s shoulder to lead him out. Trujillo attacked Sally hitting her in the head with a beer bottle and then kicked her in the head and in her body as she was falling. Trujillo has been convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and given a 12 ½-year prison sentence.

It has been said that even the darkest cloud has a silver lining. But how could being battered with a beer bottle and kicked in the head and body have a silver lining? When doctors examined Sally and performed the necessary tests, they found that she had a brain tumor that could have taken her life. The brain tumor has been removed and she has recovered completely from the attack and the surgery.

Corrie Ten Boom complained to her sister when her sister insisted that they thank God for the fleas that were in their barracks while incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp. How could she thank God for fleas? However, her sister was right and there was a silver lining. The guards that harassed some in other barracks never bothered them because of … the fleas!

As Christians we know that God does promise “…that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” Under the dark clouds of life’s problems, we can rejoice in God’s promises. Through faith, we know that He will somehow bring about good from the bad. If not on earth, then in Heaven, the good will be seen.

Under the darkest clouds, we can rejoice and thank God that we have a Savior. We can rejoice and thank God, that He loved us so much that His only Son suffered and died for us on the cross. We can rejoice and thank God that we are not alone but that He has sent the “comforter”, the Holy Spirit, Who resides in every believer. We can rejoice and thank God, that God knows what we are going through and will walk with us through it. We can rejoice and thank God, that He will give us the strength necessary to sustain us through the darkest days. We can rejoice and thank God that we can say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”

The next time a dark cloud threatens to overwhelm you - look for the silver lining. It is there somewhere. Ask God to help you see it.

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.08.05

Stealing The House

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. - John 10:10a.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

When the parents of Jon Thomas moved to an assisted living center in 2000, their house was closed up but not sold. They returned two days before Christmas 2003 because his widowed mother has just passed away and it was now their responsibility to take care of the house. It was a shock to Jon (Who now lives in New York City.) when he returned to the house and found someone living in it. Lights were on inside of the house with a large Christmas display on the front lawn. Cars were parked at the rear of the house. Jon said, “I was dumbfounded.”

Richard Lenard, 26, a man who had been a neighbor to Jon’s parents, moved into the house after the parents had gone to live at the assisted living center. He not only moved in but he had two estate sales in 2003 in which he sold $180,000 worth of furnishings. Someone else is actually living in the house now claiming ownership after buying the house from Lenard for $50,000 (worth much more). The deed was transferred based on a fake driver’s license and a forged power of attorney.

Hard to believe someone would actually move into a home they did not own and then begin to sell off the furnishings and even the house itself! However, the devil has been in that same business for centuries and he has been very successful.

When we receive Christ Jesus as our personal Savior the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our life. We still have freewill and can decide to do things that God does not want us to do. Instead of having God as an honored guest, we may decide we want Him out of sight down in the basement somewhere. This too seems to be a very strange thing to do. However, the apostle Paul knew that was exactly what some people were doing because he refreshes the memories of the Corinthians that they no longer own their own bodies. Their bodies were bought and paid for with the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Sadly, far too many Christians have not only relegated God to a dingy room in the basement of their lives but they have also invited the devil to move in to one of the bedrooms. What they did not know is that the devil is a house stealer. The devil wants to control more and more of the house. Ultimately, the devil is worse than a house stealer - he is a house destroyer and that is what he will do if you allow him to gain control of your life. The downward spiral will begin with everything in your live becoming worse and worse until you have been destroyed.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Ask the Holy Spirit to come back upstairs and be in control of your life once again. In the Name of Jesus, kick that old devil out and begin the upward spiral of things becoming better and better. Because Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.03.05

You Can Do The Impossible

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. - Acts 16:6-10.

You may have seen the incredible play on the news - a three-point winning shot of 90-feet. The basket was made by Jordan Snipes playing for Guilford College against Randolph-Macon. There was only 0.6 seconds left in the overtime game when Snipes rebounded Randolph-Macon’s missed free throw. Snipes spun around throwing the ball the entire length of the court and the ball went through the net for the winning score. Guilford College won the game as a result 91-89.

I wonder if Jordan Snipes had any thought that he would actually make the three-point winning basket? He does have some qualifications for the long ball in that he is a former football quarterback. He had hit five of the six three-pointers he had tried prior to the game winner. In a fraction of a second Snipes respond to the challenge of the moment trying the impossible. The impossible became the possible only because Jordan Snipes tried to do it.

The apostle Paul was used to doing what others would never attempt. He tried to take the gospel everywhere that was possible. He was prevented by the Holy Spirit from taking the gospel into Bithynia. But then the apostle saw a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading with him to "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Paul’s response was to immediately try to go to Macedonia.

When does the impossible become possible? Only when someone actually tries to do the impossible. The impossible seems to be a word that sets up barriers, which are not always real. Pearl S. Buck once said that, “All things are possible until they are proved impossible. And even the impossible may only be so, as of now.” Werner von Braun once said, “I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution.” Arthur C. Clarke once said, “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

What is impossible for you? Is it impossible for you to witness to someone? Is it impossible for you teach a Sunday School class? Is it impossible for you to preach? Is it impossible for you to write? Is it impossible for you to pray in public? Is it impossible for you to read God’s Word daily? Is it impossible for you to attend church regularly? Is it impossible for you to spend an hour a day in prayer? Is it impossible for you to stop drinking? Is it impossible for you to stop using illegal substances? Is it impossible for you to stop looking at pornography? Is it impossible for you to live like you know you ought to live? Is it impossible for you to invite someone to church? Is it impossible for you to _______ (You can fill in the blank)? It may be that it is only impossible because you refuse to try. Everything that you refuse to do, try, or begin is impossible to you.

Jordan Snipes would never have won the game if he had not tried the impossible. What about you?

The Burning Bush Devotional
02.01.05

A Telephone Pole In The Kitchen

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. - Matthew 7:24-27.

Piotr Kardys had a problem when he built his house - a telephone pole where he wanted his kitchen. No problem to Piotr, he just built his house around the telephone pole. However, now he wants the pole removed which he says was placed on his property without permission in 2001. It now appears that the telephone company (TPSA) will have to somehow remove the pole. A Spokeswoman for the company said the company would appeal a court ruling ordering the pole removed saying, "We have to have a binding decision -- we could do it on our own, but you have to realize this is a big investment."

You have to wonder about someone that would intentionally build their house around a telephone pole! You have to wonder even more about the structural damage that may be caused if the pole is actually removed from Piotr’s kitchen.

We can laugh about someone building a house with a telephone pole in the kitchen. We can even laugh about someone building a house on sand. However, when we begin to compare the living of our lives to the building of a house it may not be quite as hilarious.

Jesus says that we will build the house of our life on a solid foundation if we live as He says to live in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus touches upon a broad range of subjects beginning with the Beatitudes and continuing with His teachings on the Ten Commandments, anger, adultery, divorce, oaths, enemies, giving, prayer, fasting, proper perspective on material things, judging others, the golden rule, the strait gate, false prophets, and much more. The Two Foundations of rock and sand summarize all of the teaching.

If we want to build a house (life) with a telephone in the kitchen that may someday have to be removed destroying the house (life) than ignore the Sermon on the Mount at your peril. If, however, we want to build a life that will withstand the worst the world can throw at us than we should seek to follow as closely as possible the teachings of Jesus.

So what do you do if you’ve built a life with a telephone pole in the kitchen? Begin now to follow the Lord Jesus and you will find that the telephone pole will begin to shrink.

Copyright © 2005. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.


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