The Burning Bush Devotional
08-31-01

Take Out The Trash

“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 13:12-14.

Yesterday I took care of one of my important duties in the home, which is to take out the trash. Growing up on a farm that was one of my duties (chores) - to take out and burn the trash. I caught the side of the chicken house on fire once but was able to put it out with a garden hose before there was too much damage. Surprisingly enough my parents continued to entrust me with that chore. Living now in an isolated rural community the trash truck comes by once a week on Thursday and if you forget well it's another week. But this is much better than it was a few years ago when you had to burn all of your trash and if you had a burn ban you were in trouble.

What happens if I forget to take out the trash? The trash piles up and eventually even when bagged in heavy plastic bags it begins to smell. The longer I wait to take it out the more space the trash requires and the more the smell is magnified. It works the same way spiritually. Those who are working the “works of darkness” have a trash problem. The longer they are making “provision for the flesh” the more the spiritual trash piles up. The more the spiritual trash piles up the more the spiritual stink can be smelled. It just becomes worse and worse.

What is the solution? It is really a simple one. We just need to take out the trash. “Cast off the works of darkness” and put on the “armor of light.” Cast off the revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, strife, envy, and other works of the flesh and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
08-30-01

Over The Edge

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” - Ephesians 4:29.

“But may I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Matthew 12:36-37.

What would it take to push you over the edge? Tuesday a 28-year-old woman sat precariously for about four hours on the railing of the bridge connecting Puget Sound to Lake Washington and Lake Union. For three hours police tried to talk her into coming down. Meanwhile it caused a traffic jam as people slowed down to watch. Commuters began to yell at this poor woman urging her to jump. Seattle Police spokesman Clem Benton said, “Commuters were coming by and urging her to jump and that was on the mild side of what they said. I’m not going to repeat the other things they said.” People were yelling obscenities at her and urging her to jump and what happened? She jumped. She finally went over the edge jumping into the water below. She is alive in critical condition with chest and abdominal injuries at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

One woman who witnessed a portion of this said in an email to me: “I am guilty in the fact that although I said a prayer for her, 30 minutes later, frustrated, a thought came to my mind wondering why she had picked that time of day for this event rather than what had brought her to the point she was, of course I was immediately disgusted with myself for my selfishness. Sometimes I am just overwhelmed at how ugly people are in this world, in regards to their souls, hearts, and personalities....” What would be our response if we had been there? Would we have been one of those yelling, encouraging, and urging her to jump?

In Ephesians 4:29 we are told not to let any unwholesome words to come out of our mouths and that we should only speak those things that would build up those who listen. Would the woman still have jumped if everyone driving by had been pleading with her not to jump telling her how much God loves her and cares about her? Possibly, but those who urged her to jump don’t know do they? Do they feel guilty about what happened? Do they even care? They ought to care because Jesus says in Matthew 12:36-37 that someday they will give an account for every word that comes out of their mouths. By their words they will be condemned and by their words they will be acquitted.

Let us not push anyone over the edge by our words but instead may our words hold them back and draw them to the One who can give them peace.

The Burning Bush Devotional
08-06-01

Passing The Buck

“For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.” - Psalm 51:3-4.

At a bookstore recently I was browsing through some books and noticed the author’s acknowledgements, which was somewhat unusual. He said he wrote the book alone and no one had helped him. However, he stated if mistakes were made he wanted to keep with the long-standing American tradition of passing the buck. He then listed many people who apparently had helped and encouraged him in writing the book. Then he says any errors are completely the fault of these people and not his fault.

It does appear to be a part of the American culture to always try to pass the buck. If someone loses their temper they may say something like, “I’m sorry I did that but it’s because I’m under so much pressure“...or “it’s because I’ve been so tired“...or “they were getting on my nerves.” We are always looking for a way to avoid responsibility and pass the buck on to something or someone else. King David gives us an example of how we ought to respond when we sin. When King David was confronted with his sins of adultery and murder he did accept responsibility. He did not try to pass the buck on to someone else. It stopped with him. He did it and he confessed he was wrong.

If we want a new start? If we want to begin anew? If we want to start over? The place to start is with accepting responsibility for our sins and confessing them to our Lord. In Proverbs 28:13 we are told, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
07-20-01

All That Glitters

“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” - II Timothy 4:10.

In Lima, Peru at their famous gold museum (Museo de Oro) apparently all that glitters is not gold. Many of the ceremonial daggers, jewelry, ornaments, and other artifacts have been found to be only replicas. It is estimated as many as 85% are copies and only 15% are the real thing. The 20,000 artifacts held by Museo de Oro have been displayed across the world. The museum may now face fines and other sanctions as a result of their actions.

The world presents itself as glittering gold but the truth is that the world’s riches are much like the gold of the Museo de Oro. Adam and Eve found out the fruit of the forbidden tree was not as sweet as they had thought when living the rest of their lives with the consequences. The Children of Israel continually lusted after the world and judgment fell upon them in horrible ways. The prodigal son wanted what the world had to offer but found himself ready to eat the slop of the hogs as a result.

The world presents itself as glittering gold but we know the truth is that the glitter is false. We have a choice. We can drink of the spit of this world or of the River of Life from our Lord. We can eat of the hog slop of the world or we can eat of the Bread of Life. Have you “loved this present world“? Have you believed a lie? Give up the fool’s gold of the world and grab hold of the real thing. Seek God with all your heart (Psalm 119:9-16). Resist the devil and draw near to God (James 4:7-8). Listen to wisdom (Proverbs 8:1-11).

The Burning Bush Devotional
07-18-01

A More Convenient Season

“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” - Acts 24:24-25.

While at youth camp this summer I listened to a man who is a pastor and a farmer in northern Oklahoma share a sad story. It is the reverse of the situation with Paul and Felix. He talked about how he knew that his neighbor was lost and for twenty years put off witnessing to him. One Sunday he told his wife that he was going to go and talk to his neighbor the next day about his need for Christ. But that night they received a phone call and his neighbor had died. You could hear the regret in the man’s voice as he told of this sad event.

Yes, many times people will as did Felix put off making a decision about Christ after they have heard the gospel presented. However, too many times it is the Christian who is procrastinating. It is the Christian who is thinking that they will wait for a more convenient season. What is it that makes us wait twenty or thirty years for a more convenient time? Laziness? Pride? The possibility of embarrassment? Hurriedness? Unconcern? Contempt?

Until we come to a place of commitment about witnessing there will always be an excuse. We cannot wait for better times. We must seize the moment, seize the opportunity just as the apostle Paul did with Felix.

The Burning Bush Devotional
07-18-01

What Would It Take?

“Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?” - Mark 8:17-18.

What would it take for God to get your attention? What would it take for you to give your life totally to God putting Him first? You have to think that God had something to do with what happened to Ethem Sahin of Nevsehir, Turkey. He was drinking coffee and playing dominoes at a coffeehouse when a cow fell through the roof. The cow apparently was grazing and wandered onto the roof of the coffeehouse, which is built on the side of a hill. The cow landed on top of Ethem knocking him unconscious and sending him to the hospital. The cow was uninjured but hopefully is watching more closely where it grazes.

Would a cow landing on top of you be enough for you to be totally sold out to God? What if someone came back from the dead? The rich man in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man wanted his brothers to be warned of the terrible fate that awaited them. The rich man pleaded that Lazarus be sent back from the dead to witness to his five brothers. But Abraham said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets (the Word of God), neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:31).”

Every time you resist the will of God for your life your heart becomes more hardened. Eventually it is no longer possible for a person to turn to God because they have resisted the will of God for so long. Whenever God speaks to your heart, respond! Don’t wait for a cow to fall on top of you. Don’t wait for someone to come back from the dead. Because you have the Word of God. Read it! Obey it!

The Burning Bush Devotional
07-17-01

Name Above All Names

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11.

“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” Luke 10:17.

The seventy that had been sent out by Jesus returned and there apparently was some surprise that there was such power in the name of Jesus. We pray in the name of Jesus but do we really comprehend the tremendous power that is still available to us today through His name? The early church clearly understood this because the name of Jesus is frequently referred to in the New Testament. But what about today? Is the name of Jesus still the name above all names? Is there still power in the name of Jesus?

Every two or three years we see news reports of someone in a crisis situation using the name of Jesus in order to survive. Sometimes they are in out of the way places and do not even make it to the national media. In December 2000 I cut out an article of such an incident which occurred in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Barbara Rhodes, the owner of Bobbie’s Outlet Store in Ardmore suddenly came face to face with a robber pointing a gun at her. Barbara’s response was to say, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” Several times the robber demanded her purse. Each time Barbara responded, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” The gun at one point made a click as if he had tried to fire it. Barbara laid the magazine she was holding onto the counter and started walking toward the door. The man fled. Why did he leave? Barbara says, “It was the Lord that made him take off.”

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...(Colossians 3:17).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
07-16-01

Little Known Dangers

“But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” - II Chronicles 36:16.

In December 1998 Kevin Mackle a 19-year-old student in Quebec tried to shake loose a soft drink. Instead of receiving a soft drink Kevin was crushed to death when the 920-pound machine tipped over on to him. Who would have thought that a coke machine would be dangerous! But since 1978 35 people have died in the United States alone from vending machines, which have tipped over.

The people of Judah must have been just as incredulous about the danger involved in ignoring God. Judgment did come upon them in a devastating way when they were carried into captivity. Who would have thought that God was that serious about it. But He was and He still is serious about it.

Do you despise God’s Words? Do you mock or misuse the messengers of God? Why would anyone want to do that? We despise God’s Words when we know what He wants us to do but we do something else with our lives. We mock God’s messengers when we hear the Word of God preached and fail to respond as God has spoken to our hearts. Little known dangers but spiritually just as dangerous as a falling coke machine.

Judah waited so long that they ran out of time and God’s judgment came upon them. Why risk another day outside of God’s will? Determine in your heart that you will no longer despise God by the way you live your life. “Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
06-29-01

Look Around

“But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’ And they said to Him, ‘We have here only five loaves and two fish.’ He said ‘Bring them here to Me.’” - Matthew 14:16-17.

One of my first jobs after college was as a route salesman for a wholesale auto parts distributor. It was during this time that the oil crisis hit with lines forming at the gas pumps. Because people were forced to drive less their cars needed repair less often and it had a delayed impact on the auto parts industry.

The man I was working for had been concerned for some time about a different problem. A supplier had sent him a truckload of antifreeze along with an invoice. The supplier had been demanding payment. My boss had been calling and writing trying to convince them to come and pick up the antifreeze which was also taking up a large amount of space in our small warehouse. However, because of the oil crisis the supply of antifreeze was drying up. The day the truck came to pick up the antifreeze my boss had been so desperately trying to get rid of I was getting order after order for antifreeze but it was too late.

If we had been able to keep the truckload of antifreeze the business would have boomed. Because we would have been the only source of supply for some auto parts stores we could have used the antifreeze as an incentive to buy other products as well. But without it in a few months time the business failed and all of the employees, including me, were laid off.

When facing problems we need to look around before we give up and see if there are any other factors involved. The disciples had at least looked around. They knew there was a huge amount of people that needed to be fed. They also knew exactly how much food was available and had considered other options as well. We must do the same. But as with the disciples we need to go one step further and take what we have to the Lord. In His hands it will be enough.

The Burning Bush Devotional
06-20-01

The Invisible Line

God is a God of love that is very clear. In John 3:16 the Bible tells us “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In Romans 5:8 we are told “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I John 4:7-8 says “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Many other verses speak of God’s great love as well.

Because of love God is also a God of justice and there is not only a place of eternal bliss called “heaven” there is also a place of eternal torment called “hell.” In Romans 12:19 we are told “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” There is a thin, invisible line between God’s love and God’s wrath. Some have crossed that line prior to arriving at their eternal destination.

Ananias and Sapphira his wife in Acts chapter 5 are examples of those crossing the invisible line. They had sold some land and were giving the money to God but they lied about how much they were giving. They were both struck down and died after lying about this transaction. In the OT there are many examples of those crossing the line such as Korah, and Achan.

Is there still an invisible line between God’s love and His wrath today? I read a troubling story in the newspaper Sunday. A pastor’s wife told of when she was a little girl and her mother had went to church one Sunday taking her eight children with her. That morning the mother was saved, receiving Christ Jesus as her Savior. However, the husband stayed home in bed. While the rest of the family was gone to church the house caught fire and the husband perished in the fire.

How close are you to crossing the line? Are you straddling it? You know what God wants you to do but you continue to refuse to be obedient. God doesn’t want you to do other things but you see little harm in doing it anyway. Besides you think know one will know. Maybe so but then there is that invisible line.

The Burning Bush Devotional
06-04-01

Trouble

“Yet man is born to trouble.” - Job 5:7a
“Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” - Job 14:1.

A recent letter to a business columnist states: “Recently I messed* up a really important project. I’m so embarrassed in front of my co-workers that I hate going to work.” It was signed, “First-time failure.”

I think the writer has it right when they indicate it is only the first time that they will fail. I am just surprised that they are only now having their first failure. In regard to trouble you are in one of three areas. You have just gotten out of trouble. You are in trouble right now, or you are headed for trouble.

Job had more than his share of trouble. His family was destroyed along with all of his possessions. From there it became even worse with his physical body being attacked by disease. Job says in Job 5:7 “man is born to trouble.” But after going through even more trauma Job repeats this and adds to his previous statement in Job 14:1 where he says “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Man did not just have trouble in life but it was “full of trouble” according to Job.

Even the apostle Paul had his share of problems (II Corinthians 11:23-28). If Paul had problems you can be sure that every Christian is going to have problems as well. But the difference between the child of God and the non-Christian is that God promises to go with us through the problems of life. The Psalmist says “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).” Jesus says in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Yes, we will have trouble, problems, trials, and difficulties in this world. However, we must not focus on them but upon the problem solver. David said in Psalm 73:16, “I tried to think this problem through, but it was too difficult for me, until I went into Your temple.” When the day of trouble comes let us take them to the Lord.

*Not actual word used.

Online prayer meeting Wednesday in theburningbush chat room. See additional information following devotional.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-29-01

Terror in the Night

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.” - Psalm 91:5-6.

A family in Redlands, California understands very clearly what is meant by the terror by night. Just a couple of weeks ago a mountain lion crashed through their closed dining-room window shattering the glass. The lion then ran down a hallway, through the bedroom where their six-year-old and three-year-old children were sleeping. The lion then crashed through the closed bedroom window. Mountain lions are having more and more encounters with people and attacking people more frequently in the United States. (The most recent Discover magazine has an excellent article on mountain lions.)

There are so many potential dangers, which threaten our lives and that of our loved ones. To dwell upon these threats can almost bring about a paralysis, which would hinder every area of our lives. What a comfort to understand that we who are the children of God are under His protection and the watchful eyes of His angels. The Psalmist says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). In verse 11 the Psalmist says, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

When the terrors of this world seem overwhelming and pressing in from all sides we must look as the Psalmist did to the Lord God and say with him, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust (Psalm 91:2).’” Making the Lord our refuge and dwelling place (v.9) we can walk in confidence through the terrors of the dark and of the day.

Tomorrow we are having an online prayer meeting in theburningbush chat room. The prayer meeting will be led by Stewart Cambourn, who lives on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Stewart is one of our moderators for theburningbush group. I will also be online for this meeting. Hope you will join us for this great time in the Lord.

The time for this chat will be Wednesday 9:00 pm Eastern Australia Time (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne)
7.00 pm Western Australian Time (Perth)
11.00 am in London
12.00 noon Lagos Nigeria
1.00 pm Capetown South Africa
4.30 pm Calcutta India
7.00 pm Beijing China
8.00 pm Tokyo Japan
11.00 pm Wellington New Zealand
1.00 am Honolulu Hawaii (Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone)
4.00 am Pacific Daylight Time
5.00 am Mountain Daylight Time
6:00 am Central Daylight Savings Time (Oklahoma)
7:00 am in New York Eastern Daylight Time
Here is the url for the chat: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theburningbush/chat
You will need to be a member of the group and can subscribe and unsubscribe if you would like for this chat:
subscribe: theburningbush-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Unsubscribe: theburningbush-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-24-01

Your Best

“Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” - II Chronicles 31:20-21.

In the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated next week and along with it there has been much talk about the greatest generation, which is the title of a book written by Tom Brokaw. Americans born in the 1920s who came of age during the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and went on to build America are those Brokaw refers to as being a part of the greatest generation in his book.

Facing great adversity the greatest generation never gave up but continued on. They had a great work ethic, which I believed was instilled through the background of faith in which they grew up. America during those years was a Christian nation. As Hezekiah did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God so did much of the greatest generation. According to my uncle, my grandfather used to always tell him “if something is worth doing; it is worth doing your best. If you can’t do your best don’t do it.” I think Hezekiah would agree with that.

God does not expect us to be perfectionists, or to do the impossible. He does want us to do our best and He will do the rest. We see the evidence of this being true in the lives of the greatest generation.

Have you been doing your best or just enough to get by?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-22-01

When Two Agree

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” - Matthew 18:19-20.

I remember hearing about my uncle, Levi Taliaferro, starting to attend a Baptist church some 35 years ago. I thought it was strange and my family thought it was strange. But even stranger was that they said my uncle had stopped drinking. I didn’t even know he had a drinking problem but was relieved to hear that it was apparently now under control.

Today I visited with my uncle and he shared with me the rest of the story. After a church service he and my Aunt Bea went up to the front pew of the church where Bro. Rowley and his wife sit down together and prayed with them. Levi said when he sat down he wanted a drink and when he got up the desire to drink was gone and never came back.

Have a problem? There is nothing like having a little prayer meeting to change your life and solve your problems. Jesus says, “if two of you agree.” Get together with a friend, or your pastor, or someone and pray.

Tomorrow we are having an online prayer meeting in theburningbush chat room. The prayer meeting will be led by Stewart Cambourn, who lives on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Stewart is one of our moderators for theburningbush group. I will also be online for this meeting. Hope you will join us for this great time in the Lord.

The time for this chat will be Wednesday 9:00 pm Eastern Australia Time (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne)
7.00 pm Western Australian Time (Perth)
11.00 am in London
12.00 noon Lagos Nigeria
1.00 pm Capetown South Africa
4.30 pm Calcutta India
7.00 pm Beijing China
8.00 pm Tokyo Japan
11.00 pm Wellington New Zealand
1.00 am Honolulu Hawaii (Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone)
4.00 am Pacific Daylight Time
5.00 am Mountain Daylight Time
6:00 am Central Daylight Savings Time (Oklahoma)
7:00 am in New York Eastern Daylight Time

Here is the url for the chat:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theburningbush/chat You will need to be a member of the group and can subscribe and unsubscribe if you would like for this chat:
Subscribe: theburningbush-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Unsubscribe: theburningbush-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-18-01

Runaway

“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” - Luke 15:11-13.

In Ohio last Tuesday there was a near disaster as a runaway freight train with hazardous materials on board traveled some 70 miles before being stopped. The train reached speeds of 46 mph. A catch engine was sent after the runaway train and as it slowed going up a hill the chasing engine was able to hook on. The catch engine applied braking power and was able to slow the train to about 10-mph. That was when engineer, Jon Hosfeld, jumped on board the runaway and brought it safely to a halt.

The lives of some people are like a runaway train. The prodigal’s life went from bad to worse picking up speed in his downward plunge. Most of us know people like that. Some of us have close friends or even relatives whose lives are out of control and picking up speed. How do you stop a runaway life?

Ohio’s runaway train offers some suggestions as to how to stop a runaway life. In order to stop the train they had to first want to stop it. Then they had to take action to slow it enough for the engineer to board and stop the train.

Our first reaction to those whose lives are fast becoming disasters may be “what’s the use?” Don’t give up on people! The Father did not give up on the prodigal. He was still watching and waiting for his return “...when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Maintain as much contact with the runaway as possible to slow down and block their self-destruction. Continue to pray for them and ask others to pray. They have no defense against our prayers.

Our ultimate goal is to get the Chief Engineer (Jesus) on board their lives. Once the Chief Engineer is on board He will bring the runaway to a halt and begin the restoration process. “But the father said to his servants, ’Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-15-01

On Strike!

“Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.’ Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.” - Acts 15:36-38.

In Connecticut in three towns drivers for an airport limousine service have gone on strike. The strike will effect 8,000 people a day that use the service who are shuttled to airports in New York and Connecticut. Other strikes in the US have been averted in recent months and hopefully this one will be resolved soon.

Some people go on strike against God. John Mark apparently went on strike while on Paul’s first missionary journey. No one is for sure what happened. Some think that when the persecution became intense that Mark was afraid and fled for his safety. Others think because he was so young that he became homesick and could no longer take the separation from his family. But whatever the reason Paul notes that Mark went not to the work.

What about us have we ever gone on strike against God? If we have it was probably not while we were missionaries in a foreign country. Our strikes are more like “sick outs” or the “refusing to talk” when we are angry kind of thing. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are on strike against God. Here are some symptoms of a spiritual strike:
1. Refusing to talk to God except for a few brief moments during the day.
2. Refusing to read God’s Word.
3. Refusing to attend church or if we do attend we only attend the Sunday morning worship service.
4. Refusing to give.
5. Refusing to serve, witness, help, etc.
6. And in its worst manifestation the spiritual striker even works against the Kingdom of God by helping the enemy through their willful sins.

We do not know how it happened but John Mark ended his spiritual strike because in II Timothy 4:11 while Paul is in prison in Rome he writes “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” Striking is difficult for the worker and for the company they are striking against. The hope is that the company will give in to their demands and they will soon be back at work. Striking spiritually will not work in that way because God will not change His Word to suit our personal desires. Striking spiritually only serves to make life more and more difficult for us.

Isn’t it time to end your strike and get back to the work?

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-07-01

Eternal Living

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” - John 10:10b.

“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.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” - John 5:24.

When does eternal life begin? When you think of eternity what comes to mind? Heaven? But Heaven is not where or when eternal life begins. Eternal life begins at the moment of our believing upon Jesus for our salvation. At that moment in time we have “passed from death into life.”

Emerson makes a statement, which appears to be true for most people. He says, "People are always getting ready to live but never living." The psychologist William Marston confirmed that when he asked 3000 people, “What have you to live for?“ He found that 94 percent of them were just enduring the present while waiting for something to happen. As Christians many of us appear to be planning to really live only after arriving in Heaven. It is true that our quality of life will be many times better in our glorified bodies, however, Jesus came to give us life “more abundantly” not just in Heaven but in the here and now.

How can you live the abundant life today? Try living like Jesus. As we begin to truly follow in His steps we will experience the life eternal.

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-04-01

Clinging

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” - Romans 12:9-14.

Phillis Roberts had a frightening experience last week. She was having a nice day at the beach at Palm Beach, Florida when the tide suddenly carried her out to sea. Phillis, who is forty-one years old, somehow managed to grab hold of a lobster trap buoy. The Coast Guard found her twenty hours later still desperately clinging to that buoy. She received treatment for hypothermia and otherwise was in good condition.

Can you imagine clinging to a buoy all of those hours not knowing whether anyone would ever come to rescue you or not? How tired and cold Phillis must have been but still she had a grip on the buoy that was saving her life. She was in a desperate struggle with the elements to survive. She was becoming colder and colder and the waves kept coming and pounding at her the entire time.

As Christians we are in a struggle to survive as well. The world is constantly bombarding us with its evil message. The flesh wars against us and the devil sends his fiery darts. The apostle Paul was well aware of this struggle because he had been in the very midst of the battle and knew exactly what it was like. Paul tells us that we must “cling to what is good.” Our struggle may not appear to be as desperate as that of Phillis Roberts but it is. We are in the spiritual struggle to have life. The more we “cling to what is good” the more life we will have.

Grab hold! Get a grip! And don’t let go!

The Burning Bush Devotional
05-03-01

Frivolous

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:1-2.

A frequent problem for the criminal justice system is the filing of frivolous lawsuits by inmates. A recent lawsuit came from an inmate in the Michigan corrections system. Chad DeKoven in his lawsuit sought recognition of himself as “Messiah-God” and wanted the state to provide him with a full pardon, and full-time personal attendants. DeKoven also demanded peace in the Middle East. Judge David M. Lawson has dismissed the lawsuit and called it frivolous.

We can agree that DeKoven’s demands were a little frivolous, ridiculous, crazy, and even incredible. But what about our demands? We who are living the Christian life sometimes insist on hanging onto our sins and the pursuing of the attractions of this world. Sometimes we also insist on hanging onto our anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, bigotry and so many other things.

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us....” These weights and sins are just frivolous things when compared to “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame....” When we insist on hanging onto our weights and sins that “great cloud of witnesses” must think it is so frivolous, ridiculous, crazy, and even incredible that we persist in acting the way we do.

What frivolous things do you need to lay aside so that you can “run with endurance the race that is set before” you?

The Burning Bush Devotional
04-25-01

Selling Your Soul

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” - Matthew 16:26.

What would you do to gain the whole world? Sell your soul? What is the price of a soul? For one man in Woodinville, Washington apparently the price is $400.00. On February 1 bidding for the man’s soul began at 5 cents. The item was listed on ebay as “20 yr-old Seattle boy’s SOUL, hardly used.” Ebay removed the listing and has suspended Adam Burtle from using their service. But not before he sold his soul for $400.00 to a woman in Des Moines, Iowa. Burtle, an atheist, says, “I don’t think she’s going to be able to collect on my soul, to be honest.”

Most likely you have not literally tried to sell your soul as Adam did. However, it does appear to be a popular concept in our culture with some movies, books, and songs mentioning the selling of the soul. Usually the selling of the soul occurs in more subtle ways. We become locked into our work and the making of money at a certain level to maintain or improve our lifestyle. As a result we neglect the spiritual aspect of our lives. For some it may mean that they never come to a saving knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For Christians it may mean that they are continually ineffective in their witness and service because their focus is on the world.

Jesus tells us clearly how to not sell our souls. He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25-26).” No, the woman in Des Moines will not be able to collect Adam Burtle’s soul. There is, however, One who will. “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:27).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
04-24-01

Sinking in the Mud

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” - James 1:24-25.

The creek waters were only a foot deep where the two large earthmovers were making emergency repairs to the Haikey Creek Bridge in Tulsa. But then the track came off one of the machines and it began to sink in the mud. They tried to pull the sinking earthmover out with the other machine but it too began to sink. Daryl Maxville, a maintenance supervisor said, “They were pretty well buried. The only thing you could see was the cab.” Workers built a temporary dam and were finally able to rescue their equipment. One of the operators said that “working in the creek wasn’t a big problem until the mud worked its way through the creek bed.”

For Christians there is a lot of mud out there that we must avoid. It all begins with a little mud. Its been said that if you “sow a thought you will reap an act. Sow an act; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Another translation says, “Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” That is where the mud starts with the thoughts and the dwelling and contemplating upon those sinful desires.

A literal translation of James 1:15 would be, “Desire, having conceived, continually gives birth to sin, and sin, when it reaches maturity, continually gives birth to death.” As you can see it goes quickly from bad to worse. Before you throw a track and start sinking in the mud of sin put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of thinking about all of the mud start thinking about the good things as the apostle Paul suggests in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever, things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.” There is nothing better to think about than our Lord Jesus and His Word.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04-23-01

Low Tech

“So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them: So David took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.” I Samuel 17:38-40.

There is a rescue effort underway because another doctor has a life threatening condition at the South Pole. Weather conditions will continue to degenerate through the harsh winter with temperatures that may reach minus-103 degrees. At first it was planned to use the giant LC-130 “Hercules” airplane. However, this huge plane has a hydraulic system used for raising and lowering the landing gear and this hydraulic system would be susceptible to the freezing temperatures. The fuel system on the Hercules is also only usable for temperatures down to minus-67 degrees. The rescue planners have opted for two smaller planes, Twin Otters. The Twin Otters are propeller driven eight-seaters with a fixed landing gear and no hydraulic system. These planes with their low-tech systems are able to operate in temperatures as low as minus-107 degrees.

The shepherd boy, David, understood the value of low tech. David opted for five smooth stones and his sling over all the king’s armor and sword. Goliah, with all of his hugeness did not have a chance against one shepherd boy and a sling. The Bible says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (I Corinthians 1:27-28).”

What impossible situation are you facing? In the hands of God, little can be better. In the hands of God, less can be more.

The Burning Bush Devotional
04-16-01

Free Indeed

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” - John 8:36.

Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson have been set free. They were wrongly incarcerated for more than a decade for a murder they did not commit. Fritz says, “You just can’t imagine how it feels to be confined in a place like that to the point that you literally have given up on ever being a fee man again.“ DNA evidence finally resulted in their being set free on April 15, 1999. Williamson talking about that day said, “Words can’t describe that day. It was surreal. It was strange. It was wonderful. Whatever word you pick, it would probably fit because there were so many emotions flowing through me.” At one point during his imprisonment Williamson came within five days of execution.

There are many that are spiritually incarcerated and they have no hope or desire of being free. They walk in darkness having their eyes blinded by the god of this world. The Bible describes their condition “Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as at twilight. We are as dead men in desolate places (Isaiah 59:9-10).”

Oh, but to be set free by the Son from the darkness. What joy! To be free from the eternal death sentence and instead to have eternal life. What amazing grace! As the apostle Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:17).”

Have you been set free? If not, what better day then today to be released from the darkness and to walk in new life? Turn from the darkness and receive Christ Jesus as your Savior. “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Deceived

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. - John 8:44.

Last week a tow truck driver in Ann Arbor, Michigan was called to tow away an apparently abandoned and illegally parked car. He was very much surprised to hear a voice shouting as a 19-year-old woman pounded on the trunk lid. The woman was okay but said that her 25-year-old boyfriend had tricked her into getting into the trunk of the car about four hours before the tow truck driver arrived. Her boyfriend had told her that he was picking up several friends and needed the room in the car. But when she wanted out he would not let her out. Her boyfriend has been arrested for kidnapping.

Even though it sounded strange she wanted to believe the one that she loved. She was deceived. There are many more like her boyfriend and their spiritual father is the devil. Jesus says they are liars and murderers. They follow after the devil who comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10a) and who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).”

We resist the followers of the devil in the same way that we resist the devil. In I Peter 5:9 we are told “resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” In James 4:7-8 we are told “therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” In Revelation 12:11 we are told “and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

If you have been deceived don’t give up! Cleanse your hands, purify your hearts (I John 1:9), resist, be steadfast, submit to and draw near to God. God loves you and cares so very much about you. Jesus came that you might have life and that you would have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-30-01

Priceless

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” - Genesis 1:27.

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me.” - Psalm 119:73.

“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” - Isaiah 43:7.

There will be an auction in London on July 10 of a sheet paper that is pinkish in color and measures only eight by twelve centimeters, which is about the size of a postcard. It is expected to bring more than five million dollars when it is auctioned. Why so much? Because it is a sketch, a work of art by Leonardo da Vinci and it was sketched in preparation for da Vinci’s first great work, The Adoration of the Magi. It is priceless even though someone will buy it for several million dollars. It is priceless because it is an irreplaceable work of art. If this small little piece of paper were to be destroyed it could never be replaced.

What is the value of a soul? What is the value of a human life? Far more than the five million to be paid for da Vinci’s work. Because every human being that has ever lived, is living, or will be living is a masterpiece created by the greatest artist of all, God Himself. You are priceless! You are irreplaceable! You were created in the image of God for His glory.

You are completely unique and each day you live is a completely unique day. We are still being formed and shaped by the hands of our Creator. As Isaiah says “we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).” Allow the Creator, the master artisan, God Himself to shape and mold you this day. Because you and this day are priceless!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-29-01

Real Beauty

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” - Psalm 43:5.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” - Proverbs 31:30.

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” - Proverbs 31:10.

“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” - Proverbs 11:22.

Juliana Borges this week was crowned “Miss Brazil.” In order to make it to the top of the beauty queens in her country she has had plastic surgery four times and 19 smaller procedures. She has had liposuction and changes have been made to her chin, nose, ears, and bust. Of the 27 finalists in the Miss Brazil pageant one third have had plastic surgery. Juliana says, “Plastic surgery made me more beautiful and gave me confidence in myself and the perfect measurements that won me this title.”

In Uzbekistan there is a different kind of beauty contest. In their first national beauty contest swimming suits have been banned. In this contest the contestants in addition to their beauty will be judged on their inner beauty. It will be their moral values on womanhood and motherhood on which they will also be judged. An 18-year old woman from Samarkand says the contest will be "a great opportunity for me to show my talent and to show my...maybe my prettiness."

There is a beauty that is only skin deep. A shallow beauty can in fact be ugly and repulsive. “A lovely woman who lacks discretion” the Bible says is like “a ring of gold in a swine’s snout.” Now how ugly and repulsive is that! What is a swine’s snout used for? It is used to dig in the dirt, muck, mire, mud, and swill. A gold ring in a swine’s snout would be disgusting.

But then there is the beauty of holiness. An inner beauty that makes an individual glow with attractiveness beyond anything plastic surgeons could ever duplicate. There is the beauty of the flesh which would be like the enchantments of Pharaoh's sorcerers (Exodus 7:11). Then there is the supernatural beauty of holiness which is like the miracles of God which swallowed up the false enchantments of the sorcerers (Exodus 7:12). Finally there were miracles which the sorcerers could not even attempt to duplicate (Exodus 8:18-19) and that is like the beauty of holiness. Nipping and tucking and beauty treatments cannot duplicate spiritual beauty. For those with this kind of beauty God is the “help of their (my) countenance.” This kind of beauty is worth “far above rubies.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-28-01

Deception

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” - Galatians 5:19-21.

As Paul says it should be evident to us that these things should not be a part of any Christian’s life. It should be but sorcery or witchcraft has increased the deception level over the past few years. A well-known children’s book leads the list of deceptions. What possible harm could come from such a thing? What harm is there in a little sorcery? The people of Uganda are beginning to understand the depth of the harm from sorcery aka witchcraft. Trumpet World Missions John Mulinde says, “One of Uganda's main troubles is the widespread use of magic in all its forms. The population knew that the ceremonies involved blood and even human sacrifice, and that women and children were regularly sexually abused, but there had been no clear proof. We began to pray that God would take away the evil, and reveal the truth about the occult practices.”

Underneath the deception, the people of Uganda are finding just how ugly sorcery really is. Among the things that were revealed Mulinde says were that “five human skulls were found in a witch doctor's house, and two more were caught just as they were about to ritually murder a 16-year-old girl.” Mulinde goes on to say, “there was a national outcry, and people recognized that serious occult practices are in no way harmless hobbies, but that which God describes them as: idolatry and satanic.“

Do not be deceived because these things are indeed not “harmless hobbies.” Instead let us “who are Christ’s” as the apostle Paul says, “crucify(ied) the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-27-01

Finding Rest and Peace

“’There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’” - Isaiah 48:22.

“But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” - Isaiah 57:20-21.

“Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are the thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.” - Isaiah 59:7.

“The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.” - Isaiah 59:8.

A new study is out which has found that 40% of Americans are having trouble staying awake on the job. That could be a major problem for those in some occupations, such as: truck drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers, police officers, fire fighters and many others. Those who receive the recommended eight hours of sleep per day are in the minority.

Sleep is important but the quality of that sleep is much more important. Some close their eyes at night but receive very little rest whether they sleep four hours or twelve. It is hard to sleep when the day you just went through is going through your mind over and over again. It is hard to sleep when the problems of tomorrow are heavy upon your heart and mind.

The fastest way to develop a sleep problem is to travel down one of those “crooked paths” Isaiah talks about. It may not be the “shedding of innocent blood” but it could be that sin of omission of not doing what you know you should have done. Or it may be something somewhere in between.

How can you make your paths straight? How can you have peace and rest? Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-23-01

Growing Up

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” - Luke 2:52.

The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, a study by Harvard University, has found that “religiously active people are more likely to be viewed as good citizens and have a more diverse circle of friends than their non-religious neighbors.” Seventy-one percent of those surveyed were found to trust people at church, which compares to 52 percent, who would trust their co-workers.

As we look at the life of Jesus we see the good citizenship, the trustworthiness in his development. From age 12 to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry there is silence about the events of His life. However, Luke 2:52 really is a summary of what we can surmise about this time period. Jesus was trained to be a carpenter by his stepfather, Joseph. Most likely Joseph died during this time and Jesus became the head of the household being the oldest of the children. Humanly, Jesus was a hardworking, responsible, trustworthy and wise individual and was growing more so all the time.

If we are to follow the example of our Lord, we too will be hardworking, responsible, trustworthy, and wise. Let us as Jesus did “increase (increased) in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-22-01

The Best Laid Plans....

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse’ - My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make hast to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; 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 1:10-19.

He did not intend for everything to work out the way it did. Everything had gone well for the burglar. He had broke into the house undetected even with the residents at home. He was able to do his work and only when he was fleeing did the residents know a burglar had been in their home. This Malaysian burglar had thought of everything except he left the keys to his car in the house he had just burglarized! He then went back to the house and asked the residents to give him his keys and pleaded that they not call the police. Of course, they refused and the burglar left behind his car, car keys, and his burglar tools. He smashed the windshield of his own car and removed the tag trying to hide his identity but officials believe they will be able to identify him through the car’s serial number.

What the burglar did not know was that he, as the writer of proverbs notes, was “lying (lie) in wait for his (their) own blood.” The fact of life is that when we prey on other people, when we steal, kill and destroy, we are actually attacking ourselves. When we prey on others we are yielding to the temptation of and following the devil (John 10:10a).

We can avoid and we can resist laying a trap for ourselves by heeding God’s wisdom. “For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you (Proverbs 1:22b-23).”

Have sinners been enticing you? Have you been thinking about doing something you know is wrong? Don’t do it! Heed God’s wisdom!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-08-01

Hitting the Target

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” - II Timothy 2:15.

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” - II Timothy 3:14.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.” - II Timothy 3:16-17.

Free Tacos are coming for everyone in the United States. The Taco Bell fast food restaurant chain promises to give a free taco to everyone living in the US. Just one little thing has to happen before you can actually munch on your free taco. What’s that? Well, the 150-ton Mir space station has to hit a 40-by-40 foot floating target Taco Bell has placed in the South Pacific. Just one small little detail like finding a needle in a haystack, or a lake in the desert, or ... you get the picture. We may not receive our free Tacos but Taco Bell has hit the bulls eye with all the free advertising they received today.

It is ludicrous to think that Mir would actually hit that 40-by-40 foot floating target. Many who claim to be Christians have about as much of a chance to grow spiritually as Mir does to hit that target. It is ludicrous to think that you will grow spiritually when you never do any of the things necessary for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth does not just happen. The apostle Paul makes that very clear to Timothy using words like “diligent”, “present yourself”, “worker”, and “must continue”.

To grow spiritually we must take full advantage of the resources of God (Philippians 4:19). We must be diligent in taking full advantage of God’s Word through reading, study, memorization, and meditation. We have the awesome, wondrous privilege to approach the throne of God in prayer. We must not neglect so great a privilege. We have been instructed to assemble together with other believers that we may be provoked unto love and good works and so much the more as we see the day approaching of our Lord’s return.

We can hit the target of spiritual growth if we will become workmen and women who are not ashamed!

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-15-01

Hearing and Doing

“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” - Hebrews 4:7.

“Do not quench the Spirit.” - I Thessalonians 5:19.

It does not matter whether you at the grocery store, at church, at Wal-Mart or wherever you will see and hear people talking on cell phones. Even at funerals you will now sometimes hear the sound of a ringing cell phone! For some this is just added convenience making life more pleasant and enjoyable. For others it is a major irritation. For those who are irritated there is a new device which promises to relieve them. This device is able to block cell phones from receiving signals within a designated area where it is used. With this device a store, school, or church could be cell phone free. It is not yet available in the United States.

Spiritually many are free of hearing God’s Voice. God is speaking but they have learned how to tune Him out. They simply harden their hearts and refuse to hear what God wants to say to them. Some come to church every Sunday and read their Bibles every day but still do not hear God speak because of their hard hearts.

Others have a different spiritual problem because they have no trouble hearing what God says. So if they hear what is the problem? The problem is that they refuse to do what God says. They “quench” the Spirit.

I believe God is saying to many today “please listen for I am speaking to your heart and here’s what I want you to do....” Are you listening? Can you hear? Will you obey?

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-07-01

The Bible

“This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” - Joshua 1:8.

We say we know it’s true but we have a hard time believing the importance of God’s Word. We have seen the little sayings on church signs like:

“Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives”
“A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a person that isn’t.”

George Gallup says, “We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.” Around 92 percent of Americans own at least one Bible with the average home having three. 20 million or more are sold each year not even including the millions that are distributed free of cost.

The Bible has become much like a well liked piece of furniture. We know it is there but we never open it up to mine the treasures it contains. According to surveys by George Gallup “only four in 10 Americans know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. A majority cannot name the four Gospels of the New Testament. Only three in 10 teenagers know why Easter is celebrated. Two-thirds of Americans believe there are few, if any, absolute principles to direct human behavior. Fewer than half can name the first book of the Bible. Six out of 10 cannot name half of the Ten Commandments. 80 percent of Christians believe the Bible says “God helps them that help themselves.” 12 percent of Christians think Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc!

Thomas Reeves a University of Wisconsin Historian says, “Christianity in modern America is, in large part, innocuous. It tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain.”

We know the problem but how do we change? For me it began with a commitment to read God’s Word each day. It grew from there to a commitment to read through the Bible each year. From those earlier commitments, study and memorization of the Bible have flowed. Where do you find the time to do this? According to Tyndale House Publishers 64 percent do not read because they say they are too busy. An amazing thing will happen if you give time to reading and studying the Bible. You will not actually lose that time. God always gives us supernatural energy to seek Him. We will see that the time used to seek God is given to us many times over through a quality of life that we have never experienced before. “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-06-01

Adequate Preparation

“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
03-05-01

Bringing Glory

“Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, ‘He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.’ And they glorified God in me.” - Galatians 1:21-24.

When I was about 10 or 11 years old I was a member of a church and considered myself to be a Christian (Although I found out later I really wasn’t.). Others also thought I was a Christian because I was a member of church. I lived on a farm and found various ways to entertain myself. One of those ways was my beer bottle collection. People seemed to always be throwing out beer bottles and I found it interesting to see how many different kinds I could find. I kept the collection in a tree row far away from our house. One day I let my second cousin see my collection. He thought it was great and started his own collection, which was fine, until his mother found out. My cousin told me he had to find something else to collect. I was surprised because I had not realized there was anything wrong with collecting beer bottles. Unknowingly I had been a bad influence upon my cousin.

The apostle Paul on the other hand was being a good influence upon those who heard of him after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. He who had once persecuted was now bringing glory to Christ.

So, what kind of influence are we having on those around us? Is God being glorified by what people see in our lives or are they thinking if that is a Christian that’s the last thing I want to be? What a choice we have! We can influence people for good leading them to salvation through Christ or we can be a stumbling block causing people to reject Christ.

Is the life you are leading bringing glory to Christ or are you a stumbling block?

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-02-01

Obstacles or Opportunities?

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” - James 1:2-4.

A local high school basketball team is now in the state playoffs. Their coach tells his team just before they go out on the court that they will meet obstacles during the game but in those obstacles they will find opportunities. How true! There has been a 6.8 earthquake in the Seattle area with billions in damage. Many are facing obstacles to living at the present time as a result. But in the midst of this obstacle is an opportunity. Time and warning has been given about the need for preparation for an even more damaging quake. This earthquake originated from 50 miles down but it is now known there is a fault only five miles directly beneath the city.

Many have been laid off from their jobs, which is definitely an obstacle. Having experienced that myself three times and another time with the oil industry experiencing a bust and losing a business I know this is an obstacle. But out of those obstacles God moved me to where I am now. They were adjustments to my life, which opened new doorways of opportunities that would not have occurred otherwise.

Each day you will experience obstacles. As you encounter those obstacles look for the opportunities and as James would say “count it all joy!”

The Burning Bush Devotional
03-01-01

To Pray For

“I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” - Matthew 17:20.

Evelyn Tucci who is 82 years old hit two holes-in-one during one round of golf at Pompano Beach, Florida. Evelyn says, “I prayed that before I died I’d get a hole in one.” She not only hit one hole-in-one - she hit two!

Now let us think about this for a moment. If you knew God would answer your prayer whatever you prayed what would you pray for? Would you pray for money, gold, health, power?? What is it you would place at the top of your list? Evelyn had a hole-in-one at the top of hers.

Too often we tend to view God as a genie who is there to grant our wishes. God is so much more than that! Prayer should be so much more than that as well. God is concerned about everything in our lives and wants us to talk with Him about those things. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows every thought that we think. He knows everything we do and say. What an awesome privilege we have to take everything to God in prayer.

You can shoot two hole-in-ones; or, you can move a mountain.

Copyright © 1998-2002. 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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